Advance Shakes Up Executive Team, Launches Strategic Review

Advance Shakes Up Executive Team, Launches Strategic Review

Former Home Depot exec Shane O’Kelly will take over as president and CEO effective Sept. 11.

Advance Auto Parts announced a shakeup of its leadership team on Aug. 23, as the company reported flat second-quarter sales and a steep drop in earnings and operating income.

Shane O’Kelly, who has served as the CEO of Home Depot subsidiary HD Supply since 2020, will take over as president and CEO effective Sept. 11.

Outgoing CEO Tom Greco, who announced his planned retirement in February, “will stay on as an advisor to ensure a seamless transition,” according to the company. Greco has served as president and CEO since April 2016.

Prior to joining Home Depot, O’Kelly was the CEO of PetroChoice, the nation’s largest distributor of lubricants and lubrication solutions. O’Kelly, 54, served as a captain in the U.S. Army in the 1990s and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, along with a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Shane O’Kelly (photo courtesy of the Home Depot)

Gene Lee, interim executive chair for Advance, spoke highly of O’Kelly during the company’s second-quarter conference call.

“We talked to a lot of people, and by far Shane was the best person for this role,” Lee said. “ … I think that he is a car enthusiast. He has sold into the channel before. He loves the business, and I think his leadership style is perfect for where we are in our journey and what we need.”

Lee noted that a number of good candidates were bound by non-compete agreements. 

“But even so, when it was all said and done, Shane O’ Kelly was by far our best candidate for this role in the current situation,” Lee said. “He is well-educated, [has a] strong, disciplined background, and he’s a thoughtful human being with a real focus on customers.”

Advance also named Tony Iskander as interim chief financial officer, effective Aug. 18. Iskander succeeds Jeff Shepherd, who departed from Advance, effective Aug. 18.

Iskander has more than 25 years of finance and accounting experience and served as the company’s senior vice president, finance and treasurer since 2020. Prior to joining Advance in 2017, he spent more than a decade at Hillrom, where he held various finance roles of increasing responsibility.

Advance said a search for a permanent CFO is underway, with the help of a leading executive-search firm.

“We thank Jeff for his contributions and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Lee said in a news release. “Advance is fortunate to have a seasoned executive in Tony to assume the CFO role on an interim basis. I am very confident that Tony will lead the finance team through a seamless transition and work closely with Advance’s new CEO when Shane officially joins in September.”

Coinciding with the leadership shakeup, Advance announced that the company is launching “a comprehensive operational and strategic review.”

“We’re executing a number of operational improvements including inventory-optimization initiatives, improving asset productivity across the enterprise, investments in our front-line organization to reduce turnover and disciplined cost controls, which we expect to benefit the cost structure and working capital while strengthening Advance for the long term,” Lee said during the conference call. “However, we know there’s more work to be done, and the team is focused on building on these actions and looking for ways to drive even stronger performance and enhanced value.”

On Aug. 23, Advance reported second-quarter net sales of $2.7 billion, up 0.8% over second-quarter 2023. Comparable-store sales ticked 0.6% lower on a year-over-year basis.  

Second-quarter diluted earnings per common share were $1.43, down from $2.38 in second-quarter 2022. Operating income was $134.4 million, down from $201.7 million in second-quarter 2022.

“Coming into the quarter, we knew Q2 was going to be challenging and that the investments we’re making in both inventory to help improve availability and strategic pricing to maintain competitive price targets would build through the year,” Greco said during the conference call. “ … We delivered net sales growth in the quarter. However, the balance of our Q2 financial metrics remain challenged. As [Lee] noted, while we’re executing some operational improvements, there are further actions that need to be taken to accelerate profitable growth.”

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