Mike George, president and chief executive officer of Qurate Retail Inc., will leave the company at the end of 2021.

The company said Tuesday that George’s employment contract was extended for a year through the end of 2021 when he will be retiring. The early announcement on George’s retirement provides “ample time for transition planning and an executive search process” to find a successor to George, Qurate said in its statement

Both internal and external candidates will be considered during the search process. One possible candidate for Qurate’s top job is Leslie Ferraro, president of QVC and HSN, who reports to George. She’s been in that role since September 2019 and earlier was co-chair, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media and President, Disney Consumer Products.

During his tenure, George led Qurate through many changes and advancements, among them the merger of HSN into the business in 2017 and resulting consolidations; the 2015 acquisition of Zulily, an e-commerce brand selling clothing, footwear, toys and home products; expansion to markets around the world; growth in digital, and the evolution of the business into a multichannel platform well beyond its roots in TV home shopping.

Also during George’s tenure, many labels were added to the offering, an emphasis was placed on finding new and emerging brands, and the company became more socially conscious, supporting women’s causes, COVID-19 relief and organizations fighting racial injustice.

Qurate has been performing well financially lately, and delivered a special one time dividend to shareholders and issued a preferred class of shares to return value to shareholders. After completing those efforts, the stock has been trading at $9 per share, from a high this year of more than $12 in August.

George has been serving as chairman of the National Retail Federation board of directors since January 2020. It’s a two-year position.

“After leading QVC and Qurate Retail for nearly half the life of the company, I will be retiring at the end of 2021. This decision was made with careful consideration for our company, team members, partners and shareholders,” George said. “The company is well positioned to thrive in this new era of retail by providing differentiated experiences across traditional commerce and new media platforms. We have many strong leaders and a committed and passionate team who will continue to grow our business by providing unique products and an incredible customer experience across every touchpoint.”

“Mike George has provided strong leadership at Qurate Retail for 15 years and successfully led the business through many challenges and changes, including most recently COVID-19. I’m very pleased that he has agreed to stay on for another year during which time the board, Mike and I will work together to find the next leader of Qurate Retail,” said Greg Maffei, Qurate’s executive chairman. “We have strong internal candidates and will also consider external candidates to find the best leader to drive our future and further build upon Qurate Retail’s strong performance trajectory. I want to thank Mike for being a great partner over these many years and for his dedication to growing Qurate Retail to the benefit of our teams, customers and shareholders.”

Qurate Retail Group includes the QVC, HSN, Zulily, Ballard Designs, Frontgate, Garnet Hill and Grandin Road brands.

 

Mike George

Mike George  Patrick MacLeod/WWD

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