People to Watch in 2016:
Marvin Ellison

The August 17 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 10th Annual “Players,” 20 people to watch in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, the Players represent a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.

The HomeWorld Players are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.

Player’s Credentials: When Marvin Ellison was named president of J.C. Penney this past October, he brought with him 30 years of retail experience with leading national chains including The Home Depot and Target. Prior to joining the Plano, TX-based department store, Ellison since 2008 served as evp/U.S. stores for Home Depot, a company he first joined in 2002. Before his days with the home improvement retailer, Ellison was at Target for 15 years, holding a variety of positions including corporate director of asset protection.

In an interview with The Dallas Morning News earlier this year, Ellison said working as a store associate at Target allowed him to “find his spot” and ultimately gain experience that would influence his retail career. “I was one of those store associates who was never asked for my opinion,” he told the Dallas newspaper. “There’s nothing more instructive than asking store employees for their opinions. I have no problem doing that.”

What To Watch: This month, the J.C. Penney ship becomes Ellison’s to run in total as he assumes the CEO title from Mike Ullman, who returned to the department store chain in 2012 and will become executive chairman of the board.

While Ullman was successful in steadying Penney after the rocky tenure of CEO Ron Johnson, all eyes will now be focused on Ellison to see if he can take the company to the next level.

Some retail industry insiders have wondered if Ellison has the full-line merchandising experience needed to achieve success in the department store environment. Unlike Home Depot, which focuses mainly on hardlines, J.C. Penney during the past two years has worked to revamp its assortment in apparel, fashion accessories and home goods to include a mix of national and proprietary brands priced to meet the expectations of the retailer’s middle-class customers.

Perspective: One of seven children who grew up in a small town northeast of Memphis, TN, Ellison’s success has not given him a bloated ego. The Dallas Morning News quoted Ellison telling J.C. Penney managers, “I won’t try to be theatrical or provocative with you. We can love our customers and keep grinding to be successful. We don’t have to blow up the company.”

2016 HomeWorld Business Players (click on name for profile):