Former JCP’s CEO summoned back

Little did Myron Ullman know that he would be summoned back at JC Penney seventeen months after he retired in 2011. Last week, April 8th, Ron Johnson was fired by the board of directors and was replaced by former CEO, Myron Ullman, after the company lost nearly a billion dollars in sales revenue.

While Ron Johnson accomplished several good things, like cutting operation costs and making stores look more attractive and uncluttered, his biggest mistake as CEO was taking away coupons for customers. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, last year sales fell by 25%, which resulted in the company to lose about a billion dollars.


“Customers hated ousted CEO Ron Johnson’s move to eliminate sales and coupons in favor of everyday low prices, and Johnson’s backpedaling came too late.” (Bloomberg Businessweek). Though Johnson’s plan to eliminate coupons may have made sense to him, it didn’t make sense to JC Penney customers. Their middle-income customers want coupons and want to feel the satisfaction of saving money. Johnson failed to realize what his customers actually wanted.

This reminds me of our first class activity where each group had to create paper airplanes for their customers and convince their customers that theirs was the best. Each group’s airplane was different and unique in their own individual way. While the groups practiced making their paper airplanes, not once did any of the groups visit the customers to ask them what they were looking for in the paper airplanes. Even though each group tried to answer any questions made by the customer with the “right” answer, in reality they didn’t know what the “right” answer was because they didn’t know what the customer really wanted. They answered questions by assuming that that was what the customer wanted to hear. Just like Ron Johnson didn’t take into account that JC Penney customers want and love coupons and just assumed that customers would be happy with everyday low prices, our groups in class didn’t take into account what their customer wants were and just assumed.

Now that Johnson is gone, it is Myron Ullman’s job to bring up sales to JC Penney. This will be tough for Ullman, as the article states, “Persuading lost customers to return to the fold is a bit like trying to win back a girlfriend: Occasionally is works, more often it ends in heartbreak.”. Ullman will need to research to see what it takes to get JC Penney’s customers back.

Overall, I believe it is going to be hard for Ullman to bring up sales. As a result of the new idea of no coupons that Johnson enforced, I believe that many customers were lost and it will be hard to get them back.


Will Ullman be able to bring back JC Penney? What new strategies will he come up with? Will coupons be back at JC Penney?

3 thoughts on “Former JCP’s CEO summoned back

  1. All things considered, I believe that JC Penney will be able to save itself. It is a company that has been around for generations, that built a relationship with a mass of loyal customers over the years. These customers will come back when the coupons do. If these customers are so crazy about feeling like they got a good deal, they won’t be able to forego the opportunity to feel that way again. Though Ullman has a tough job ahead of him, I know that he’ll be able to succeed. After all, Johnson did an amazing job transforming JC Penney stores into cleaner and more inviting environments. Add coupons back into the mix and you have a winning recipe!

  2. Change is always a difficult process. Sometimes dramatic changes can be drastic – in this case, JCPenney’s elimination of coupons. Johnson should have done a better job at understanding the company’s customers. Even though he was successful at Apple, he should not have assumed that JCPenney’s customers are like Apple’s customers.

  3. I agree with spr1331jdelatorre’s comments about Apple, and I think perhaps Johnson tried to liken the two, too much. I think it must have been hard for Johnson to transition from two extremely different industries within retail. I like what this post and the article said about the coupons and how critical they were JC Penny customers. Middle-priced stores are taking the biggest hit right now, and I think the coupons were JC Penny’s competitive advantage, they were known for them. Even if he doesn’t change it back completely to how it used to be, I think having Ullman back will comfort the stockholders at the very least.

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