Defensive Strategy

Learning from Michael Francis

20 Jun 2012  

You can learn a couple important things from J.C. Penney’s Michael Francis.

Francis, of course, was President of J.C. Penney until he abruptly departed earlier this week. He was at the company for about eight months.


Learning number 1:  It is all about the results.

J.C. Penney is in the middle of a major strategy shift. Initial results are terrible; sales are falling sharply, competitors are on the attack and the stock is off 50%. It is difficult to keep your job with results like this.

CEO Ron Johnson won’t last long, either, if things don’t improve soon.


Learning number 2:  Work out the severance plan in advance.

Francis will apparently walk away with well over $10 million for his eight months of work. This is a rather remarkable achievement. Bravo.

He worked out the compensation deal before joining the company; he came in with a huge signing bonus and could keep most of the money if things didn’t work out after a few months. They didn’t and he leaves with a ton of cash.

Francis will be fine. I’m not sure about J.C. Penney.

3 Responses

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  3. Y. Shaban says:

    I was recently inside a JCP and I was almost baffled at the signs. Although I’m well aware of its new pricing strategy, just seeing “$15” and “$20” racks with “fair price” cheapened the whole store in my view. It even made me think of Wal-Mart, I think Wal-Mart’s apparel section has “$10” and “$15” racks.

    When I was walking-through (I parked outside their store since it had the most empty parking spaces) they were re-doing entire sections of the store to get to that town center look, but it seems that the process is painfully slow. At this point, I think the board and some Bill Ackman are too vested into the change to fire Ron Johnson.

    It may take a hostile take over to change things around….Icahn you there? I can help a bit with the post-takeover advertising: “Your J. C. Penney is back!”

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