Kirk Palmer Associates Recruits Chief Marketing Officer for JCPenney 

June 15, 2022 – Retailers are facing major shifts in their businesses that call for “unprecedented responses” by CEOs who can effectively lead through change, intuitively and analytically understand the evolving consumer, and respond to ambiguity, according to search consultants. Developed markets, excess retail capacity, rising prices, the shift to omni-channel retail and the unpredictable pace of change in consumer shopping habits all affect the type of leader that retailers need.

Retail-focused executive search firm Kirk Palmer Associates recently assisted in the recruitment of John Aylward as chief marketing officer of JCPenney. Partner Lindsay Stevens led the assignment. “The 120-year-old JCPenney brand is iconic. We must protect what the brand represents while evolving how it expresses who we are today,” said Marc Rosen, chief executive officer. “John will help fulfill our potential at this pivotal moment when JCPenney stands alone as a one-stop retailer. Additionally, John’s passion for purpose-driven work will be an important asset as we continue to provide offerings that promote inclusivity and celebrate the diversity of our customers.”

Mr. Aylward joins JCPenney from CARE, the global non-profit dedicated to ending poverty, where he served as CMO for five years. He has been a marketer in the U.S. and internationally for leading brands including HSN, DSW, Starbucks, and Gap.

Mr. Aylward assumes the CMO role as the company focuses on strengthening loyalty among its 50 million shoppers and transforms how it connects with customers. He will help advance the company’s omnichannel strategy to deliver a modern, seamless experience across stores and digital. Mr. Aylward will lead the marketing strategy, creative, visual merchandising and store design, and customer engagement teams

JCPenney Co. Inc., one of the nation’s largest apparel and home retailers, combines an expansive footprint of about 650 stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The company has about 60,000 associates across the globe.

Related: Kirk Palmer Associates Assists Ashley Stewart in Finding New CEO

Last fall, JCPenney retained E.A. Hughes & Co., a division of Solomon Page, to help recruit Andre Joyner as chief human resources officer. Managing directors Bob Marchant and Ann MacCarthy led the search and took a unique and personalized approach to the assignment. “We are thrilled to have played an integral role in placing JCPenney’s CHRO – a position that is more crucial and influential than ever,” said Mr. Marchant. “It is a privilege to continue working with longstanding partners in identifying and placing exceptional talent, and both Ann and I look forward to the future success this key placement will bring to JCPenney.”

Retail-Focused Recruiters

Since its founding in 1987, Kirk Palmer Associates has grown globally, helping retailers hire CEOs, presidents, and front-of-house executives spanning a wide array of marketing, merchandising, stores, sales, E-commerce, and digital leadership roles. Kirk Palmer Associates is made up of retail and fashion industry veterans. The firm’s partners have placed more than 1,000 CEOs, presidents, vice presidents, and other senior executives at over 200 retail and wholesale companies across all channels, sectors, and functional areas.

Ms. Stevens leads the West Coast executive search practice at Kirk Palmer Associates. She works at the intersection of founders and the investment community helping fast-growing brands hire the leadership talent they need to scale. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Stevens gained more than 15 years of marketing and digital strategy experience at companies including Apple, kate spade new york, and C. Wonder. Additionally, she is a consultative partner to businesses at every stage of growth and provides guidance on organizational design, talent assessment, and executive compensation.

Recent Search

Kirk Palmer Associates recently assisted in the recruitment of Kelli Dugan as chief design and merchandising officer of Fabletics, a global active-lifestyle brand co-founded by actress and entrepreneur Kate Hudson. “Kelli joins Fabletics with more than a decade of top-notch design and merchandising experience under her belt,” said Adam Goldenberg, CEO of Fabletics. “She brings extensive experience leading merchandising and product strategy to our team, and we’re thrilled to welcome Kelli. No one is more qualified and equipped to run our design and merchandising team and efforts than she is. I can’t wait to see how she helps us push the envelope even further.”

Ms. Dugan has held leadership roles at leading fashion brands, serving as the SVP of merchandising for Rag & Bone and head of merchandising and product strategy at Everlane, playing an integral role in the first five years of the brand. Earlier in her career, Ms. Dugan spent nine years at Gap Inc working across Banana Republic and Old Navy.

Related: Kirk Palmer and Associates Assists Vince Holding Corp. with CEO Search

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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