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JCPenney’s Ullman Stepping Down As Chairman

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PLANO, Texas (AP) - JCPenney Co.’s Myron E. Ullman III is stepping down as chairman and will be replaced by board member Thomas Engibous on Jan. 28.

The move disclosed Tuesday will sever Ullman’s last executive tie to the Texas-based department store chain. Ron Johnson, the former Apple Inc. executive, took over from Ullman as CEO on Nov. 1.

It also comes after a disappointing holiday season at JCPenney. It has faced lackluster sales and stiff competition from Macy’s Inc. and other clothing sellers.

JCPenney shares rose 26 cents to $34.84 in morning trading.

Under Ullman, JCPenney added popular brands like European clothing line MNG by Mango and Sephora cosmetics. But the department stores are still struggling to be more inviting.

Engibous said in a statement on Tuesday that he will help JCPenney as it looks to lure more shoppers to its stores.

Engibous is a retired chairman and former CEO of Texas Instruments Inc. He has been a JCPenney board member since 1999 and has served as lead independent director and presiding director since 2008.

Just five days ago JCPenney reported that revenue at stores open at least a year rose 0.3 percent in December, missing the company’s expectations. This figure is a key indicator of a retailer’s health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed. The company also said on Thursday that it expects to lose money in the fourth quarter.

Johnson said in prepared remarks that Engibous has been invaluable to him in his early days leading the retailer and expects him to assist in the company’s quest to build itself into “America’s Favorite Store.”

The company took one step toward revitalizing itself last month when it announced that it is buying a 16.6 percent stake in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. for $38.5 million. Starting in February 2013, mini-Martha Stewart shops will appear inside most of JCPenney stores, and the companies will operate a joint website.

JCPenney runs more than 1,100 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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