Dick’s Sporting Goods Chief Executive Ed Stack, who took a controversial stand on guns after a school shooting, is leaving the helm of the company after 36 years.
Stack, 65, who is also the company’s largest shareholder, will be succeeded as CEO on Feb. 1 by Lauren Hobart, who has been president of the retailer since 2017 as well as a director. Stack will retain his role as chairman and chief merchant.
The billionaire businessman courted controversy in 2018 after a school shooting in Parkland, Fla, which killed 17 people, mostly students. Dick’s stopped selling automatic rifles in its stores and imposed stricter sales regulations of guns, which provoked customer boycotts of the company.
But Dick’s said customer traffic improved despite the controversy, and its move paved the way for other major retailers including Walmart to impose stiffer regulations on gun sales.
Last year, Stack revealed that Dick’s Sporting Goods not only took all assault rifles off its shelves — it even turned $5 million worth of the weapons into scrap metal.
“I said, ‘You know what? If we really think these things should be off the street, then we need to destroy them,’ ” he said in an interview.
Stack discussed the move — which he called his “toughest business decision” — in his book “It’s How We Play the Game: Build a Business. Take a Stand. Make a Difference.”
Stack’s father, Dick, founded Dick’s Sporting Goods in 1948 in Binghamton, NY and operated two stores when his children bought the company more than three decades later. Stack has held the role of chairman and CEO since the 1984 acquisition, building it into a $2 billion company, operating 732 stores as of Oct. 31.
“This is the perfect time for this transition,” Stack said in a statement. “We have the best management team in the company’s history, and the investments we have made in our people, our stores, and our communities are paying off.”
The company also reported its strongest quarter since going public nearly two decades ago, with comparable-store sales and overall sales increasing by 23 percent to $2.4 billion respectively, driven by a fitness boom during the pandemic.
The company also operates over 100 Golf Galaxy and Field & Stream stores.
Dick’s shares recently were off 1.3 percent at $58.14 on Tuesday.