Best Retail CEOs 2019

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman


In today’s transformative retail landscape, no retailer can thrive without a strong CEO at the helm. While the success of a CEO is typically judged by a company’s revenue, stock price, and growth, the views of the retailer’s employees are just as important to determine success. If a retail CEO doesn’t have respect and loyalty from his/her workforce they will be unable to implement their agenda. Trust in senior leadership is a leading factor underlying long-term employee satisfaction and highly-rated CEOs are statistically linked to companies with great cultures and financial performance, according to Glassdoor Economic Research.

In its annual Employees’ Choice Awards, honoring the Top CEOs in 2019, glassdoor utilizes input of employees who voluntarily provide anonymous feedback by completing a company review about their CEO’s leadership, along with insights into their job, work environment and employer over the past year. Specifically, when rating their CEO on Glassdoor, employees are asked to report whether they approve or disapprove of or have no opinion about their CEO’s performance.

Fun Fact

Across the approximately 900,000 employers reviewed on Glassdoor, the average CEO approval rating is 69%.

This year, Glassdoor CEOs feature six distinct company categories across the U.S., Canada, UK, France and Germany. In the U.S., seven retailers made the list of the 100 Top CEOs (honoring CEOs at employers with 1,000 or more employees). Here we take a look at each of the seven CEOs and the impact they have on their company and employees.

7 Best U.S. Retail CEOS in 2019


#1 (2) Charles C. Butt, H-E-B 

Butt took a No. 2 spot on Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards, making him not just a top retail CEO but landing him on the top 10 list of all the top 100 CEOs in the U.S. Butt succeeded his father as H-E-B president in 1971, when the company had 6,000 employees, about 120 stores and $221 million in annual sales. Currently, the company operates more than 400 stores in Texas and Mexico, has more than 116,000 Partners and post annual sales over $26 billion. H-E-B is a privately owned supermarket chain known for its employee-centric business approach and at least some of the credit goes to Butt, evidenced by his 99% approval rating. The generous H-E-B employee benefits include: scheduled raises, bonuses, discounts, flexible schedules and upward mobility. Employees Approve: 99%.

#2 (10) Hubert Joly, Best Buy

Joly has overseen the rebirth of Best Buy during his time in the CEO seat. In 2012, Best Buy was struggling. Sales and profits were declining, the stock price was plummeting and pundits were predicting the company’s demise. But then, in what would be a major turning point in Best Buy’s history, the company hired Hubert Joly as CEO. Over the next seven years, he led the company through its successful Renew Blue transformation, which resulted in improved customer satisfaction, market share gains, revenue growth and improved margins. Joly has since stepped down as chief executive to transition to the role of executive chairman, and Best Buy’s chief financial and strategic transformation officer Corie Barry took over as CEO on June 11. Employees Approve: 97%.

#3 (42) Craig Jelinek, Costco Wholesale

Jelinek joined Costco in 1984, just after the first Costco opened, and has has been CEO since 2012.  Costco’s generous employee benefits have helped propel Jelinek to one of the most highly-rated CEOs, earning a place in this ranking the past five years: 2018 (#83), 2017 (#88),  2016 (#46), 2015 (#13), 2014 (#6). Employees Approve: 95%.

From left to right: Nicole Wegman, Danny Wegman, Colleen Wegman

#4 (52) Colleen Wegman, Wegmans Food Markets

At No. 4 on our list, Colleen Wegman is the highest and only ranking female retail CEO. Wegmans is a regional supermarket chain with 99 stores and one of the largest private companies in the U.S. with annual sales in 2018 of $9.2 billion. The family-owned company, founded in 1916, saw Colleen join in 1991. She was then named president and CEO in 2017.

This year, Wegmans was named one of the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For, making it the top retailer to work for. “There is nothing more important to us than being a great place to work for all,” said Colleen of the honor.  “The values we share across our company, starting with caring and high standards, are the foundation, and our customers appreciate our people for demonstrating those values” Employees Approve: 94%.

#5 (81) Michael Zuieback, Discount Tire

Independent tire and wheel retailer Discount Tire opened its 1,000 store last year. Founded in 1960 by Bruce Halle, the company does business in 34 states across the country. Zuieback took the helm in 2015 after working for the company for 14 years, first acting as the EVP of strategic planning before becoming the company's president. Discount Tire promotes from within, helping employees to further their careers, both in retail and corporate operationsEmployees Approve: 92%.

#6 (93) Dan Bane, Trader Joe's

In 2001, Dan Bane assumed the role of Chairman and CEO and focused on making Trader Joe’s a national chain of neighborhood grocery stores. Today, the retailer has over 488 stores in 41 states and the District of Columbia and is known for having store’s stocked with happy employees and good customer service. On Glassdoor, 222 reviews lauded the company for "Great benefits, flexible schedulewhile 174 reviews noted "Flexible and Great work environment." Employees Approve: 91%.

#7 (94) Mark G. Parker, Nike

With Parker at the helm, Nike continues to expand its reach around the globe and advance its digital tech. The footwear and apparel retailer’s growth in its third quarter 2019 was led by NIKE Digital, which grew 36% globally. Nike continues to expand its digital footprint, launching the NIKE app in Japan and rolling out it out in its own retail stores across North America and Europe.

“While many companies can build a technology stack, no other brand is able to leverage technology to create the kinds of amazing consumer experiences that only NIKE can,” Parker said recently.

Long before he was named chairman, president and CEO of NIKE, Parker was leading the company in other ways. Parker joined Nike in 1979 and has been at the center of Nike innovation ever since. In addition to helping lead the continued growth of the Nike brand, Parker is also responsible for the growth of NIKE, Inc.'s global business portfolio, which includes Converse Inc. and Hurley International LLC. Employees Approve: 91%.

Employees’ Choice Award winners for the 2019 Top CEOs and Top CEOs at Small & Medium Companies are determined using Glassdoor’s proprietary algorithm, taking into account the quantity, quality and consistency of Glassdoor-approved company reviews shared by U.S.-based employees between May 2, 2018 and May 1, 2019. At a minimum, employers considered for the large list must have received at least 100 company reviews, including at least 100 CEO approval ratings and at least 100 senior management ratings. Employers eligible for the small & medium list must have received at least 35 company reviews, including at least 35 CEO approval ratings and at least 35 senior management ratings during the eligibility period. Complete award methodology can be found and downloaded here:

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