New Dick’s Sporting Goods Chief Is First Female CEO of a Major Sporting Goods Retailer

Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. has appointed a new executive chief.

Lauren Hobart, who currently serves as president, will retain her role as well as take on the top post at the company starting Feb. 1. She will succeed Edward Stack, who will become executive chairman and continue as chief merchant, plus oversee key strategic growth initiatives at the company.

“Leading the company that Ed built is truly a privilege and an honor,” Hobart said in a statement. “For nearly 10 years, I have witnessed firsthand his commitment to Dick’s values, to our teammates, customers and the communities we serve. I am fortunate to have Ed as a mentor and look forward to leading the company into this next phase of growth with Ed and our senior management team.”

Here, FN provides a spotlight on the soon-to-be CEO.

Her appointment was part of a planned transition.

According to Dick’s, the move was part of a long-term succession plan undertaken by Stack and the board of directors. It was announced in tandem with the release of the company’s third-quarter financial results, which exceeded market watchers’ expectations. Sales during the three-month period were driven by a 23.2% gain in comps, including a 95% hike in its e-commerce business.

“This is the perfect time for this transition. We have the best management team in the company’s history, and the investments we have made in our people, our stores and our communities are paying off,” Stack added in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to lead merchandising, product development and several strategic growth initiatives while supporting Lauren as a trusted advisor. She has proven herself to be a capable, innovative and respected leader who has helped drive our business and our culture.”

She’s the first female CEO of a major sporting goods retailer.

With the appointment, Hobart becomes the first woman at the helm of a nationwide sporting goods chain. A list published last month by global nonprofit Catalyst showed that women currently hold 31, or 6.2%, of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. (The index is comprised of 500 large-cap companies, including the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and covers about 80% of the American equity market by capitalization.)

Although the number of female CEOs at major United States-based companies remains sparse, retail is one of the industries with the highest representation of women in the top job: By the end of last year, approximately 7% of retail executive chiefs in the Russell 3000 were women, versus about 5% in the broader index. At the time, Genesco Inc. had just named Mimi Vaughn as its first female CEO. What’s more, boldface department stores Kohl’s Corp. and J. C. Penney Company Inc. have been led by women — Michelle Gass and Jill Soltau, respectively — since 2018, while Tapestry Inc. recently tapped Joanne Crevoiserat as its permanent CEO.

She’s only Dick’s Sporting Goods’ second-ever executive chief.

Stack has served as chairman and CEO of Dick’s since he and his siblings bought their father’s two small sporting goods stores in upstate New York in 1984. (Richard “Dick” Stack founded the namesake retailer in 1948.) Under his leadership, Dick’s swelled to more than 850 stores and nearly $9 billion in annual revenues.

He has also driven the company’s omnichannel strategy as well as led investments in logistics and technology, along with Hobart. At the start of the pandemic, Dick’s was one of the country’s largest chains already offering curbside pickup and other contactless services. So far this year, its e-commerce business — including purchases delivered through ship-from-store or picked up at local outposts — is approaching $2 billion in sales.

She has spearheaded big charitable initiatives at the company.

Under Hobart’s leadership, the company’s philanthropic arm, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation, developed six years ago its Sports Matter program, which has provided more than $105 million in grants and sponsorships to raise awareness and address the issues of underfunded youth sports programs across the country.

Just this year, Hobart was present at the retailer’s “Here for Her” summit in New York City, where she announced a three-year, $5 million grant to the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s United for Girls initiative aimed at increasing opportunities for young women in the sport. “There is still so much work to do for girls who play sports,” Hobart said in February. “At Dick’s Sporting Goods, we believe at our core that sports make people better, that sports matter, and that the lessons kids learn when they play sports last them a lifetime.”

She has more than 25 years of finance, consumer goods and retail experience.

Over the past three years, Hobart has overseen the retailer’s stores, marketing, strategy and analytics, e-commerce, technology, human resources and legal departments. She joined Dick’s as SVP and CMO in February 2011 then was promoted to EVP and CMO four years later. She has served on the board since January 2018 and is president of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation.

Prior to Dick’s, she held several senior executive roles at PepsiCo Inc., including CMO of carbonated soft drinks in North America. She also previously worked at Wells Fargo & Co. and at JP Morgan Chase & Co. From 2014 to 2018, she was a member of the board at Sonic Corp., and she currently serves on Yum! Brands Inc.’s board.

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