Apple retail chief Ron Johnson to leave for JC Penney


Ron Johnson, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail, is set to leave the company in order to take a position as the president, and eventually CEO, of J. C. Penney. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is expected to announce Johnson’s departure later today; Johnson will succeed long-time Penney leader Myron Ullman in the CEO position. Apple hired Johnson away from Target in 2000 in order to build out its retail stores, which have grown to over 300 outlets during his 11-year tenure. The report does not indicate whom Apple might have in mind as Johnson’s replacement.

Update: In a J. C. Penney press release announcing the move, Johnson said, “I’ve always dreamed of leading a major retail company as CEO, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help J. C. Penney re-imagine what I believe to be the single greatest opportunity in American retailing today, the Department Store. I have tremendous confidence in J. C. Penney’s future and look forward to working with Mike Ullman, the Executive Board and the Company’s 150,000 associates to transform the way America shops.”

The release also notes that Johnson has committed to make a personal investment of $50 million in the company “through the purchase, at fair market value, of 7 1/2-year warrants on 7.257 million shares of J. C. Penney Company stock. The warrants cannot be sold or hedged for the first six years of their term and have a strike price of $29.92, the closing price of the stock on the business day prior to Mr. Johnson’s commitment to purchase the warrants.”

Apple has also responded to the departure, with a spokesperson telling AllThingsD, “Ron is excited about this opportunity and we hope it goes well for him. We’ve got a great retail team in place and are actively recruiting for his replacement.”

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Charles Starrett

Charles Starrett was a senior editor at iLounge. He's been covering the iPod, iPhone, and iPad since their inception. He has written numerous articles and reviews, and his work has been featured in multiple publications.