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J.C. Penney’s Next CEO: Myron Ullman Tapped To Succeed Questrom

J.C. Penney Co. named former LVMH and Macy’s executive Myron E. Ullman 3rd as chairman and ceo to succeed Allen Questrom.

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Shares of Penney’s have tripled since Questrom took over its leadership. The stock, trading on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $12.43 on Sept. 15, Questrom’s first day on the job. Wednesday’s close was $37.36, down slightly from a high of $41.50 on Aug. 2.

In the second quarter ended July 31, Penney’s, free of its Eckerd chain, posted net income of $1 million, on a 5.8 percent sales increase to $3.86 billion. That included a 7.1 percent gain in comparable-store sales and a 1.6 percent decline in Internet and catalogue sales.

For the six months, income fell 31.1 percent to $42 million, and sales rose 7.3 percent to $7.89 billion. The results included the Eckerd operation, which was sold for $4.5 billion to CVS Corp. and the Jean Coutu Group.

Ironically, Ullman and Questrom once locked horns in a bitter takeover battle in the early Nineties. Ullman was running a bankrupt R.H. Macy and was struggling to keep it independent from Federated, at the time being run by Questrom. Macy’s capitulated in 1994, Questrom emerged victorious, and Ullman went on to become ceo at DFS Group and a top executive at LVMH.

Wednesday’s announcement that Ullman will run Penney’s, which operates more than 1,000 department stores, seemed surprising considering that, for the past two years, he has been retired from active corporate life. However, he has been serving on some corporate and nonprofit boards, including Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., Starbucks Coffee Co., Taubman Centers and Segway LLC, and has been doing some consulting.

Ullman left LVMH in 2001 citing a medical condition. On Wednesday, he dispelled some mystery about his health and neurological problems, which in the past have made traveling and long work hours hard to sustain. He said he has a spinal chord injury that was microscopic and tough to detect until recently, and that he does have some motor issues. Walking long distances are difficult, he said, but he uses a Segway and said that his doctor has given him the green light to work. “There is no medical reason why I can’t perform the job,” he said.
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