Foot Locker appoints former Ulta Beauty chief as CEO

By MATT OTT, AP Business Writer

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The chief executive who oversaw Ulta Beauty’s rapid expansion will take over as CEO of Foot Locker in a major transition for the chain.

Mary Dillon, one of the few women to lead an S&P 500 company, resigned her senior role at Ulta early last year and will take over at Foot Locker for Richard Johnson, who will retire on next month.

Shares of Foot Locker jumped 20% at the opening bell on Friday.

Dillon takes control of the business next month, with Foot Locker relying less on mall sales, where foot traffic has plummeted, and away from one of its most dominant suppliers, Nike, which is suing an aggressive campaign to sell its products directly to customers.

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Johnson, who has led the company since 2014, will remain executive chairman of the board until 2023.

Ulta’s market capitalization tripled under Dillon between 2013 and 2021 and doubled its number of stores and loyalty memberships. She created partnerships to get Ulta into major retail chains and in front of potential customers who might not be familiar with the brand.

Foot Locker recorded its highest annual sales since 1994 in its last fiscal year as the pandemic subsided, which could provide impetus for the expansion of its online sales platforms while opening more sites autonomous.

Foot Locker says it will maintain a presence in malls, where its striped sales force has been ubiquitous for decades.

It also diversifies the products customers see on the shelves. Foot Locker says that in the fourth quarter of this year, no supplier will account for more than 55% of its product budget. Just two years ago, Nike products accounted for up to 75% of Foot Locker’s product spend.

The company also posted strong second-quarter earnings on Friday that easily exceeded Wall Street expectations.

New York-based Foot Locker has 2,800 stores in 28 countries and posted sales of $9 billion last year. During the second quarter, it opened 34 new stores, renovated or relocated 24 others and closed 50.

He also owns more than 500 Champs Sports stores and bought West Coast athletic footwear and apparel retailer WSS in 2021 for $750 million.

Dillon served as President and CEO of US Cellular and held management and executive positions at McDonald’s and PepsiCo.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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