Mr. Ellison, who currently serves as exec-VP of stores for Home Depot, will join J.C.Penney as CEO-designee on Nov. 1 and become a board member, the company said. Mr. Ellison will then take the reins from current CEO Mike Ullman on Aug. 1 of next year.
The move follows J.C. Penney's efforts to revamp the business after a failed makeover under former CEO Ron Johnson, an Apple executive who wanted to modernize the more-than-century-old chain. Mr. Ellison has the right skills to continue the recovery effort, Mr. Ullman said in today's statement.
"His experience and leadership are exactly what we need to accelerate the progress we have made over the last 18 months," Mr. Ullman said.
J.C. Penney is working to stem the flow of red ink after losing billions over the past three years. Mr. Ullman, who had been CEO before Mr. Johnson's tenure, took back the role in April 2013 and began trying to win back customers who were alienated by Mr. Johnson's changes. Mr. Ullman has brought back promotions and discounts -- an approach that Mr. Johnson eschewed -- and has added private-label goods and affordable housewares.
J.C. Penney, which has about 1,060 stores, posted a narrower loss last quarter. Still, the company's most recent sales forecast showed that its turnaround isn't assured. The company cuts its same-store projection for the third quarter on Oct. 8, sending its stock on the biggest one-day plunge in more than a year.
After Mr. Ellison becomes CEO in 2015, Mr. Ullman will be executive chairman of the board for a year. Mr. Ellison, who has spent the past 12 years at Home Depot, previously worked at Target.