APJCPenney CEO Ron Johnson was called out by The New York Post’s James Covert for commuting on a company jet every week from his home in Palo Alto, CA, to the JCPenney headquarters in Plano, TX.
The news struck a nerve with employees, but, as it turns out, Johnson isn’t the only senior executive who doesn’t live near the Plano headquarters.
He’s far from it.
At least nine senior JCPenney executives commute to work by plane, and the company pays for it, sources tell Sapna Maheshwari at Bloomberg News.
For instance, Johnson, EVP Ben Fay, and EVP Laurie Miller fly in from California. CCO Michael Fisher and senior design and trends exec Nick Wooster come in from New York.
A worker at Love Field in Dallas, TX, told us that JCPenney has a pair of Gulfstream G450 business jets located there. These planes cost around $41 million each, according to Gulfstream.
“I know that quite a bit of the flying there at JCPenney is to move upper management from where they live to Dallas for work and then back to where they reside full time.” the worker told us.
So, what’s JCPenney have to say about it? Here’s what a spokesperson told Bloomberg:
“Several of the people who currently travel to Plano from other cities are in the process of setting up permanent residence here and are moving to the Dallas area. With all the travel retail leaders do, it doesn’t always make sense to uproot and relocate their families, move them away from friends and family to a new city — only to be gone travelling to visit vendors, stores or overseas.”
Right now, JCPenney’s internal culture is going through a period of flux, and the company needs to do everything it can to get people on board with the vision. Executives who are physically detached aren’t going to help with that.
“For a company that’s in turmoil, you really do have to have the senior leaders of a company, if for no other reason than showing face time, show that they’re committed, accessible, aware of what’s going on there,” Howard Gross, managing director of retail and fashion at executive search firm Boyden, told Bloomberg.
And it’s affecting morale and trust within the company, especially in an environment that’s so brutally unforgiving for both the retail worker and the lower-level corporate employee.
“We are being forced to watch the death of a 100-year-old company while our CEO flies back and forth on a private jet and tells us that we’re doing a great job,” one JCPenney store employee told us. “It’s strange the way we seem to be firing those on the front lines while continuing to employee executives whose decisions are costing us our livelihood.”
“It’s clearly about [Johnson’s] ego and check book!” a salon worker complained to us when he learned about his CEO’s commute.
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