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Michelle Gass, Kohl’s

Kohl's Michelle_GassThe August 20 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 13th annual “Players,” people to watch in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, the Players represent a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.

The HomeWorld Players are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.

Michelle Gass, Kohl’s, CEO

PLAYER’S CREDENTIALS: Michelle Gass is no stranger to the consumer products world, having held key executive management roles at Starbucks and Procter & Gamble and has served as an independent director of Ann, Inc., the parent company of Ann Taylor.

After a long career at Starbucks, where her accomplishments included evolving the company’s top-selling Frappuccino blended beverage line, Gass joined Kohl’s in 2013 as its chief customer officer. Two years later, her role was expanded to chief merchandising and customer officer with oversight of merchandising, planning and product development.

As of press time, she is also currently one of only 24 female CEOs of S&P 500 companies, according to a recent CNBC article.

WHAT TO WATCH: Prior to replacing Kevin Mansell as CEO, Gass was cited by her former boss as a key leader driving the creation of Kohl’s long-term strategic framework, the company’s Greatness Agenda, the launch of Kohl’s loyalty program and becoming a destination for fitness and wellness products. She was also instrumental in the company’s launch of Under Armour products and its collaborations with Amazon.

Now, with Gass in charge, the retail world will be watching to see what’s next for Kohl’s. In the five years since joining the department store retailer, she has been a driving force in the company’s turnaround.

Kohl’s officials have publicly talked about the success of the in-store programs with Amazon, but whether they expand to a larger number of stores remains to be seen.

In addition, Gass during her tenure at Kohl’s has been focused on the overall customer experience and from a product standpoint has focused on new merchandising initiatives within apparel. The home and housewares side has remained largely status quo, and many vendors within housewares are watching to see what steps, if any, Kohl’s takes in the future to bring newness to its home products assortment.

PERSPECTIVE: Gass is viewed as the key figure in Kohl’s resurgence in recent years. What steps she takes to further drive store traffic while utilizing its e-commerce outlet for those who prefer to shop at home will be watched by many in the year ahead.

2019 HomeWorld Business Players (click on name for profile):