Ron Johnson, after his 11-year career as senior vice president at Apple Inc., will take over as CEO at J.C. Penney Co. November this year.
Joining Apple in January 2000, Johnson spearheaded the creation and expansion of Apple's retail stores, and pioneered the Genius Bar, even in the face of stiff criticism from Apple's CEO Steve Jobs.
Johnson helped Apple expand the retail business to more than 300 stores, boosting revenue of $3.19 billion in the Q1 of 2011, 90% higher from 2010.
While it's very difficult to leave Apple, perhaps the greatest company in the world, I just wanted a chance to lead a company in an industry that's kind of tied to my roots in retailing, Johnson said in an interview. Becoming CEO was his lifelong dream, Johnson told the Associated Press. He further said to AP that he's joining JC Penney at a time when momentum is building and said he wants to help re-imagine what I believe to be the single greatest opportunity in American retailing today, the department store.
Once replaced by Johnson, the current CEO Myron Ullman, 64, will become executive chairman of the department-store chain, the third-biggest in the U.S. He joined the company in 2004 after executive positions at companies including Macy's Inc.'s predecessor, Bloomberg reported.
By welcoming Johnson, JC Penney looks to lower expenses to battle the rising cost of materials such as cotton.
Right after the announcement, JC Penney rose $5.26, or 17%, to $35.37 at 4 p.m. Tuesday in NYSE composite trading, the biggest rise since Oct. 13, 2000, according to Bloomberg.
Apple's website states, Before joining Apple, Johnson held various management positions at the Target Corporation, most recently as Vice President of Merchandising for Target Stores. In this capacity, Johnson presided over a successful period of growth at Target, playing a key role in developing new initiatives for branding, marketing and merchandising. He led the team responsible for launching the Michael Graves exclusive line of products, as well as the addition of other key brands to the store's selection.
While it is at a great loss for Apple, a spokeswoman for Apple said they have a great retail team in place and are actively recruiting for his replacement. Johnson is the second senior executive to leave Apple in the past few months. In March, Bertrand Serlet, the senior vice president for Mac software left the company to focus on scientific research, Bloomberg reported.
While Johnson's move from Apple to JC Penney would require much more effort in topping the endless competition in a market with cash-poor retail customers unlike Apple's niche market, Johnson is expected to bring his enriched experience at the technology giant to brighten the future of retail at JC Penney.