- J.C. Penney Chief Customer Officer Shawn Gensch has resigned, a spokesperson for the retailer told Retail Dive in a statement. Gensch joined the company in May.
- In the statement, the company thanked Gensch for "developing the Plan for Renewal and building a strong team of marketing leaders" but did not provide details on his departure.
- There have been no other departures on the marketing team, according to The Dallas Morning News, which first reported Gensch's resignation.
Gensch was brought on to drive "aggressive customer-centric strategies to grow traffic, engagement and customer retention in addition to revitalizing the company's brand," as well as lead the company's marketing and messaging, Penney said in its press release announcing his hire.
Gensch had come most recently from grocer Sprouts Farmers Market, where he served in the same role as chief customer officer. Before that he put in more than a decade at Target in various marketing roles. CEO Jill Soltau said in a statement at the time of his hire that Gensch "fills a vital component" of Penney's executive team.
"Shawn will be instrumental in developing a compelling brand identity that builds meaningful connections with new shoppers, and strengthens relationships with our most loyal customers," she said.
Starting well before Gensch's arrival, Penney had struggled to define its core audience and bring in new shoppers without alienating its most loyal customers. On the merchandising side, those missteps created disastrous results in the past, leaving piles of unsold goods the company had to discount in the quarters leading up to Soltau's arrival.
There have been many hires since CEO Jill Soltau took over the struggling department store. By September, a dozen new executives were announced last year. And the hires didn't stop there. Since then, Penney has named a new chief digital officer, along with other executives at the vice president level and higher. Those include two marketing hires as recent as this month, meant to finish "rounding out" Gensch's team.
Soltau and her fellow executives have been working hard to bring operating discipline and a sense of urgency to Penney's turnaround, which has rolled on for years as the company's financial position has become ever more tenuous, with its multi-billion dollar debt load weighing it down.
Under Soltau, the company is revamping its merchandising approach and testing new store features. But the holiday season saw further sales declines, renewing concerns about Penney's turnaround prospects.