Kohl’s Corporation is an American department store chain headquartered in the Milwaukee suburb of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, operating as of September 2011, 1,089 stores in 49 states. In 1998, it entered the S;P 500 list, and is also listed in the Fortune 500 (#135 in 2010). The chain was the 20th-largest retailer in the United States in 2011 in terms of revenue. Kohl’s is the 4th largest US department store by sales, below JCPenney, and above Nordstrom. Beginnings
Maxwell Kohl, who had previously operated traditional grocery stores, built his first supermarket in 1946, the first in what would become a southeastern Wisconsin chain known as Kohl’s Food Stores. In 1962, he started his first department store, Kohl’s Department Store, in Brookfield, Wisconsin. He positioned Kohl’s between the higher-end department stores and the discounters, selling everything from candy to engine oil to sporting equipment. In 1972 the British-American Tobacco Company’s US retail division, BATUS Inc. bought a controlling interest in Kohl’s Corporation, which at the time operated 50 grocery stores, six department stores, three drug stores and three liquor stores. The Kohl family, led by Allen and Herbert Kohl, continued to manage the company. The family left the management in 1979, and Herbert Kohl became a United States Senator and owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. The firm then expanded Kohl’s presence from 10 to 39 stores in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. The grocery stores were sold to A&P in 1983, operating under the name Kohl’s Food Store, and later Kohl’s Food Emporium.
In February 2003, A&P put the Kohl’s Food Stores up for sale, as part of an effort to reduce debt. In June 2003, A;P announced their plans to close all Kohl’s Food Stores and administrative offices. By the end of 2003, all Kohl’s Food Stores locations were closed. Expansion A group of investors, including the senior management, purchased the company in 1986, and the company added 27 more stores in the next two years. In 1988, the chain acquired 26 locations from Chicago-based MainStreet, gaining several stores in Chicago’s suburbs, Minneapolis, Minnesota and parts of
Michigan. In 1992, the company went public and a period of expansion began. Kohl’s entered mid-Atlantic markets in 1997 (opening in many former locations of Clover, an offshoot of the Strawbridge’s corporation brand department stores in the Philadelphia region); Texas, Missouri and the Northeast in 1999 (the latter market resulting from its purchase of many former Caldor locations); Georgia and the Southeast in 2001; New England in 2002; California and the Southwest in 2003; and the Northwest in 2006.
In April 2005, the company opened stores in Florida and other Southern states. Kohl’s has replaced many former Mervyns stores in the western U. S. Kohl’s design office opened in January 2007, located in the heart of New York’s garment district. The 23,000-square-foot (2,100 m2) facility, located at 1359 Broadway, is the company’s first product-design facility in the nation’s fashion capital. Existing stores are undergoing renovations to make them more modern and more like up-scale department stores.
These re-modeled stores must be of a certain age and profit group in order to qualify for remodeling. On October 13, 2009, Kohl’s announced it was closing its oldest distribution center, located in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, in order to more efficiently service its expanding number of stores. The inventory from the Menomonee Falls distribution center was moved to a newer distribution center in Ottawa, Illinois. In late 2010, Kohl’s opened 40 new stores in the 2011 fiscal year. As of January 2011, Kohl’s stores were in 49 of the 50 states (only excluding Hawaii. )