J.C. Penney taps new marketing chief

    • J.C. Penney on Wednesday said that John Aylward will take on the chief marketing officer position on June 6.

    • Aylward was most recently CMO at anti-poverty organization Care. Before that he was in marketing positions at retailers HSN, DSW and Gap, according to a company press release.

    • Aylward will help advance Penney’s omnichannel strategy and “lead the marketing strategy, creative, visual merchandising and store design, and customer engagement teams,” per the release.

    Aylward takes this role as J.C. Penney works, once again, to reboot its appeal. The department store last month launched a marketing campaign with the theme “Shopping is back!”

    Shopping at J.C. Penney stores isn’t, though, at least not yet. In March, traffic there declined 34.4% compared to pre-pandemic 2019, following similar declines in February and January, according to data from footfall analytics firm 

    Still, David Simon, CEO of Simon Property Group, one of J.C. Penney’s new owners, told analysts this week that the retailer has “performed better than planned,” has $1.3 billion in liquidity and no borrowings on its line of credit.

    “I think the store business is doing well,” he said. “And I think over time they’ll improve their e-commerce.”

    He also seemed to push back against rumors that Simon would acquire Penney rival Kohl’s.

    The retailer didn’t immediately respond to questions regarding Aylward’s predecessor. Shawn Gensch, who previously led marketing efforts as chief customer officer, left two years ago after just a few months in that job. Before Gensch, Marci Grebstein joined Penney as CMO in 2017 and left two years later, according to LinkedIn.

    In a statement, J.C. Penney CEO Marc Rosen said that Aylward arrives at a “pivotal moment.” The retailer is attempting yet another reset after high turnover in the C-suite, a bankruptcy and new ownership.

    “We must protect what the brand represents while evolving how it expresses who we are today,” Rosen said.


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