JCPenney has announced the appointment of three leaders who will play an instrumental role in the company’s pursuit of operational excellence and sustainable profitable growth.
Effective March 1, Michelle Wlazlo will join the company as executive vice president, chief merchant, reporting to Jill Soltau, chief executive officer of JCPenney. Wlazlo brings 30 years of merchandising and stores experience to JCPenney from a variety of respected apparel and accessory retailers. Most recently she served as senior vice president of apparel and accessories merchandising at Target Corporation where she helped lead the company’s strategy and implementation of a robust merchandising program that included transforming the presentation of 1,400 stores and launching 15 new private brands.
Prior to Target, Wlazlo spent 19 years at Gap, Inc. in a variety of roles, most recently as senior vice president of Gap’s global merchandising across all brand divisions including women’s, men’s, kids, baby, body, and fit. Over the course of nearly two decades, she held multiple merchandising roles of increasing responsibility for Gap, Gap Outlet, and Old Navy. She began her career at Saks Fifth Avenue as a department manager before assuming store leadership and buying roles at Bebe Stores.
Among those reporting to Wlazlo include Jodie Johnson, senior vice president, general merchandise manager for women’s apparel and interim general merchandise manager for home; Angela Swanner, senior vice president, general merchandise manager for center core, which includes salon and Sephora inside JCPenney; Jeff Useforge, senior vice president, general merchandise manager for men’s and children’s; and Val Harris, senior vice president, product design and development.
The company also announced that it has filled two additional key senior executive positions. John Welling has joined the company as senior vice president, planning and allocation, reporting to Therace Risch, executive vice president, chief information officer and chief digital officer. Welling brings over 25 years of experience in retail and consulting, most recently serving as senior vice president of merchandise operations for The Michaels Companies where he led planning, pricing, inventory management and merchandise finance. Prior to The Michaels Companies, he spent over a decade at Walmart serving in executive positions of increasing responsibility, and was a partner at Accenture for their North American retail practice.
Further, Mark Stinde will join the company on March 4 as senior vice president of asset protection, reporting to Mike Robbins, executive vice president, chief stores and supply chain officer. Stinde has over 23 years’ experience in loss prevention and store operations, and is a leading retail expert in asset protection, safety and security. He has a proven track record of significantly reducing shrink levels at leading national retailers. Stinde joins JCPenney from 7-Eleven where he most recently served as vice president of asset protection. He has held various leadership positions of increasing responsibility at Toys ‘R’ Us, The Home Depot, Sears, and Circuit City.
“I’m delighted to announce that these three highly accomplished and esteemed retail experts are joining our organization. Each of these executives will play a meaningful role in our company’s evolution as we work to build our operational capabilities,” said Soltau. “I’m confident that the addition of our newly appointed leaders will inspire the level of progress and momentum needed to deliver a compelling and rewarding shopping experience for our customers and position JCPenney for success.”
This move comes on the same day as the company announced it has determined that it will close 18 full-line stores in 2019, including the three locations previously announced in January. In addition, the company will also close 9 ancillary home and furniture stores, further aligning the company’s brick-and-mortar presence with its omnichannel network, and enabling capital resources to be reallocated to locations and initiatives that offer the greatest long-term value potential.
The stores identified for closure either require significant capital, are minimally cash flow positive today relative to the company’s overall consolidated average or represent a real estate monetization opportunity. Associates who will be impacted by the store closures will receive separation benefits, which includes assistance identifying other employment opportunities and outplacement services, such as resume writing and interview preparation. Nearly all impacted stores are expected to close in the second quarter of 2019.
“We have much work to do to position JCPenney for success and create long-term value for our shareholders, however our unwavering focus and discipline is already enabling meaningful progress,” Soltau added.