The ‘best-performing’ retail CEOs in the world

While retail can get swept up in the newest cross-channel strategy and payment technologies, it’s a company’s long-term vision that ultimately determines longevity in this sometimes volatile sector.

Harvard Business Review recently released its annual list of the 100 best-performing CEOs in the world, assessing the heads of companies in the S&P Global 1200 by the end of 2013. A group of researchers determined the increase in total shareholder return and market capitalization for each CEO’s tenure. Eight retail CEOs made the cut, with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos taking the top spot.

Who else made the list? Read on to find out.

Jeff Bezos

Company: Amazon

Rank: 1

Bezos long-term performance nabbed him the top spot on the list, and the distinction as the only retail CEO in the top ten. Despite ongoing disputes with publishers and a net loss in Q3, Bezos’ strategic vision for Amazon has consistently provided shareholders with results.

Tadashi Yanai

Company: Fast Retailing

Rank: 11

As Asia’s largest apparel company, Fast Retailing is now looking to expand to the United States with new locations for its Uniqlo brand. It doesn’t stop there: Founder and CEO Yanai has widely expressed his desire to surpass H&M and Inditex (owner of Zara) as the largest clothing company in the world.

Michael Balmuth

Company: Ross Stores

Rank: 25

As CEO of Ross Stores for 16 years, Balmuth stepped down from the chief executive spot this June. He is still actively involved with the company as executive chairman, and will no doubt have a hand in the opening of 95 new Ross Dress for Less and dd’s Discounts stores.

Simon Wolfson

Company: Next

Rank: 43

Although less of a name in the U.S., Simon Wolfson took the top dog spot at British retailer Next in 2001 after starting at the company in 1991 as a sales assistant. Since then, he has helped the retailer expand its Next Home business and Next Directory online catalog, yielding over-performing share prices that have topped competitors like Marks & Spencer.

Carol Mayrowitz

Company: TJX

Rank: 51

One of only two women on the list, Mayrowitz became CEO of TJX, parent company of T.J. Maxx, Homegoods and Marshalls, in 2007. Since then, the company’s revenue has increased from $16 billion in 2007 to $27 billion in 2013. But the growth doesn’t stop there. TJX plans to expand its store base by 50%, with upwards of 5,000 new stores in existing markets.

Blake Nordstrom

Company: Nordstrom

Rank: 54 (tie)

Part of the fourth generation of Nordstrom family leadership, CEO Blake Nordstrom has been with the company since 1975 in various management and sales positions. The company continues to be a favorite for its customer service, and will continue to expand that service via text with the help of Twilio.

Terry Lundgren

Company: Macy’s

Rank: 66 (tie)

Even with the loss of the title of president in March, Lundgren still holds the positions of chairman, CEO, and chief customer officer at Macy’s, Inc. Previously CEO of Neiman Marcus, Lundgren has led Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s through many onmichannel initiatives that have helped the retailer increase sales and profits.

Michael Kowalaski

Company: Tiffany & Company

Rank: 92

Kowalaski has been with the iconic Tiffany & Co. since 1983, taking the title of CEO in 1999. He will step down March 31, 2015, to be replaced by Frederic Cumenal, currently president of the jewelry retailer.


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