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Kohl's Corporation
Traded asNYSEKSS
S&P 500 Component
FoundedSeptember 12, 1962; 56 years ago (1962-09-12)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
FounderMaxwell Kohl
HeadquartersMenomonee Falls, Wisconsin U.S.
Number of locations
1,158 (Q1 2017)[1]
Key people
Michelle Gass, CEO[2][3]
ProductsClothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, electronics, and housewares.
Number of employees
138,000 (2016)

Kohl's Corporation is an American department store retailing chain. The first Kohl's store was a corner grocery store opened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1927 by Polish immigrant Maxwell Kohl.[5][6] The company's first department store opened in September 1962.[7]British American Tobacco Company took a controlling interest in the company in 1972, and in 1979, the Kohl family left the management of the company. A group of investors purchased the company in 1986 from British-American Tobacco and took it public in 1992.

Company overview

The company is headquartered in the Milwaukee suburb of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, operating 1,158 stores in 49 states (The only state it does not operate in is Hawaii).[1] Kohl's is America's largest department store chain by the number of stores as of February 2013--surpassing its biggest competitor, J. C. Penney in May 2012.[8] In 1998, it entered the S&P 500 list, and is also listed in the Fortune 500 (#146 in 2012).[9] The chain was the 20th-largest retailer in the United States in 2013 in terms of revenue.[10] As of 2013, Kohl's was the second largest U.S. department store company by retail sales.[11]


1940s to 1970s

The exterior of a typical Kohl's department store in Beaverton, Oregon

Maxwell Kohl, who had operated traditional grocery stores since 1927, built his first supermarket in 1946, the first in what would become a southeastern Wisconsin chain known as Kohl's Food Stores.[12] In 1962, after building Kohl's Food Stores into the largest supermarket chain in the Milwaukee area, Kohl opened his first department store, Kohl's Department Store, in Brookfield, Wisconsin. He positioned Kohl's between the higher-end department stores and the discounters, selling everything from candy to engine oil to sporting equipment.[13]

In 1972 the British-American Tobacco Company's U.S. retail division, BATUS Inc., bought a controlling interest in Kohl's Corporation, which at the time operated 50 grocery stores, six department stores, three drug stores and three liquor stores.[14][15] The Kohl family, led by Allen and Herb Kohl, continued to manage the company. The family left the management in 1979,[16] and Herbert Kohl became a United States Senator and owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. The firm then expanded Kohl's presence from 10 to 39 stores in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. The grocery stores were sold to A&P in 1983,[17][18] operating under the name Kohl's Food Store, and later Kohl's Food Emporium. In February 2003, A&P put the Kohl's Food Stores up for sale,[19] as part of an effort to reduce debt. In 2003, A&P closed all Kohl's Food Stores locations.[20][21]

1980s to present

A group of investors led by the senior management, purchased the company consisting of 40 department stores, in 1986.[22] The company added 27 more stores over the next two years. In 1988, the chain acquired 26 locations from Chicago-based MainStreet, gaining several stores in Chicago's suburbs, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and parts of Michigan.[23][24] Kohl's completed its initial public offering on May 19, 1992 and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol KSS.[25][26]

During the 2000s, Kohl's expanded nationwide to 49 states. Building from 76 stores in the Midwest in 1992, Kohl's expanded into California in 2003 with 28 new stores, the Pacific Northwest in 2006 with 10 new stores, and the Southeast with 43 new stores opening between 2005 and 2008.[27]

To raise money to repurchase its stock and open new stores, Kohl's sold its credit card division in 2006 to J.P. Morgan Chase for $1.5 billion.[28] In 2011, Kohl's replaced Chase with Capital One as their private credit card processing partner for an undisclosed sum.[29]

In 2007, Kohl's began selling a diffusion line from designer Vera Wang called Simply Vera.[30] Since then, it has also sold diffusion lines from other high-end designers including Narciso Rodriguez and Peter Som.[31][32]

Newsweek magazine ranked Kohl's 18th out of 500 overall and first in its industry in its 2009 "Green Rankings",[33] an examination of 500 of the largest corporations on their environmental track records. Newsweek remarked that Kohl's had the largest solar power program of any retailer globally, it pursues green building certification, and over 78 locations in six states have solar panels. In 2008, Kohl's started to sell reusable shopping bags.[34]

