Kohl’s Corp. could have another chief executive officer candidate.
The retailer has recruited Sona Chawla from Walgreens to the newly created post of chief operating officer. In her new role at Kohl’s, effective Nov. 30, Chawla will report directly to chairman, ceo and president Kevin Mansell. She also may land on the short list of names being considered to eventually succeed Mansell, according to Kohl’s.
The company stated, “Along with chief merchandising and customer officer Michelle Gass, Chawla is expected to be a potential candidate in the company’s long-term ceo succession planning.”
In her role as chief operating officer, Chawla will oversee Kohl’s full omnichannel operations, including all store operations, logistics and its supply chain network, information and digital technology, e-commerce strategy, planning and operations and store construction and design.
“We’ve never been more clear about the future of the company or the types of leaders that we need in place to deliver against our vision and Sona is exactly the right leader to join us,” stated Mansell. “Sona will lead the seamless integration of all of our operations — from our stores to our Web site to all of our digital touch points with our customers. Her depth of experience in retail and her understanding of how to fully integrate technology and e-commerce into a retail experience will help Kohl’s elevate our customer conveniences across all channels.”
Chawla spent seven years at Walgreens, where she most recently was president of digital and chief marketing officer. During her tenure, Walgreens has been hailed as a digital innovator, most notably for an app for prescription refills using barcode scans. She’s also overseen mobile payments in-store and the launch of digital health coaching and telehealth. Prior to Walgreens, she held positions at Dell Inc., Wells Fargo’s Internet Services Group, Andersen Consulting and Mitchell Madison Group.
Kohl’s appointed Gass to her current role in June and indicated at that time that she was a candidate to eventually succeed Mansell. However, the retailer stressed then — and on Tuesday — that Mansell, 62, had no plans to retire. Mansell is overseeing the retailer’s turnaround under its “greatness agenda,” which so far appears to be working. Kohl’s last week turned in one of the strongest performances in the beleaguered retail sector during the third quarter, reporting results that beat Wall Street’s estimates. Kohl’s reported earnings per share of 75 cents for the third quarter, beating estimates by 6 cents. Expense controls contributed to the EPS beat even as net profits slipped 15 percent from $142 million in the 2014 third quarter to $120 million in the 2015 third quarter.
But the retailer saw growth across the board. Comp-store sales rose 1 percent versus a 1.8 percent decline in the 2014 third quarter. This is Kohl’s fourth consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales. Total sales were $4.43 billion, a 1.2 percent gain over $4.37 billion in last year’s third quarter.