Francis out at JCPenney after less than a year

by Harry Sheff

PLANO, Texas—There’s more drama at JCPenney headquarters as the discount retailer announced the abrupt departure of president Michael Francis. He was known as one of the main proponents of the retailer’s new pricing strategy and was responsible for “re-imagining the store experience.” He was one of CEO Ron Johnson’s first hires.

Francis, who was brought over from Target in October last year, was responsible for merchandising, marketing, planning, allocation, product development and sourcing. The company did not comment or offer any explanation for Francis’s exit.

In reporting the departure, Advertising Age‘s Natalie Zmuda noted that JCPenney’s marketing had some messaging issues, despite the success of the campaign from a creative standpoint. “Many consumers have been confused about the retailer’s pricing strategy, leading to a series of marketing adjustments. New ads have been running explaining the strategy, while the more straightforward word ‘sale’ has been substituted for ‘month-long value.'”

JCPenney slid to a first-quarter loss of $163 million last month. Total sales fell 20.1 percent to $3.152 billion with same-store sales dropping 18.9 percent.