After Nine Months, PetSmart Finally Finds Permanent CEO


PetSmart has named J.K. Symancyk as its CEO, effective June 11. This ends the retailer’s long search for a chief exec — former CEO and President Michael Massey stepped down in August 2017. Symancyk will join the PetSmart Board of Directors.

Executive Chairman Raymond Svider, a managing partner at leading investor BC Partners, oversaw the company’s operations while the board searched for Massey’s replacement.

At PetSmart, Symancyk will be in charge of turning around the retailer’s brick-and-mortar locations while making into a profitable business. PetSmart acquired for a reported $3.35 billion in April 2017, but the e-Commerce business’ losses amounted to $61 million despite sales jumping 18% to $650 million in Q4 2017.


PetSmart hoped the Chewy acquisition would make up for sluggish store sales throughout 2017. Same-store sales for Q4 were down 3.8%, after falling 3% in Q3, 5.3% in Q2 and 5.9% in Q1. Despite the slower store sales, PetSmart still remains on track to open as many as 60 new stores this year.

The company is strapped with the same issue as many of its privately owned contemporaries — enormous debt, to the tune of approximately $8 billion. As much as $6.25 billion of that debt was taken on when it was acquired by BC Partners in 2014. Fortunately, PetSmart doesn’t have to pay off its next debt maturity until 2022. Additionally, the retailer generated $200 million in EBITDA in 2017 and has ongoing access to a separate $750 million asset-based line of credit. This means it doesn’t have the imminent bankruptcy or restructuring concerns that plague most retailers in serious debt.

Symancyk most recently served as the President and CEO of Academy Sports and Outdoors. He left the company earlier this month after three years helming the post. Ken Hicks, the former CEO of Foot Locker, replaced Symancyk last week.

Symancyk also held various executive roles at Meijer in his nine-year tenure at the grocer, with his final role being President from 2013 to 2015.



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