The fast-changing retail landscape has lit a fire under Kohl’s Corp. — which weathered sales and profit declines in the first quarter, but is striving for improvement with a “greatness agenda.”

“We’ve built a new leadership team across the company over the last year and a half,” said Kevin Mansell, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the chain. “Frankly, that’s been driven by the need to drive better results, particularly on the top line. And evolve our business more fully and with much greater speed. The only remaining leadership role to be filled is our chief merchandising officer position, which we will fill externally.”

Last year, the often insular firm hired Starbucks Corp. veteran Michelle Gass to be chief customer officer.
But Mansell said new merchant talent will be key to the company’s success.

Kohl’s said first-quarter profits dropped 15 percent to $125 million, or 60 cents a share, from $147 million, or 66 cents a year earlier. Sales for the three months ended May 3 fell 3.1 percent to $4.07 billion.


“Change in our industry is happening faster than ever,” Mansell said. “Competition has intensified. Consumer behavior is shifting, and expectations surrounding the speed and choice continue to be raised. We need to evolve as a company, and we are seizing this opportunity to refocus, re-energize, and pave our path forward with a new and clear purpose.”

The ceo said he expects greatness and has a plan to get there.

“Our greatness agenda is a multiyear vision built on five pillars; ideas that are fundamental to the way we do business,” he said. “They are amazing product, incredible savings, easy experience, personalized connections, and winning teams.”

Shares of Kohl’s were down 2.6 percent to $52.64 at 11:50 on Wall Street — a slightly steeper decline than in the retail sector generally. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group was off 1.9 percent to 834.33.

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