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Cramer: JC Penney’s CEO bolting to Lowe’s means embattled department store chain can’t be saved

Key Points
  • Marvin Ellison's exit from J.C. Penney means the struggling department store chain can't be turned around, CNBC's Jim Cramer says.
  • "If there was any chance [of a turnaround], I think you would stay," Cramer adds.
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Shakeup at JC Penney as CEO Ellison leaves to take top spot at Lowe's

Marvin Ellison's exit as CEO of J.C. Penney means the struggling department store chain can't be turned around, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Tuesday.

J.C. Penney shares plunged Tuesday after Lowe's announced it is naming Ellison president and CEO, effective July 2. J.C. Penney, which has struggled to compete within the quickly changing retail landscape, told CNBC that it was informed by Ellison a couple days ago of the move.

"If there was any chance [of a turnaround], I think you would stay," Cramer said on "Squawk on the Street. " "Because it would obviously be such a kick in the face of J.C. Penney to move over."

Cramer, who also said Ellison's move is "fabulous" for Lowe's, added he would not say that Ellison "failed" the department store chain because "who would not fail there."

In response to Cramer's comments, a J.C. Penny spokesperson said, "Marvin Ellison's departure is not connected to recent company performance or the JC Penney business."

"JC Penney is a relevant brand with a strong American heritage, and we continue to believe there is tremendous opportunity ahead for the company," the spokesperson added. "As such, we expect to attract a new CEO who believes in the Company's enormous potential and future place in retail."

Shares of J.C. Penney have struggled to rally despite a widespread comeback in the retail sector. The department store chain, with a market cap of about $760 million, has seen its shares fall more than 45 percent over the past year.

Ellison, who spent 12 years at Home Depot before joining J.C. Penney, had been working on a turnaround plan to boost the company's performance.

The "Mad Money " host has previously wondered how brick-and-mortar chains such as J.C. Penny and Macy's could sufficiently compete with companies like e-commerce giant Amazon. Cramer describes Amazon as the Death Star, the evil Empire's battle station in the "Star Wars" franchise with the power to destroy entire planets.

On Tuesday, Cramer called J.C. Penney "very problematic" and said it possibly had "the worst" quarterly numbers other than Sears. The company reported sales Thursday that missed analysts' expectations and cut its full-year earnings outlook.

"It's a great trade for [Ellison]," Cramer said, adding he doesn't see how J.C. Penney will be able to find a good successor.

— CNBC's Lauren Hirsch contributed to this report.

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