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Michelle Gass to replace Kevin Mansell as Kohl's CEO

By Prachi Singh


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Kohl’s has announced that Kevin Mansell, the company’s Chairman, CEO and President will retire in May 2018 as of the close of the company’s annual shareholders meeting. The company said while Michelle Gass will assume the CEO role at that time, Sona Chawla, Kohl’s Chief Operating Officer, will assume the role of President.

“It has been a privilege to spend 35 years at Kohl’s, 19 years on the board and nearly 10 as CEO,” said Mansell in a media statement, adding, “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.”

Michelle Gass to succeed as Kohl’s CEO, Kevin Mansell to retire in 2018

The company added that in the 35 years Mansell has been at Kohl’s, the company grew from a local Milwaukee-area retailer with a dozen locations to a national company with more than 1,100 stores across 49 states, generating annual sales of 19 billion dollars. During his tenure as CEO, the company successfully navigated a financial recession, broadened the brand portfolio, grew the e-commerce business to 3 billion dollars, redefined itself as an omnichannel retailer and built digital capabilities to complement and leverage the strength of its store base.

“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. Michelle’s leadership of our merchandise and marketing organizations has proven her talent, passion, vision and readiness to lead our organization,” added Mansell commenting on Gass’s appointment as the new CEO.

Gass joined Kohl’s in 2013 as chief customer officer, with leadership responsibility for marketing and the ecommerce business. In 2015, her role expanded to chief merchandising and customer officer, adding the company’s 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, Starbucks beverage, food and merchandising, and global strategy. Most recently, she served as president, Starbucks EMEA. Prior to Starbucks, Gass began her career with Procter & Gamble.

“I am honored and it is a great privilege for the opportunity to lead Kohl’s into our next chapter, building on our enduring values in serving families and taking care of our associates. Kevin has been a trusted mentor and partner and my intention is to lead this company with the drive, care and passion that Kevin has modelled for years,” said Gass.

Sona Chawla appointed President at Kohl’s

The company added that Sona 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.

“Sona’s leadership has significantly impacted our ability to become a best-in-class omnichannel retailer,” said Mansell, adding, “She has been laser-focused on delivering a seamless omnichannel customer experience, leveraging technology to make us more productive, and amplifying the role and relevancy of our stores as our biggest strength.”

Chawla 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. Prior to joining Walgreens, she was vice president of global online business at Dell, Inc and before Dell, she worked at Wells Fargo’s Internet Services Group, where she held several roles including executive vice president of online sales, service and marketing.

Kohl’s further added that the board will appoint one of its current independent members as chairman of the board effective upon Mansell’s retirement at the close of the company’s 2018 annual shareholders meeting and that Michelle Gass will be nominated to stand for election as a director at that meeting to fill the vacancy created by Mansell’s retirement.

Picture credit: Kohl's

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Michelle Gass