HOWARD SCHULTZ: Ron Johnson's Tenure At JCPenney Was 'Tragic'

howard schultz starbucks

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said what everyone else in the industry was thinking when describing Ron Johnson’s disastrous tenure at JCPenney. 

“Let’s face it. The last two years have been a tragic set of events for Penney’s and all of its constituents,” Schultz told Evan Clark and David Moin at Women’s Wear Daily

Johnson stepped down as CEO yesterday after a tumultuous 16-month reign. His turnaround strategy, which involved ditching the company’s popular promotions program, was blamed for a staggering sales decrease of 32 per cent. 

Johnson will be replaced by former CEO Mike Ullman in the interim. 

Schultz can relate to Ullman because he took an eight-year hiatus from Starbucks (though he remained as chairman) and was hired back as CEO in 2008 to turn the company around. 

He emphasised that Ullman’s decision to come back wasn’t the easy thing to do: “This is not an easy task, but he is the perfect person to come back. He didn’t have to. He is coming back because he feels a responsibility. It takes a lot courage to come back.”

Wall Street isn’t thrilled about Ullman’s return. While Johnson tried to change too much too fast in his tenure, Ullman was criticised for not making the changes the company desperately needed. 

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