J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison Steps Down

Marvin Ellison (pictured), who served as chairman and CEO of J.C. Penney for nearly three years and helped to revive the struggling department store chain, is leaving the company to become head of Lowe’s, according to a statement.

Ellison, who started his career in retail as a $4.35-per-hour security officer, will step down from his role of chairman immediately, though he will serve as CEO until the end of the month. He will be replaced as chairman by the board’s current lead independent director, Ronald W. Tysoe, a former executive of Macy’s.

While the board searches for a new CEO, it has created an Office of the CEO, which will be composed of chief financial officer Jeff Davis, executive vice president of stores and chief customer officer Joe McFarland, chief information officer and chief digital officer Therace Risch, and executive vice president of supply chain Mike Robbins. These four officers will share equal responsibility for Penney’s day-to-day operations until a new CEO is appointed.

In its most recent sales announcement, covering the first fiscal quarter of 2018 (ended May 5), J.C. Penney singled out jewelry as one of its top-performing categories. Fine jewelry was also a top seller for Penney over the holidays.

However, the retailer’s overall first quarter was disappointing, with comps rising only 0.5 percent, and the company posting a $69 million net loss.

Ellison’s move to Lowe’s, a home improvement and hardware chain, is in a sense his returning to his roots. Before joining Penney, he served as vice president of stores at Home Depot. Ellison was recruited to join J.C. Penney in October 2014, and he took over the company in August 2015, succeeding Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, who was on his second stint as CEO.

In a statement, Tysoe praised Ellison for retiring $1.4 billion in debt, renewing and enhancing the company’s revolving credit, and strengthening its financial position.

Photo courtesy of J.C. Penney

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