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Penney CEO emails suggest aim at breaking deal

March 1, 2013 • Business


Ron Johnson, CEO of J.C. Penney, arrives at New York Supreme Court, Friday, March 1, 2013. Johnson is expected to testify in a trial that pits the struggling department store chain against rival Macy’s Inc. over a partnership with Martha Stewart. The trial focuses on whether Macy’s has the exclusive right to sell some of Martha Stewart branded products such as cookware, bedding and bath items. Macy’s is seeking to block Penney from opening Martha Stewart mini shops in its stores. The shops are part of Johnson’s big plan to reinvent the shopping experience at the beleaguered chain. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s been a tough week to be Ron Johnson.

J.C. Penney’s CEO was in the hot seat again on Friday in New York State Supreme Court after facing investors earlier this week over a dismal quarterly earnings performance that marked one year of snowballing losses and sharp sales declines since he came on board.

This time, he was being grilled for four hours by lawyers from rival Macy’s Inc. who presented emails that he wrote that they believe illustrate how he plotted to push home diva Martha Stewart to breach an exclusive deal with his rival. They contend he wanted Macy’s backed into a corner so Penney would be the sole department store distributor of some of Stewart’s goods.

But in cross examination by Penney’s attorneys, Johnson, dressed in a dark suit and striped navy tie, rejected their claims and painted a far less devious portrait of himself. Login to read more

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