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Costco Wholesale Corp.'s CEO and co-founder Jim Sinegal -- one of the country’s most well respected chief executives -- will step down Jan. 1, and will be succeeded by current president and COO Craig Jelinek, a 28-year-veteran of the Issaquah, Wash.-based club store retailer.
Jelinek, who began his Costco career as a warehouse manager in 1984 and who was elected to the president and COO post in February 2010, has been working closely with Sinegal over the last 18 months in preparation for the transition, along with Jeff Brotman, board chairman.
Commenting on his successor, Sinegal said, "Costco has a very strong culture and a deep bench of management talent. I have total confidence in Craig's ability to handle his new responsibilities and feel we are fortunate as a company to have an executive of his caliber to succeed me as chief executive."
A native of Pittsburgh, Sinegal, 76, co-founded Costco Wholesale in 1983 and became CEO five years later, building the company into the nation's third-largest retailer and its biggest warehouse club chain. He will remain with the company through January 2013 in an advisory role and assist Jelinek during the transition. He will also continue to serve as a board member and will stand for re-election at the January 2012 annual meeting.
In other news, Costco’s comparable sales for the four weeks ended August 28 jumped 11 percent from last year with a 9 percent growth in the U.S. and an 18 percent improvement in its international business. The figures include Mexico operations for this year and last year. For the fourth quarter, same-store sales advanced 12 percent.
Excluding the positive impact of inflation in gasoline prices and strengthening foreign currencies, comparable sales for the month grew 7 percent.
Costco’s net August sales increased 17 percent to $6.9 billion from $5.9 billion generated last year. This year's sales included those from the company's Mexico joint venture, without which the increase would have been 14 percent.
Net sales for the fourth quarter increased 17 percent to $27.6 billion. Excluding Mexico sales, the increase would have been 14 percent. Analysts expected revenues of $27.55 billion for the quarter.
For the fiscal year, sales improved 14 percent to $87 billion and would have risen 11 percent higher without the contribution from Mexico. Wall Street estimated full year revenues of $88.06 billion.