New York (CNN) — Longtime Costco chief executive Craig Jelinek will step down at the end of the year, the company said Wednesday.
Ron Vachris, Costco’s president and chief operating officer who started at the company 40 years ago driving forklifts, will replace him.
Costco’s stock was little changed during after hours trading Wednesday, a sign investors were unfazed.
“This is the culmination of the long-standing succession plan that Craig has discussed with the Board,” the company said in a statement.
Jelinek, 71, has been Costco’s CEO since 2012, taking over for one of Costco’s co-founders. The company’s stock has increased five-fold during his tenure.
Costco’s business boomed during the pandemic as customers rushed to stores to load up on groceries and household staples such as toilet paper.
They made fewer trips to stores to minimize potential exposure to the virus, but loaded up when they were inside and spent more.
Millions of customers signed up for club memberships for the first time and held onto them, pushing Costco’s member rolls to all-time highs.
Costco, which was founded in 1983, has 861 warehouses in the world, including 591 in the United States. The company is the third largest US retailer behind Walmart and Amazon.
Costco had around 66 million paid members and 119 million cardholders in 2022, making it one of the largest membership clubs in the world. Costco members pay either $60 for a regular membership or $120 for an executive card every year to shop at clubs.
The company has not raised the cost of its membership since 2017, despite rivals such as Amazon and Sam’s Club raising their membership fees. Costco has hinted it may soon raise its membership price.
This membership model is crucial to Costco’s business.
The fees help boost the company’s profit and offset expenses, allowing Costco to keep its prices down. Costco is known for offering some of the lowest prices in the retail industry.
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