Penney hires new marketing chief


Associated Press

NEW YORK

J.C. Penney Co. has hired an executive from the mac-and-cheese world to reconnect with its middle-income shoppers.

The beleaguered department store Monday named Kraft Foods Inc. executive Debra Berman as senior vice president of marketing to help revitalize the struggling brand, filling a void in the company that remained for 14 months.

Penney is trying to win back customers who fled during a transformation plan spearheaded by the chain’s former CEO, Ron Johnson, that backfired and led to massive losses and sales declines.

Berman, 45, who has worked for Kraft since 2009, served as vice president for marketing strategy and directed global brand strategy for all Kraft-owned brands, including Velveeta, Philadelphia cream cheese and Kraft macaroni and cheese.

J.C. Penney, which is based in Plano, Texas, said Berman joins the company’s executive board and will report directly to CEO Mike Ullman III. The appointment took effect Friday.

The appointment, however, did little to boost investor confidence. Shares fell more than 3 percent , or 46 cents, to close at $13.82. The stock has been down 30 percent since January and has lost nearly 70 percent of its value since early 2012, when investor bullishness about Johnson’s turnaround plan pushed shares up to $43.

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