Kohl’s names Besanko CFO

Speculation swirls about potential M&A


Last updated on October 17th, 2019 at 10:19 am

Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp. has named experienced retail executive Bruce Besanko its new chief financial officer, effective July 10.

Besanko, 58, will be the department store operator’s principal financial and accounting officer, responsible for financial planning and analysis, investor relations, financial reporting, accounting operations, tax, treasury, non-merchandise purchasing, credit and capital investment strategies. He will relieve president, chairman and chief executive officer Kevin Mansell, who has been covering the role since May 10, when Wesley McDonald retired.

Besanko has more than 21 years of retail financial leadership experience, most recently as executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer at grocery retailer SuperValu Inc. He also previously was executive vice president, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer at OfficeMax Inc. And Besanko served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, completing his service as a lieutenant colonel.

During his tenure at SuperValu, Besanko helped it sell off the Save-A-Lot chain. And OfficeMax was preparing to be acquired by Office Depot while he was CFO there.

Investors reacted positively, and Kohl’s stock was up $1.30, to $38.82 in morning trading. Some analysts have suggested with Besanko’s successful mergers and acquisitions background, the company may be planning strategic growth. Rumors have swirled for months about potential M&A activity by Kohl’s.

Kohl’s reported 2016 revenue of $18.7 billion, down 2.7 percent from $19.2 billion in the prior year. Comparable store sales were down 2.4 percent from 2015 to 2016.

The retailer has been struggling to adjust to changing consumer shopping patterns. During 2016, Kohl’s closed 19 department stores, which it said played out with about one-third of the sales from the closed stores shifting to nearby stores. At the same time, it opened nine new small-format stores, 12 FILA outlets and three Off/Aisle stores. The company now operates 1,154 Kohl’s stores in 49 states.

“We’re excited to have Bruce join our team and believe that his breadth of experience will be of great value to Kohl’s as we continue to build our path forward,” Mansell said. “As an instrumental leader at several large companies, Bruce has great insights on how to help organizations move with the speed and agility the business requires, while maintaining a financial framework of operational excellence.”

“I’m looking forward to joining the Kohl’s team,” Besanko said. “I have admired Kohl’s business model for years and am enthusiastic about the future the company is creating, really differentiating itself as a bright spot in retail. Kohl’s has an excellent reputation in the financial community and I look forward to joining the company.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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