Jim Donald (CEO)
||This biographical article is written like a résumé. (January 2014)|
Named one of the “Top 25 CEO’s in the World,” in 2006 by the Best Practice Institute, and one of the 25 most influential travel industry executives during 2013, Jim Donald earned a reputation early in his career for turning around financially ailing companies.
By 1991 Donald’s reputation "for turning around floundering companies" had reached Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, who flew to Phoenix to convince him to run the discount giant’s nascent grocery division. Wal-Mart was experimenting with selling groceries at six stores but hadn’t figured out how to expand the concept. Donald revamped the company’s dysfunctional distribution center, which hadn’t been designed for grocery storage. By the time he left three years later, Wal-Mart had added grocery sales in 140 more stores.
From 1994 to 1996 he served as president of Safeway's 130-store eastern division. Overseeing the $2.5 billion business and more than 10,000 employees, he succeeded in reversing Safeway's four-year trend in declining same-store sales.
In 1996 Donald took over faltering Pathmark, a privately held, money-losing 143-store chain with good real estate and a crushing debt load. After prepping the company for a sale and watching the deal fall through, Donald filed for a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy that allowed him to slough off debt and reemerge with a public company.
Donald joined Starbucks, the world’s largest specialty coffee retailer, in 2002 as President of the North American division, where he managed operations for all Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada. He became President and Chief Executive Officer of the entire Starbucks Corporation before being asked to step down in 2008. During his tenure, Starbucks enjoyed record growth, including five straight years of 20%+ annual earnings increases. However, the company's share price dropped 42 percent during the last year of Donald's tenure as the economy slowed and business declined.
In February 2012, Donald was named CEO of Extended Stay Hotels by Blackstone Group LP (BX), Centerbridge Partners LP and Paulson & Co., investment companies which had bought the hotel chain out of bankruptcy. Less than a year later, the company was transformed from an organization that was weeks away from running out of cash into the business that was named America’s Most Improved hotel brand. Donald left Extended Stay in December, 2015.
Investors Blackstone, Centerbridge, and Paulson were able to almost triple their investment when Extended Stay America Inc. went public in 2013.
- Jim Donald brings new energy to Starbucks CEO post