Penney Pinches Apple’s Retail Guru; Genius Bars in the Jeans Department?
On May 15, 2001, Apple opened its first retail store in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. A little more than a decade later, there are more than 300 of them in 11 countries on 4 continents generating quarterly revenues of well in excess of $3 billion. Ron Johnson, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail Operations, is the man largely responsible for them. And this morning J.C. Penney tapped him as its new CEO.
Come November 1, Johnson will succeed J.C. Penney CEO Mike Ullman, who will move into the role of executive chairman. “I’ve always dreamed of leading a major retail company as CEO,” Johnson said in a canned statement. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help J.C. Penney re-imagine what I believe to be the single greatest opportunity in American retailing today, the Department Store.”
Johnson’s hire is a coup for the department store chain which stands to benefit considerably from his retail acumen and the sort of strategic thinking that have made Apple Stores such an extraordinary success. Today they are the fourth fastest growing retail business in the world, according to the National Retail Federation. And their patrons are among the most satisfied around — even if they don’t actually buy anything.
Much of that is Johnson’s doing. He’s widely recognized as a retail demigod and one need only look at the spike in J.C. Penny’s stock on news of the announcement for proof. At $34.95, the company’s share price is up more than 16 percent, or $4.84, as I write this.
His departure is a true loss for Apple, which will obviously miss his creativity and innovation. That said, the Apple Store refresh the company implemented back in May should serve it well in the years ahead.
“Ron is excited about this opportunity and we hope it goes well for him,” a spokesperson told AllThingsD. “We’ve got a great retail team in place and are actively recruiting for his replacement.”