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    N56w17000 Ridgewood DrPhone: +1-262-703-7000
    Menomonee FallsWI
    United StatesMap Map This Company
    http://www.kohlscorporation.comHoover's coverage by Catherine Colbert


    Max Kohl (father of Sen. Herbert Kohl of Wisconsin) opened his first grocery store in Milwaukee in the late 1920s. Over the years he and his three sons developed it into a chain and in 1938 Kohl's incorporated.

    Kohl opened a department store (half apparel, half hard goods) in 1962 next door to a Kohl's grocery. In the mid-1960s he hired William Kellogg, a twentysomething buyer in the basement discount department at Milwaukee's Boston Store, for his expertise in budget retailing. Kellogg came from a retailing family (his father was VP of merchandising at Boston Store; the younger Kellogg had joined that firm out of high school). Kohl and Kellogg began developing the pattern for the store, carving out a niche between upscale department stores and discounters (offering department store quality at discount store prices).

    The Kohl family entered real estate development in 1970, building the largest shopping center in the Milwaukee area. By 1972 the family's 65 food stores and five department stores were generating about $90 million in yearly sales. That year the Kohls sold 80% of the two operations to British American Tobacco's Brown & Williamson Industries division (later called BATUS), the first in a string of department store acquisitions that would eventually include Marshall Field's and Saks Fifth Avenue.

    BATUS bought the rest of Kohl's in 1978. Herb and Allen Kohl left the business to concentrate on real estate and politics, and Kellogg was named president and CEO. The next year BATUS separated the food and department store operations and eventually sold the food store chain to A&P in 1983.

    Kohl's discount image did not fit in with BATUS's other retail operations, so it decided to sell the department store chain. In 1986 Kellogg and two other executives, with the backing of mall developers Herbert and Melvin Simon, led an LBO to acquire the chain's 40 stores and a distribution center; annual sales were about $288 million.

    Two years later Kohl's acquired 26 Main Street department stores from Federated Department Stores (now Macy's), moving the company into new cities such as Chicago and Detroit. When Kohl's went public in 1992, it had 81 stores in six states, and sales topped $1 billion.

    In 1996 Kohl's began its mid-Atlantic expansion by opening stores in North Carolina. Sales topped $2 billion in fiscal 1997, and same-store sales were up more than 11%. Early in 1997 the firm acquired a former Bradlees store to enter New Jersey and opened stores in Washington, DC; Philadelphia; New York; and Delaware.

    Kohl's continued its expansion in 1998, entering Tennessee and building its mid-Atlantic presence. In early 1999 Kohl's named Larry Montgomery as CEO. The company also bought 30 stores from bankrupt Caldor (mostly in the New York City area) and reopened them as Kohl's in 2000. In 2001 Kohl's opened a total of 62 new stores. The following year it opened 75 new outlets, including 12 in Houston, a new market for Kohl's. In December 2002 Kohl's opened a distribution center in San Bernardino, California, to support its planned expansion into Southern California and the Southwest.

    Montgomery was named chairman of Kohl's in February 2003, succeeding Kellogg, who retired after 34 years with the company. Kohl's, which had become one of the fastest-growing and most successful US department store chains in the last decade, hit some serious bumps in 2003, including excess inventory (built up based on previous years of strong sales). Its same-store sales for the fiscal year decreased 1.6%. The company's one-floor stores (averaging about 85,000 sq. ft.) have fewer areas with a more limited selection than full-line department stores.

    In 2004 Kohl's launched a new private label, Apt. 9, which was designed to compete with the likes of Banana Republic, Liz Claiborne, and Perry Ellis.

    It entered the Florida market in 2005. In 2006 Kohl's sold its private-label credit card business to JPMorgan Chase for about $1.6 billion. (Kohl's continues to handle all customer and marketing services for JPMorgan Chase as they relate to credit card customers.) The retailer opened 65 stores (including its first in the Pacific Northwest) that year. It introduced a more appealing, modern store format in the fall of 2006 designed to broaden its appeal beyond its current customer base.

    In 2007 the company expanded its online shopping offerings to include some items not generally available in its stores, including furniture and electronics.

    In late 2007 Kohl's partnered with Fila in a multiyear licensing agreement to be Fila's exclusive US retailer of the FILA SPORT collection. Having debuted in fall 2008, the collection consists of apparel, footwear, and accessories for women, men, and children. As part of the deal, Fila heads the footwear manufacturing, while Kohl's heads the manufacturing, production, distribution, sales, and marketing of the FILA SPORT apparel and accessories.

    In late 2009 Larry Montgomery retired as chairman after 21 years with the company. Montgomery stepped down as CEO in 2008 and was succeeded by Kevin Mansell.

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