Chief… what? The key exec role at many retailers

Nova Safo Sep 23, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Chief… what? The key exec role at many retailers

Nova Safo Sep 23, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

When you walk into J.C. Penney, the merchandise, the prices, the promotions you see, all were signed off by the chief merchant.

It is a crucial role for any retailer.

J.C. Penney announced Wednesday the appointment of a new person to that job. John Tighe was already a senior general merchandise manager for the company. He got a promotion to the top job.

Kohl’s and Target also recently shuffled people in and out of the chief merchant position.

The position is a crucial one, because it sets the brand for the entire retail operation, said Paul Swinand of Morningstar.

“There’s some risk-taking involved,” he said.

A chief merchant is basically a chief buyer — responsible for everything from appliances to housewares to high fashion. Swinand said people in the role are always on the lookout for new trends, and “will visit boutique stores key to spotting trends … popular things in the South for the spring,” for example.

While this may sound like a great job for any teen in America, Brian Solis of Altimeter Group said there is an art to the job, especially for executives who are, perhaps, far from their teen years.

“That’s part of the challenge, right,” Solis said. “That’s really what it comes down to, is having relevant perspective … to build a brand that people are just gonna want.”

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.