Kohl’s is preparing a CEO succession plan as Kevin Mansell, the retailer’s chairman, chief executive officer and president, plans to retire in May 2018 at the close of the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Michelle Gass, currently chief merchandising and customer officer, will assume the CEO role at that time.
Gass joined Kohl’s in 2013 as chief customer officer. In 2015, her role expanded to chief merchandising and customer officer, adding the merchandising, planning and product development divisions to her areas of responsibility. Prior to joining Kohl’s, Gass spent nearly 17 years at Starbucks where she held a variety of leadership roles overseeing marketing, beverage, food and merchandising, and global strategy. Most recently, she served as president, Starbucks EMEA.
“Michelle has been an instrumental leader in shaping the future at Kohl’s— one where we continue to put the customer first, focus on innovation, speed and agility and remain dedicated to the long-term financial health of the business,” Mansell said. “Michelle’s leadership of our merchandise and marketing organizations has proven her talent, passion, vision and readiness to lead our organization. She was a key leader driving the creation of our long-term strategic framework, the Greatness Agenda, led our focus on becoming the active and wellness destination for families, launched our new loyalty program, and is responsible for bringing in new categories, partners and brands including the company’s launch of Under Armour earlier this year and our recently announced collaborations with Amazon. The retail industry is going through a transformational amount of change and Michelle is extremely well qualified and positioned to lead Kohl’s through this evolution.”
In addition, Sona Chawla, Kohl’s chief operating officer, will assume the role of president. Chawla will maintain her responsibilities for the company’s omnichannel operations including all store operations, logistics and supply chain network, information and digital technology, and e-commerce strategy, planning and operations. She joined Kohl’s in 2015 as chief operating officer. Prior to joining Kohl’s, Chawla spent seven years with Walgreens in a variety of senior leadership roles including president of e-commerce and president of digital and chief marketing officer.
Mansell added, “It has been a privilege to spend 35 years at Kohl’s, 19 years on the board and nearly 10 as CEO. I look forward to this last year of my career, building on the positive momentum we have going into the holidays, furthering the development of our operational excellence and traffic-driving plans and ensuring a seamless transition for our associates, partners and shareholders.”
The company added that it intends its board to appoint one of its current independent members as chairman of the board effective upon Mansell’s retirement, and that Gass will be nominated to stand for election as a director.