December 2, 2023


A Costco Wholesale warehouse sign is seen outside a store in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Aug. 5, 2023.

Mandel Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

Costco‘s longtime CEO Craig Jelinek is stepping down from the company after the warehouse club’s spree of pandemic- and inflation-fueled growth.

The company said Wednesday that Ron Vachris, the company’s chief operating officer, will replace him. The change will take effect Jan. 1.

In a news release, Costco said the two executives have worked together over nearly the past two years. It described the move as “the culmination of the long-standing succession plan.”

Shares were flat on the news in after-hours trading. So far this year, the company’s stock has shot up 26%, outperforming both the gains of the S&P 500 and most other publicly traded retailers.

Costco has benefited from sales growth, especially from customers who pantry-loaded and cooked more during the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recently, sought relief from inflated grocery and gas prices. Warehouse clubs, including rival Walmart-owned Sam’s Club, have also gotten a boost from millennials moving to the suburbs.

Over the past year, the retailer’s sales have largely held up, though it has seen a pullback in some discretionary categories such as jewelry and electronics. In the most recent fiscal quarter, which ended early September, shoppers visited more but spent less.

Costco’s average transaction amount in the quarter dropped nearly 4.5% in the U.S., even as traffic rose 5% on a year-over-year basis.

Vachris, the incoming CEO, began his career at Costco as a forklift driver. He has been at the company for more than 40 years.

Jelinek has been at the helm of the warehouse club since January 2012. He will stay at Costco through April in an advisory role. He also plans to remain on the board of directors, the company said.

Separately, the company said on Wednesday that its board has approved a quarterly cash dividend on Costco common stock of $1.02 per share that will be paid in mid-November.

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