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Kohl's Corporation
Traded as NYSEKSS
S&P 500 Component
Industry Retail
Founded 1962; 57 years ago (1962)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin), U.S.
Headquarters Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, U.S.
Key people
Kevin Mansell, Chairman/CEO
Products Clothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, electronics, and housewares.
  • Decrease US$19,031.0 million (2014) [1]
  • Increase US$19,279.0 million (2013) [1]
  • Decrease US$1,742.0 million (2014) [1]
  • Decrease US$1,890.0 million (2013) [1]
  • Decrease US$889.0 million (2014) [1]
  • Decrease US$986.0 million (2013) [1]
Total assets
  • Increase US$14,378.0 million (2014) [1]
  • Decrease US$13,905.0 million (2013) [1]
Total equity
  • Decrease US$5,978.0 million (2014) [1]
  • Decrease US$6,048.0 million (2013) [1]
Number of employees
Slogan "Expect Great Things"
Website www.kohls.com

Kohl's Corporation, d.b.a. Kohl's, is an American department store retail chain. The first Kohl's store was a supermarket founded by Maxwell Kohl in Milwaukee in 1946. The company's first department store opened in 1962. British-American Tobacco Company took a controlling interest in the company in 1972 and in 1979 the Kohl family left the management of the company. A group of investors purchased the company in 1986 from British-American Tobacco and took it public in 1992. Kohl's is the second largest department store by retail sales in the United States after Macy's.

Company overview

The company is headquartered in the Milwaukee suburb of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, operating 1,162 stores in 49 states.[2] Kohl's is America's largest department store chain by the number of stores as of February 2013—surpassing its biggest competitor, J.C. Penney in May 2012.[3] In 1998, it entered the S&P 500 list, and is also listed in the Fortune 500 (#146 in 2012).[4] The chain was the 20th-largest retailer in the United States in 2013 in terms of revenue.[5] As of 2013, Kohl's is the second largest U.S. department store company by retail sales.[6]


1940s to 1970s

The exterior of a typical Kohl's department store in northeast Columbia, SC.

Maxwell Kohl, who had 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.[7] In 1962, after building Kohl's Food Stores into the largest supermarket chain in the Milwaukee area, Kohl opened 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.[8]

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.[9] The Kohl family, led by Allen and Herb 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 its plans to close all Kohl's Food Stores and administrative offices and by the end of 2003, all Kohl's Food Stores locations were closed.[10]

1980s to present

A group of investors led by the senior management, purchased the company consisting of 40 stores in 1986. The company added 27 more stores over the next two years. In 1988, the chain acquired 26 locations from Chicago-based MainStreet, gaining several stores in Chicago's suburbs, Minneapolis-St. Paul and parts of Michigan.[11] Kohl's completed its initial public offering on May 19, 1992 and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol KSS.[12]

During the 2000s Kohl's expanded nationwide to have a presence in 49 states. Building from 76 stores in the Midwest in 1992, Kohl's expanded into California in 2003 with 28 new stores, the Pacific Northwest in 2006 with 10 new stores, and the Southeast with 43 new stores opening between 2005 and 2008.[13]

In 2007 Kohl's began selling a diffusion line from designer Vera Wang called Simply Vera.[14] Since then it has also sold diffusion lines from a number of other high-end designers including Narciso Rodriguez and Peter Som.[15][16]

In 2009, Kohl's hired NYC ad agency DeVito/Verdi to strengthen the Kohl’s brand via a series of national television and online/social media campaigns, one featured Olympic Athletes (“Shop to Win”).

Newsweek magazine ranked Kohl's 18th out of 500 overall and first in its industry in its 2009 "Green Rankings" [17] which examines 500 of the largest corporations on their environmental track record. Newsweek remarked that Kohl's has the largest solar power program of any retailer globally, it pursues green building certification and over 78 locations in six states have solar panels. Additionally, in 2008, Kohl's started to sell reusable shopping bags.[18]

In 2012, Kohls requested financing from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin to finance the building of a new headquarters in their municipality. Kohls received 2 million dollars, the first of 5 installments that would equal a total payout of 12 million dollars, and then backed out of the transaction.[19]

In 2015, Kohl's opened a test store built around selling only returned, yet still like new clothing, home goods, jewelry and accessories. The store, promptly called Off Aisle by Kohl's, will sell items at a marked down price, and all sales from the store will be final.[20]

In June 2015, it was reported that Kohl's was "awarded" 62.5 million dollars in 2012 from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. They were to create 3,000 jobs with the funds, but only created 473.[21]


Kohl's uses a "racetrack" aisle that circles the entire store, a technique borrowed from discount stores.[22] In 2011, Kohl's announced plans to remodel 100 of its 1,100 locations. Changes included redone store sections, fitting rooms, and newer merchandise displays.[23] In 2012 a consumer investigation by CBS News discovered that Kohl's had engaged in the practice of marking up products in the weeks before a sale in order to make products appear as if they were being sold at discounted prices and artificially inflating the amount of the price mark-down.[24]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 "KOHLS Corp 2013 Annual Report Form (10-K)" (XBRL). United States Securities and Exchange Commission. March 21, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Profile". Yahoo Finance. Retrieved January 10, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Kohl's Corporation SEC 10K/A Filing". Kohl's. September 13, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Fortune 500 2012: Fortune 1000 Companies 101-200". CNN.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. http://www.stores.org/2012/Top-100-Retailers
  6. "Top 100 Retailers". National Retail Federation. Retrieved 12 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Daykin, Tom. "1st Kohl's supermarket to be next Lena's." Milwaukee Sentinel June 14, 2002 [1]
  8. "Kohl's Q4 2013 FactBook". Retrieved 25 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Milwaukee Sentinel Oct. 28 1972, p. 6, pt. 2
  10. Kohl's Q4 2013 FactBook. p. 6. Retrieved 25 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Randle, Wilma (1989-02-22). "Kohl's to expand MainStreet". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Investor Relations - FAQ". Retrieved 25 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Kohl's Q4 2013 FactBook. 24 May 2014. p. 11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. The Associated Press. "Vera Wang to design line just for Kohl's". USA Today.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Wong, Jada. "Narciso Rodriguez Is Doing A Diffusion Line For Kohl's". Styleite.com. Retrieved 22 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Leibowitz, Laura. "Peter Som Kohl's Line Will Be The Next Fast-Fashion Collab To Get All Our Money". The Huffington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Newsweek, Greenest Big Companies in America – The 2009 List". Retrieved July 21, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Newsweek –Green Ranking- Kohl's". Retrieved July 21, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Daykin, Tom (November 21, 2013). "Kohl's drops plans for new headquarters building". jsonline.com. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved June 23, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Romell, Romell. "Kohl's will test off-priced store for returned merchandise". Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. DeFour, Matthew (June 20, 2015). "WEDC made 27 awards totaling $124.4 million without proper review". host.madison.com. Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved June 23, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Epmeier, Bill (2009-06-02). "A 'racetrack:' would it work for supermarkets? | Store Equipment & Design | Find Articles at BNET". Findarticles.com. Retrieved 2009-10-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  23. "Kohl's unveils new look at Burlington store". The Boston Globe. 2011-03-25. Archived from the original on October 29, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "ConsumerWatch: Investigation Finds Kohl's Sale Prices Aren't Always A Deal". CBS News. February 22, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links