Costco’s longtime CEO to step down; successor named

Marianne Wilson
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Costco operates 855 warehouses around the world.
The longtime chief executive of Costco will step down in January.

A 40-year veteran will move into the top spot at Costco Wholesale Corp. come the new year.

The membership warehouse retailer said that chief executive Craig Jelinek plans to step down, effective Jan. 1, 2024.  He will be succeeded at that time by Ron Vachris, who has served as Costco’s president and COO since February 2022.

Jelinek, who joined Costco in 1984 and has led it since 2012, will remain with the company through April 2024, serving in an advisory role and assisting Vachris during the transition. Jelinek will also continue to serve on the board and will stand for reelection at the January 2024 annual meeting. 

In a release, Costco said that Jelinek and Vachris have worked “hand in hand” during the last twenty-one months in "Ron's role as president and for many years before that." The company also said that the change was the “culmination of the long-standing succession plan that Jelinek has discussed with the board.”

Vachris is a Costco veteran who has been with the company for more than forty years. He started  as a forklift driver, and subsequently served in every major role related to Costco's business operations and merchandising activities.

"Costco has a very strong culture and a deep bench of management talent," stated Jelinek. "I have total confidence in Ron and feel that we are fortunate as a company to have an executive of his caliber to succeed me."

The change in leadership comes after the retailer reported strong top-line growth in September, buoyed by rising comparable sales across all its divisions. The report came on the heels of a strong fourth quarter that included a 9.5% increase in net revenue.

In other news, Costco announced that its board has declared a quarterly cash dividend on Costco common stock of $1.02 per share. The quarterly dividend is payable Nov. 17, 2023, to shareholders of record at the close of business on Nov. 3, 2023.

Costco currently operates 861 warehouses, including 591 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 107 in Canada, 40 in Mexico, 33 in Japan, 29 in the United Kingdom, 18 in Korea, 15 in Australia, 14 in Taiwan, five in China, four in Spain, two in France, and one each in Iceland, New Zealand and Sweden. The company also operates e-commerce sites in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia.