HomeBusinessJC Penney announces Joann Stores chief Jill Soltau as the next CEO,...

JC Penney announces Joann Stores chief Jill Soltau as the next CEO, sending shares up by more than 10%

J.C. Penney on Tuesday said that Jill Soltau who is the former CEO of Joann Stores, will take the helm of the struggling department store chain. This sent the shares up more than 10 percent in extended trading.

Soltau will take the position on October 15. She will also become a member of the retailer’s board of directors. The news comes after the exit of Marvin Ellison, who is now the CEO of home improvement retailer Lowe’s. Penney has been searching for a replacement for Ellison since the time he abruptly announced his exit in May. The department store chain also lost Jeffrey Davis, its CFO, earlier this week.

The company’s shares rose by more than 10 percent in after-hours trading to $1.73.

It is true that the department store sector in the United States is under increasing pressure as shoppers’ purchases shift online. However, Penney has struggled even more than some of its peers, including Macy’s and Nordstrom. In the latest quarter which ended Aug. 4, Penney lowered its outlook for the entire year,  as it continued to grapple with an overhang of too much an inventory.

The company must be hoping that, Soltau will be able to help turn things around.

Paul Brown, Penney board director and chairman of the CEO search committee said that Jill stood out from the start among an incredibly strong slate of candidates.

Brown added that when they looked for the right person to lead this iconic company, they wanted someone with rich apparel and merchandising experience and found Jill to be an ideal and perfect fit.

Soltau comes to Penney at a very crucial time ahead of the important holiday season. The company has had a very hard time keeping inventory levels to a low, as there is a massive pileup of unsold and outdated merchandise piled up in stores.  The retailer’s board had assured shareholders that it would find someone with merchandise experience to fill the CEO role, when Ellison left.

Soltau said in a statement about her new job that she is highly passionate about the customer and spent her entire career focused on the needs of a consumer by researching, understanding and meeting there expectations for style, quality as well as inspiration.

Before fabric and crafts retailer Joann stores, Soltau was working as a chief merchandising officer at Shopko Stores. She has also worked for Sears and Kohl’s.

Penney shares have fallen more than 50 percent in this year to trade around $1.70. The retailer still has a market cap of approximately $491.2 million.



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