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Can Apple Business Model Save J.C. Penney?

New CEO hopes Apple experience will help “re-imagine” company

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That’s why in addition to the philosophical musings about innovation and optimism, he has brought in fellow Apple cohorts he can trust to get the creative juices flowing.

Daniel Walker joined J.C. Penney this week as “chief talent officer,” overseeing all human relations after holding the same position at Apple from 2000-04. But don’t think Walker is just a techie — he also held top HR positions at retailers Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS) and the now-defunct Lazarus Department Stores, which were rolled into the current operations of Macy’s. That’s a shrewd hire because JCP not only gets Apple innovation, but valuable retail experience in the HR office.

On top of Walker, Apple alum Michael Kramer will be the new chief operating officer at JCP effective Dec. 5. Though he was CFO for Apple’s retail sales from 2000-05, he too has more than just Apple experience, with a current post at apparel company Kellwood Co. and also a stint at Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF).

Will the executive shakeup be enough to rejuvenate J.C. Penney? Maybe. There’s a lot to be said for bringing in new faces when you’re trying to put a whole new face on a brand.

But it remains to be seen whether the Apple alums can capture the same magic with Wrangler jeans that they caught with red-hot electronics. The reality is that unlike relying on a single product that can be a game-changer like the iPhone, J.C. Penney will have to rebuild department by department and item by item.

But if Johnson’s optimism and drive to innovate lasts beyond this initial splash as a new CEO, JCP could indeed find its way.

Jeff Reeves is the editor of Write him at, follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned stocks.

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