J.C. Penney Names Two Retail Veterans to Boost Digital Efforts

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The department-store chain is harnessing tech talent from Gap and Neiman Marcus as part of a digital revamp

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Ms. Bala, who starts in February, comes from Gapi. Inc.,

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where he has held senior technology roles, most recently as Head of Product Engineering. Penney’s interim CIO, Robert Kreft, will remain with the company to support Ms. Bala’s onboarding.

Penney also named Katie Mullen as Chief Digital and Transformation Officer. According to Penny, she will be responsible for the company’s e-commerce business, including jcp.com and enterprise strategy. Ms. Mullen most recently served as Chief Digital Officer at Neiman Marcus Group.

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Both will report to Penney’s chief executive Mark Rosen, who joined the company in November.

Mr Rosen said in a statement that the appointments will help “advance our digital journey and transform business through technology and innovation.”

He also noted that the company’s balance sheet has improved, putting Penney in a financial position to make strategic changes. “JC Penney has the financial flexibility to make decisions and make investments that will grow the business, and it is now on our own terms,” said Mr. Rosen.

The department-store chain operates more than 650 stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. It exited bankruptcy in December 2020 and is now owned by a joint venture that includes Simon Property Group Inc.,

Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

and Authentic Brands Group LLC.

As the new CIO, Ms. Bala faces a significant challenge in creating a digital strategy, analysts said.

“These positions, in themselves, are not enough to move the dial,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of consulting firm GlobalData.

Penny has invested in improving online-to-offline integrations, but still faces obstacles in setting itself apart from competitors and connecting together in-store and online experiences, Mr. Saunders said. .

“They’ve made some investments in things like their apps, and people can place orders in-store by ordering from the app, but I think there’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “I don’t think they have a very good grasp on taking a look at stocks, for example.”

Tiffany Hogan, director of retail insights at consulting firm Kantar Group, said it has become common for retailers to jointly take responsibility for digital strategy as the chief information officer and chief digital officer of e-commerce embrace the brick-and-mortar retail business model. Challenging fast.

“The technology and information portion of the job is overwhelming and is completely different from what a digital executive can actually do,” said Ms. Hogan, who will be more about strategic online retailing than data and technology. “

Write Suman Bhattacharya at [email protected]

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