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Welcome to On the Move. In this hiring-focused weekly feature, The Current is rounding up recent arrivals and departures at brands and retailers across the ecommerce, retail and CPG landscape.
This week, Target’s CEO is staying put, while Whole Foods and Starbucks are making way for new leaders. Plus, Gopuff brings on an Amazon veteran, kate spade new york is forming a design leadership partnership, and reorganizing at Lowe’s prompted the departure of its top marketing executive.
Check out the latest leadership updates:
Brian Cornell will remain as CEO of Target for the next three years, the retailer announced on Wednesday. With these plans in place, Cornell will stay with Target past the traditional retirement age of 65, and Target’s board of directors has eliminated its retirement policy as a result, which was designed to “initiate a conversation” about retirement with a CEO at that age. “We enthusiastically support [Cornell's] commitment and his continued leadership, especially considering his track record and the company’s strong financial performance during his tenure,” said Monica Lozano, lead independent director of Target’s Board of Directors.
Arthur Valdez will retire from Target as EVP and chief supply chain and logistics officer. Valdez joined Target in 2016. In the ensuing years, it has pursued a strategy that centered stores as it grew in both physical and digital retail. Valdez will be succeeded by Gretchen McCarthy, Target’s SVP of global inventory management. An 18-year veteran of Target, McCarthy has held multiple leadership roles at the company.
Laxman Narasimhan will be the next CEO of the Starbucks. He will transition to the top role at the Seattle-based coffee chain over the next six months as founder Howard Schultz hands off the reins following a stint as interim CEO on April 1, 2023. Narasimhan previously served as CEO of Reckitt, the multinational consumer goods company that owns brands like Lysol, Clearasil and Woolite. He also held various leadership roles at PepsiCo. Starbucks has been undergoing a transition in 2022 as Schultz returned to the CEO role and initiated a shakeup among the top ranks that was designed to last into the next CEO's tenure.
Laxman Narasimhan. (Photo via Reckitt)
Matt O’Toole will be elevated from CEO of Reebok to executive vice chairman of Authentic Brands Group, which became the sportswear maker’s parent company through acquisition in March 2022. Beginning in January 2023, O’Toole will work with ABG’s leadership team on brand acquisitions, strategic initiatives and supporting the expansion of Reebok. With this move, Todd Krinsky will be promoted to CEO of Reebok. A 38-year veteran of Reebok, Krinsky previously served as VP of Reebok Design Group and led the brand’s Classics business, WWD reported.
Jason Buechel officially stepped into the CEO role of Whole Foods on September 1. He succeeded cofounder John Mackey in the leadership position of the Amazon-owned grocer upon retirement. A nine-year veteran of the company, Buechel previously served as chief operating officer. Whole Foods currently has 534 stores with 50 more stores in the pipeline, and a growing omnichannel operation thanks in part to Amazon’s head-turning acquisition in 2017.
Hannah Gibson is being promoted to the role of CEO at Ocado Retail, effective September 20. Ocado Retail oversees an online supermarket in the UK. Gibson previously served as chief product officer at Ocado Technology, which provides access to Ocado’s platform for Ocado Retail as well as other businesses. She also served as head of Ocado Zoom, a grocery delivery service that launched prior to Ocado Retail.
Soumya Sriraman. (Courtesy photo)
Qurate Retail Group, the video commerce company that owns QVC, HSN and Zulily, announced a pair of leadership hires on Wednesday:
- Soumya Sriraman was named president of streaming at Qurate Retail Group, overseeing a new business unit for livestream shopping. Sriraman previously served as head of Prime Video channels at Amazon and was the founding CEO of UK digital video service BritBox.
- Stacy Bowe was named chief merchandising officer for QVC US, bringing experience from G-III Apparel Group and Macy's.
Marisa Thalberg left the role of EVP and chief brand and marketing officer at home improvement retailer Lowe’s. According to CNBC, the company is undergoing a wider reorganization. It moved marketing under EVP of merchandising Bill Boltz, and eliminated Thalberg’s role in the process. In turn, the company’s online team was moved from merchandising to technology. Thalberg joined Lowe’s in 2020, bringing experience from Taco Bell, Estee Lauder, Unilever Cosmetics International and Revlon.
Patrick Bigatel joined quick commerce service Gopuff as VP of grocery, according to reports and a LinkedIn post. Bigatel previously spent 15 years at Amazon, serving as general manager in categories including heavy-bulky, pet products and outdoor sporting goods. Bigatel wrote that Gopuff was a leading retail disruptor on par with others he has seen, noting, “The focus on customer-first innovations and technologies, underpinned by a unique vertically integrated supply chain, has benefits extending throughout the company down to the experience our customers receive with every order.”
Tom Moraand Jennifer Lyu are joiningkate spade new york as principal designers. Both are serving in the role of SVP and head of product design across particular categories. Mora will lead design in categories including ready-to-wear, footwear, jewelry, home and licensed lifestyle, while Lyu will lead design in handbags and accessories. Mora previously served as creative director of women’s and licensed product at Cole Haan, while Lyu led design of handbags and small leather goods at Tory Burch.
Pam Quintiliano. (Courtesy photo)Pam Quintiliano was appointed head of investor relations at Macy’s. She will succeed Mike McGuire, who is retiring from that role. Quintiliano previously served as group VP of investor relations at Abercrombie & Fitch, and spent more than 20 years as an equity research analyst, focusing on retail and manufacturing.
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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.