By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
April 9, 2013

FORTUNE — Ron Johnson, the former Target (TGT) manager who tried to save the ailing J.C. Penney (JCP) using lessons he learned building Apple’s (AAPL) retail empire was fired Monday.

CNBC had the scoop and the
Wall Street Journal
confirmed it.

“I’ve always dreamed of leading a major retail company as CEO,” Johnson said when the move to Penney was announced nearly two years ago, “and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help J. C. Penney re-imagine what I believe to be the single greatest opportunity in American retailing today, the Department Store.”

But his strategy — selling boutique brands at fixed prices to customers raised on clearance sales — failed spectacularly. The company lost $4.3 billion in sales in 2012, including a 28.4% drop in the all-important holiday season.

His replacement at Apple — former Dixon’s CEO John Browett — also failed spectacularly. He was hired in April last year and fired in October. Tim Cook has yet to name a replacement, which means Johnson’s old post is still vacant.

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