Struggling retailer J.C. Penney confirmed Friday that it is cutting an additional 2,200 workers amid plummeting sales and soaring losses.
This is on top of the 19,000 jobs cut since former Apple executive Ron Johnson took the helm of the Plano, Texas-based chain in November 2011.
Last week, many observers were questioning whether Mr. Johnson should remain in his job after J.C. Penney unveiled more losses and sales declines. And then Mr. Johnson took the witness stand in a bizarre lawsuit between Macy’s, Martha Stewart and J.C. Penney. Click here to read my column on that episode.
Mr. Johnson’s credibility is a declining commodity. Listening to his investor call last week, I was struck by his circuitous answer after someone asked about the prospect of more layoffs on the way. “This has been much more rumor than it is fact,” he said on the call.
Well, that was last week. This week it’s more fact than rumor.
Here’s a little transcript of what Mr. Johnson said on the call:
“There is a rumor a day about J.C. Penney and some incredibly layoff that’s coming. Two weeks ago, it was 300 people. It was a Valentine’s Day this-or-that. And I think that’s really hard on our teams. It’s hard on our transformation to have to live in this fishbowl of rumors.
”The truth is, we promoted 400 people here in Plano and at our existing regional centers in the past year, that nobody writes about.
“We’ve told our teams … last week here in Plano, and had a very detailed town-hall, and answered every question that they had. And we made it very clear that we are always going to be in transformation. We are always going to be looking for ways to do things better and more effectively. When work that doesn’t need to be done anymore goes away, we don’t want someone to pretend they are working when we don’t have work for them. We’ll try to get them into another job. We’ve got to constantly invest in the next new thing so we stay current.
“So we’re going to be always in transformation, but the goal is to build great careers for our teams here. But this idea that we’ve got massive headcounts reductions on the way is just really rumored.”