J.C. Penney Continues Poaching Apple’s Talent, Hires Benjamin Fay

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J.C. Penney Continues Poaching Apple's Talent, Hires Benjamin Fay

J.C. Penney Company Inc. (NYSE:JCP) has added to its stable of former talent from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) by announcing the hire of Benjamin Fay, former Senior Director of Retail Real Estate and Development. Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square, a value oriented hedge fund, owns 27% of JC Penny. Ackman has been pushing the company to implement changes and make JCP more like Apple.

In November, the retailer snagged Apple’s former retail head Ron Johnson to become its CEO and to help turn J.C. Penney around. In his short tenure, Johnson has been building his executive team but Fay’s hiring is the first one poached from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

The company distributed a press release about the news and Johnson said the following, “Ben is an incredibly creative professional with extraordinary leadership skills. Having worked with him over the last 12 years, I am delighted to see Ben step into this new role at jcp. His design influence has made the Apple stores highly regarded retail destinations around the world, and I am excited to have Ben place his own mark on jcp as we re-imagine the jcpenney store of the future.”

Fay joins the company with the title of  Executive Vice President, real estate, store design and development. He will lead the company’s “strategic presence in more than 1,100 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and guide the development of the all new jpc store of the future intended to create an entirely new interface for retail” according to the press release.

In his eight-year Apple tenure, Fay’s LinkedIn page said he worked as the “worldwide head of retail store design and retail corporate office design and planning.”

With its No. 1 retailer worldwide ranking, Apple’s team to make this happen is key. With its two alums, Johnson and Fay, they were integral to making an Apple store a key component of the company and a consumer venue to purchase products.

Fay’s hire comes at an interesting time. Last week Johnson’s replacement, Dixons Retail CEO John Browett, began his new role at Apple. So far there’s only been two losses from the company to J.C. Penney and there is still a number of great creative minds to keep the giant rolling along.

Johnson’s J.C. Penney Vision

J.C.Penney has a vision to change its store and through the hiring of Johnson and now Fay, the plan is moving into action. In Thursday’s press release, it said that Fay will “guide the development of the all new jpc store of the future.”

But for Johnson, the vision had been percolating for awhile. According to a Forbes story,  J.C. Penney’s new CEO had an epiphany while working at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). He realized that he did not want to sell products organized by classification but by lifestyle.

This is slowly taking place at J.C. Penney stores and over the next few years, you’ll see them evolve into lifestyle stores.

Its appeal will extend to younger customers, which is different than the usual J.C. Penney shopper.

The stores already look different by appearing to be cleaner, neat and in order. They have more color in the stores; they are more open and the departments have been reorganized.

But Johnson’s vision extends further. He wants stores to have 100 boutiques and a town center, according to Forbes, that will draw in a new, young, affluent shopper. He has vendors participating in this revolution and plans to make “special boutiques” for them in the coming year. Johnson has also simplified the organization to reduce operation costs.

Change is coming to J.C. Penney and it’s going to be good.

The company will announce its fiscal quarter one 2012 earnings on May 15 after the bell. This could be interesting.

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