Costco Wholesale Corporation announced that after 11 years as CEO, Craig Jelinek will step down from his position effective January 1, 2024. The Board of Directors has elected Ron Vachris, President, and Chief Operating Officer since February 2022, as President and Chief Executive Officer, beginning January 1, 2024.
The company said that Jelinek and Vachris have worked hand in hand over the last twenty-one months in Vachris’ role as president and for many years before that. This is the culmination of the long-standing succession plan that Jelinek has discussed with the Board.
Ron Vachris is a Costco veteran with over forty years of service, starting as a forklift driver and subsequently serving in every significant role related to Costco’s business operations and merchandising activities.
Vachris has been a director of the company since February 2022. Previously, he served as Executive Vice President of Merchandising from June 2016 to January 2022, Senior Vice President of Real Estate Development from August 2015 to June 2016, and Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Northwest Region from 2010 to July 2015.
He spent the previous 28 years in various management positions in warehouse operations. Vachris’s qualifications to serve on the Board include his extensive knowledge of the company’s business developed over his long career with Costco, particularly in operations and merchandising.
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“Costco has a very strong culture and a deep bench of management talent,” said Jelinek. “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.”
Jelinek will remain with Costco through April 2024, serving in an advisory role and assisting his successor during the transition. He will continue to serve on the Board of Directors and stand for reelection at the January 2024 annual meeting.
Jelinek has had a long and distinguished career at Costco. He began with the company in 1984 as vice president of Field Sales. Subsequently, he served in various leadership roles at the company, including executive vice president of Operations, president of the U.S. Eastern Division, and executive vice president. In 2012, he succeeded Jim Sinegal as CEO and president of Costco.
Under Jelinek’s leadership, Costco has maintained strong financial performance and a positive reputation among consumers and the business community.
Costco currently operates 861 warehouses, including 591 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 107 in Canada, 40 in Mexico, 33 in Japan, 29 in the United Kingdom, 18 in Korea, 15 in Australia, 14 in Taiwan, five in China, four in Spain, two in France, and one each in Iceland, New Zealand and Sweden.
Costco also operates e-commerce sites in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia.