Kecia L. Steelman, Ulta’s chief operating officer who is viewed in industry circles as a potential successor to chief executive officer Dave Kimbell, has added president to her title.
In the joint roles, Steelman has responsibility for corporate strategy, information technology, store and services operations, supply chain, Ulta Beauty at Target, enterprise-wide transformation and loss prevention.
That includes inventory shrink — the difference between balance-sheet inventory and actual stock that is often blamed on organized retail crime — which has weighed on Ulta’s gross margin. As part of that, she has led Ulta’s move to lock up fragrance in cabinets in 70 percent of stores by the end of the year.
“What we’re seeing is in the initial stores that we rolled out the locked fragrance cases for, we actually saw sales improvement because we were in stock with the product,” she said during an August call with analysts to discuss Ulta’s most recent earnings.
Steelman was named chief operating officer in 2021 when Kimbell was appointed CEO. Prior to that, she has been chief store operations officer since 2015. Previously, she was group vice president at Family Dollar Stores from 2011 to 2014.
“Kecia is a talented executive with a proven track record of driving operational excellence while fostering a caring and inclusive culture and creating exceptional guest experiences,” said Kimbell. “Over the last year, Kecia has increased her scope and influence within our organization, and this expanded role recognizes her value to the company and her many contributions to our success, while also demonstrating our ongoing confidence in her leadership to help us drive profitable growth for the company over the coming years.”
Last month, Ulta raised its full-year outlook on the back of a strong second quarter. The beauty retailer now expects net sales to come in at a range between $11.05 billion and $11.15 billion. Previously it had forecast $11 billion to $11.1 billion. Estimates for diluted earnings per share have been lifted to $25.10 to $25.60, from $24.70 to $25.40.