Jill Soltau leaves J.C. Penney

Dive Brief:

  • J.C. Penney’s new owners, mall REITs Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management, on Wednesday said they have launched a search for a new chief executive officer to replace Jill Soltau, who is leaving Thursday.

  • Simon Chief Investment Officer Stanley Shashoua will serve as interim CEO starting Jan. 1, according to a J.C. Penney press release.

  • Otherwise, the “new ownership group will establish a temporary office of the CEO to include key members of JCPenney’s current leadership team,” the company said.

Dive Insight:

Just days away from a new year, under new ownership, J.C. Penney is continuing its tradition of turning over chief executives.

When Soltau arrived two years ago, there were high hopes that her reputation as a talented merchant might bring about the turnaround the department store had been toiling at for years. She replaced Marvin Ellison, who left to become CEO at Lowe’s after about three years on the job, making it four CEOs in about 10 years.

The department store hasn’t had a year of positive net income since 2010, and has especially struggled in women’s apparel. This year — in addition to its May bankruptcy filing and the takeover by two of its mall landlords — Penney has watched beauty retailer Sephora plan to exit the shops it had established at several Penney stores, which have proven to be some of Penney’s best traffic drivers, and head to Kohl’s instead.

And, so, Penney’s turnaround is ongoing still, amid increasing challenges for both malls, which it has dependably anchored for years, and department stores.

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