Lowe’s, PetSmart And Others Take On New Leadership

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. That doesn’t fly in today’s fast-moving and competitive retail world, and smart executive teams know it — which may be why so many of them have been switching out or adding new members of late.

Whether companies need someone with a fresh vision for brick-and-mortar retail, accolades in the digital space, an eye for omnichannel or something even more revolutionary, it’s certain that changing the head of the totem pole will generate different results throughout the organization, hopefully for the better. Today’s smart executives know the space is moving faster than ever, and for traditional players, it’s a matter of “adapt or die.”

Here’s how some of retail’s biggest names have been adapting in recent days and weeks.


Despite another quarterly earnings miss announced Wednesday (May 23), Lowe’s shares got a 9 percent bump mid-week after poaching JCPenney CEO Marvin Ellison on Tuesday, a move that garnered support from Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP. According to TheStreet, it was Ackman’s support, not the appointment of Ellison, that gave shares that nice boost.

Ellison previously served as an executive for Lowe’s rival Home Depot, orchestrating in-store efficiencies and productivity between 2008 and 2014 while holding various senior roles.

At JCPenney, he was tasked with turning things around for the struggling retailer. His plans there are not yet complete, and some see his transition to Lowe’s as an admission that he may not be able to deliver on them.

Outgoing Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock announced in March that he would be retiring, under pressure from up-and-coming activist investor D.E. Shaw & Co.


Specialty pet retailer PetSmart has brought on J.K. Symancyk as CEO to ignite a turnaround at the company’s brick-and-mortar locations, as well as to turn a profit from its growing eCommerce site,, reports The Wall Street Journal.

PetSmart’s same-store sales fell 4.5 percent in its fiscal year which ended in March, while EBITDA plunged 20 percent to $1 billion. The company is also struggling with substantial debts and losses. However, it still managed to generate around $200 million in cash this past year, and its debts don’t start maturing until 2022, so it still has some time to find its feet.

That will fall on the shoulders of Symancyk, currently CEO of the private sporting goods retailer Academy Sports + Outdoors, who takes the wheel in June. Outgoing CEO Michael Massey surrendered the reins way back in August of 2017 after leading the company since its privatization in 2015.


Former Ahold financial executive Paula Price will become CFO at Macy’s starting July 9. Outgoing CFO Karen Houget, who is retiring at the end of the 2018 fiscal year, will remain on board in an advisory role through February of 2019.

At Ahold, Price developed and executed a $1 billion program to fund strategic growth initiatives, including sales efforts, customer loyalty and eCommerce initiatives. Before that, Price held senior roles within CVS Caremark Corporation, where she helped facilitate the CVS/Caremark merger.


After a leadership gap of more than half a year, Zulily has announced the successor to its departing CEO Darrell Cavens, who moved on to lead new ventures with QVC’s Qurate Retail Group. Zulily was one of those ventures, bought by QVC in 2015 for $2.9 billion.

Cavens’ shoes will be filled by former Amazon executive and Shopbop CEO Jeff Yurcisin starting Aug. 15. At Amazon, Yurcisin led clothing retail efforts, acting most recently as VP of the company’s private fashion labels, Softline Private Brands. At Shopbop, a subsidiary of Amazon purchased in 2006, Yurcisin helmed the ship for seven years. He also spent time as the VP of all Amazon clothing.


As cosmetics company Revlon struggles to keep up with changing consumer preferences, it has appointed its first female CEO, Debra Perelman, effective immediately. Former CEO Fabian Garcia stepped down in January after leading the company for two years.

Perelman has been with Revlon, which is controlled by her billionaire father Ronald Perelman, for 20 years and has recently served as its chief operating officer. She helped drive the eCommerce transition by forming a data and analytics group and partnering with the MIT Media Lab to explore potential disruptive approaches. She will now focus on the consumer-focused approach, the company said.

Campbell Soup

Campbell Meals & Beverages, the unit overseeing North American soups, sauces and shelf-stable beverages, has a new president. Roberto Leopardi, a former executive at global firm SC Johnson, hails from Italy and will take the reins June 4.

Outgoing CEO Denise Morrison announced her departure May 18; at the same time, the company announced third-quarter losses of $475 million. It will be up to Leopardi to stabilize the company’s finances and establish sustainable practices.



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