Bill Ackman, the big JCPenney (NYSE: JCP) investor who recruited Ron Johnson as the retailer's CEO, says he wants a new head for the company, and he wants one now.
The retailer gave former Apple executive Johnson the hook in April, after his strategy to eliminate coupons and sales resulted in a 25 percent drop in sales for 2012. Former CEO Mike Ullman has been filling in for the interim, but a letter written by Ackman to the company's board, and obtained by CNBC, indicated he wants a new chief installed within the next 30 to 45 days.
"Saying he was 'very concerned' about the company's future, the hedge-fund manager pressed the board for a clear succession plan—expressing concern that the process had taken as long as it has given JCPenney's widening problems," wrote CNBC's Javier E. David.
Ackman also said that former CEO Allen Questrom would be willing to return as the company's chairman, but it will depend on the new CEO.
"Considering the scale of JCPenney, the seriousness of the issues it faces, and the complexity of its business, there are only a handful of executives with sufficient talent and experience to take on the CEO role," Ackman said in the letter. "We need a CEO with extensive, ideally department-store, retail experience, strong operational skills, and a strong public company track record."
Wall Street hasn't been a huge cheerleader for the struggling retailer, with Citigroup and Oppenheimer both downgrading the stock in March causing a predictable slide. The recent news has clearly given investors some hope, though, with JCPenney's stock jumping as much as 8 percent.
JCPenney Hires Kraft Marketer Debra Berman With The Clock Ticking For The Holiday
JCPenney Denies Report That Its Suppliers Can't Get Loans
JCPenney May Survive After All, Says Hedge-Fund Manager Who Bet Against It