J.C. Penney CEO Johnson Is Forced Out

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The retailer recruited Johnson from Apple to revitalize the company but since his arrival 18 months ago, business has only gotten worse. J.C. Penney has brought back Johnson's predecessor Myron Ullman to once again led the struggling retailer.


NPR's business news starts with J.C. Penney's revolving door.


GREENE: J.C. Penney has ousted its high-profile CEO, Ron Johnson. The retailer recruited Johnson from Apple, to revitalize the company. But since his arrival less than 18 months ago, things at J.C. Penney have only gotten worse.

Here's NPR's Wendy Kaufman.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Ron Johnson had headed up Apple's retail operations, and arrived at J.C. Penney with lots of fanfare and big ideas for turning things around. Unfortunately, they didn't work.

RAFI MOHAMMED: The root of Ron's demise was simply, he was too ambitious.

KAUFMAN: Rafi Mohammed is a retail pricing strategist.

MOHAMMED: First, he tried to wean customers off of coupons, off of discounts. And second, he was trying to make a dramatic change in the merchandise that simply took too long and as a result, old customers stopped coming, and new customers never had a chance to come in the door.

KAUFMAN: Johnson hadn't followed the usual industry practice of testing changes in a small number of stores before adopting them company-wide.As customers quit shopping, sales tumbled. In the most recent quarter, they were down roughly 30 percent from a year earlier, and the quarterly loss was a staggering $522 million.

One big investor and J.C. Penney board member, who had been a big supporter of Ron Johnson, said last week, the turnaround had been very close to a disaster. J.C. Penny has brought back Johnson's predecessor, Myron Ullman, to once again lead the struggling retailer.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from