Kohl's operates family-oriented, specialty department stores in the US selling moderately priced casual apparel, footwear, accessories and home products targeted to middle-income customers. Central to the company's strategy is a culture focused on maintaining a low cost structure. Critical elements of this include an open-plan store format, lean staffing levels and operating efficiencies resulting from centralised buying, advertising and distribution. As a result, Kohl's has expanded, in the space of just a few years, from a regional chain in the Midwest to a national force competing with traditional department stores such as JC Penney and Sears and more stylish mass-merchandisers like Target. By early 2021 there were 1,162 stores located across 49 US states, mostly in strip malls. It has established a strong following among fashion-conscious teenage and young adult women over the years as a result of a series of astute marketing partnerships with celebrity partners including Avril Lavigne, Jennifer Lopez and Daisy Fuentes. Key private label brands include Apt 9, Croft & Barrow and Jumping Beans but the biggest is Sonoma, which covers a variety of apparel and home furnishing segments and generates revenues in excess of $1bn annually. There are also exclusive deals with footwear brand Candie's, designer Vera Wang for sportswear, with cable TV's Food Network for branded kitchenware, and with Elle magazine for branded apparel, home furnishings, and even jewellery and cosmetics. There are a small number of dedicated outlets specialising in Fila sportswear. In an unlikely partnership, it forged a partnership in 2019 with Amazon to allow the latter's customers to return unwanted orders for free via their local Kohl's store. Kohl's reported revenues of just under $20.0bn in 2019 with net profit of $691m. However, Covid-related closures impacted heavily on performance in 2020, with revenues falling to $16.0bn, and bottom line to a net loss of $163m. Former Starbucks executive Michelle Gass became CEO in 2017.
Capsule checked 21st May 2021
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Historical profile information for Kohl's
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jan 2018: Department store Kohl's is the latest US retailer to move into the grocery business, but is following quite a different approach from bigger rivals like Walmart and Target. Rather than develop its own food business it plans to carve out an area from selected existing stores, and is seeking a partner to run that space as a dedicated grocery and convenience outlet with its own separate entrance. Kohl's already has a partnership with Amazon to sell the ecommerce giant's own-label products through its stores and process returns, encouraging speculation that the two groups might widen their relationship to include Amazon's newly acquired Whole Foods Market division as Kohl's grocery partner.
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Sep 2017: US department store Kohl's named marketing chief Michelle Gass as its next CEO. She will take over from current leader Kevin Mansell when he retires in May next year. COO Sona Chawla will move up to the role of president. Gass joined Kohl's in 2013 after 17 years at Starbucks.
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