Former Apple retail boss Ron Johnson out at J.C. Penney

Apple's previous retail chief is no longer J.C. Penney's CEO and has been replaced by the company's former chief executive.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
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Johnson in Apple's Manhattan store in 2009, standing in front of a seemingly relevant sign.
Ron Johnson in Apple's Manhattan store in 2009, standing in front of a seemingly relevant sign. Sarah Tew/CNET

Ron Johnson, J.C. Penney's chief executive and former Apple retail chief, is out at the clothing retail giant, CNBC reports.

Johnson joined J.C. Penney in November 2011, after spending more than a decade at Apple, building and growing its retail empire.

That success did not equate at Penney's, where Johnson attempted to run the more than 1,100-store company as what he referred to as "a startup." That initially included getting rid of sales events, in place of fixed pricing. Johnson also tried to add high-tech features to the store, like free Wi-Fi and self-checkout from smartphones.

The company has appointed former Macy's executive and former J.C. Penney CEO Myron E. Ullman as Johnson's replacement, CNBC reports.

"On behalf of the Board of Directors, we would like to thank Ron Johnson for his contributions while at J.C. Penney and wish him the best in his future endeavors," Penney's chairman, Thomas Engibous, said in a statement.

Under Johnson's direction, Apple's stores became a major success, helping fuel record sales and act as service stations for the company's growing product line. Johnson is credited both with the strategy of the stores, as well as much of the micromanaging that goes into the details, from materials used all the way to the layout of each store.

Apple itself remains on the hunt for a retail boss. The company parted ways with Johnson's replacement, John Browett, last October. Apple CEO Tim Cook has since overseen the company's retail operations, which are now up to 400 stores. The company has provided little guidance into how that hunt is going.

Penney's stock is down by $1.73, or nearly 11 percent in after-hours trading.

Update, 3:20 p.m. with statement from Penney's chairman and stock price.