Costco CEO Craig Jelinek will step down on January 1; Chief Operating Officer Ron Fatkris will take over

  • Longtime Costco CEO Craig Jelinek will step down.
  • He will be succeeded by Ron Vacres, the company’s chief operating officer.
  • The warehouse club has benefited from sales growth, driven by pandemic pantry loads, inflation and millennials moving to the suburbs.

A Costco Wholesale Warehouse sign outside a store in Silver Spring, Maryland on August 5, 2023

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Longtime Costco CEO Craig Jelinek is stepping down from his position at the company, following a wave of pandemic-fueled and inflation-fueled growth at the warehouse club.

The company said Wednesday that Ron Fatkris, the company’s chief operating officer, will succeed him. The change will take effect on January 1.

In a press release, Costco said the executives have worked together for approximately the past two years. She described the move as “the culmination of a long-term succession plan.”

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

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

Over the past year, retailer sales have largely held up — although they have seen declines in some discretionary categories like jewelry and electronics. In the most recent fiscal quarter, which ended in early September, shoppers visited more but spent less.

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Costco’s average transaction amount this quarter fell about 4.5% in the U.S., even as traffic rose 5% year over year.

Vacres, the incoming CEO, began his career at Costco as a forklift driver. He has been with the company for over 40 years.

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

Separately, the company said Wednesday that its board of directors 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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