Will serve a two-year term, succeeding AutoZone's Rhodes
RILA also selected four retail executives to join its board. They are: Gina Boswell, president of customer development at Unilever; Mark Breitbard, president and CEO of Gap Inc.’s Banana Republic unit; Michele Buck, president and CEO of Hershey Co.; and Richard Keyes, president and CEO of Meijer Inc.
“The past year was one of tremendous change in retail, as we saw fundamental shifts in where and how people choose to shop,” Cornell said in a statement. “We also saw firsthand the power of our industry when we find common ground and advocate for consumers. As RILA’s chairman, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to build upon our shared successes and help drive positive change for our customers, our teams and our industry.” Cornell embellished on the challenges in an interview published on RILA’s website. “We’re coming off a year of ‘retail apocalypse’ headlines — 2017 was a difficult year for our industry in many respects. Some once-great brands disappeared, and we saw record store closures and layoffs at levels not seen since the great recession,” he said. “But, I can assure you, retail is anything but dead. The numbers are in, and this holiday season was one of the strongest in years. People all over the world still love to shop, and that’s not likely to change. Consumer preferences and shopping behaviors continue to evolve, and we’re moving fast to respond and anticipate what’s next. Our job is to create more new and exciting ways to elevate the experience in this digital era.”
RILA president Sandy Kennedy expressed enthusiasm about the changes to the association’s board. “We’re confident that we will continue to accomplish great things under Brian’s leadership,” Kennedy said. RILA represents more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers and service suppliers, which together account for over $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers worldwide.