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Ullman Charting Penney Course

Plano, Texas — JCPenney's newly appointed chairman and CEO Myron (Mike) Ullman talked about his first 44 days on the job, along with some long- and short-term goals, at the company's informal investor meeting last week.

While long-term goals for the next five years are still being planned, he mentioned one area where the company has already started making changes — housewares.

“In our housewares business, we have new merchants, and we see new opportunities everywhere,” Ullman said. “We did not excel in housewares during Christmas. But we knew we wouldn't because we looked at our assortments.”

Ullman said that since his first day (Dec. 1), he has worked on his top priorities. They include: appointing a top team as soon as possible, which involves the search already in place for a chief operating officer; meeting with mall developers, key vendors and store sales associates and managers; and developing the company's long-term plan in terms of its current turn-around effort as well as goals for the next five years.

Specifics about the company's long-term goals will be discussed during Penney's next analyst meeting on April 18, Ullman said. However, he did mention that these goals include enhancing style at smart price points, simplifying the shopping experience through technological enhancements, and improving the store's performance by its next plan period.

Regarding his style of business, Ullman said he is employing a different competitive strategy to achieve the company's goals. “In its turn-around, Penney's looked at Kohl's, and we know we have a very big enemy out there in terms of everything they are doing,” he said. “But I'm more in the line of taking every business we are in and looking at our competitors there. For example, we have a very strong window treatment business, but Kohl's isn't in that business.”

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