June 18, 2012 / 9:14 PM / 6 years ago

J.C. Penney marketing, merchandise chief steps down

(Reuters) - J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) said on Monday that Michael Francis, who was in charge of the company’s marketing and merchandising, was leaving the company, months after he was lured from Target Corp (TGT.N) as a key part of a new management team.

The move, announced in a three-sentence statement, comes weeks after the department store operator said it had a worse-than-expected 18.9 percent drop in same-store sales for the first quarter as it tried to wean consumers off of coupons and frequent discounts.

J.C. Penney shares fell 5.8 percent to $22.94 in extended trading Monday afternoon after the departure was announced.

Chief Executive Ron Johnson said when the sales decline was announced that the company’s message was not clearly explained as it made the shift to a new pricing strategy.

The company did not give a reason for the departure of the 49-year-old Francis.

Johnson will assume direct oversight of Penney’s marketing and merchandising functions, the company said.

Reporting By Phil Wahba in New York and Brad Dorfman in Chicago; editing by Andre Grenon

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