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J.C. Penney loses its marketing chief

March 18, 2015 11:55 AM
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J.C. Penney Co. Inc., No. 37 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, needs a new marketing chief.

Senior vice president and chief marketing officer Debra Berman has left the merchant for unspecified reasons, a J.C. Penney spokeswoman says. Berman had been with the retail chain since August 2013. “Deb was responsible for leading the company’s branding and marketing campaign efforts,” the spokeswoman says. “JC Penney is grateful for her service, and we wish her well in all future endeavors.”

Until the retail chain replaces Berman, Kirk Waidelich, vice president of marketing strategy, will oversee customer strategy, media and marketing integration. Lynne Bartron, vice president of brand marketing, will oversee creative, production and operations, publicity and partnerships. Berman had no direct role in the chain’s e-commerce efforts, which remain overseen by Mike Rodgers, executive vice president and chief omnichannel officer. 

Berman’s departure comes as the chain regains some of its online footing. J.C. Penney generated $1.225 billion on the web in its 2014 fiscal year, up 13.4% from $1.080 billion in 2013. JCPenney.com accounted for 10.0% of total sales of $12.257 billion. The 2014 web sales figure is still below the $1.590 billion the department store retailer posted in 2011, its top year for web sales, however on a percentage basis the web accounts for a greater portion of Penney’s sales now. In 2011, the web accounted for 9.2% of total sales. Total revenue for 2014 stand at $12.26 billion, up 3.4% from $11.86 billion.

At least one retail observer is sorry to see Berman leave. “I was disappointed to hear it, since I think the company’s TV and print marketing campaigns have been really great for the past two years,” says Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at RSR Research.  “I do think she can leave with her head held high. She resurrected the dead.”

Before coming to J.C. Penney, Berman work as vice president, marketing strategy and engagement, for Kraft Foods Group, according to her LinkedIn profile. 

 

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