US retail giant JC Penney has further bolstered its leadership team, naming former Gap Inc and Target Corp executive Michelle Wlazlo as executive vice president, chief merchant, as part of its bid to drive sustainable profitable growth.

Wlazlo will join the company tomorrow (1 March), reporting to new CEO Jill Soltau, and bringing 30 years of merchandising and stores experience to JC Penney.

Most recently she served as senior vice president of apparel and accessories merchandising at Target where she helped lead the company’s strategy and implementation of a robust merchandising programme that included transforming the presentation of 1,400 stores and launching 15 new private brands.

Prior to Target, Wlazlo spent 19 years at Gap Inc in a variety of roles, most recently as senior vice president Gap global merchandising across all brand divisions including women’s, men’s, kids, baby, body and fit. Over the course of nearly two decades, she held multiple merchandising roles of increasing responsibility for Gap, Gap Outlet and Old Navy. She began her career at Saks Fifth Avenue as a department manager before assuming store leadership and buying roles at Bebe Stores, Inc.

In addition, JC Penney has named John Welling as senior vice president, planning and allocation, and Mark Stinde as senior vice president, asset protection, reporting to Mike Robbins, who was recently promoted to executive vice president, chief stores and supply chain officer

The appointments follow the news that JC Penney is looking to tighten its core offering, ditching products like major appliances and focusing more on higher margin products such as apparel.

The moves are part of a turnaround plan to return the group to profitable growth. It recently revealed plans to shutter three stores this spring as part of an ongoing evaluation of its store portfolio and revealed a drop infourth-quarter net income to US$75m from $242m in the same period last year.