Critics have said that one of Johnson's greatest missteps was that he didn't test the pricing plan with shoppers. He argued that testing would have been impossible because the company needed quick results and that if he hadn't taken a strong stance against discounting, he would not have been able to get new, stylish brands on board.
"Experience is making mistakes and learning from them, and I have learned a lot," Johnson said at the time. "We worked really hard and tried many things to help the customer understand that she could shop any time on her terms. But we learned she prefers a sale. At times, she loves a coupon."
During his tenure, Johnson had spoken of being around for the long-haul and referred to his plan as a multiyear strategy. His plans were only partially realized. Shops for Joe Fresh featuring brightly colored clothes were launched last month. A new home area sporting names like Jonathan Adler and Michael Graves is set to launch this spring. Other brands were expected to be unveiled in coming years as the stores transformed into a collection of up to 100 mini-shops.
But the company's board wasn't willing to wait. Now that Johnson is out, the worry on Wall Street is that Ullman won't be able to turn around business fast enough.
"Ullman is in a crisis zone," said Sozzi. "This is not a normal situation. He has a short window to get in and see what's wrong with the company and put a Band-Aid on the fundamental problems."
Associated Press Business Writers Candice Choi and Joseph Pisani contributed.