Kohl’s shakes up C-suite

Kohl’s Corp. shook up its C-suite today by announcing it has created a new position of chief merchandising and customer officer and has begun a search to fill a newly created chief operating officer position.

The Menomonee Falls-based department store chained has hired Michelle Gass chief merchandising and customer officer. In this new capacity, Gass has assumed oversight of all of Kohl’s merchandising, planning and allocation, and product development functions. She will report to Kevin Mansell, Kohls chairman, chief executive officer and president. Gass retains direct responsibility for Kohl’s overall customer engagement strategy, including the company’s marketing, public relations and social media efforts.

Gass joined the Kohl’s management team in 2013 after more than 22 years of retail, marketing and general management experience, including 16 years with Starbucks Corp. She also held executive positions with Ann Inc. and Procter & Gamble.

In light of Gass’ new responsibilities, Mansell has assumed direct oversight of the company’s digital and e-commerce strategies and operations.

Kohl’s has commenced an external search for a chief operating officer, a newly created principal officer position. The chief operating officer 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, those functions are all being overseen by Mansell. Along with Gass, the chief operating officer is expected to be a potential candidate to succeed Mansell upon his eventual retirement.

“Kohls had previously announced an external search for a new chief merchandising officer. 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,” Mansell said. “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. Our merchandising, planning and allocation, and product development functions are all led on a day-to-day basis by very seasoned and talented executives. I believe Michelle is the perfect leader of these executives, providing the vision and strategic direction we need to accomplish the ambitious goals we set in our three-year plan and overarching Greatness Agenda.”

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

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 his new capacity, Schepp will continue to report to Mansell, overseeing Kohl’s human resources, legal, risk management and compliance, real estate, and business development functions.

The changes come on the heels of a downgrade of several department store stocks, including Kohl’s, by Credit Suisse, which said the upside on current valuation for Kohl’s stock is limited.

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