Costco taps 40-year veteran Ron Vachris as new CEO

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Membership-warehouse retail chain Costco Wholesale Corp. on Wednesday said Craig Jelinek will step down as chief executive on Jan. 1, with a 40-year veteran set to replace him.

The company said its board had elected Ron Vachris, who has been its president and chief operating officer since February 2022, as its new chief executive, effective Jan. 1 as well. Vachris, who started out as a forklift driver at Costco
COST,
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and served in “every major role” in the retailer’s business and merchandising operations, has more than 40 years of experience at the company, the retailer said.

Costco said the changeover was “the culmination of the long-standing succession plan that Craig has discussed with the board.”

Shares were down 0.5% after hours.

Jelinek will stay on at Costco through April in an advisory role to help Vachris with the leadership transition, the company said. Jelinek will also remain on the board and will be up for re-election at Costco’s annual meeting in January.

The changeover will arrive as higher prices at stores continue to pinch customers, and as analysts speculate on a potential membership-fee increase up ahead that would help Costco’s profits. The company last month reported quarterly results that topped estimates. Shares of Costco are up 26.8% so far this year.

Costco on Wednesday also said its board had declared a quarterly cash dividend of $1.02 per share.

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