Kohl's on Friday said that President Sona Chawla will step down from that role in mid-October "to pursue new opportunities." The company didn't name a replacement, according to its press release.
The department store also announced that Paul Gaffney, who most recently was chief technology officer at Dick's Sporting Goods, has been named to that role and senior executive vice president. He starts work at Kohl's, reporting directly to CEO Michelle Gass, in mid-September.
Before Dick's, Gaffney was senior vice president of information technology at The Home Depot, responsible for the organization's software engineering, user-centered design and applications. He has also served in a variety of other senior leadership roles, the company said.
Chawla's departure likely won't surprise many — in fact, some analysts have been more surprised that she stayed at Kohl's for as long as she did, considering that she was once viewed as taking over as chief executive herself.
Instead, it was Gass who was selected two years ago to take the reins from former CEO Kevin Mansell.
"Actually it's kind of surprising that she didn't leave earlier, perhaps," Morningstar analyst David Swartz told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week. "Usually that's what happens when someone is considered for the CEO role and then overlooked....You expect that if the person wants to be a CEO then she may move somewhere else."
Gaffney's arrival, meanwhile, signals that Kohl's aims to ramp up its omnichannel efforts. The discount department store has had something of a mixed year, with sales and customer attention slipping, even as it's shown that its Amazon returns offer is boosting traffic to stores. The retailer risks losing out to the likes of Target and Walmart, which have leveraged stores to a great extent by streamlining in-store pickup of online orders, offering swift delivery and expanding those services to more customers nationwide.
UBS analysts led by Jay Sole last month listed "omnichannel improvements" as one of three key initiatives (along with its Amazon return effort and its partnership with discount grocery chain Aldi) set to help the retailer. "The company is also revamping its loyalty program and working to improve its assortment," they wrote in an Aug. 21 client note emailed to Retail Dive. "These initiatives mirror how consumer shopping preferences are evolving. They could help [Kohl's] actually take market share over the long-term."