Sunday, June 24, 2012

J. C. Penney Fires Its President After Company Loses Money, Stock Price Falls But Don’t Worry

Corporate Execs Don’t Get Fired the Way the Rest of Us Do

Mitt Romney and the defenders of those who acquire massive wealth frequently cite the rationale behind that is that these are the people who are taking the risks in the economy today.  That of course, is pure fantasy.  The only risk these people take is whether or not the caviar is fresh on the private jet.

Case in point is former President of J.C. Penny Michael Francis.  How bad did Mr. Francis do?  Well he was certainly heralded when he joined J. C. Penney.

Back in October, J.C. Penney Co. JCP  hired Michael Francis away from Target Corp. with great fanfare, saying he had the "vision and courage" to turn around the department store chain. 

Well, maybe not.

As president, Mr. Francis was responsible for marketing and for getting Penney's product lines together—a pivotal merchandising job as Mr. Johnson sought to lure customers in with better clothes at everyday low prices.

But in mid-May, the company reported a larger-than-expected $163 million loss on a 20% drop-off in sales. Mr. Francis's abrupt departure is a acknowledgment that the new strategy hasn't caught on.

And the stock market was not too pleased either.

Penney's shares—which soared a year ago on word that Mr. Johnson would come on board, have dropped 27% since mid-May. To conserve cash, it has cut its dividend.

As for the so-called marketing genius, here is a sample of his brilliance.

Early on, Mr. Francis had focused on atmospheric ads in an effort rebrand the 110-year-old department store. Penney's logo was changed to a square around "JCP" to represent what it calls "fair and square pricing." Brightly colored television spots featured snippets of Americana set to catchy music but offered little detail on products or pricing.

In corporate America when you fail miserably you don’t experience what the rest of us experience when we fail miserably.

His brief stint will have been lucrative for the departing executive: Mr. Francis will have collected more than $15 million in salary, sign-on bonus and severance payments, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Capitalism at work, and let’s make sure Congress doesn’t raise taxes on the well deserving $15 million that Mr. Francis put in his pocket as the door hit his butt on his way out.

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