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QUESTROM VISITS: In a shrewd move to try to win over one of his biggest critics, Ron Johnson gave Allen Questrom a personal tour of the J.C. Penney prototype in Dallas last week, sources said. Johnson has already escorted vendors, retail analysts and journalists through the format, housed on the third floor of the store in the Valley View Center, and just about everybody walks out impressed by the creativity and the clean, contemporary shop-in-shop character.
Questrom, who ran the chain from 2000 to 2004 and remains highly respected as the king of retail turnarounds, declined to comment on his visit. On past occasions, he’s sharply criticized Johnson for rolling out elements of the prototype format without testing first with customers in at least a location or two, and has questioned whether the upscaling of products and elevated store design are relevant to Penney’s middle-income demographic. He’s been deeply troubled by Penney’s steep sales slide and massive layoffs as well. Johnson declined to comment on Questrom’s visit. No word on whether lunch was part of the agenda.