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J.C. Penney names insider to head troubled home goods section

Customers ride the escalator at a J.C. Penney store in New York August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP) Chief Executive Myron Ullman has tapped a 25-year company veteran to head the department store's home goods section, filling a big gap in its executive ranks as the retailer tries to revive sales.

Jan Hodges will take on the job of senior vice president, general merchandise manager for the home goods section on November 1, Ullman told employees in a memo this week. Reuters obtained the memo on Thursday.

Hodges, a senior marketing executive, will tackle the task of improving sales of a department that generated only 12 percent of revenue last fiscal year, compared with 21 percent in 2006. She replaces Paul Rutenis, who left Penney in July after 14 months in the job.

Penney spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a recent renovation of its home goods sections in 500 of its 1,100 stores. The overhaul included anchoring the shops with such brands as Jonathan Adler, Michael Graves and Martha Stewart.

But in August, the company reported disappointing results and began reorganizing items in the home section by product category rather than by brand and bringing in more lower-priced merchandise.

Hodges joined Penney in 1988 and her previous positions have included head of women's accessories and intimates, among other merchandising jobs.

The New York Post earlier reported Hodges' appointment.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; editing by Matthew Lewis)