Johnson will be replaced by the companys former CEO Mike Ullman III

Johnson will be replaced by the company's former CEO Mike Ullman III

Ron Johnson, the man tasked with turning around struggling department store retailer JC Penney, has left the business after less than two years in the post, and will be replaced by the company's former boss Mike Ullman III.

Johnson, who replaced Ullman as CEO in November 2011, was brought in from technology giant Apple to revamp the retailer.

But his tenure has been beset by a series of mis-steps after his efforts to bring in a new pricing strategy focusing on everyday low prices, re-invent the in-store experience, and launch a number of new brands instead served to alienate existing customers.

Just last month chief financial officer Ken Hannah denied rumours that he and Johnson may leave the retailer after coming up against mounting pressure to turn the business around.

And in February, JC Penney saw its fourth-quarter losses widen to US$427m from $87m as sales fell 28.4% to $3.8bn. Comparable store sales tumbled 31.7%.

A statement from JC Penney yesterday (8 April) simply said Johnson is "stepping down and leaving the company."

Chairman Thomas Engibous said that Ullman "is well-positioned to quickly analyse the situation JC Penney faces and take steps to improve the company's performance."

Ullman added: "While JC Penney has faced a difficult period, its legacy as a leader in American retailing is an asset that can be built upon and leveraged. To that end, my plan is to immediately engage with the company's customers, team members, vendors and shareholders, to understand their needs, views and insights.

"With that knowledge, I will work with the leadership team and the board to develop and clearly articulate a game plan to establish a foundation for future success."