jc penney store
by Stephen Garner

jc penney storeJ. C. Penney Company, Inc. has announced a new strategic realignment of its senior leadership team as it initiates personnel actions to streamline job functions and reduce expenses.

As its first action, the Texas-based retailer has announced the appointment of Joe McFarland as executive vice president and chief customer officer, a newly-expanded role that includes responsibility for merchandising, as well as leading all JCPenney store operations.

To ensure the positive momentum of its merchandising transformation, Jodie Johnson has been promoted to head of merchandising for women’s, beauty and family footwear; and James Starke has been promoted to head of merchandising for men’s, children’s, home and jewelry, both reporting to McFarland. Additionally, Therace Risch will assume the combined titles of chief information officer and chief digital officer to reflect her added responsibility for omnichannel retail. As a result of this appointment, Mike Amend will be leaving the company.

“Joe, Therace, Jodie, and James are remarkable executive leaders who have demonstrated their ability to spearhead critical tasks and drive results and efficiencies along the way,” said Marvin R. Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer for JCPenney. “Joe is a dedicated advocate for our associates and knows first-hand how successful we can be when associates are empowered to deliver the best shopping experience possible. Jodie and James are credited for leading the turnaround of our merchandising strategy and will continue to advance this effort by delivering the best assortment of style and value offered by any retailer. Appointing both Jodie and James to lead our merchant teams will ensure that we push merchandising decisions closer to the division heads and buyers for increased speed and efficiency. Furthermore, Therace understands the power of technology, and how it can significantly influence and enhance the way consumers shop and ultimately, be the point of differentiation on where they choose to buy. By merging these critical retail functions under the oversight of four proven leaders, we can better align our operations to ensure every aspect of the business is focused on the customer experience.”

Additionally, as part of ongoing efforts to manage expenses, simplify operations, and streamline workload in support of the company’s long-term growth and profitability, approximately 130 Home Office positions were eliminated across various departments. Additionally, JCPenney recently restructured its group, regional, district and store support teams. This restructure eliminated bureaucracy reduced support positions and reallocated store headcount to customer-facing positions. While the restructuring enabled the vast majority of impacted associates to assume a  new role or leadership position within the store’s organization, approximately 230 positions were subsequently eliminated. The annual cost savings generated by the home office and store reorganization are estimated at approximately $20-$25 million.

“As the company continues to make progress on its strategic framework and implement new processes and organizational efficiencies, it is imperative that we maintain a thoughtful approach to managing expenses, while effectively supporting the needs of the business,” added Ellison. “I would like to thank Mike Amend for his service with the company and wish him well in his future endeavors. Through his hard work, JCPenney has advanced its omnichannel capabilities, laying the groundwork for further innovation and growth.”

This news comes as the retailer announced that its total net sales decreased 0.3 percent for the full year 2017 to $12.51 billion compared to $12.55 billion last year.  Comparable sales increased 0.1 percent for full-year 2017. The slight decline in total net sales was primarily due to store closures in 2017, most of which closed in the first half of the year, and was partially offset by incremental sales for the 53rd week.

Starting in the first quarter of fiscal 2018, the company will adopt the new accounting standards, which relate to revenue recognition and pension accounting. It expects its comp sales for 2018 to remain flat or increase to about 2 percent.