Sources Say J.C. Penney Is Looking For A New CEO… Again

After a rough four months with Mike Ullman at the helm, one of Penney’s largest shareholders says, “we can’t afford to wait.”

Sources Say J.C. Penney Is Looking For A New CEO… Again

Beleaguered department store J.C. Penney is once again seeking a new CEO, according to CNBC sources. The news comes just four months after the retailer ousted former Apple exec Ron Johnson after seeing $4 billion in revenue loss and a plummeting stock price. Johnson said treating J.C. Penney like a startup was one of his five biggest mistakes in the venture, which lasted less than a year and a half.

To replace Johnson, J.C. Penney brought in Mike Ullman, the retailer’s former CEO. But Ullman’s four months at the helm have been wrought with struggles, including a controversial Hitler-esque tea kettle and a horribly failed attempt at boosting company morale. To get customers back, J.C. Penney even tried good old-fashioned groveling with an apologetic ad. Despite it all, the stock continues to fall.

According to CNBC, Bill Ackman, a hedge fund manager, and one of the company’s biggest investors, penned a letter to Penney’s board expressing the need for a new CEO:

Considering the scale of J.C. Penney, the seriousness of the issues it faces, and the complexity of its business, there are only a handful of executives with sufficient talent and experience to take on the CEO role. We need a CEO with extensive, ideally department-store retail experience, strong operational skills, and a strong public company track record. When non-competes, geographical considerations, and other personal and timing issues are considered, the number of potential CEO candidates is quite limited. … I strongly urge that we immediately put together a short list of candidates, determine their interest level, and schedule a fast-track

The letter also suggests Allen Questrom, who served as J.C. Penney’s CEO from 2000 to 2004, would take over while the hunt for a permanent replacement ensues. In response to the news, Penney’s stock jumped 7%.

[Image: Flickr user Sam Howzit]

About the author

Jessica Hullinger is a London-based journalist who covers science, health, and innovation. She currently serves as a Senior Editor at