If you're Johnson -- and you see the retail segment you "lead" turn the space on its ear -- it's easy to believe your own hype. He clearly does.
At the aforementioned investor day, Johnson waxed about how people thought he was nuts when he left Target (TGT) to join Apple. Drawing from Apple's success, he scoreboarded.
He then effectively spit on Steve Jobs's grave.
Johnson explained that even Jobs thought he was crazy for leaving Apple at the height of its dominance to join lowly JCP. He scoffed at the naysayers -- and not-so-indirectly at Jobs -- who questioned his decision to move from Target to Apple. Amazingly, he did this by arguing that JCP in January 2012 was in the same position, only a bit stronger, than Apple was when he came aboard. And look at what I did there.It's one thing to be confident. And it's clear that Johnson has respect for Jobs. But he just doesn't get it. Taking orders from Steve Jobs and not screwing up isn't the same thing as building a revolutionary retail division that companies from Sony (SNE) to Microsoft (MSFT) to Tesla Motors (TSLA) imitate, but never duplicate. Sony and Microsoft stores are embarrassments. They're hardly a step above the knock-off Apple stores that popped up in China. Tesla stores serve a purpose, but they only mimic Apple in spirit, not quite as much in design and other cosmetic and operational specifics. Johnson can't function on his own post-Jobs and Apple. Here's a quick and dirty review of what he has done at JCP: First we're not having sales. Then we kind of are. And we'll put a store containing items you can pretty much find everywhere else inside of a store that contains items you can pretty much find everywhere else. We'll call it a boutique. Or a store-within-a-store. That's the level of innovation and creativity Johnson brought with him from Apple? If Steve Jobs were here today, he would chest bump me for pointing this out. Then he would suggest JCP fire their "B" player and hire a true entrepreneur who has the capacity to transform retail. Not just some Hey, I used to work at Apple! retread who blindly repeats the failures of his predecessors.
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