Kohl’s Corp. has named chief customer officerMichelle Gass to the newly created principal officer position of chief merchandising and customer officer, filling the long-vacant chief merchandising officer position as Kohl’s begins a search for chief operating officer, another new position.
This positions Gass, who came to Wisconsin-based Kohl’s in 2013 from Starbucks Corp., to potentially succeed CEO, chairman and president Kevin Mansell down the line. Once appointed, the chief operating officer would also be a possible contender for the top job.
This reshuffling at the top is part of the retailer’s ongoing “Greatness Agenda,” a plan to turn around the company’s stagnant same-store sales and reposition Kohl’s to compete against online retailers such as Amazon, as well as select a successor for Mansell.
In her new position, Gass will oversee all of Kohl’s merchandising, planning and allocation, and product development functions. She will also continue leading Kohl’s overall customer engagement strategy, including the company’s marketing, public relations and social media efforts.
In the interim, Mansell has assumed direct oversight of the company’s digital and e-commerce strategies and operations.
Kohl’s previous chief merchandising officer, Donald Brennan, resigned in April 2014. A Wall Street Journal article at the time foreshadowed the management shakeup to come spurred by Brennan’s departure.
The company’s search for a COO will look outside the company. The role will include 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.
“Kohl’s 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,” said Mansell in a press release. “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.”
Other longtime leaders at the company (NYSE: KSS) Wes McDonald and Richard Schepp have also been promoted to principal officer positions as chief financial officer and chief administrative officer, respectively.