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Welcome to On the Move. Every week, The Current is rounding up the comings and goings of leaders at brands and retailers across the ecommerce, retail and CPG landscape.
This week, Trader Joe’s announced a CEO succession plan. Meanwhile, the Target alumni network is spreading its wings throughout retail, as former executives are joining Bath & Body Works and Nordstrom.
Check out the latest moves:
Trader Joe’s CEO retires
Dan Bane is retiring after a longtime stint as CEO of Trader Joe’s, effective July 2. With the move, Bryan Palbaum will become the grocer’s next CEO, rising from his current role of president and chief operating officer. Jon Basalone will be promoted from president of stores to vice CEO and president.
Bane has worked at Trader Joe’s for 25 years, and served as CEO for the last 22 years. Combined, Palbaum and Basalone have more than 50 years of experience.
"We are thankful for Dan's leadership over the past 22 years. Jon and I look forward to working with all Crew Members to continue to grow Trader Joe's,” said Palbaum. “We remain focused on providing customers with exciting products at great values while being true to the seven Values that will continue to guide Trader Joe's."
Bath & Body Works taps Target vet as chief customer officer
Maurice Cooper will join Bath & Body Works as chief customer officer. The newly-created role will oversee growth and retention of customers, and the customer experience.
Cooper joins the retailer from Target, where he served as senior vice president, marketing – guest and brand experience. He also previously served as executive vice president, chief growth and experience officer and senior vice president, chief marketing officer at Wingstop Restaurants, Inc.
“With the new chief customer officer role and Maurice’s hiring, we are doubling down on our commitment to delighting customers and optimizing their experiences,” said Gina Boswell, chief executive officer, Bath & Body Works, in a statement. “Maurice is an accomplished executive who not only brings expertise in bold and inspiring brand storytelling but also a steadfast dedication to finding innovative ways to enhance connections with customers.”
Nordstrom hires former Target CFO
Cathy R. Smith was hired as the chief financial officer of Nordstrom.
Smith joins the department store retailer from Bright Health Group, where she has served as chief financial and administrative officer since 2020. Previously, Smith served as CFO at Target for five years. She has also served as CFO of Express Scripts, Walmart International, Gamestop, Centex, Kennametal, Textron and Raytheon.
"Cathy is a proven and well-respected leader with more than 30 years of financial leadership experience," said Erik Nordstrom, chief executive officer of Nordstrom, Inc., in a statement. "With her impressive record delivering business results at blue chip brands and deep expertise navigating a complex retail environment, we're confident she will be an excellent addition to our team and will help us achieve our growth priorities."
With the move, interim CFO Michael Maher indicated he will be departing Nordstrom, ending a stint with the company that began in 2009.
Abercrombie & Fitch CFO adds COO role
Scott Lipesky is adding new responsibilities at Abercrombie & Fitch. Lipesky is currently EVP and chief financial officer. He will add the role of chief operating officer, according to an SEC filing. Lipeksy has been with Abercrombie since 2007, save for a brief stint with American Signature.
Nike adds board member
Former Kimberly-Clark Corporation Chief Financial Officer Maria Henry is joining the board of Nike.
Henry served as CFO of the paper products company from 2015-2022, and senior advisor from April 2022-September 2022. She also brings experience as CFO of The Hillshire Brands Company, and Sara Lee’s North American Retail and Foodservice business.
“Maria’s strong global and financial leadership, as well as her strategic contributions across multiple industries, make her an outstanding addition to our board,” said Mark Parker, executive chairman of Nike, in a statement. “We look forward to working with Maria during an exciting time for Nike where we see unprecedented brand strength and great opportunity for future growth.”
Trending in Careers
Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.