Fox Business has released its annual list of the worst CEOs, and three of the seven slots are reserved for retail leaders.
No. 5 on the list is Eddie Lampert, the CEO and chairman of Sears, the man who "has presided over the slow and steady decline of what was once a great American retail brand," according to the article. At No. 3 is Michael Jeffries, the controversial CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch. Jeffries was pilloried online throughout the year for a range of comments he made, including the fact that his company only wants business from conventionally beautiful people ("Candidly, we go after the cool kids ... A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong").
It will probably come as no surprise to learn that the No. 1 spot on the list was "awarded" to Ron Johnson, erstwhile CEO of JC Penney. Writer Steve Tobak doesn't pull his punches:
In an attempt to replicate his success as head of Apple's retail operation, Johnson tried an extremely risky move. He gutted the company from top to bottom in a massive restructuring and reorganization of its executive team, middle management, retail stores, inventory, and promotional strategy.
The results were a complete disaster as customers fled, revenues plummeted, and cash dwindled. Johnson was canned in April but so much damage was done it’s still not clear if the 100-year-old chain will ever recover. JC Penney shares are trading near 25-year lows.
Not only is Ron Johnson my hands-down pick for worst CEO of 2013, he may very well turn up in my worst of the decade list.