Ullman Asserts J.C. Penney Customer Is Back

Mike Ullman, J.C. Penney executive chairman, on receiving the National Retail Federation’s Gold Medal Award, told participants at the Big Show, the organization’s convention, that the retailer had won back the customer base that had eroded under the leadership of former CEO Ron Johnson.

“We had 87 million active customers when I left. We now have 87 million customers back,” Ullman said, crediting the work of company executives and store workers who he noted were enthusiastic about winning the return of shoppers who had migrated from J.C. Penney.

Ullman returned as J.C. Penney CEO in 2013 after leaving in the aftermath of Johnson’s 2011 appointment. Ullman took over the retailer’s reigns again after his successor’s youth-oriented revamp of the operation drove away more customers than it won over. J.C. Penney announced in 2014 that Marvin Ellison would succeed Ullman as the retailer’s CEO while Ullman became executive chairman.

In addition to Ullman, NRF cited several other executives as part of the NRF Annual Awards, which celebrate the retail industry’s leadership, innovation and globalization program. They were:

  • The Retail Innovator of the Year award recipient: Alex Gourley, evp/Walgreens Boots Alliance and president, Walgreens
  • The Innovator of the Year recipient: Nicola Farinetti, CEO Eataly U.S.
  • The Silver Plaque recipient: Lee Culpepper, vp/corporate affairs, Walmart.

Trish Regan, Fox Business news anchor, USA Today columnist and author, moderated the awards program.

—MIKE DUFF