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TITLE: Chief executive officer.
COMPANY: J.C. Penney Co. Inc.
NOMINATED FOR: All eyes are on Johnson, Penney’s biggest cheerleader, as he touts the retailer’s future potential. Johnson’s challenges are monumental, however: remaking Penney’s and in the process rethinking the entire department-store model. The jury is still out on the success of the remake, given a $123 million loss in the third quarter and a comparable-store sales decline of 26.1 percent.
The former Apple Inc. retail star said the conversion to “JCP specialty store” is a project that could take three years to fully complete. Missteps on how to communicate its fair-and-square pricing strategy to the consumer have been made, but Johnson has also demonstrated a strategic flexibility in righting the ship, which hasn’t been lost on analysts. That, plus 40 more new shops in March, coupled with impressive early metrics for the in-store shops now in place, are giving some analysts hope for positive comps year-over-year starting in the second half of 2013. Any measure of success will put other retailers in the role of “follow the leader,” with Johnson becoming the new king of retail.