Top Executive out at J.C. Penney

Why would the recently appointed President of J.C. Penney step down effective immediately? Because his time with the company was an all around epic failure. Michael Francis was lured away from Target after 21 years to help build and reposition J.C. Penney (the United States third-largest chain-department store).

Francis failed to listen to what the brand-loyal JCP consumers wanted, by changing the pricing of the store’s merchandise. He wanted to get rid of on discounts and coupons in order to set lower, predictable daily prices. CBS News states, “J.C. Penney has hired a number of big-name executives to help transform everything about the retailer, from the brands it carries to the store experience. The riskiest move was the elimination of hundreds of sales events in favor of more predictable low prices, but shoppers have not embraced the change.”

In addition, the company tried to have lower prices on the first and third Friday of every month while also having confusing price signs that consumers found extremely misleading. The entire marketing strategy, that Francis thought would help revamp the company actually led to a 6% drop in the stock market. 

Not only was Francis responsible for blowing money on television ads featuring Ellen DeGeneres, but CBS News reports that “Francis was responsible for merchandising, marketing and product development, and was behind a monthly magazine that highlighted key items. The monthly issues resembled the cheap chic look from Target.”

The downfall of J.C. Penney was further taken to a new low when the company released that it had paid $10 million to Francis who lasted a dismal eight months as President. 

Do you think J.C. Penney can rebuild its image and get back to department-store super status?


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A marketing communications professional helping other marketing professionals, business leaders and marketing students gain a better understanding of trends in advertising and public relations as well as tips for being a successful marketer.

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