Survey: 74% of retail CEOs, presidents will look outside industry for new talent

New York City A new survey of retail CEOs and presidents revealed that 74% of the respondents say they will search for leadership positions from outside the industry in the next 5 years primarily because they "want leaders with a new perspective."

The survey, conducted by Women's Wear Daily and Herbert Mines Associates (HMA), the largest executive search firm in fashion, retail, and e-commerce, also found that 73% of the respondents revealed they do not have a formal CEO succession plan in place.

Asked to identify one discipline that would be the most effective pipeline for the next generation of leaders in retail, the leaders chose merchandising (26%), followed by marketing (21%) and product design/development (13%). Less popular were digital/technology, which tied with international business (11%), operations (6%) sales (6%) and finance (2%).

The top three greatest challenges facing the retail industry in developing future leaders, according to the respondents, are "understanding new ways to connect with and market to consumers (62%)" followed by developing cross-functional capabilities (58%) and "keeping on top of a quickly changing competitive landscape" (57%).

The biggest challenge facing the retail industry in developing future leaders was identified as understanding new ways to connect with and market to consumers by 62% of the respondents. The leaders identified other important challenges as "developing cross-functional capabilities" for talent, and keeping on top of a quickly changing competitive landscape. Ranking lower in terms of priorities were training (45%), recruiting and retention (33% and 31%, respectively), and compensation, which received only 17% of the vote.

Hal Reiter, chairman and CEO, Herbert Mines Associates, stated: "We are witnessing shifting sands with the way retail leaders are approaching their customers, employees, vendors and investors. The survey findings give us a window into the collective psyche of top management in retail, their challenges and perspectives about their vision for the future."

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