The department store chain Kohl’s said on Tuesday that Michelle Gass would step down as chief executive on Dec. 2 after four years at the top post, just ahead of the critical holiday season.
Tom Kingsbury will be interim chief executive while the company looks for a permanent leader.
During her tenure, Ms. Gass started many initiatives to bolster sales and help transform the retailer’s image as a destination for millennial parents and Generation Z shoppers. She oversaw the introduction of the Amazon returns program, which allows shoppers to walk into a Kohl’s store and drop off goods purchased through the online retailer. Kohl’s has said that customers tend to stay around to shop at its stores after making an Amazon return.
It is also testing a smaller footprint for its stores, and opened a 35,000-square-foot store in Tacoma, Wash., last month. A typical Kohl’s is around 80,000 square feet.
Kohl’s has put huge emphasis on its partnership with Sephora, which will have 600 shop-in-shops in Kohl’s stores by the end of the year and plans to open 250 more in 2023. Kohl’s sees the partnership generating $2 billion in annual sales by 2025.
Ms. Gass joined Kohl’s in 2013, after a long tenure at Starbucks, where she was credited with creating the Frappuccino and its caramel drizzle. Kohl’s praised her efforts to reshape the company for a younger generation of shoppers.
“Under her leadership, the company has driven a strategic transformation, expanded its partnerships and brand portfolio, and supported an inclusive and collaborative culture,” Peter Boneparth, Kohl’s chairman, said in a statement.
Kohl’s announced preliminary third-quarter results on Tuesday. The retailer said same-store sales fell 6.9 percent and its operating margin was 4.7 percent. It said it would release full quarterly earnings on Nov. 17.
Kohl’s stock price has dropped 46 percent since the beginning of the year, and the retailer has been under pressure to improve its financial fortunes. In January, it was pushed by a handful of activist investors to sell itself.