In the July 13, 2022 issue of Barron’s picked three retail leaders among 24 top CEO’s whose recent action has strengthened their companies and made them more competitive. This is great for their company’s future growth.

Here are these leaders and what did they bring to the table. (Listed alphabetically)

1. Marvin Ellison CEO of Lowe’s. Trained at Home Depot and after a short stint at JCPenney, Marvin Ellison took charge of Lowe’s in 2018. After closing a number of stores, he was able to increase the company’s value since he saw the home more important for his customers during the pandemic period. His leadership propelled interest in his company whose shares increased about 80% while the S&P index increased 34%.

2. W. Craig Jelinek CEO of Costco. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Costco was very concerned about “front line” sales associates. They received extra pay in recognition for their hard work. During Jelinek’s 10-year stewardship the stock rose 480% compared to the S&P 500 index which rose 200%. Consumers like the service, selection and quality at Costco. The company carries only 3,900 selected items, with few duplications. Retention rate of both associates and customer-xmembers is very high.

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3. Erik Nordstrom

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of Nordstrom’s.
The family continues to run this 121-year-old department store company. It is known for caring customer service, where associates ensure that their customer is happy. The merchandise assortment is upscale, well selected and very timely. Erik came into the leadership position after his brother Blake died in 2019. Nordstrom has bounced back to pre-pandemic sales levels. The company has added new merchandise lines including Allbirds which is eco-friendly. To attract a more youthful clientele, the company invested in Asos, whose Topshop brand is in Nordstrom stores.

These three men represent three important segment of retailing – home improvement, grocery and department stores. It shows that by careful planning companies can achieve higher levels of profit and gain recognition in the retail industry.

POSTSCRIPT: Each of these companies faced stiff competition. Whether its is Lowe’s that faces Home Depot at many corners, Costco that fights competition from grocery chains and food discount chains, and Nordstrom that has Dillard’s, Macy’s and other department store competition. All three successes have distinguished themselves with innovative measures and they move their company forward. Their example gives the industry new drive.

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