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Kohl's reveals succession planning as it names top merchant and starts COO hunt


Menomonee Falls, Wis. — Kohl’s on Thursday announced a series of organizational changes, including the promotion of Michelle Gass to the newly created principal officer position of chief merchandising and customer officer. Gass joined Kohl’s in 2013 as chief customer officer from Starbucks, where she is credited with playing a key role in the coffee giant’s turnaround several years back.

Kohl’s also said it has begun an external search for a COO, a newly created principal officer position. Along with Gass, the COO is expected to be a potential candidate to succeed CEO Mansell upon his eventual retirement.

Mansell, who is 62, has no plans to retire. But he said that as Kohl's chief executive and chairman of its board of directors, he wants the board to have choices in succession planning, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"And I want enough evaluate the performance of specific executives," he said.

In her new position Gass will have oversight for all of Kohl's merchandising, planning and allocation, and product development functions. She will retain direct responsibility for Kohl’s overall customer engagement strategy, including the company's marketing, public relations and social media efforts. Mansell has assumed direct oversight of the company's digital and e-commerce strategies and operations.

“Kohl’s had previously announced an external search for a new chief merchandising officer,” Mansell said. “However, during the course of this search, it became apparent that Michelle's passion for merchandising and new brand acquisition made her the perfect leader for our product and merchandising functions. The close connection between our merchandising and customer engagement strategies has been a key driver in the progress we have made in the early stages of our three-year plan with the goal of becoming the most engaging retailer in America.”

The COO will have direct responsibility for the company's store operations, logistics and supply chain network, information and digital technology, e-commerce strategy and operations, and store construction and design. In the interim, Mansell is overseeing all these functions.

In other changes, Kohl's announced that Wesley McDonald and Richard Schepp have been promoted to principal officer positions. McDonald will assume the newly created principal officer position of CFO. He previously served as senior executive VP, CFO. In this new capacity, McDonald will continue to report to Mansell, overseeing Kohl’s financial planning and analysis, investor relations, financial reporting, accounting operations, tax, treasury, non-merchandise purchasing, credit, and capital investment strategies.

Richard Schepp will assume the newly created principal officer position of chief administrative officer. He previously served as senior executive vice president, human resources, general counsel, and secretary. In this new capacity, Schepp will continue to report to Mansell, overseeing Kohl's HR, legal, risk management and compliance, real estate, and business development functions.
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