The marketing wheel is turning yet again for JC Penney, which has cycled through three top marketers in five years—this time, it's an even quicker turn than usual. Shawn Gensch, who joined the Plano, Texas-based retailer last June as chief customer officer and executive VP in charge of all marketing, has resigned after only nine months, a spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.
A retail veteran with stints at Target and Sprouts Farmers Market under his belt, Gensch was tasked with growing traffic and retaining and engaging customers at the long-struggling JC Penney. He headed up all advertising and creative design, much of which has been conducted in-house in recent years.
News of Gensch’s departure was first reported by the Dallas Morning News.
Gensch had been part of JC Penney’s quest to reverse sliding sales amid an overall decline for the department store sector. He helped put together a new store format, unveiled in November, and hired a team of marketers that included Walt Disney creative Robin Beuthin. Two new hires, Jill Feldman who joined as VP of marketing and Roger Worak, who joined as VP of customer engagement and insight, were appointed mere weeks ago.
“The company thanks Shawn for his contributions in developing the Plan for Renewal and building a strong team of marketing leaders,” JC Penney said in a statement.
JC Penney is conducting a search for Gensch’s replacement. When Gensch joined the company in June, he replaced Marci Grebstein, who was with the brand from 2017 to 2019. Grebstein replaced Mary Beth West, who was also with the retailer roughly two years. JC Penney’s CEO, Jill Soltau, who was formerly with Jo-Ann Stores, was appointed in late 2018.
While the store redesign, which rolled out as a test to a single store in Hurst, Texas, was highly publicized, it did little to stanch the bleeding. JC Penney recently reported a 7.5 percent drop in same-store sales, a measure of sales at stores open a year or more, during the critical holiday selling period. The retailer plans to report fourth-quarter earnings later this week.