Costco Wholesale CEO Craig Jelinek is set to step down from his role effective Jan. 1, with Ron Vachris, current president and COO, set to take over the role of president and chief executive on that date. Jelinek will remain with Costco through April 2024 in an advisory role and also to assist Vachris during the transition.
According to Costco, the move is part of a long-standing succession plan that Jelinek had previously discussed with the board of directors. Jelinek will continue to serve on the board and will stand for re-election at the retailer’s January 2024 annual meeting.
For his part, Vachris has been with Costco for more than 40 years, starting as a forklift driver and later holding every major role related to Costco’s business operations and merchandising activities.
"Costco has a very strong culture and a deep bench of management talent," said Jelinek. "I have total confidence in Ron and feel that we are fortunate as a company to have an executive of his caliber to succeed me."
Meanwhile, Costco capped its fourth quarter and fiscal year with a respectable performance during a tepid-at-best economy. The club store operator reported a 9.4% increase in net sales for the 17-week quarter ending Sept. 3, topping $77.43 billion, and a 6.7% bump in fiscal-year sales compared with 2022, reaching $237.71 billion. In the United States, sales comps rose 3.1% on an adjusted basis for the quarter and 4.2% for the year.
In the earnings webcast, CFO Richard Galanti said that part of the growth came from grocery staples as shoppers pulled back on big-ticket items like furniture and electronics. “Overall, food and sundries were relatively strong once again, with fresh foods right behind,” he noted.
Costco also saw an influx of shoppers. Traffic increased 5% in the United States during the most recent period, and Galanti observed that membership growth was fueled by new store openings and more executive memberships.
This article first appeared in Progressive Grocer