sporting goods

Foot Locker Comeback Hangs on Woman Who Rewrote Beauty Playbook

(Bloomberg) — When Mary Dillon joined Ulta Beauty Inc. almost a decade ago, the personal-care company had around 675 stores across the US, made less than 5% of its sales online and generated around $2.7 billion in annual revenue.

After Dillon stepped down in June 2021 following eight years as chief executive officer, Ulta had around 1,300 stores, sold roughly one-quarter of its items online and reported $8.6 billion in sales.

While some of that success can be attributed to a surge in spending on personal-care products during the pandemic, a lot of the growth is Dillon’s doing. Now, Foot Locker Inc., which on Friday named the 61-year-old executive as its next CEO, is betting she can deliver the same magic at its struggling operations.

The athletic retailer has been foundering amid supply-chain disruptions and a pullback in business from Nike Inc., its biggest brand partner, earlier this year.

Dillon’s appointment generated excitement on Wall Street, sending Foot Locker shares up 20% for their biggest gain in more than two years. At least six analysts upgraded their ratings on the stock.

“If you’re a retailer looking for a new CEO, she’s almost the best announcement that you can make,” Evercore ISI analyst Warren Cheng said in an interview. He sees Dillon’s acceptance of the job as “a ringing endorsement that there’s still a spot for Foot Locker” in the sporting-goods landscape.

That spot has been in question as shopping malls lose favor and inventory piles up across the retail industry. Then in February, Foot Locker said that Nike was pivoting to sell more of its products on its own website rather than in other retailers’ stores.

“Nike has gotten so good at direct to consumer that there’s been a constant overhang thesis on Foot Locker that they’re not really needed

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  • October 6, 2022