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JCPenney appoints Jill Soltau as CEO

JCPenney (JCP) announced today that Jill Soltau will be the new CEO effective October 15, 2018. Solatu comes with more than three decades worth of retail experience with stints at JOANN Stores and Shopko Stores. Investors seem to be gung-ho about the news with the stock up more than 11% in the extended hours of trading.

It’s worth noting that the retailer has been scouting for a new CEO since May. Marvin Ellison departed as CEO shortly after the disappointing first quarter results. The stock plunged more than 12% post the results announcement and 5% after Ellison’s departure. Currently, Ellison serves as the CEO of home retailer Lowe’s (LOW).

JCPenney CEO Jill Soltau
Jill Soltau, CEO Designate

The retailer has been facing tough competition from online retailer Amazon (AMZN) and has piled up $4 billion in debt. JCPenney has been trying to improve its bottom line by various cost-cutting measures and store closures.

Last week, the company lost its CFO Jeffrey Davis which hasn’t gone well with the street. The retailer’s stock plummeted 9% last Friday hitting the 52-week low of $1.55. As an interim measure, Jerry Murray has been appointed as CFO.

In July, JCPenney announced that Joe McFarland, Chief Customer Officer will be leaving the company, just a few months after Ellison’s exit.

Soltau has her work cut out soon after taking over the top position. She has to steady the ship and needs to focus on bringing down debt levels. In addition, the new CEO has to tackle competition and improve profitability by coming up with a clear strategy to woo shoppers back to JCPenney, which is going to be an uphill task.

JCPenney’s stock that has been on a downhill for quite a long time, closed Tuesday’s trading session sliding by 8.24% to $1.56, while losing more than 50% in 2018 and above 56% in the last 12 months.

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