A new chapter is about to begin at J.C. Penney.
Marvin Ellison officially takes over the reins from Myron "Mike" Ullman on Saturday, becoming the beleaguered retailer's third CEO in four years.
J.C. Penney designed the transition to go as seamlessly as possible, especially after the messy ouster of former CEO Ron Johnson and return of Ullman in April 2013. Ellison has been working side by side with Ullman for the past 10 months as president, CEO designee and serving on the J.C. Penney board.
While Ellison and Ullman have crafted the current back-to-school and the upcoming holiday strategies together, Ellison still has a lot of work to do. At its peak in 2003, J.C. Penney generated $32.3 billion in annual revenue, but its last full year was less than 60 percent below that level. Shares are 90 percent below their all-time high, hit in 2007, and down more than 40 percent over the last 28 months under Ullman.
"[Ellison] came to the company on their darkest day, and he decided to be the guy to lock arms with his associates and have a keen understanding of their customers to really understand how to bring this company back into a path of profitability; that doesn't happen overnight," said Neely Tamminga, Piper Jaffray managing director.