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Ulta Beauty’s Kimbell to become CEO

Dave Kimbell, the Bolingbrook, Ill.-based retailer’s current president, will succeed Mary Dillon in the beauty chain’s top spot, effective in June.
David Salazar
Managing Editor
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Ulta Beauty has named Dave Kimbell its next CEO. Kimbell, the Bolingbrook, Ill.-based retailer’s current president, will succeed Mary Dillon in the beauty chain’s top spot, effective in June.


Dave Kimbell wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera
Dave Kimbell (via LinkedIn)

Dillon will transition to become executive chair of the company’s board and Kimbell will stand for election to the board at the 2021 annual shareholders meeting. Additionally, Kecia Steelman will be moving into the COO role from her position as chief store operations officer. 

Dillon — who has led Ulta for eight years — will serve in the executive chairman role for one year, during which time she’ll help continue to guide the company’s strategy and support Kimbell in his transition. Her tenure has seen the retailer’s market cap triple to $18 billion, its store count double and its e-commerce capabilities and loyalty base expand significantly.

Mary Dillon standing in front of a window
Mary Dillon (via LinkedIn)

“It has been the honor of my career to lead the Ulta Beauty family for the last eight years and a true joy to have been inspired by our dedicated associates and beauty-loving guests daily. Our strategies, culture and continuous innovation have strengthened our business model, ensuring we are well-positioned to continue leading the industry,” Dillon said. “Dave is a world-class business leader with incredible passion, deep beauty expertise, unwavering drive and a values-based leadership style. The board, executive team and I could not be more thrilled to congratulate and support Dave as he takes this new role. There is no one better suited to unlock even more beautiful possibilities.”

Kimbell has been with Ulta Beauty since 2014, when he joined the company as chief marketing officer, routinely expanding his responsibilities — first as chief merchandising and marketing officer in 2015, followed by a promotion to president in 2019. The company said that he has had a track record of success at the company because of his experience in corporate strategy, merchandising, insights, marketing and brand development, loyalty, innovation and business transformation. 

“I am humbled to serve as the next CEO of Ulta Beauty, succeeding Mary, whose leadership has been transformational, creating lasting impact across the beauty and retail industries,” Kimbell said. “We will continue to build upon the foundation she set to ensure Ulta Beauty is a destination where every guest feels welcome and every associate can have a fulfilling career,” said Kimbell. “

a woman smiling for the camera
Kecia Steelman (via LinkedIn)

As COO, Steelman will oversee the company’s store and services operations, supply chain, Ulta Beauty at Target and other key initiatives. In her current capacity, Steelman spearheaded the company’s store operations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on safety. 

Also as part of the transition, Robert DiRomualdo will be retiring from Ulta’s board after serving as chair for three years and an overall tenure of 17 years. Lorna Nagler, a board member since 2009, will become lead independent director, working with Dillon in the executive chair role.
“On behalf of the board of directors, we are thankful for Mary’s commitment and leadership which firmly established Ulta Beauty’s culture and vaulted its financial performance and value creation throughout her tenure as CEO,” said DiRomualdo. “One of Mary’s greatest legacies is the exceptional leadership team she has built. We look forward to her ongoing guidance and support as executive chair and have full confidence that Dave is the ideal leader to continue building the business, leading the industry and inspiring associates, guests, partners and investors alike."