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    CEO
  • Company
    Ross Stores

If you find T.J. Maxx too extravagant, Ross Stores just may be the ticket for you–and millions of Americans would agree. Indeed, despite intense competition from the aforementioned Maxx and others, such as Nordstrom Rack, Ross keeps opening new locations and ticking its same-store sales upward by sticking to its spartan “dress for less” approach to off-price retailing. Ross now has a market cap ($24 billion) twice that of Macy’s despite having half its revenue. The company and its CEO march to their own tune. Barbara Rentler, a company lifer who took the top job 2 years ago, is so press shy that her PR team declines to provide even a photo of her, and she has bucked other trends, not least by declining to launch an online store (which admittedly would be tricky for a company that relies on selling leftovers). Still, Ross has been judicious in its approach to store expansion, not coming to the East Coast before it was ready. And the company has reduced inventory 40% and sped up turnover to make sure it has merchandise that will keep enticing customers to come two to three times a month, compared with less than one for the average department store. Rentler is betting that will help her build Ross to 2,500 stores from 1,500. Ross may not follow the standard path, but you’d be foolhardy to bet against it.

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