Ron Johnson, the Apple executive that pioneered its Apple retail stores, will now bring that glossy, high-tech spirit to . . . JCPenney?
JCPenney announced that Johnson, Apple's senior vice president of retail, will succeed its chief executive officer Myron Ullman III in November. Johnson joined Apple in 2000 and there have been 300 stores opened under his leadership, according to his Apple bio. He previously worked for Target as vice president of merchandising and has an MBA from Harvard.
News of Johnson's hire sent JCPenney stock prices soaring as its market value rose by $1 billion, according to Reuters. The hire also reportedly cost the 109-year-old company a lot -- it had to lure Johnson to its Plano, Texas, headquarters with $50 million in stock to make up for Johnson's lost $50 million in Apple shares set to mature in 2012. (His JCPenney stock matures in January 2012.)
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An Apple spokesman said the company is actively looking for Johnson's replacement.
Many are hailing this as a coup for JCPenney, but the retailer paid a king's ransom to get Johnson, including wooing him for the better part of a year. Johnson's experience at Target also makes sense for the retailer. That he was successful at creating Apple's retail stores is also good, but we don't know how much of that will be able to transfer to a mid-range clothing and housewares retailer. Either way, it will be interesting to see if Johnson can make JCPenney's dull retail experience seem new again.