Bed Bath & Beyond on Wednesday named Mark Tritton president and CEO, effective Nov. 4, according to a company press release. Tritton most recently served as Target's executive vice president and chief merchandising officer.
Prior to his role at Target, Tritton held various roles at Nordstrom, Timberland and Nike, including president of Nordstrom Product Group.
Tritton succeeds Mary Winston, who has been serving in the chief executive role in the interim since May. Winston will remain on the company's board.
The announcement to name a permanent CEO has been a long time coming after Steven Temares' departure from the company in May, following mounting pressure from a group of activist investors. Bed Bath & Beyond's stock soared some 20% in after-market trading on Wednesday.
But while Tritton is a seasoned retail vet holding roles at some of the biggest players in retail, he's got his work cut out for him. Earlier this month, the company swung to a loss, reporting a $138.8 million net loss from a profit of $48.6 million a year prior. Net sales fell 7.3% to $2.7 billion, while comparable sales dropped 6.7% — the latter marking its 10th consecutive quarter of declines in that measure.
The announcement also comes just days after the troubled home goods retailer announced 60 store closures by the end of the fiscal year — a 50% increase from the 40 stores it had initially announced closing.
The company indicated that Tritton's "immediate focus will be on accelerating the Company's ongoing business transformation." Bed Bath & Beyond has been undergoing a four-part turnaround plan, which includes reviewing the company's assets, stabilizing sales, driving top line growth and resetting its cost structure.
Winston told analysts last week that the company is evaluating outside interest in "several" of its brands, which may have pleased the same group of activist investors, who in April urged the retailer to sell its underperforming assets, including PersonalizationMall, Christmas Tree Shops and Cost Plus World Market. According to a September note from Wedbush analyst Seth Basham, Bed Bath & Beyond's real estate and non-core assets are worth an estimated $1.7 billion, with Cost Plus valuing about $250 million.
Though, as Bed Bath & Beyond noted, Tritton has experience with retail turnarounds: While at Target, Tritton re-envisioned its private-label strategy, an area where Bed Bath & Beyond has room for growth. Although Bed Bath & Beyond has already started to roll out two of its six planned private labels (One Kings Lane is set to debut in stores in spring 2020), store brands only account for less than 10% of the retailer's sales, according to emailed comments from Telsey Advisory Group's Cristina Fernández. Meanwhile, Target has introduced 25 private and exclusive brands since 2015. "In total, its private label brands account for a third of sales," she added.
Additionally, Tritton helped build a retail model, which ensured "long-term relevance with customers" and profitability growth for Target, Bed Bath & Beyond said.
"Mark's ability to re-define the retail experience and drive growth at some of the world's most successful retailers and brands makes him uniquely equipped to lead Bed Bath & Beyond during this critical time in our evolution," Bed Bath & Beyond's Chairman Patrick Gaston said in a statement. "As an integral contributor to Target's impressive transformation, we will benefit from his vision, leadership, and creativity to successfully transform our business."