Penney’s Johnson Tries to Retrain His Customer

Ron Johnson/file photo
Ron Johnson/file photo

Ron Johnson’s popping up everywhere lately, from the Piers Morgan show on CNN to this great Q&A with Bloomberg BusinessWeek. And, you can’t say the CEO of Plano-based J.C. Penney isn’t thinking big. In the magazine interview, he even compares making over Penney’s to rebuilding “trust” in American institutions. Johnson also tells how he thinks wider aisles, all-new mannequins (55,000 of them!) and “retraining” the customer will help save the venerable department store.


  • Wes Mantooth

    “Penney’s Customer Tries to Retrain His Johnson” would be a less accurate but more entertaining headline.

  • CollinBabs

    Ron, give it up. This ain’t Target 2, Apple 2. It’s JC Penney. A brand that’s been around for several DECADES. Sure, some polishing and finessing is timely brand management but dude – the smoke and mirrors will clear and your ego should just go somewhere else. Tired of you and the corporate bs.

  • z

    It’s not smoke and mirrors, not by a long shot. But unfortunately, I must agree, he probably should give up. Folks who shop at Penney’s are too brain-dead to comprehend normalized pricing. They’ve been trained for too many decades in the other direction: to endure phony inflated pricing, then to dive in, right on cue, and “get a good deal” at an equally phony “sale” price. Huge waste of money and efficiency for both company and consumer, but some folks MUST buy at a “sale” or else they think they’re being taken. Heck, some folks will buy stuff they don’t even want, as long as it’s on sale. Makes them feel good, even if they’re scooping up dreck they’d never normally buy. It’s a mentality that probably can’t be retrained.

  • Long Memory

    You can’t teach an old customer new tricks. What’s going to really tick the customer off though, is the fact that there’s no place to “check out.” You just wander until you find an “associate” with an iPad who’d check you out right where they are. In Penneys’ less-than-crowded stores you’ll only need to look for a clot of people to know that THAT’S where you check out. Oh, and good luck with that.

  • Edward

    I miss the good old days when I worked at Dillards and we would have THREE people working in a department on a Tuesday night in February.

    Now when I go shopping, I practically have to force a store to take my money by tracking down the one salesperson working in a three department area. Department stores wander why their sales might be down–it could be because there’s no one to help the customer.

    At least I know what I’m looking for usually. I pity the person who actually wants some help finding a product or getting a recommendation, because if there IS a person working they are tied up at a register with a line of customers trying to check out.

    I also find it hard to shop at Penneys knowing that they have cut their experienced staffers. Isn’t that one of the things that drove Circuit City out of business? I’m sorry, but a 19 year old kid your hired last week isn’t going to be able to help a customer the same way Bob who has worked there for 25 years can.

  • Fletch

    Good luck, buddy. I don’t think new mannequins will entice customers to return as long as that dummy is at the helm.

    This guy will be out door within a year. Unfortunately, he’ll probably still make off with some gaudy severance package. That’s the JC Penney way – grossly overpaid in spite of incredible underperformance.

  • marisa

    Stop beating a dead horse. New manequins is not a reason to come to JCP. Both Sears and JCP can’t begin to keep up with the likes of Target. Closing stores is the way to go….the unprofitable locations……probabily most of them.