Jo-Ann Fabrics Names New CEO


[Above: New Jo-Ann Fabrics CEO Jill Soltau]

The relentless news of  closures and associated doom and gloom in the retail sector needed the balance provided today by a familiar retail name.  Crafting giant Jo-Ann Fabrics has written a new chapter in its history — and it isn’t chapter 11.

The 750-strong chain of familiar craft and fabric stores has named a new CEO. Jill Soltau (pictured), a 25-year retail veteran, most recently President of Shopko, will take the helm next month. Retail Customer Experience reports:

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores has announced the appointment of Jill Soltau as President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of the company, effective March 2, 2015. Jim Kerr, who served as Interim Chief Executive Officer, will continue as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the company.

Soltau joins Jo-Ann with more than 25 years of diverse experience in the retail industry. She most recently served as President of Shopko, rising to that role after joining in 2007. 

“We are excited to partner with Jill as we continue to build upon Jo-Ann’s leading position in the fabric and craft industry. Jill’s passion, strategic vision and proven success make her an excellent leader for the company going forward,” said Todd Purdy, Partner, Leonard Green & Partners, L.P.

“For over 70 years, Jo-Ann has been inspiring the creativity in others and I am thrilled to join the team to help drive the brand’s future success,” said Soltau. “Jo-Ann is an industry leader that has exciting opportunities to achieve even greater long-term potential. I look forward to working with the talented management team and dedicated associates to bolster Jo-Ann’s market position and create further enthusiasm for the Jo-Ann brand.”

Prior to her tenure at Shopko, Soltau held several senior level positions in merchandising, planning and private brand management at Sears and Kohl’s, after starting her career with Carson Pirie Scott.

Exciting times for a venerable retail brand doing business in 49 states. The only state in the US that doesn’t have a Jo-Ann Fabrics store is Hawaii. Don’t be shocked if that’s a detail the new boss addresses one day.

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