Ulta Sets CEO Succession Plan

Current chief, Lyn Kirby, to step down by fall as firm names Chuck Rubin, who is to take the post, president and chief operating officer.


Lyn Kirby, the architect of Ulta’s hybrid-beauty retail model, plans to step down as chief executive officer by this fall.

This story first appeared in the April 27, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

As part of Ulta’s succession plan, the retailer has named Chuck Rubin president and chief operating officer and a board member, effective May 10. Following a transition period of up to four months, Rubin, previously president of North American Retail for Office Depot, will become ceo of Ulta, a $1.2 billion company. Kirby plans to remain on the board through March 17.

A decade ago, Kirby boldly wrote prestige cosmetics into her business plan for the Bolingbrook, Ill.-based retailer, breaking from the industry’s traditional church-and-state approach to mass and class. She has since transformed Ulta from a mass market emporium to a 348-store chain that houses salon services, and prestige and mass market brands, under one roof.

By the time of the chain’s initial public offering in October 2007, Ulta had a teeming assortment of prestige fragrances and a smattering of upscale cosmetics lines, including Bare Escentuals, Smashbox, Urban Decay, Bourjois and Elizabeth Arden. In the years since, Ulta has attracted Benefit Cosmetics, Korres, Cargo, Napoleon Perdis and fragrance and bath items from Philosophy, to name a few.

For his part, Rubin brings 30 years of retail experience to the retailer, according to Ulta.

Kirby stated, “We are delighted to attract Chuck to Ulta as president and chief operating officer. Chuck’s extensive retail background and knowledge of retailing will be highly valuable to us as the company continues to execute its proven strategy and maintain its successful track record of growth. Chuck is joining us at an opportune time with this established platform for future growth.”

She continued, “We are pleased with our start to fiscal 2010, as we expect to deliver a first-quarter comparable-store sales increase of approximately 10.5 percent, while continuing to maintain our merchandise margin and operating expense disciplines. With this strong start, we believe we are well positioned to deliver another great performance this year.”