Ulta Beauty's CEO Mary Dillon to Step Down in June
Ulta Beauty announced last week that CEO Mary Dillon, who led the retailer through a period of massive growth that more than doubled its network of stores, is stepping down in June. Dave Kimbell, now president, will take over as CEO as Ulta works to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Dillon will transition to the role of executive chair of the board of directors, Ulta Beauty said. Kecia Steelman, currently chief store operations officer, will be elevated to the role of chief operating officer.
Kimbell is highly regarded in the beauty industry and has been pivotal in developing and executing growth strategies to move the Ulta Beauty business forward. He joined the company as chief marketing officer in 2014, and continually expanded his leadership responsibilities, ultimately assuming the role of president in 2019.
Dillon intends to serve as executive chair for a one-year term and, with the board of directors, will continue to help guide strategy while supporting Kimbell in his transition. As part of this transition, Ulta Beauty’s current chair, Robert DiRomualdo, will retire from the board after serving three years in the role of chair and 17 years total on the board. The company also announced Lorna Nagler, who has served on the board since 2009, will become lead independent director working with Dillon in her executive chair role.
Total Retail's Take: The news that Mary Dillon, a beloved CEO in the retail industry known for her strong leadership and inclusive culture, was stepping down was surprising to most industry insiders. In her eight years as CEO, Dillon drove significant business growth for Ulta, having more than tripled market capitalization to more than $18 billion today, doubled the retailer's fleet of stores, more than doubled its loyalty members, and significantly drove its e-commerce capabilities. Furthermore, Ulta Beauty joined both the S&P and Fortune 500 listings and delivered total shareholder return of 245 percent during Dillon's tenure. However, the announcement came on the same day Ulta reported financial results that included sales online and at stores open at least 14 months falling 18 percent during the year ending Jan. 30. Indeed, like for many retailers, 2020 was a struggle for Ulta as it grappled with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Stores were closed for weeks and sales remained down even as locations reopened. So, is Dillon stepping down a casualty of a COVID-19 sales dip or part of a well-thought-out succession plan? Or perhaps both? Regardless, Dillon stepping down thins out the number of female CEOs heading up publicly traded companies. As of last May, Dillon was one of just 37 female Fortune 500 CEOs.