Reimaging the CEO for Retail Industry

Written by Susan Reda (@Susan_Reda) via NRF

– There’s no question that the retail industry is in the throes of implausible and dynamic change, and most industry watchers expect the velocity of change to only increase over the next five years

Key findings from a list of 101 public companies drawn from S&P 1500

Nineteen retail CEOs have been leading their companies for one year or less, while 17 execs have held the top spot for 15 years or more.

L Brands CEO Les Wexner can lay claim to the longest tenure of any retailer on the list, logging 51 years at the post.

The average age of retail CEOs is just over 57. Twelve are under 50, while 14 are 65 or older.

Seventy-eight retail CEOs were “home grown.” Executives in that group have spent an average of nearly 22 years with their company and just over nine years in the top post.

Ten companies on the list posted three-year averages of 25 percent or better for both total shareholder return and earnings per share. Of that group, six have CEOs with tenures of five years or longer.


Yvonne Sell, director of Hay Group’s leadership and talent practice for the United Kingdom and Ireland, recently authored the company’s book, Leadership 2030, which analyzes what’s driving business change, what the future might look like and how CEOs will need to respond.

Globalization 2.0 — marking the shift in economic power from West to East. It is creating a new global middle class, fragmenting markets and intensifying competition.

Environmental crisis — a combination of climate change and the growing shortage of natural resources. Sell expects this megatrend to push sustainability to the top of the corporate agenda.

Individualism and value pluralism — the upshot of the freedom of choice that comes with growing affluence. This “everyone gets what they want” mindset erodes customer and employee loyalty and turns workplace motivation on its head.

Digitalization — blurring the boundaries between private and professional life, as work and the workplace go remote.

Demographic change — an aging world population is reshaping the global workforce and intensifying the war for talent.

Technological convergence — whereby disciplines like nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technologies and cognitive science applications come together, netting potent innovations that promise to transform everyday life.

Read full story here: NRF


  1. Christian DiMare says

    Phenomenal insight regarding the traits required to lead within retail in the 21st century. A must read – I recommend viewing the full article as there is a mass of information on this subject. Great job putting this together Susan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *