Home Goods online

J.C. Penney bets on chic home

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - High on the priority list for J.C. Penney's (JCP - Get Report ) incoming head merchant is selling more affordable bathroom towels and bed sheets and improving the department store's online execution.

Tuesday, the Plano, Texas-based department store retailer announced the promotion of John Tighe as executive vice president, chief merchant. Tighe most recently was J.C. Penney's senior vice president and senior general merchandise manager for the men's, children's, footwear, handbag and intimate apparel divisions.

Effective Oct. 1, Tighe will succeed Liz Sweney who will transition to an advisory role through the end of the fiscal year.

Tighe will be tasked with not only making sure the holiday season runs without a hitch, but also with crafting a strategy to improve J.C. Penney's still challenged online and home businesses in 2016. Sales at each of these vital businesses were severely hurt by failed initiatives from J.C. Penney's ousted CEO Ron Johnson. The former architect of the Apple store, Johnson was J.C. Penney's CEO from Nov. 2011 to Apr. 2013.

In the home business, which represents about 12% of J.C. Penney's business, Johnson erected large shops in about 500 stores featuring expensive designer brands. Sales subsequently plunged as the economically sensitive J.C. Penney shopper balked at the high prices.

Further, the expansive second-floor home shops stole valuable space away from the tables of towels, sheets and other home goods J.C. Penney needed to drive profitable sales.

Johnson's intense focus on bolstering J.C. Penney's store environment led to neglect of the online business, creating problems such as limited offerings and failing to quickly develop the ability to ship goods from stores for online orders, as rivals have done.

Since the ouster of Johnson, former J.C. Penney CEO (and current chairman) Mike Ullman has worked hard to restore inventory levels in the home department and investment in bringing the online business up to snuff. But more still needs to be done, something J.C. Penney's new CEO Marvin Ellison acknowledges.

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