Time is running out for Ron Johnson to execute his turnaround plan at JCPenney.
As the company burns through available cash and resources, the industry is “taking bets” on when he’ll get fired, reports Richard Collings at The Deal.
But it’s not just Johnson people are talking about. Even the company’s future is in jeopardy.
“They are also starting to wager on whether the venerable retailer won’t join many of its peers in the final markdown of retail history,” Collings writes.
Firms such as Apollo Global Management LLC and Leonard Green & Partners LP are considering a potential buyout of J.C. Penney, according to Collings. This would provide the funds the company needs for a turnaround.
Some insiders see a private equity firm bail-out as the only way JCPenney will survive, according to Collings.
Johnson, a veteran of Apple and Target, took the top spot at JCPenney just over a year ago. His main initiatives were doing away with the company’s popular coupons and creating boutique-style “shop-in-shops” that showcased certain brands.
But the end of the coupons program drove away longtime shoppers, and so far JCPenney hasn’t been able to bring in new ones. Sales plunged 32 per cent last quarter from a year earlier.
The future of one of Johnson’s major shop-in-shops is also in jeopardy.
JCPenney’s planned home line with Martha Stewart was a focal point of Johnson’s strategy, but Macy’s is suing to stop the line because of their contract with the home maven.
Even Johnson’s biggest fans are beginning to turn against him.
Bill Ackman, the hedge fund manager and investor who recruited Johnson, once defended him, saying he needed more time. But he recently backtracked and called Johnson’s tenure a “disaster.”
JCPenney’s financial resources are dwindling, and the company isn’t getting any better.
“Here we see a company that is being eaten alive by its turnaround story,” Brian Sozzi, chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors told us, adding that the company is hemorrhaging cash and can’t continue on this path for much longer.
Johnson might have to go before it’s too late.
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