- Costco has named executive Ron Vachris as president and chief operating officer (COO), effective Feb. 2, according to an 8-K filing by the company on Thursday. He has also taken a role on the company’s board of directors.
- Since 2016, Vachris has been Costco’s chief operating officer for merchandising. Before that, he served as senior vice president for real estate development for nearly a year and was senior vice president and general manager for the Northwest region from 2010 to mid-2015.
- Previous President W. Craig Jelinek will continue to serve as CEO and as a member of the company's board of directors, per the filing.
Vachris’ promotion places him in a prime position to succeed Jelinek if and when he steps down from the chief executive role. Jelinek, who is 69 years old, has been in the top role since 2012 and led the club retailer through a period of sizable growth that has accelerated during the pandemic. Before becoming chief executive of the company, Jelinek served two years as Costco’s COO. He has held the president role since February 2010.
Vachris, age 56, began his career as a store employee at Price Club, the warehouse retailer that Costco acquired in 1993, according to a Crunchbase profile, and ascended through the ranks. In 2010, he joined Costco's senior executive ranks when the retailer named him to the role in its Northwest division. From August 2015 to June 2016 he held the real estate development position.
Costco has a history of long-serving top executives. Co-founder Jim Sinegal held the chief executive position for more than two decades before stepping down to let Jelinek take the helm. Jelinek has worked for the club retailer since 1984, just one year after it was founded.
As the company's merchandising chief, Vachris is intimately familiar with the art and science behind the company's treasure-hunt shopping experience. In a 2017 joint interview with Retail Leader, Vachris and Jelinek noted that they carefully develop buyers and prefer a hands-on approach to running the company.
"We really run the company from being in the field," Vachris said at the time. "You may see things in the office, and we meet with a lot of suppliers and things look a certain way, but when you get out in the warehouse, that is where you get a sense of how it is really presenting, what is the response from the members, what are you hearing from the managers, how do the packaging, sizing and colors look."
During fiscal 2021, Costco’s net sales increased 18% to $192 billion, and net income was $5 billion. Costco, which reports monthly sales, listed a 14% increase in same-store sales across its 828 warehouse stores, which include 572 in the U.S., for January.