Blog: Leonie BarrieAnother mis-step for JC Penney

Leonie Barrie | 16 April 2013

Ron Johnson, the man tasked with turning around struggling US department store retailer JC Penney, has left the business after less than two years in the post.

Johnson 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 focus on everyday low prices, re-invent the in-store experience, and launch a number of new brands instead served to alienate customers. He has been replaced by the company's former boss Mike Ullman III, the retailer said last week.

For US retailers in general, the combination of cold, snowy weather and the earlier timing of Easter meant that sales of spring or early summer merchandise got off to a chilly start in March. Same-store sales increased by 1.5% during the month, according to first figures released last week, compared with a 4.2% rise in February and 4.5% in January.

On the other side of the Atlantic, retailer Marks & Spencer continues to face challenges too. Its fourth-quarter results showed another drop in general merchandise sales amid "difficult trading conditions" - falling 3.8% on a like-for-like basis in the UK. The company stressed the efforts of the new clothing design team won't be seen until the autumn/winter range is released.

Elsewhere, as global tensions continue to build over North Korea's nuclear programme, the fallout has already extended to the inter-Korean Kaesong industrial complex, where work at the area's key clothing and textile manufacturing plants has ground to a halt.

And the Guatemalan government has agreed to enforce its labour laws in a move that finally resolves a complaint filed five years ago by the US government under the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). The "robust enforcement plan" is designed to put an end to on-going concerns over labour rights violations.


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