JCPenney CFO quashes resignation rumors


The CFO of JCPenney, Ken Hannah, has denied rumors that he and CEO Ron Johnson may leave the company after coming up against mounting pressure to turn the struggling department store retailer around.

Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Consumer & Retail Conference last week, Hannah said: “So [there are] all kind of rumors in the marketplace. I can tell you that I’m not resigning [and] Ron’s not resigning.”

“It’s no surprise that we had a tough year last year and I want to make sure that you guys all understand that Ron and I are not going to go hide,” he emphasized.

“We’re going to tell you what we’re doing, we’re going to tell you what we’re learning and we’re going to stand up and we’re going to be held accountable.”

The comments come after JC Penney was forced to abandon a central part of its turnaround plan earlier this month after its shift to an everyday low pricing model failed to gain traction with consumers. As a result, the group saw fourth-quarter and full-year losses widen to $427 million and $985 million respectively.

The retailer has returned to promotions and coupons and said that in April, it will bring back products that it exited, which customers liked.

“We’ve got to do this in a way that allows us to attract the core customer that lost confidence in us,” adding that “we have to connect with our customers — with all of them,” Hannah told investors last week.

The company said it is investing in stores with the launch of the Joe Fresh brand in 681 stores on Friday.

Hannah emphasized that when the company set out its transformation plans last year, “no one said it was going to be easy,” adding that this is a “multi-year transformation”.

He said JCPenney had previously done a number of things to attract new customers into stores – which had in some cases been “at the expense” of its core-customer and “we cannot allow that to happen”.

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