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J.C. Penney Says Goodbye To Johnson, Hello Again To Ullman

Ron Johnson is out. What will remain of his new approach to marketing and merchandising as Mike Ullman returns as J.C. Penney  Co. CEO remains to be seen.

Yesterday, J.C. Penney announced that Ullman had returned to his executive post, which he occupied until late 2011 when Johnson took over, and would take a seat on the retailer’s board of directors.

Thomas Engibous, J.C. Penney board chairman said, “We are fortunate to have someone with Mike’s proven experience and leadership abilities to take the reins at the company at this important time. He is well-positioned to quickly analyze the situation J.C. Penney faces and take steps to improve the company’s performance.”

Ullman stated, “While J.C. Penney has faced a difficult period, its legacy as a leader in American retailing is an asset that can be built upon and leveraged. To that end, my plan is to immediately engage with the company’s customers, team members, vendors and shareholders, to understand their needs, views and insights.  With that knowledge, I will work with the leadership team and the board to develop and clearly articulate a game plan to establish a foundation for future success.”

Over the past year, J.C. Penney fundamentally changed its approach to marketing and merchandising in favor of a label-driven, EDLP strategy, and it got tied up in court by Macy’s, Inc. over a deal with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. For that period, the retailer reported a net loss of $985 million, or $4.49 per share. Total sales decreased 24.8% to $12.99 billion. Comparable store sales slid 25.2%.

J.C. Penney just began instituting its label-oriented shop merchandising this week through home departments in 500 stores.