The Supply Side: Top retailers see executive shifts in 2021

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 740 views 

Numerous retailers saw top C-suite turnover in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic raged and supply chain disruptions worsened. Former Sam’s Club CEO and chief operating officer at Starbucks, Roz Brewer, was named CEO at Walgreens Boots Alliance in early 2021.

Brewer began her role as CEO of Walgreens on March 15 and made history as the only Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company. Brewer replaced Stefano Pessina, who is transitioning out of the chairman position.

Brewer joined Starbucks’ board in 2017 and was named chief operating officer later that year. At Starbucks, Brewer was thought to have been instrumental in helping the company accelerate its growth strategy, expand its global reach and drive value for all of Starbucks’ stakeholders.

Before Starbucks, Brewer was a rising star at Walmart Inc., having served as CEO of Sam’s Club — the retailer’s warehouse division — from 2012 to 2017. She was the first woman and the first Black to lead a Walmart division. She joined Walmart in 2006 from Kimberly Clark, where she spent 22 years.

At the time of her hiring at Walgreens, Brewer said that she was excited to join the healthcare industry as the sector was constantly changing.

“I step into this role with great optimism for the future of Walgreens, a shared responsibility to serve our customers, patients and communities, and a commitment to drive long-term sustainable value for shareholders. I am eager to work beside the Walgreens’ team as we deliver further innovation and positively impact the lives of millions of people around the world every day,” Brewer said in January.

For fiscal 2021, which ended Oct. 1, Walgreens Boots Alliance (NYSE: WBA) reported adjusted earnings per share of $4.91, up 14.6% from the prior year. Fiscal 2021 revenue rose 8.6% to $132.5 billion.

In mid-2021, Jeff Bezos stepped down as CEO of Amazon, ending a 27-year run and building one of the world’s most successful retail/technology empires. Andy Jassy took the reins from Bezos on July 5. He transitioned to the role of executive chairman.

Bezos leaves tremendous shoes to fill, transforming the online bookstore he founded in 1995 into a $1.75 trillion retail, logistics, entertainment and technology giant. It’s the second-largest employer in the U.S., behind only Walmart.

Jassy, having headed up Amazon’s highly profitable Web Services division, took over the conglomerate amid antitrust scrutiny at federal and state levels. He ran the company for the back half of 2021, and net earnings for the entire year are expected to be down as fourth-quarter results are forecast 73% below last year’s net income. While earnings will be less, revenue is expected to grow to $137.75 billion in the fourth quarter, up 9.7% from a year ago. Revenue is expected to be $470.36 billion for the entire year, up 21.8% from last year.

Dave Kimbell took over as CEO of Ulta Beauty in June, replacing Mary Dillon, who transitioned to executive chair of the board for a one-year term.

Dillon held the CEO position at Ulta for eight years and is credited with driving significant growth for the beauty retailer. According to company financials, Ulta’s market capitalization tripled to $18 billion and posted a 245% return to shareholders. She also grew the company’s store count to 1,200 locations, up from 567 when she was hired. Dillon also partnered with Target to open in-store Ulta shops in the mass retailers’ stores in late 2021.

Kimbell joined Ulta as a chief marketing officer in 2014 and held other leadership roles before being named president in 2019.

“Our dynamic business plays a unique and important role in the beauty industry and our guests’ lives — and we are committed to continue operating with deep respect for that role while innovating and winning together,” Kimbell said in June.

Under Kimbell’s leadership, Ulta Beauty reported record third-quarter sales and earnings and grew market share in December.

“This strong third-quarter performance reflects the strength and resiliency of the beauty category, the power of the Ulta Beauty differentiated model, and the impact of our winning culture and team. I want to express my sincere appreciation to all of our Ulta Beauty associates for their incredible efforts to serve our guests and deliver these excellent results,” Kimbell said.

For the full year, Wall Street expects Ulta to report a 268% improvement in net earnings per share over last year, with revenue of $8.59 billion, up almost 40% from a year ago. The growth comes as demand for beauty products improves as consumers return to work and entertainment outings in recent months.

Editor’s note: The Supply Side section of Talk Business & Politics focuses on the companies, organizations, issues and individuals engaged in providing products and services to retailers. The Supply Side is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by Propak Logistics.