Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson fired from J.C. Penney

April 8, 2013: 6:06 PM ET

Fixing a broken retail business turns out to be a lot harder than building a new one.

Johnson in 2009. Photo: PED

FORTUNE -- Ron Johnson, the former Target (TGT) manager who tried to save the ailing J.C. Penney (JCP) using lessons he learned building Apple's (AAPL) retail empire was fired Monday.

CNBC had the scoop and the Wall Street Journal confirmed it.

"I've always dreamed of leading a major retail company as CEO," Johnson said when the move to Penney was announced nearly two years ago, "and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help J. C. Penney re-imagine what I believe to be the single greatest opportunity in American retailing today, the Department Store."

But his strategy -- selling boutique brands at fixed prices to customers raised on clearance sales -- failed spectacularly. The company lost $4.3 billion in sales in 2012, including a 28.4% drop in the all-important holiday season.

His replacement at Apple -- former Dixon's CEO John Browett -- also failed spectacularly. He was hired in April last year and fired in October. Tim Cook has yet to name a replacement, which means Johnson's old post is still vacant.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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