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Apple s senior vice president of retail, Ron Johnson, is stepping down to take the CEO reins at J.C. Penney.

Johnson is widely credited with helping Apple develop a formidable retail presence. Over the course of the past decade, the company has expanded from its initial two stores (in Tyson s Corner, Va., and Glendale, Calif.) to more than 300 locations worldwide.

“From the very beginning, the Apple stores served a vital role as ambassadors of the brand. We re here to expand Apple market share,” Johnson noted in October 2001, as the company opened its ninth location in Palo Alto, Calif. “If we do great stores in the right places where people gather — if we have phenomenally well-trained people, we think our market share will grow dramatically.”

The stores themselves embraced the same clean, minimalist aesthetic of Apple devices, heavy on the glass and chrome accents, with any metallic coldness offset by blonde-wood or pale floors. Indeed, like any Apple release, the stores developed under a heavy cloak of secrecy: Leander Kahney, in the book Inside Steve’s Brain, described how Apple CEO Steve Jobs asked Johnson to use an alias for several months lest anyone get wind that Apple was planning to open retail stores. Apple used census and customer data to determine the best retail locations, and wrestled with how to best present and sell a limited product line.

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Ron Johnson Bringing Apple Revival Experience to J.C. Penney