Kevin Mansell, chairman, CEO and president of Kohl's, will retire in May 2018 at the end of the company’s annual shareholders meeting. The 35-year Kohl's veteran has served as its chief executive for nearly 10 years.
Michelle Gass, currently Kohl's chief merchandising officer and customer officer, will assume the CEO role upon Mansell's retirement. Sona Chawla, Kohl's COO, will assume the role of president. The Kohl's board said it plans to appoint one of its independent members as chairman to replace Mansell in that role.
Gass joined Kohl’s in 2013 as chief customer officer, with responsibility for marketing and the e-commerce business. In 2015, her role expanded to also include chief merchandising officer. Prior to Kohl’s, Gass spent nearly 17 years at Starbucks where she held a variety of leadership. She began her career with Procter & Gamble.
Chawla joined Kohl’s in 2015 as COO. Previously, she 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 VP of global online business at Dell.
In the 35 years that Mansell has been with Kohl', the company has grown from a local Milwaukee-area retailer with a dozen locations to a national retailer with more than 1,100 stores across 49 states, with annual sales of $19 billion. During Mansell' tenure as CEO, the company, among other accomplishments, significantly expanded its brand portfolio and grew its e-commerce business to $3 billion. Most recently, he led the retailer into a closer relationship with Amazon. Kohl's will begin accepting (and shipping back) Amazon returns at 82 stores beginning next month.
"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," said Mansell.
In his remarks, Mansell praised his newly appointed successor.
“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,” he said. “Michelle’s leadership of our merchandise and marketing organizations has proven her talent, passion, vision and readiness to lead our organization. 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 assuming 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.
“Sona’s leadership has significantly impacted our ability to become a best-in-class omnichannel retailer,” said Mansell. “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.”