When Ashley Buchanan was tapped as chief executive of Michaels Cos., he knew he was taking over a slumping company. Sales were limping along, hurt by
When Ashley Buchanan was tapped as chief executive of Michaels Cos., he knew he was taking over a slumping company. Sales were limping along, hurt by messy stores, a sluggish supply chain and competition from both big-box and online retailers.
As he officially took the reins last April, though, the arts-and-crafts chain was facing an even larger challenge: Covid-19. Most of the company’s 1,200 U.S. and Canadian locations closed to in-store shoppers amid pandemic lockdowns. Sales plummeted 27.6% in the quarter ended last May 2.
Then stores reopened, and homebound shoppers crafted. Americans painted, made masks, knitted and looked for ways to entertain children without screens. Michaels’s sales soared 12% in the quarter ended last Aug. 1, and 16.3% in the quarter ended Oct. 31, which included an early holiday sales rush and 128% e-commerce sales growth.
Mr. Buchanan, who previously spent over a decade in executive roles at Walmart Inc., aims to use the Covid-19 sales bump to remake Michaels. He hopes to attract more shoppers by moving away from the general crafts market and targeting “makers”—people who gravitate to do-it-yourself projects or make items to sell through their own small businesses.
To start, Mr. Buchanan has focused on retail basics like keeping shelves stocked and speeding and simplifying the supply chain, as well as adjusting to Covid-19 shopping patterns by ramping up online pickup-and-delivery options. The company is also testing an online marketplace that would let arts-and-craft enthusiasts share ideas, watch instructional videos and sell their wares. Michaels hopes it will launch later this year, says Mr. Buchanan.