JCP CEO: “You’re fired for not making my dumb idea work”

Michael Francis helped make Target a roaring success.  So, JC Penney CEO  Ron Johnson offered him a $12 million signing bonus to jump ships. Francis took the bait.

Bad decision …except for the $12 million … which Francis gets before the tax rates jump on Jan. 1.

Now, Francis taking the fall for Johnson’s “no sales” strategy’s failure to ignite consumer interest.

Johnson’s still claiming that his idea is fine but it wasn’t marketed right.  That there was a failure to communicate.

After all, a sleek logo and aggressive “retail list price maintenance” worked at Apple … so why shouldn’t it work at a commodity rag place like JCP?

Excerpted from BrandChannel:

J. C. Penney ousted its JC Penney brand president, Michael Francis.

Francis was hired last October “at great expense” — a whopping $12 million signing bonus — from Target.

He  is seen as taking the fall for his boss, company CEO Ron Johnson, the former Apple top retailer who oversaw JCP’s new brand strategy in January.

Johnson who championed the idea of killing coupons and sales in favor of “fair and square pricing” (a reference to its logo), so-called “month long value” and “everyday low” pricing.

JCP recently scrapped that strategy and is re-embracing the dreaded s-word — “sale.”

CEO Johnson “will assume direct responsibility and oversight of the company’s marketing and merchandising functions.”

Ken’s Take: If I were JCP, I would have fired the Apple guy and kept the target guy … eventually, they’ll fire the CEO, too … and probably promote their VP Finance to interim CEO … as soon as it becomes evident that the critical Christmas season is a bust

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In case you missed it, I was on NPR a couple of weeks ago commenting on the JCP strategy.

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7 Responses to “JCP CEO: “You’re fired for not making my dumb idea work””

  1. ex penneys shopper Says:

    jc penneys might as well signed a suicide note with the hiring of Michael Francis and whim ever the are getting there marketing deals from! rather than introduce changes to the store that embraced the current shopper they took all the things that made us like jc penneys and got rid of them! I wish you could have seen my credit card, I’m sure it was at least $6000.00. that’s alot of interest for jc pennies to warn monthly because I constantly found something I liked at pennies and purchased it….now, I have not madevone purchase since dec,2011 and my credit card is one payment shy of being paid off. why? because there is nothing good to buy in jcpenneys anymore! you completely dumped on all your tried and true shoppers! unless you return thevstore and the merchandise back to where it was, I’m done.

  2. Jen Says:

    Why is SALE the dreaded S word??? It’s my favorite 4 letter word (REALLY).. JCP sucked after it got rid of the coupons.. The clothes look trashy; cheap.. Used to be one of my favorite places to shop, till they got rid of the coupons and sales. HOpe they turn things around

  3. Louise dunn Says:

    Biggest mistake made. So afraid CEO has been the death of a really good store. If it isn’t,t broken,don’t fix it!! Have been in the store and can’t find anything to by. Everything looks so CHEAP . Maybe you should consider a new CEO that actually knows about the retail business! I just hope the stores can stay open and return to their glory days.

  4. Denise Says:

    What they are not saying is that once the new strategy was in place, the lowest grade of apparel was unleashed. The fabrics are extremely thin, lacking quality and design. Although the new concept gained my trust quickly, I was disappointed that they lowered their standards and inventory storewide. What a bait and switch! Kmart and Sears have better quality apparel. Here in Pittsburgh, there is hardly any competition for Macys. We lost Kaufmanns and now our local mall offers Target as it’s replacement. Penneys looked real attractive about 10 yrs. ago. Now it is a very depressing and generic shopping experience. I refuse to be fooled by bright white displays starring neon colored clothes with inferior quality. Sorry Penneys but my card is as good as destroyed! So disappointed to lose another good retailer.

  5. donnsa caruso Says:

    i had a good run with jcp 19 years working for them sad to say they are falling apart.

  6. Nicole Stump Says:

    I loved working for J.C.Penney from 1993 to March of 2010.I began at a outlet store in Potomac Mills Mall in Woodbridge,Virginia.I later moved to Florida and worked in a J.C.Penney retail store.In Jan.2010,I began noticing changes coming,and not for the better.So,after working for 17 years for James Cash Penney’s wonderful stores,I felt it was a good time to retire.I was sorry to see many of my fellow associates lose their jobs,or given retirement deals.They were a great group of hard working,loyal people.Customer service,at out local store,is almost non-existent.I hope that J.C.Penney will survive and go back to the way they were.

  7. Pam Hunley Says:

    Agree with everything said so far, tacky merchandise at a premium price. I rarely go in there anymore because there is nothing for me. Loyal Peeny’s shoppers said it over and over again and Pennys didn’t listen, the board said they supported all the hairbrain ideas. It’s a shame that they almost ran a good store in the ground before they saw the light

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