10 Things You Didn’t Know about JC Penney CEO Jill Soltau

Jill Soltau is the current CEO of JC Penney. She has been so since October of 2018, but before that, she was the CEO of Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts Stores. As such, Soltau hasn’t spend a lot of time at the head of JC Penney, so it will be interesting to see what happens as she continues to make her presence felt. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about JC Penney CEO Jill Soltau:

1. Retail Veteran

In total, Soltau can claim more than three decades of experience in the retail sector. As such, there can be no credible challenge to her claim that she is a true retail veteran.

2. Specializes in the Customer Side of Things

Over the course of her career, Soltau has performed a wide range of tasks in a wide range of roles. However, it is interesting to note that a lot of her roles have seen her involved in the customer-oriented side of things for retail businesses. Examples range from customer experience to marketing and merchandising.

3. Has a Lot of Senior Management Experience

Unsurprisingly, Soltau has a lot of senior management experience as well. After all, CEO wasn’t her first executive position. Interested individuals can find a full list of the positions that she has held elsewhere, but some examples of the titles range from Director to Chief Merchandising Officer and Executive Vice President.

4. Chosen for Her Record

Soltau was JC Penney’s choice following a search for their new CEO, which makes sense because the retailer is not on the firmest footing at the moment, thus making their choice that much more important. Based on the announcements that were made at the time, it seems that Soltau was the final choice because she had a proven record of making retail businesses more profitable as well as providing other desired results. On top of this, the announcements made mention of her passion, which was stated to be potentially beneficial for revitalizing JC Penney.

5. Said to Inspire Other People

Some of the articles that covered the announcement made mention of Soltau’s ability to inspire the people around her as well, which is always a good characteristic for CEOs and other members of senior management to have. After all, motivated people are also well-known to be much, much harder-working people.

6. Got a Cash Bonus of $6 Million

For joining up with JC Penney, Soltau managed to get a one-time cash bonus of $6 million. However, her base salary will be $1.4 million, though there are bound to be other incentives included in her compensation package as well.

7. Stated that She Planned to Start By Learning

When interviewed after starting as the new CEO of JC Penney, Soltau stated her plan to learn more about the retailer before proceeding to other matters. This makes sense because while she has plenty of the right expertise and experience, that doesn’t mean that she can just start making the right decisions right away, thus the need for an initial period of familiarization.

8. Has Mentioned Need for Department Stores to Evolve

Speaking of which, Soltau has also mentioned her plan to focus on what the customers want, which is a part of her belief that department stores need to evolve. Simply put, department stores have been declining for some time, not least because of how online retailers have been cutting into their customer bases and thus their revenue sources. As a result, JC Penney is far from being the only retailer that has come under pressure, as shown by the other retailers that have started moving towards what is being called experiential shopping.

9. Can Be Seen As a Successor to Ron Johnson

In a sense, Soltau can be seen as a successor to one of JC Penney’s previous CEOs Ron Johnson, though hopefully, that won’t be true when it comes to their results. This is because both individuals were put in charge of JC Penney to make it capable of thriving in the modern business environment. However, Johnson went way too far with his changes, which was wholly unsurprising when he seems to have outright disdained the retailer’s traditional customer base with predictable results for its sales.

10. Doesn’t Like Tariffs

When she was still in her previous position, Soltau spoke out against Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, which makes sense because a lot of their goods would have been impacted by price hikes. Suffice to say that increasing prices tends to make the positions of retailers shakier rather than stronger, meaning that she was expected to carry these views over to JC Penney, which has voiced similar sentiments in the past.


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