Costco CEO Craig Jelinek to Step Down. The Stock Is Down.

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Costco Wholesale
is getting its third chief executive in the company’s history. 

Longtime CEO Craig Jelinek is stepping down at the start of next year, the company said Wednesday. He will hand over the reins to Chief Operating Officer Ron Vachris, another company veteran, as part of what
Costco
called a longstanding succession plan.

Vachris takes the helm of the company Jan. 1. Jelinek will remain with Costco through April in an advisory role to assist Vachris through the transition. 

“Costco has a very strong culture and a deep bench of management talent,” Jelinek said. “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.”

Vachris joined Costco as a forklift driver more than 40 years ago, and has served in every major role related to the company’s business operations and merchandising activities.

His trajectory is similar to Jelinek’s, who came on as a Costco warehouse manager in 1984 and subsequently moved through the ranks. Jelinek was also COO before being named CEO in 2012. Costco co-founder James Sinegal was CEO before him. 

As of Oct. 11, the date of Costco’s latest annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Vachris was 58 years old, and Jelinek was 71.

Costco’s meticulous succession planning underscores why the company has earned the reputation of being one of the best-managed retailers around.

And perhaps that isn’t surprising, given that all but one of the company’s executive officers have over 25 years of service with the company, according to Costco’s latest annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The one executive that had less than a quarter century at the company can still boast of a 22-year tenure.

Costco stock dipped 0.4% to $572.60 in premarket trading Thursday. The shares have gained 26% this year, outstripping the
S&P 500
‘s 12% gain.

The company also announced Wednesday that its board of directors had declared a quarterly cash dividend of $1.02 per share. 

Write to Sabrina Escobar at [email protected]

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