A Critical Year For People Watching

HomeWorld’s People To Watch selections each year (August 19 issue) typically include executives in newly appointed leadership posts. But never in the 14-year history of this special annual edition has the group been filled with so many recently installed heads of major housewares and retailing operations.

New Leadership

The new leaders no doubt mark the beginning of critical periods for their respective organizations. Taken as a whole, that so many companies have simultaneously installed new chiefs underscores an unprecedented crossroads for an entire industry in transition.

Everyone is watching to see how this new assembly of industry leadership affects the much-theorized transformation needed to anchor the housewares business for years to come.

These high-profile assignments come at a time when stabilizing the shaky footing caused by today’s disruptive retail marketplace seems daunting enough. But it’s not enough.

These executives will be judged beyond how they absorb what by now are routine daily aftershocks of a volatile business landscape. They ultimately will be graded, individually and as a whole, on how they conceive, implement and execute amid seismic change.

The top job in this business climate requires dodging so many near-term potholes that sticking to a long-term map can be difficult. The best business leaders, though, aren’t satisfied merely to live to see another day.

Put To The Test

The housewares industry rode confidently into 2019 on the back of encouraging retail performance across the board. Now, the sense of caution is palpable as everyone hopes for a big holiday lift after an uneven first half marked by mounting worries about tariffs, extensive store closings, fragile consumer confidence and more.

Caution is no excuse for inaction. The newly named chiefs across the housewares business will put that to the test.

Some inherit operations in solid shape but no less in need of refreshed strategy and execution. Others face steeper challenges that might require an upheaval of longstanding principles and practices.

There are no cookie-cutter solutions to success. Each of the new leaders confronts unique organizational objectives.

Yet these executives are inextricably linked. Their successes or failures, beyond the direct impact on their respective businesses, could reverberate across the entire industry.

With that they share a responsibility more consequential than they might even suspect.

In Transition

The idea behind HomeWorld’s People To Watch has never rung so true with so many new leaders in place at such a critical juncture for a housewares retailing business in transition.

Everyone is watching.