Francis Out at J.C. Penney

Michael Francis

Michael Francis

PLANO, Texas-Michael Francis, president of J.C. Penney, left the department-store retailer effective yesterday.

A brief statement from the company gave no reason for Francis’ departure. CEO Ron Johnson has assumed responsibility over Francis’ marketing and merchandising functions. The statement also did not say whether J.C. Penney is searching for a successor to Francis.

A veteran of more than 20 years in marketing and merchandising positions, Francis came to J.C. Penney last October, and was put in charge of all merchandising, marketing, planning and allocation, and product development and sourcing functions. He joined the company from Target, where he had been executive vice president and chief marketing officer since 2008.

In January, nearly four months after Francis came on board, J.C. Penney announced that it was revamping its business—including new pricing based on everyday low prices and a reduction of sales events and coupons, and a reformatting of the stores around shop concepts. The pricing elements went into effect on Feb. 1.

When J.C. Penney’s first-quarter results were announced in May, the company reported a net loss of $163 million along with a drop in net sales of 20.1 percent and a plummet in same-store sales of 18.9 percent. In a meeting with financial analysts at the Piper Jaffray Consumer Conference earlier this month, Johnson admitted that J.C. Penney hadn’t “communicated the pricing change in a way the customer understands.”