JCPenney has hired a new CEO months after an abrupt resignation by its former chief executive

Business Insider/Jessica TylerJCPenney has been without a CEO since May.
  • JCPenney has hired a new CEO, Jill Soltau.

  • The struggling department store has been without a leader since May, when its former CEO, Marvin Ellison, resigned to take up a new role at the head of Lowe’s.
  • In September, JCPenney’s CFO, Jeffrey Davis, also announced he would be resigning effective October 1.

JCPenney has a new CEO.

On Tuesday afternoon, JCPenney announced that Jill Soltau, formerly CEO of Joann Stores, will be taking the position effective October 15.

The struggling department store has been without a leader since May, when its former CEO, Marvin Ellison, resigned to run home-improvement retailer Lowe’s. Since then, JCPenney has been managed by a team of four executives while the board has searched for a replacement. In September, the retailer suffered a second blow after CFO Jeffrey Davis stepped down from the business.

While Ellison has been credited with leading the company through a major turnaround effort after his predecessor, Ron Johnson, left the business drowning in debt, analysts say Ellison jumped ship at a crucial time.

“The departure of Marvin Ellison from JCPenney could not have come at a worse time for the beleaguered department store chain. The turnaround program that Ellison put in place has partly delivered but is still far from complete,” Neil Saunders of GlobalData Retail said in a note to clients at the time of his resignation.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in July, JCPenney chairman Ronald Tysoe said the board’s priority was to recruit a CEO with apparel experience

On Tuesday, Paul J. Brown, JCPenney’s board director and chairman of the company’s search committee, praised Soltau for just that.

“Jill stood out from the start among an incredibly strong slate of candidates. As we looked for the right person to lead this iconic Company, we wanted someone with rich apparel and merchandising experience and found Jill to be an ideal fit,” Brown said in a statement.

JCPenney has also been criticised for losing its way in the retail landscape and alienating its core customer – the middle-aged mum – by trying to be all things to all people.

In a statement, Soltau indicated that this core customer is likely to be at the forefront of her strategy.

“JCPenney is a quintessential American brand with a strong and loyal customer base, and I couldn’t be prouder to lead such an iconic retailer,” she said in JCPenney’s press release. “I am highly passionate about the customer and I spent my entire career focused on the needs of a value-based consumer by researching, understanding and meeting her expectations for style, quality and inspiration.”

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