JCPenney (NYSE:JCP) has rehired Ken Mangone, the product-design chief who survived at the chain through former CEO Ron Johnson's housecleaning of its executive ranks, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday (April 17). Mangone will return to the job he left in December, with the title of executive vice president of product development, design and sourcing.
Meanwhile, former Neiman Marcus fashion director Nick Wooster, who replaced Mangone when he resigned, has left JCPenney. Wooster was the exec who told a conference audience last month that the key to the chain's turnaround was to "make cute sh*t."
Mangone, who was a 35-year veteran of JCPenney who started working there as a teenager, made the transition to new management after once-and-future CEO Mike Ullman was replaced by Johnson in November 2011. At the time, Johnson was remaking much of the retailer's upper management ranks with executives that Johnson had worked with at Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Target (NYSE:TGT). By the time Mangone left in December 2012, Wooster was clearly his heir apparent.
But Mangone became part of an executive exodus that began after the chain's sales dropped 25 percent and its future was in serious doubt.
While Mangone represents a return to old-guard executive management under newly returned JCPenney CEO Ullman, he's also old-guard in another way: He still lives a short drive from the company's headquarters in Plano, Texas. A significant number of the chain's executives did not move to the Dallas area after they were hired by Johnson, who commuted by company jet from the San Francisco area with several other former Apple executives. Another company jet carried Wooster and other executives to Texas from the New York City area. The commuting executives stayed during the week at the Dallas Ritz-Carlton hotel.
Ullman reportedly cut off payments for the hotel stays within a week of taking charge. Since then, several of the Johnson-hired executives have left the company.
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