Apple retail executive to lead J.C. Penney

 J. C. Penney announced on Tuesday that its chief executive of seven years, Myron E. Ullman III, is stepping aside, to be replaced by Ron Johnson, the top retail executive for Apple.

Mr. Ullman will hand over the chief executive reins to Johnson on Nov. 1, and Ullman will become executive chairman of the company.

Johnson is the senior vice president for retail at Apple, and has overseen the successful Apple Store concept and expansion, from the first store in 2001 to the more than 300 stores today. Analysts and competitors alike have pointed to Apple stores as the future of retail, particularly the in-store training sessions offered to customers, the mobile checkout and the “come in and play with our toys” ethos.

A J. C. Penney news release did not explain why Ullman was leaving the chief executive’s post, but indicated it was part of a succession-planning process.

Though Vornado and Pershing Square bought more than a quarter of J. C. Penney stock in the fall and put their representatives on the board in January, this was not a move that was engineered by activist investors, according to people with knowledge of the situation. J. C. Penney had tried to poach Mr. Johnson before.

Mr. Johnson has invested $50 million in J. C. Penney “as a demonstration of his confidence in J. C. Penney’s long-term potential,” the company’s release said, by buying seven-and-a-half-year warrants on 7.257 million shares of J. C. Penney stock.