J.C. Penney on Tuesday announced that Marci Grebstein will join the company as executive vice president, chief marketing officer in June, according to a company press release.
Grebstein most recently served as chief marketing officer for Lowe's Home Improvement, where she led an integrated and data-driven omnichannel marketing, and, earlier, was vice president of advertising there, leading Lowe's overall advertising strategy.
The announcement comes on the heels of the March departure of executive VP-chief customer and marketing officer Mary Beth West, who had joined J.C. Penney just after controversial CEO Ron Johnson left and is now the chief growth officer at Hershey Co.
J.C. Penney is making some headway under CEO Marvin Ellison, who has instituted significant changes, including a return to appliance sales and a concerted effort to beef up business contracts with hotels and property managers. Leveraging its runaway success with its Sephora concessions, the retailer is expanding those operations and building up its salon business.
But J.C. Penney continues to struggle in women’s apparel, despite some improvements, and is suffering the consequences of a series of closures of underperforming stores. The company earlier this month reported a first quarter net loss of $180 million or 58 cents per share, worse than the $68 million net loss or 22 cents per share in the year-ago period, as overall sales fell 3.7% to $2.7 billion (from $2.8 billion a year ago) and same-store sales fell 3.5%. That missed the Thomson Reuters analyst forecast for a loss of 21 cents per share and a sales decline of 1.4%.
As J. C. Penney continues to make changes and improvements, marketing has become critical, GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders recently told Retail Dive.
“The 3.7% decline in overall sales, and the 3.5% decline in comparable sales which accompanies it, come off the back of weak comparatives from the prior year,” Saunders said in an email about the retailer’s first quarter report. “Most of this slip is down to the fact that JCP failed to attract customers to its stores, especially during the early part of the quarter when traffic across the industry was weak. Although this trend eased toward the back end of the quarter, it underlines how important it is that JCP constantly markets itself, and communicates the changes it is making, to shoppers.”
In his statement Tuesday, Ellison expressed confidence in Grebstein. "Marci is an outstanding senior leader with a proven track record of developing winning marketing strategies for a diverse cross-section of leading national retailers," he said. "As we focus on enhancing our Home Refresh strategy, better utilizing customer data and optimizing our omnichannel capabilities, her broad retail expertise will be invaluable as we seek to differentiate our business through strategic marketing initiatives that will entice new and loyal customers to choose JCPenney for their homes and families."