Kohl’s on Tuesday announced the appointment of Bruce Besanko as chief financial officer, effective July 10. Besanko will report directly to the chairman, CEO and president Kevin Mansell. He replaces longtime CFO Wesley McDonald, who announced his retirement last year.
Besanko will oversee the discount department store’s financial planning and analysis, investor relations, financial reporting, accounting operations, tax, treasury, non-merchandise purchasing, credit and capital investment strategies, according to the company's press release.
He has more than 21 years of retail-based financial leadership experience, most recently his four years with Supervalu where he served as chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Before that he spent five years as CFO and chief administrative officer of OfficeMax. He also served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, the company said.
Kohl’s is balancing several sometimes diametric strengths — a strong set of private apparel labels and partnerships with key brands, for example. But it continues to face obstacles despite making many strong moves, thanks to a retail environment that is taking a particular toll on department stores.
In the first quarter, the company's gross margin improvements plus assertive cost cutting brought a massive profit increase: net income rose 288% to $66 million or 39 cents per share, up from $17 million or 9 cents per share in the year-ago period.
Besanko is arriving, therefore, at a moment when Kohl's has bought some much-needed time to address its weaknesses. “For all the changes and positive actions, Kohl's has still failed to grow its top line, and, worryingly, the pace of decline is accelerating,” GlobalData Retail analyst Håkon Helgesen said last month, adding that the decline comes from store closures, lower footfall in some places and Kohl’s strategy.
In his statement Tuesday, Mansell said Besanko's experience will be a major asset. “As an instrumental leader at several large companies, Bruce has great insights on how to help organizations move with the speed and agility the business requires, while maintaining a financial framework of operational excellence,” he said.