Michelle Gass

Kohl’s Corp.’s Michelle Gass is taking a glass-half-full approach to retail today. 

While the chief executive officer acknowledged the pain of the pandemic, pointing to “an incredibly dynamic and challenging year,” she also sees more than a fair measure of hope ahead. 

“We’ve really been challenged to better understand where the consumer’s headed, to adapt and meet them there,” Gass said. “The next several months and even years ahead provide a significant opportunity for all retailers.” 

At Kohl’s, which Gass described as a purpose-driven company, she plans to make the most of that opportunity by keeping the consumer at the center of all it does.

“We work hard everyday to drive innovation and new thinking to deliver against our customer’s ideal experience,” she said. 

That means, in part, going big in beauty through a new partnership with Sephora that eventually will see 850 shops in Kohl’s doors, transforming the retailer into what the ceo described as a “formidable player in the beauty industry.” 

Kohl’s is also doubling down on other areas where it was already building, from key product categories to a value positioning and e-commerce. 

“Over the last six months we’ve taken the time to reimagine our path forward,” Gass said. “We’ve set a bold aspirational vision for the company to be the most trusted retailer of choice for her active and casual lifestyle.”

She noted that for the first time there are now more people exercising than not and that Kohl’s is catering more and more to the workout set. 

The company’s active business has nearly doubled since 2013 to make up 20 percent of overall sales, a percentage she said could grow to at least 30 percent. 

“We are uniquely positioned to own the active, wellness and casual lifestyle for the entire family,” she said. 

Kohl’s has also long emphasized its value to consumers and, like others, has supercharged its omnichannel efforts during the pandemic; for instance, adding a curbside pick up option on the fly.

“Winning in the next chapter of retail is going to require retailers to optimize their physical and digital capabilities,” she said. 

And Kohl’s is ready, the ceo said, to “emerge stronger” into a “bold future.”

More from WWD:

How Kohl’s Intends to ‘Reignite’ Its Women’s Business

Kohl’s Wants to Dominate Active and Casual Categories

Retail Sales Bouncing Back, Fashion Still Falling

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