Ron Johnson Says JCPenney Is 'Starting To Act Like A Startup'

Ron Johnson, JCPRon Johnson at today’s Q1 earnings presentation

Photo: JCP

At today’s JCPenney event, CEO Ron Johnson talked about the company’s big Q1 miss. He said the turnaround is tougher than expected, but that JCP is “starting to act like a startup.””We’re moving a lot quicker,” he said, and that with startups — “which I’m really familiar with in the Apple area; you get your learning and reaction time really close. We’re starting to work really close.”

To operate like that, you’ve got to be smaller than a huge corporate behemoth like JCPenney. 

Which is why Johnson has been cutting corporate and store employees across the country for the past few months.

He’s also completely replaced all the top executives with a new team, and added 41 new VPs and EVPs, half of which are outside hires from “companies like GE, Apple, Nike and Disney,” he said.

JCPenney President Michael Francis spoke about all the brands the company is now partnering with, like Michael Graves, Vivienne Tam and Jonathan Adler. He said that “for our strategy to win, we’ll win on the assortment.” 

Those are a lot of changes to roll out in the next few months, and so far, customers haven’t warmed up to a big part of its new strategy: its pricing. 

The bottom line is that Johnson is aggressively demanding change, but whether or not he eventually gets America back into JCP stores is to be seen. And he doesn’t have that much time. According to UBS, “Judgment Day” is in the second half of 2012.

Now read more from JCPenney’s Q1 earnings announcement >

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