The role of retail Merchant Leader continues to be redefined and transformed. Customer expectations are the driving force behind this leadership transformation. Every segment of retailing is challenged with finding Merchant leaders who can inspire young teams, enhance and expedite the product development cycle, define and build desirable proprietary brands and make decisions that are based on facts and analytics. Customers want and expect great products and Merchant teams need to deliver. More than ever, today’s successful Merchant leaders must understand the marketing systems and analytical tools needed to anticipate and exceed consumer needs and create unique and personalized relationships with their audience.
• It is vital that Merchant Leaders know both merchandising and technology. There is a shift from long range planning to real-time action based on real-time data. Successful Merchants need to understand and appreciate technology and use that to empower the business to drive their merchandising skill set.
• Aligning product development with customer demand. It is crucial to stay on top of the latest market and competitive trends and emerging brands to develop a process to efficiently introduce new products to market that will delight the customer.
• Understanding customer complexity. It is not enough anymore to forecast trends, develop product and run a profitable business. Today’s successful Merchant requires a broader business understanding and superior adaptability. Merchant leaders must evaluate and integrate analytics, interpret movements in online shopping behavior, and react to cultural and entertainment trends. They must understand and appreciate financial market conditions that impact spending habits. The culmination of being able to integrate all of these factors with their own customer experiences to make the most impactful business decisions distinguishes the successful Merchant leader from others.
JCPenney has embarked on a New Day under the leadership of Jill Soltau as their Chief Executive Officer. In partnership with Jill and the senior leadership of the company, E. A. Hughes was selected to lead the search for their new Chief Merchandising Officer. Michelle Wlazlo was selected into this critical role and is representative of the New Leadership JCPenney has recruited to the company. This success was followed by several noted high-level Merchant searches we conducted. We were able to identify and assess candidates who would bring a New Attitude to the company. They embody the profile of today’s Merchant leaders as JCPenney continues to pivot in their resurgence into 2019 Q4 and 2020.
Michelle Wlazo, Executive Vice President, Chief Merchandising Officer
Wlazlo brings 30 years of merchandising and stores experience to JCPenney from a variety of respected apparel and accessory retailers. Most recently she served as Senior Vice President of Apparel and Accessories Merchandising at Target Corporation where she helped lead the company’s strategy and implementation of a robust merchandising program that included transforming the presentation of 1,400 stores and launching 15 new private brands.
Victor Ejarque Lopez, Senior Vice President, GMM Women’s Apparel
“His appointment fills a vital component of our merchandising leadership team, and we are eager to leverage his broad expertise in women’s apparel as we curate and develop sought-after brands and assortments to make JCPenney a preferred shopping destination for our customers,” said Wlazlo. “He will be an integral part of our senior leadership team as we create an inspirational experience for our customers at every touchpoint.”
Laurene Gandolfo, Senior Vice President for Home Product Design and Development
Gandolfo is a seasoned leader with 35 years of varied retail experience, including over 21 years specializing in the home area at both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. In this newly created role, she will apply her significant home experience to re-establish relevance across the Company’s home categories and focus and segment JCPenney brands including JCPenney Home(tm), Cooks(R) and Liz Claiborne(R).