PLANO, TX—J. C. Penney Co. has concluded itsyear-long search for a new CEO, appointing MarvinEllison to take the reins of the department store chain in2015. Currently EVP of US stores at Home Depot,Ellison is generally credited with playing a key role in reversingdeclines in earnings at the home improvement retailer.

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Ellison will join JCP Nov. 1 as president and CEO-designee.He'll succeed Myron E. Ullman, the interim CEO, nine months later,at which time Ullman will begin a one-year term as executivechairman. Ullman, who served as JCP's chief executive from 2004 to2011, came back on an interim basis in April 2013 after hissuccessor, Ron Johnson, lost the confidence of theretailer's board of directors.

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Joining Home Depot in 2002 after 15 years with TargetCorp, Ellison assumed his current post there in 2008;since 2010, the retailer has reported double-digit annual gains inprofits. Ullman says that Ellison “has proven his ability toproduce results by improving operations, building customer loyaltyand motivating his teams. His experience and leadership are exactlywhat we need to accelerate the progress we have made over the past18 months.”

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Since Ullman returned to JCP, the company has succeeded inreversing a nine-quarter decline in same-store sales. However,Reuters reported Monday that the retailer has reported a reportonce in the past 12 quarters.

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A Standard & Poor's report last weekcontrasted the rates of success that JCP and SearsHoldings have demonstrated in their respective turnaroundefforts, although both are facing similar pressures. JCP's strategyunder Johnson entailed “eliminating coupons and promotions andsegmenting brands into a store-within-a-store format, but this didnot appeal to the company's target customers and simultaneouslyalienated its core customers,” S&P reported. “JCP is nowshifting its business back to a promotional model to halt thebleeding and regain lost customers.”

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While this approach has been more successful than Sears' effortsto date, S&P credit analyst Tobias Crabtreenotes that the outcome of both retailers' comeback plans “maydepend on relevant factors that are outside their control. Thefinancial health of the US consumer, the extent and pace of theeconomic recovery and the receptivity of the capital markets willall continue to play a part.”

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.