Costco Wholesale Corp. said its co-founder and CEO, Jim Sinegal, has decided to step down as chief executive of the largest U.S. warehouse club, effective Jan. 1.
Mr. Sinegal, who has been a director since the company was formed and will turn 76 next year, will be replaced by President and Chief Operating Officer Craig Jelinek, Costco said on Wednesday.
In an interview with the Seattle Times, Mr. Sinegal said his age and the fact that Costco is in good shape made January the right time to step down as CEO.
Mr. Sinegal will remain with the retailer through January 2013 to help Mr. Jelinek during the transition. He also will continue to serve on Costco’s board and stand for reelection at the January 2012 annual meeting.
Mr. Jelinek started as a warehouse manager in Costco in 1984 and assumed the position of president, COO and director in February last year.
Costco, which sells products from paper towels to diamond necklaces at a discount to its members, reported an 11-per-cent rise in August same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, helped by rising gasoline prices and currency benefits.
On that basis, analysts were expecting a 9.3-per-cent increase, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Warehouse clubs Costco, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc have benefited as members fill up their gas tanks at below-market prices at pumps operated by the clubs and often head inside to shop.