J.C. Penney Hires Kraft Marketing Executive to Revive Brand

Aug. 5 (Bloomberg) -- J.C. Penney Co., the department-store chain seeking to rebound from its worst sales year in more than two decades, hired Debra Berman from Kraft Foods Group Inc. as senior vice president of marketing.

Berman will be responsible for revitalizing the retailer’s brand and will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Mike Ullman, according to a statement from the Plano, Texas-based company today. Berman, who joined J.C. Penney on Aug. 2, previously directed global brand strategy and customer engagement at Kraft, where she was employed since 2009.

“There is huge opportunity to remind America’s families why it is so great to shop at J.C. Penney while attracting new customers to the brand,” Berman said in the statement.

J.C. Penney is working to improve sales following a 25 percent drop in revenue last year to $13 billion after former CEO Ron Johnson’s failed attempt to remake the retailer. The chain ousted Johnson, a former Apple Inc. executive, in April just 17 months after he took the job. Several marketing executives hired during Johnson’s tenure from Apple and Target Corp., where he had also worked, have also left the company.

Michael Francis, who helped cultivate the “cheap chic” brand of Target, was named head of J.C. Penney’s marketing efforts in October 2011 by incoming CEO Johnson. He was fired in June 2012.

In April, the retailer confirmed that Sissie Twiggs, a vice president of media in digital marketing and a former Apple employee, had left. Her departure followed the exit of Nick Wooster, senior vice president of design and trends. In March, Lisa DeStefano-Orebaugh left her post as vice president of strategic marketing for a job at Home Depot Inc.

The shares fell 3.2 percent to $13.82 at the close in New York. The stock has dropped 30 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lindsey Rupp in New York at lrupp2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net