- JCPenney announced on Tuesday that Jill Soltau, most recently the CEO of Joann Stores, would be taking over as chief executive.
- As Joann’s CEO, Soltau has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, telling Business Insider’s Bob Bryan that they act as a “made in America tax.”
- JCPenney also came out in opposition of the tariffs in early September.
JCPenney’s new CEO is coming fresh off a stint as the chief executive at Joann Stores, where she was in the middle of a battle against President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.
On Tuesday, JCPenney announced plans to appoint Jill Soltau as CEO, effective October 15. Soltau most recently served as the CEO of Joann Stores, a fabric-and-craft retailer with 850 stores across the United States.
In an interview with Business Insider’s Bob Bryan in late August, Soltau said that roughly 70% of Joann’s goods come from China, and roughly 60% would be subject to the tariffs on Chinese goods backed by Trump. According to Soltau, there would be no way for Joann to avoid raising prices in light of the tariffs.
“We looked at it and as we digested it, the conclusion we came to is that these tariffs would unintentionally create a tax on raw materials that are imported into the United States so that our customers can create projects and products that are made in America,” Soltau said.
Soltau spoke about the downsides of the tariffs at the Section 301 hearing in Washington, DC, as part of an anti-tariff media blitz. Joann Stores also created an online petition for customers to sign, calling the tariffs a “made in America tax.”
Soltau will likely continue her battle against the tariffs at the helm of JCPenney, another retailer that has opposed the tariffs.
“No retailer will be able to simply absorb the cost of a 10% per cent tariff, much less a 25% tariff in today’s ultracompetitive retail environment,” JCPenney counsel David M. Spooner wrote in a September 6 letter to US trade representative Robert E. Lighthizer. “That means consumers will pay higher prices.”
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