In 2012, Kohl's was awarded 62.5 million dollars in tax credits the same year from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The retailer was to create 3,000 jobs with the funds, but only created 473.[35] In the same year, Kohl's requested financing from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin to finance the building of a new headquarters in the municipality. Kohl's received 2 million dollars, the first of five installments that would equal a total payout of 12 million dollars, and then backed out of the transaction.[36]

In 2015, Kohl's opened a test store built around selling only returned, yet as new clothing, home goods, jewelry, and accessories. The store, called OFF/AISLE by Kohl's, sells items at a marked down price. The stores have a restrictive return policy different from regular Kohl's stores.[37]

In 2017, Lauren Conrad launched a line of affordable swimwear at Kohl's.[38]

In early January 2017, Kohl's shares fell 19% in value, in what The Wall Street Journal said was "the stock's worst day on record."[39]


Kohl's uses a "racetrack" aisle that circles the entire store, a technique borrowed from discount stores.[40] In 2011, Kohl's announced plans to remodel 100 of its 1,100 locations. Changes included redone store sections, fitting rooms, and newer merchandise displays.[41] In 2012, a consumer investigation by CBS News discovered that Kohl's had engaged in the practice of marking up products in the weeks before a sale in order to make products appear as if they were being sold at discounted prices and artificially inflating the amount of the price mark-down.[42]

Private brands

Kohl's private brands, which include Sonoma, Croft & Barrow, and Apt.9 generate nearly half of the firm's $19 billion in annual sales. Kohl's has plans to re-launch and reimagine the billion-dollar Sonoma brand for apparel and home goods.[43]

  • American Beauty, men's and women's patriotic clothing
  • Apt. 9, clothing and shoes for young men and women
  • Candie's, women's clothing and accessories
  • Croft & Barrow, men's and women's clothing and shoes
  • Daisy Fuentes, women's clothing and shoes
  • Dana Buchman, men's and women's upscale clothing
  • Jennifer Lopez, women's clothing and accessories
  • Jumping Beans, baby, toddler and young children's clothing and shoes
  • LC Lauren Conrad, women's clothing, shoes and accessories
  • Marc Anthony, men's clothing and accessories
  • Mudd Jeans, women's and girls' clothing and jeans
  • Simply Vera Vera Wang, women's clothing, shoes and accessories
  • So, women's and girls' clothing and accessories, swimwear, intimates, sleepwear, shoes
  • Sonoma Goods For Life (since 1994), casual clothing and shoes for men, women, and children
  • Tek Gear, active and athletic clothing, accessories and shoes for men, women, and children
  • Tony Hawk, boys' clothing and shoes
  • Urban Pipeline, (since 2006[44]), casual clothing and shoes for men and boys


In 2009, Kohl's hired New York City advertising agency DeVito/Verdi to strengthen the Kohl's brand via a series of national television and online/social media campaigns. One of the brand campaigns featured American professional athletes.[45][46]


