Kroger CIO Joins Kohl's Board
“Yael is a seasoned executive leader who brings technology and digital expertise with notable retail and consumer brands,” said Frank Sica, chairman of Menomenee Falls, Wis.-based Kohl's. “This digital experience and his deep understanding of customer analytics, innovation and transformation in the retail sector will be valuable assets to Kohl’s, and we look forward to his contributions to the board."
Cosset’s appointment is noteworthy considering Kroger’s competitive situation with Seattle-based Amazon, with which Kohl's has close ties. Kroger is aggressively expanding its digital food retailing efforts by leveraging existing stores while building a network of large and highly automated customer fulfillment centers with U.K. online grocer Ocado. Meanwhile, Amazon has an extensive food retailing footprint with Whole Foods Market and is preparing to open a new food retailing concept in southern California. Additionally, Kroger’s Fred Meyer division, operator of 132 large-format multidepartment stores in the Northwest, competes for apparel, footwear and accessories and shoppers against 36 Kohl’s stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.
Kohl’s entered into a unique arrangement last year in which it would process Amazon returns and sell a limited assortment of Amazon products at all of its more than 1,100 stores, following a pilot program in 2017. The deal furthered Amazon’s strategy of leveraging the physical assets of other retailers and was seen as providing much-need customer traffic to Kohl’s stores. The program was in place during the 2019 back-to-school season, and Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass said she was very pleased with the results. More details on how well the strategy worked during the holiday season will be revealed on March 3, when Kohl’s is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results.
Cosset is the second executive on Kohl’s board with food retailing expertise. Steven Burd, the chairman and CEO of Safeway from 1998 to 2013, has served on the Kohl’s board since 2001.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,769 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 2 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States. Amazon is No.10 on PG's list.