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Down, But Not Out: JC Penney CEO Meets Shareholders

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The morning after the embattled retailer reported another quarterly loss, J.C. Penney CEO Mike Ullman told shareholders: "I have an enduring affection for J.C. Penney, its customers, associates and shareholders...it's a privilege to come back and get us on a profitable growth track."

Without a formal presentation or powerpoint slides, Ullman outlined his priorities for shareholders who gathered inside the company's home office in Plano, Texas, in a large room just to the left of a giant statue of company founder James Cash Penney. For all the controversy surrounding the department store's transformation, the shareholder attendance was sparse, and the meeting was short, lasting only 55 minutes from start to finish.

Ullman's message mirrored the words he spoke on the earnings call less than 24 hours prior. Messaging, marketing, "attractions" in stores, fixing ecommerce, and reaching out to suppliers as the team looks to re-establish some of its more popular private-label brands. Although Ullman didn't name names for those store brands, St. John's Bay, an important billion dollar store brand, is already 50 percent re-established in stores.

The "attractions," Ullman referred to are the shops within J.C. Penney's stores, which had been the cornerstone of former CEO Ron Johnson's plan to overhaul the struggling retailer.