Popular retail chains struggle to find successful CEOs—a troubling sign for a struggling industry.
- Eight Fortune 500 companies do not have a permanent CEO. Half of those companies are retailers, Fortune reports.
- Broadly speaking, the retail industry has failed to build up talent within its ranks, and finding a capable CEO is growing difficult for many of these companies.
- As a few examples, Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake recently returned to the online retailer in an attempt to stop the company’s declining revenue.
- Rite Aid had an interim CEO after its previous chief Heyward Donigan left last month.
- At the beginning of the month, Kohl’s named Tom Kingsbury as its new CEO. Under Armour, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Starbucks all appointed interim CEOs last year while searching for a more permanent solution.
Why it’s news
Retailers are facing a new series of challenges following the pandemic and the rise of e-commerce. Many are struggling to find a CEO who is prepared to deal with the unique difficulties they will face.
The majority of CEOs reported that they struggle to know which difficulty needs to take priority in the company, Fortune reports.
The skill set required from a retail CEO has evolved over recent years as the retail industry has changed. In the past, CEOs like Gap’s Mickey Drexler or L Brands’ Les Wexner selected the products to sell but had little involvement in more mundane operations like distribution.
Today’s retail CEO still must have a talent for understanding consumer desires but must also successfully manage supply chains, sourcing, store operations, cybersecurity, and team building. Additionally, employees today expect a more personal approach from their leadership than employees of the past.
Sometimes finding one person to fill all of these roles is nearly impossible. Companies will often build a team around a CEO to fill in the weak points. Target CEO Brian Cornell is one example of this. Cornell arrived at Target in 2014 while the company was struggling. Cornell quickly put together a team of executives to help get the company back on track—a task he completed successfully.