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Michelle Gass, the CEO at department store chain Kohl's and a former 16-year executive at Starbucks, is getting out of the retail business.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Gass is leaving the company to go to Levi Strauss, where she will become "president with oversight of Levi’s brand and global digital and commercial operations. She will succeed Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh within 18 months."

The Journal writes that "At Kohl’s, Ms. Gass has been under attack from activist investors for sales declines and a steep drop in the company’s stock price. In September, activist investor Ancora Holdings Inc., urged the company to replace Ms. Gass and its chairman … Kohl’s, with roughly 1,100 stores, has struggled to attract shoppers amid rising competition from discounters, fast-fashion chains and online competitors. Earlier this year, Kohl’s scrapped plans to sell itself to the owner of Vitamin Shoppe."

According to the story, "Kohl’s appointed Tom Kingsbury to serve as interim CEO until a permanent successor is named. Mr. Kingsbury is a former Burlington Stores Inc. CEO who joined Kohl’s board in 2021 as part of a settlement with activists."

KC's View:

One has to imagine that running Kohl's these days is a losing proposition - the business model may be headed toward obsolescence, the activist investors are a pain in the tokhes, and there doesn't seem to be a lot of room to maneuver.

Strikes me as being a lot more upside at Levi Strauss.