- J.C. Penney's chief of stores and supply chain is leaving the company Aug. 3, Penney said Tuesday.
- Although Michael Robbins' departure was just announced, Penney named a new executive to oversee its store operations. Jim DePaul is set to become executive vice president of stores on Aug. 5, with responsibility for Penney's store operations, environment and design, as well as asset protection.
- DePaul previously served as chief operations officer for Shopko, which liquidated its operations in bankruptcy this year. A J.C. Penney spokesperson told Retail Dive in an email that the supply chain team will now report to CFO Bill Wafford.
The Dallas Morning News described Robbins' exit from the department store retailer as abrupt. It comes on the heels of a round of executive and board appointments made as Penney tries to reestablish its position in the market, after years of poor-to-middling performance, and keep its finances stable.
CEO Jill Soltau, who took over last fall, told analysts earlier this summer that one of her top priorities was to fill out Penney's management team. To that end, Soltau hired Victor Ejarque Lopez, previously general merchandise manager of global operations at Guess, to head Penney's women's apparel category — key to its business and a pain point for much of its recent history.
Earlier this month, Penney tapped former Payless CEO W. Paul Jones to sit on the retailer's board. Jones, like DePaul, also worked at Shopko previously. The tenure of both at the now-defunct general merchandiser also overlapped Soltau's time there, according to their LinkedIn accounts.
As Soltau assembles a team, the retailer she runs has had to contend with a massive debt load, a tough environment for department stores, bankruptcy speculation and worried investors that have sent its share price below $1 three times in the past 12 months.
After Reuters reported earlier in July that J.C. Penney was working with advisers to manage its debt load, the retailer issued a statement saying specifically that it had not hired advisers to prepare for a bankruptcy filing.
This story has been updated to include information from J.C. Penney about its supply chain unit's oversight.