Photo: Aimee Groth, Business Insider
JCPenney president Michael Francis abruptly left his post yesterday, and speculation raged about what was going on at the company’s Plano headquarters.David Moin at Women’s Wear Daily got a hold of JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson, and he explained why Francis is no longer with the company.
Johnson called out Francis, saying that the marketing failed, and that he “had to get involved.”
Here’s what he had to say to WWD:
“It’s very simple. Michael and I had full agreement on the business strategy for Penney’s. We are huge believers that we are on track, and that ultimately we will carve out a winning position. But the marketing has not resonated with our core customer.
My job as CEO is to really take responsibility for everything. I felt compelled to dive in and help with the new strategy. Michael and I both concluded we didn’t need two hands on the same steering wheel. The marketing I largely left to him. The fact that it hasn’t resonated [meant] I had to get involved.”
Instead of having two people work on the marketing, they “mutually agreed” that Francis’ departure was the best course of action.
He also confirmed that he will not be looking for a replacement for Francis. He’ll be in charge of JCPenney’s marketing directly from now on.
As for the marketing strategy, Johnson is planning to stay the course, but he’ll work more on communicating JCPenney’s value to the consumer, according to Dana Mattioli at the Wall Street Journal. “I’m quick to learn and quick to act, but we will not waver,” he told the WSJ.
Marketing is fundamentally important for JCPenney because of its pricing strategy, which goes against the retail convention of constant sales, discounts and clearances. It needs customers to understand that they’re still getting value from JCPenney, even though they’re not using things like coupons.
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