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Tuesday, November 01, 2011, 07:07 am PT (10:07 am ET)

Apple retail chief Ron Johnson officially departs with no replacement

As was previously announced, Apple's head of retail operations, Ron Johnson, departed the company on Tuesday, though Apple has not yet named a successor.

Johnson's name and picture were completely removed from Apple's official list of executive profiles on Tuesday. The removal coincides with Johnson's previously scheduled Nov. 1 departure from the company.

Johnson is moving on to be the new chief executive of retailer J.C. Penney. He takes over that role on Tuesday after spending the last 11 years as senior vice president of retail at Apple.

After working as a key merchandising executive at Target for 15 years, Johnson was personally lured away by Apple's Steve Jobs in 2000 to spearhead the company's retail business. He is now renowned for creating an international chain of retail stores that are among the world's most profitable per square foot.

He also pioneered the successful "Genius Bar" concept that has become a staple of Apple's stores — a concept that Jobs himself was initially against.

The removal of Johnson from Apple's executive profiles page leaves no one listed as the head of the company's retail operations. The company said in June, after Johnson announced his departure, that it was "actively recruiting" for a new retail chief, while in August the company took its search abroad in hopes of finding a replacement with international retail experience.

Johnson


The international component of Apple's retail business will be the most crucial element going forward. The company announced in its quarterly earnings conference call last month that it plans to open 40 new retail stores in the current quarter, with about three-quarters of them outside the U.S.

Rather than build additional stores in America, Apple is looking to expand its current, established storefronts in order to better serve customers. Officials at Apple admitted that its current stateside retail stores are "too constrained" to properly serve customers.