Shares of J.C. Penney (OTC:JCPN.Q) got a boost today after the ailing department store chain announced a new senior vice president. Such news wouldn't normally be enough to send a stock up by double digits, but investors are looking for any piece of good news about the company, especially after the stock has fallen so far. As of 12:12 p.m. EDT, the stock was up 12.5%.
The retailer said that Victor Ejarque Lopez would become senior vice president and general merchandise manager for women's apparel. He'll report to Michelle Wlazlo, chief merchandise officer, and will be responsible for the company's most important product category, women's apparel. Wlazlo said, "His appointment fills a vital component of our merchandising leadership team, and we are eager to leverage his broad expertise in women's apparel as we curate and develop sought-after brands and assortments to make J.C. Penney a preferred shopping destination for our customers."
Lopez brings 25 years of experience to J.C. Penney, most recently coming from Guess, where he served as vice president and general merchandising manager of global operations. He also spent time at Kmart and Stradivarius, a Spanish fashion brand owned by Inditex, the world's biggest fashion company and the parent of Zara.
Executive retention and building a capable management team are necessary prerequisites for turning around a business like J.C. Penney, which has been steadily losing sales and ceding market share to competitors both online and off-. Lopez's appointment alone is unlikely to return Penney to profitability, but the company needs to to fix its women's apparel business if it's going to survive and return to growth.
Lopez will start his new position June 10. Investors should keep an eye out for announcements from the company in the proceeding weeks to see how he is making his imprint on Penney's crucial women's apparel segment.