What’s Up With J.C. Penney’s Board Fighting in Public?
For those trying to keep up with the latest episode in the soap that is J.C. Penney, here we go:
William "Bill" Ackman takes a 16.5 percent stake in J.C. Penney. The former CEO of the department store, Allen Questrom, tells The Wall Street Journal, "Out of the leading department stores, Penney comes in dead last. So from my vantage point, Ackman’s [involvement] is not bad. Clearly, J.C. Penney needs to improve its performance."
Mr. Ackman is named to Penney’s board of directors along with Steven Roth, chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, which owns about 10 percent of the department store chain’s stock. CEO Myron "Mike" Ullman welcomes Messrs. Ackman and Roth to the board.
Mr. Ackman, making no secret of his unhappiness with Mr. Ullman’s leadership of the chain, personally recruits Ron Johnson from Apple to lead J.C. Penney. It is announced that Mr. Ullman will stick around to oversee accounting, finance, logistics and other aspects of the CEO’s duties while Mr. Johnson does some on-the-job training.
Ron Johnson takes over J.C. Penney and the business declines even further.
Former CEO Allen Questrom publicly criticizes Ron Johnson’s leadership of the department store chain as sales continue to slide.
Ron Johnson is out as CEO of J.C. Penney. Mr. Ullman is named interim CEO while the chain searches for someone to take over the position.
CNBC reports seeing a letter Mr. Ackman sent to the company board in which he claims that Mr. Questrom has agreed to rejoin J.C. Penney as chairman as long as he approves with the choice of a new CEO.
J.C. Penney’s board takes the unusual step of releasing a statement by board chairman Thomas Engibous that takes Mr. Ackman to task. In it, the board claims "significant progress" has been made in correcting issues made under "previous management" since Mr. Ullman’s return. It further states that the permanent CEO search is underway and that it will be "careful and deliberate to ensure we find the right long-term leader."
The best was left for last. Mr. Engibous writes, "Mr. Ackman has been integrally involved in the board’s activities since he joined two years ago. This includes leading a campaign to appoint the company’s previous CEO, under whose leadership performance deteriorated precipitously. His latest actions are disruptive and counterproductive at an important stage in the company’s recovery."
- Big Investors Could Mean Big Changes for Penney – RetailWire
- New Board Directors Could Shake Up J.C. Penney – RetailWire
- Penney Offers Training Program for New CEO – RetailWire
- Johnson Era is Over: What Will It Take to Fix Penney? – RetailWire
- Ackman to JCP: ‘Find a new CEO’ – CNBC (video)
- Statement of jcpenney’s Board of Directors from Chairman Thomas Engibous – J.C. Penney
If you were in charge, what would you do with J.C. Penney? How would you straighten out its leadership issues? Is the public spat among board members likely to hurt the chain in finding a new CEO?