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Life Health > Running Your Business

A truly depressing visit to JC Penney

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Ex-Apple retail czar Ron Johnson was supposed to revitalize an ailing JC Penney when he came over as its CEO a few years ago. But instead of giving the familiar retailer a much-needed evolution, all he has done is forget why the brand’s biggest fans actually love the brand, impose a bunch of seemingly arbitrary changes on a model that needed change (but not necessarily the ones Johnson was advocating), and stumbled badly on the issue of discount pricing. It all adds up to a grim cautionary tale: Just because you succeeded in one realm of business does not mean that your recipe for success will translate to others. In some cases, what made things work in one place will wreck the house in another, as Johnson seems to be doing. Last quarter, JC Penney reported what might be the worst financials for any major retailer ever.