Duluth Trading Company appointed retail industry veteran Samuel M. Sato as president and chief executive officer, effective May 3, 2021.

Sato will succeed founder Steve Schlecht who has guided the company as CEO since September 2019. Sato will report directly to the Board of Directors, and it is anticipated Sato will also become a member of the Board on May 27, 2021. Also effective on May 27, 2021, Schlecht intends to transition to a non-executive chairman of the Board.

“As the former CEO of publicly traded Finish Line before its merger with JD Sports, Sam has the demonstrated leadership, breadth of business experience and the core values we believe are critical to lead our brand into the future,” said Schlecht. “We welcome Sam to lead our talented team. He has a track record of rolling up his sleeves and providing hands-on leadership—a quality that comes from a career dedicated to a team-first and customer-first mentality. ”

With over three decades of retail industry experience and proven results in omnichannel growth, Sato brings more than 15 years of applied executive leadership working across business divisions and product categories. During his tenure at Finish Line, he spearheaded the successful merger with JD Sports, developed business extension strategies, including a key partnership with Macy’s and created a road map for a digital and mobile-first evolution, which contributed to top-line sales growth. Sato started his career at Nordstrom, climbing the ranks from store sales associate to vice president, corporate merchandising.

Sato commented, “I am honored to be appointed President and CEO of Duluth Trading, a company that has the talent, market opportunity, customer base, and omnichannel structure to deliver an unmatched brand experience. I am passionate and focused on best-in-class digital and innovation as we look forward to the next wave of growth for Duluth Trading.”

Photo courtesy Duluth Trading Company