Here's What JCPenney's Board Of Directors Has Been Doing Since CEO Ron Johnson Took Over

JC Penney Fresh Air Event

Lauded as JCPenney’s saviour after his time at Apple, JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson was brought in by the board of directors to completely transform the business.And the board compensated him greatly, to the tune of $52.7 million in restricted stock. 

Since then, JCPenney has struggled as it slowly transforms its stores to a new “shops” models, and sales numbers have been miserable every quarter.

So, what has the board been doing this whole time?

Dana Mattioli at The Wall Street Journal dug up some interesting nuggets about the JCPenney board, which

The WSJ reported:

  • When hedge fund titan Bill Ackman and Vornado Realty Trust chairman Steve Roth joined JCPenney’s board, the board referred to them as “The New Yorkers,” as the pair started to lobby for change. Johnson was then hired.
  • Director Burl Osborne (who died back in August) suggested testing out the “Town Square” setup that Johnson is setting up in his stores this year. He didn’t listen. Board member Colleen Barrett said that the lack of testing was “a mistake.”
  • Directors got worried and started to meet with each other “more frequently in person and by phone.”
  • Johnson has started to send the board members weekly email updates on the happenings at JCPenney.
  • The board helped pressure Johnson into adding the clearance racks that were put up during the summer of 2012, after he had sworn off sales.

Is Johnson worried about any of this?

“I think Bill’s concerned with his investment. I think Steve’s concerned,” he told the WSJ. “I’m concerned with everyone’s investment.”

Ackman has been patient thus far, but he mentioned on CNBC last month that his patience has a limit.

“If three years from now, Ron Johnson is still struggling to turn around JCPenney, then he’s probably the wrong guy,” said Ackman.

When pressed on whether he would actually wait three years, Ackman replied, “The answer here is: JCPenney’s going to make progress. I expect it will and Ron expects it will as well.”

“Again, no company survives down 25 per cent comps over three years that’s not happening,” he continued. “Ron is going to work to solve the problem.”

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