Foot Locker’s stock soared 24% after the sneaker chain said Friday it has named Ulta Beauty’s executive chair as its new chief executive.

Mary Dillon, who was Ulta’s executive chair and former CEO until June 21 ,will be taking the reins of the 2,800-store retail chain on Sept. 1. She will succeed Richard Johnson, who is retiring. 

Foot Locker has tapped 61-year-old Dillon as it angles to shift away from increasingly empty shopping malls as well as grow its independence from Nike, which has recently increased its focus on selling its own goods directly to customers.

Mary Dillon
Mary Dillon was most recently executive chair of Ulta Beauty, where she was the company’s CEO until 2021.

That’s going to be a tall order, as Nike accounted for 70% of Foot Locker’s inventory purchases last year. In February, Foot Locker said no single vender will account for more than 60% of its total purchases this fiscal year.

“The Board and I have worked closely together on a thoughtful succession plan, and with a strong foundation in place and ongoing momentum against our strategic objectives, we believe now is the right time to complete the CEO transition,” 64-year-old Johnson said in a statement.

“Mary has established a remarkable track record in the retail industry, and she brings an incredible mix of talent, experience and commitment to take Foot Locker to the next level.”

Johnson will remain executive chairman of the board until Jan. 31, 2023.

Dillon expanded Ulta Beauty’s e-commerce business during her eight-year tenure and was likely tapped to do the same at Foot Locker.

During her stint as Ulta’s CEO, sales grew by 236% to $7.4 billion in 2019 and the number of stores doubled to 1,264. 

Prior to joining Ulta she had served as global chief marketing officer of McDonald’s and has held leadership positions at PepsiCo.

Mary Dillon with a guest at an awards ceremony.
Mary Dillon is credited with expanding Ulta Beauty’s online business.
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

 “I look forward to working closely with Dick to ensure a smooth transition,” Dillon said in a statement, “and to partnering with the Board, leadership team and nearly 50,000 team members around the world to build on Foot Locker’s strong foundation and help shape the Company’s future.”

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