Q&A with Doug Howe, Kohl’s New Chief Merchandising Officer


Get to Know Kohl’s New Chief Merchandising Officer

In May, Kohl’s named 30-year retail veteran Doug Howe as Chief Merchandising Officer. In this role, Doug is responsible for Kohl’s overall merchandise strategy and all merchandising functions, including buying, planning, product design and development, sourcing, and merchandising transformation efforts. Read on to learn more about Doug, the new brands coming to Kohl’s and his outlook for Kohl’s portfolio of brands.

Q1: You have over 30 years of experience in the retail industry and have worked for several retailers. What drew you to Kohl’s?

A. Kohl’s is a company that I’ve admired for many years, and I’m very excited to be a part of the team. I’m inspired by Kohl’s unrelenting focus on product and providing its customers with quality brands at compelling values. Kohl’s is continually transforming in the ever-dynamic retail industry. Witnessing the evolution in recent years has been thrilling, as they have been at the forefront of innovation in the retail industry. It’s definitely an exciting time to be at Kohl’s!

Q2: Kohl’s offers its customers a great mix of national and proprietary brands. In your opinion, why is this product mix important?

A. Kohl’s does a fantastic job of offering its customers a healthy mix of proprietary and national brands, both of which are important. Only-at-Kohl’s brands such as Simply Vera Vera Wang, LC Lauren Conrad, Sonoma Goods for Life, Croft & Barrow, and Apt. 9, to name a few, offer customers on-trend, essential items at a great value. Private brands offer customers a unique product and are part of the driving force to success in retail today. In addition, Kohl’s customers look to us for sought-after national brands like Under Armour, Dyson, Keurig, Nike, and more, all of which are an equally important part of Kohl’s product offering strategy.

Q3: Kohl’s has seen improvement in its women’s and proprietary brands business over the past couple quarters. What is driving this?

A. Our women’s apparel is such a key focus and represents 30 percent of Kohl’s business. It’s critically important for us to see long-term sustained health over time in the category. This is highly related to the traction we’re seeing in our proprietary brands, which make up almost 70 percent of our women’s business. Improvement in our proprietary brands is driven by our speed initiative and clarity in the assortment. We’re editing out underperformers, driving choice count down and improving depth of the category. Lastly, our clarity of pricing in our value offers is ensuring that we continue to lead in both.

Q4: In an ever-evolving retail environment, how do you plan to lead Kohl’s merchandising team?

A. As merchandising consists of many separate, yet related functions, collaboration is key. Working with the team to create a cohesive and integrated strategy, and communicating that strategy with purpose and vision is a recipe for success.