  1. ^ a b Kohl's Fact Book (PDF), Kohl's, 2018, retrieved 2018
  2. ^ admin. "Kohl's Announces CEO Succession Plan: Kevin Mansell to Retire in May 2018, Michelle Gass Appointed CEO-elect". kohls.com.
  3. ^ admin. "Leadership". corporate.kohls.com.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "KOHLS Corp 2013 Annual Report Form (10-K)" (XBRL). United States Securities and Exchange Commission. March 21, 2014.
  5. ^ "Max Kohl". NNDB. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "The Immigrant Learning Center » Kohl". Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ "Kohl's 50th Anniversary Sale Round-up + Coupon & Kohl's Cash - AL.com". blog.al.com. September 12, 2012. Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ "Kohl's Corporation SEC 10K/A Filing". Kohl's. September 13, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Fortune 500 2012: Fortune 1000 Companies 101-200". CNN.
  10. ^ "Top 100 Retailers (2012)". National Retail Federation. Archived from the original on 2014-07-13.
  11. ^ "Top 100 Retailers". National Retail Federation. Retrieved 2014.
  12. ^ Daykin, Tom (June 13, 2002). "1st Kohl's supermarket to be next Lena's". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on June 28, 2002.
  13. ^ "Kohl's Q4 2013 FactBook". Kohl's. Retrieved 2014.
  14. ^ Stafford, Roger A. (October 28, 1972). "Kohl Buyer Provides Backing for Growth". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 6, Part 2 – via Google News.
  15. ^ "Control of Kohl Corp. Sold To British-American Unit". The Wall Street Journal. October 30, 1972. p. 15. (Subscription required (help)).Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  16. ^ "Kohl Family to Drop Ties to the Kohl Unit Of BAT Industries Ltd". Wall Street Journal. May 2, 1979. p. 41. (Subscription required (help)).Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  17. ^ "A. & P. to Acquire Kohl's From Batus". The New York Times. August 16, 1983.
  18. ^ "Batus Food unit acquired by A&P". WWD. 146 (63). September 29, 1983. p. 8. A&P Wednesday finalized its purchase of Kohl Food Stores, Milwaukee-based division of Batus Retail Division.Link via ProQuest.
  19. ^ "Local Kohl's Food Stores up for sale; Copps buys Madison stores". Milwaukee Business Journal. February 25, 2003.
  20. ^ Kohl's Q4 2013 FactBook. Kohl's. p. 6. Retrieved 2014.
  21. ^ "A&P to close area Kohl's Food Stores". Milwaukee Business Journal. June 13, 2003.
  22. ^ "Kohl's 'Driving Force' On the Road to Buyout". The New York Times. May 26, 1986.
  23. ^ "Campeau Sells Unit to Kohl's". The New York Times. October 29, 1988.
  24. ^ Randle, Wilma (February 22, 1989). "Kohl's to expand MainStreet". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009.
  25. ^ "Investor Relations - FAQ". Kohl's. Archived from the original on May 25, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  26. ^ "Kohl's Corporation Announces Initial Public Offering Of Common Stock". PR Newswire (Press release). May 19, 1992 – via The Free Library.
  27. ^ Kohl's Q4 2013 FactBook. Kohl's. May 24, 2014. p. 11.
  28. ^ "Kohl's Agrees to Sell Credit Card Business". The New York Times. March 7, 2006.
  29. ^ Douglas, Danielle (April 10, 2011). "Capital One wins deal to back Kohl's credit cards". The Washington Post.
  30. ^ "Vera Wang to design line just for Kohl's". USA Today. The Associated Press. August 24, 2006.
  31. ^ Wong, Jada. "Narciso Rodriguez Is Doing A Diffusion Line For Kohl's". Styleite.com. Archived from the original on April 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  32. ^ Leibowitz, Laura (September 6, 2013). "Peter Som Kohl's Line Will Be The Next Fast-Fashion Collab To Get All Our Money". The Huffington Post.
  33. ^ McGinn, Daniel (September 21, 2009). "Greenest Big Companies in America - The 2009 List". Newsweek. Archived from the original on June 25, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  34. ^ "Green Ranking- Kohl's". Newsweek. Archived from the original on September 25, 2009. Retrieved 2010.
  35. ^ DeFour, Matthew (June 20, 2015). "WEDC made 27 awards totaling $124.4 million without proper review". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 2015.
  36. ^ Daykin, Tom (November 21, 2013). "Kohl's drops plans for new headquarters building". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2015.
  37. ^ Romell, Rick (May 20, 2015). "Kohl's will test off-priced store for returned merchandise". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  38. ^ "Not A Drill: Lauren Conrad Launched Her First Swim Collection". Retrieved .
  39. ^ Kuriloff, Aaron (January 22, 2017). "How Often Does a Stock Fall 19% in One Day? Not Very Often". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017.
  40. ^ Epmeier, Bill (June 2, 2009). "A 'racetrack:' would it work for supermarkets? | Store Equipment & Design | Find Articles at BNET". Findarticles.com. Archived from the original on September 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  41. ^ "Kohl's unveils new look at Burlington store". Boston Globe. March 25, 2011. Archived from the original on October 29, 2011.
  42. ^ "ConsumerWatch: Investigation Finds Kohl's Sale Prices Aren't Always A Deal". CBS News. February 22, 2012.
  43. ^ Wahba, Phil (March 10, 2016). "Kohl's Stakes its Turnaround on Relaunch of Top House Brand". Fortune. Retrieved 2017.
  44. ^ "Who makes Urban Pipeline clothing?". Reference.com. Retrieved 2017.
  45. ^ "Kohl's - "Lindsey Vonn"". AdForum. Retrieved 2016.
  46. ^ O'Leary, Noreen (November 28, 2012). "Kohl's Confirms Media Agency Review". Adweek. Retrieved 2016.

External links

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