JCPenney Taps Head of Apple Retail Stores as New CEO

He has $50 million riding on his success

The head of Apple’s retail stores, Ron Johnson, has been lured away to take a top position at JCPenney.

In a press release, JCPenney said that Johnson, who has held the title of Apple’s senior vice president of retail, will be the department store chain’s next chief executive officer. Effective Nov. 1, Johnson will replace current chairman and CEO Myron “Mike” Ullman, who will become executive chairman of the company. Johnson will also join Penney’s board of directors beginning Aug. 1.

According to The Wall Street Journal, JCPenney had reached out to Johnson three or four years ago, but he was too busy with Apple at the time. His recent hiring was the work of JCPenney investors William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management and Steven Roth of Vornado Realty Trust, who bought 26 percent of the company’s stock last year and won seats on the board, and proposed that Johnson be brought in.

JCPenney said that “as a demonstration of his confidence,” Johnson will purchase $50 million worth of company stock, which he won’t be able to hedge or sell for six years—a big incentive to increase the value of his new employer.