Case | HBS Case Collection | May 2013 (Revised April 2015)

Ron Johnson: Retail at Target, Apple, and J.C. Penney

by Das Narayandas, Kerry Herman and Lisa Mazzanti


In April 2013, Ron Johnson (HBS '84) stepped down after just 18 months as CEO of J.C. Penney. In his brief tenure, Johnson, an acclaimed retailer respected for his innovation and success in shaping the retail image at Target and Apple, introduced dramatic departures from J.C. Penney's traditional retail approach, and enacted changes quickly and simultaneously, with little market testing. Over Johnson's final 12 months as CEO, J.C. Penney shares dropped more than 50%. The case describes the environments at Target, Apple, and J.C. Penney during Johnson's tenure and how his experiences may have shaped the strategies that he implemented while CEO at J.C. Penney.

Keywords: Change Management; Innovation Leadership; Situation or Environment; Failure; Management Teams; Brands and Branding; Retail Industry; United States;


Narayandas, Das, Kerry Herman, and Lisa Mazzanti. "Ron Johnson: Retail at Target, Apple, and J.C. Penney." Harvard Business School Case 513-103, May 2013. (Revised April 2015.)