Kohl’s announced Tuesday that CEO, chairman and president Kevin Mansell will retire in May 2018, following the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting.
Michelle Gass, who is currently chief merchandising and customer officer, will assume the CEO role. Sonia Chawla, Kohl’s chief operating officer, will become president. The board will select a new chairman from its current independent members.
“It has been a privilege to spend 35 years at Kohl’s, 19 years on the board and nearly 10 as CEO,” Mansell said in a statement. “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.”
Mansell joined Kohl’s in 1982 as a divisional merchandise manager. Through successive promotions, he gained increased responsibility, including merchandise planning, allocations and marketing. He was named president and director in 1999, was promoted to CEO in 2008 and named chairman in 2009. During his career with the retailer, Kohl’s expanded from a local chain to a national company with more than 1,100 locations spread across 49 states.
Gass joined Kohl’s in 2013 as chief customer officer with responsibility for marketing and the e-commerce business. Prior to joining Kohl’s, Gass held a variety of leadership roles at Starbucks, including president of Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“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,” Mansell said.
Calling Mansell “a trusted mentor and partner,” Gass said she planned to continue leading the company in much the same leadership style as he has. “I am energized by the challenges we are all facing today in the retail sector,” she said. “Kohl’s is uniquely positioned through our strong store and omnichannel presence, our powerful brand portfolio and our differentiated value proposition. We are resilient, innovative and agile, and will continue to make investments in our business to provide compelling customer experiences that pave the path for our future success.”
Mansell recognized Chawla, who joined Kohl’s in 2015 after holding a variety of senior roles at Walgreens, Dell and Wells Fargo, for how she has “significantly impacted our ability to become a best-in-class omnichannel retailer.”