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Kraft executive moving to Penney

NEW YORK — J.C. Penney Co. has hired an executive from the mac-and-cheese world to reconnect with its middle-income shoppers.

The beleaguered department store named Kraft Foods Inc. executive Debra Berman as senior vice president of marketing on Monday to help revitalize the struggling brand, filling a void in the company that remained for 14 months.

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Penney is trying to win back customers who fled during a transformation plan spearheaded by chain’s former chief executive, Ron Johnson, that backfired and led to massive losses and sales drops.

Berman, 45, who has worked for Kraft since 2009, served as vice president for marketing strategy and directed global brand strategy for all Kraft-owned brands, including Velveeta, Philadelphia cream cheese, and Kraft macaroni and cheese.

J.C. Penney, which is based in Plano, Texas, said Berman joins the company’s executive board and will report directly to chief executive Mike Ullman III. The appointment took effect Friday.

Berman’s appointment is the latest management change under Ullman, who returned to Penney’s helm in April when the board fired Johnson after only 17 months on the job.

Since then, nearly a dozen senior executives, many hired by Johnson, have left.

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