Bill Ackman Blasts Former JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson For Lack Of 'Physical Presence'

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Reuters

Ron Johnson

JC Penney is headquartered out of Texas, but former CEO Ron Johnson, who was shown the door earlier this week, insisted on working from California.

It's one of the many things critics have blamed for Johnson's demise at JC Penney.

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who has seen his big stake in JC Penney stock collapse in value since Johnson took over as CEO, is speaking at an NYU conference today.

Via Bloomberg, Ackman says that Johnson's lack of physical presence at the Texas headquarters was an issue, because if the CEO isn't very visible, it lowers company morale.

Ackman says the "physical presence" of the new CEO will be critical for JC Penney's turnaround.

The hedge fund manager admitted that Johnson had the "right vision" for the future of JC Penney, but that sometimes hiring someone who had "always succeeded" before can become an issue. (Ackman recruited Johnson to the JC Penney CEO role from Apple, where he built a very successful retail business.)

In other words, according to Ackman, it's hard to find an executive who both has the right vision and the ability to execute that vision.

Going forward, Ackman says JC Penney's Home Store will be the best home section in any department store, and the company will restart coupon circulars in newspapers, a practice that ended under Johnson's tenure as CEO.



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