Ron Johnson's tenure at JCPenney, greeted with so much optimism, quickly turned into a disaster.
Constant layoffs, a culture of secrecy, and distrust of Johnson's management team left many employees, and even executives, miserable.
His departure was greeted with widespread relief, a JCPenney regional executive told the Huffington Post's Kim Bhasin:
“I saw store employees crying from excitement and joy,” he said. “They told me, ‘Thankfully someone has finally listened to us. I just hope it’s not too late to save J.C. Penney.'”
It wasn't just about the frequent firings, though those certainly took a toll, or the company's poor performance.
One of Johnson's signature efforts was to completely eliminate the company's promotions program without testing it first. Not only did the strategy confuse and alienate customers, but frequent changes damaged employee morale, and made the stores run poorly.
After Johnson admitted defeat and embraced sales and coupons again early this year, his management team set an extremely tight deadline to completely revamp the labels and signage.
But by then, he had eliminated a position at every store in charge of signs and visuals. As a result, many of the signs were misprinted and sometimes unreadable, with incorrect price points, and they were sent out too late, Bhasin reports.
It was chaos.
Some argue that Johnson wasn't given enough time. The attitude on the ground seems to be that he might have been given too much.
The company just released an ad, ironically conceived while Johnson was still CEO, admitting its mistakes, rebranding the company, and asking for customers to return.
JCPenney is burning cash at an alarming rate, so it needs consumers to give them another chance sooner, rather than later.
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