Academy Sports + Outdoors Plans Leadership Succession

by Katie Lee

Katy, Texas — As a result of a planned succession process, the following changes to the executive leadership team of Academy Sports and Outdoors, Inc. will be effective as of June 1, 2023. Ken C. Hicks, chairman, president and CEO, will transition to executive chairman of the board. Steven (Steve) P. Lawrence, executive vice president (EVP) and chief merchandising officer (CMO), will become CEO and a member of the board; he will continue to serve as CMO until a successor is appointed. Michael P. Mullican, EVP and chief financial officer, will become president and assume additional responsibilities for the strategic planning, logistics & supply chain, legal, compliance and risk management functions. Mullican will continue to serve as CFO until a successor is appointed. Samuel (Sam) J. Johnson, EVP, retail operations, will assume additional responsibilities for the real estate, construction and store design functions.

As executive chairman, Hicks will remain involved at Academy, continuing to lead the board and serving as a partner to Lawrence to support the execution of Academy’s recently announced long-range strategic plan. Hicks will also work closely with Lawrence to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

Hicks has served as Academy’s chairman, president and CEO since May 2018 and on its board since May 2017. Prior to joining Academy, he held senior positions at Foot Locker, J.C. Penney, Payless ShoeSource, Home Shopping Network, May Department Stores Company and McKinsey & Company.

Under Hicks’s leadership, Academy has opened 28 new stores, grown net sales from $4.8 billion in 2018 to $6.4 billion in 2022, developed a meaningful and profitable e-commerce business, improved gross margin rate from 28.6% in 2018 to 34.6% in 2022, grown net income from $58.5 million in 2018 to $628.0 million in 2022, and grown diluted earnings per share from $3.79 in 2020 to $7.49 in 2022. Academy also achieved several other important milestones during Hicks’s tenure, including an initial public offering (IPO) in October 2020 that raised $270 million, a debt refinancing in November 2020, and the company being named into the Fortune 500 in 2021. Since its IPO, Academy has returned more than $2 billion to stakeholders through cash dividends, debt reduction and share repurchases, and Academy’s market capitalization has increased from approximately $1.1 billion to more than $5 billion.

Lawrence becomes the seventh CEO in Academy’s 85-year history. He joined Academy in February 2019 and has been serving as EVP and CMO. Lawrence has more than 30 years of retail business experience and previously held leadership positions at francesca’s, Stage Stores, J.C. Penney and Foley’s.

Mullican has served as EVP and CFO since January 2018. He has more than 20 years of retail business and legal experience and previously held leadership positions at Meijer and Family Dollar.

Johnson has served as EVP, retail operations since April 2017 with responsibility for the store operations, store optimization, regional merchants and customer care functions, and he led the transformation of the stores and customer service, leading to record customer service levels in 2022. Johnson has more than 30 years of retail business experience and previously held senior positions for hhgregg, Inc. and Sears.

“With Academy solidly positioned for the future, I am confident that it is the right time for Steve to become Academy’s next CEO,” says Hicks. “The board and I have thoughtfully planned my succession, and we are confident that Academy will be in the right hands under Steve’s leadership. I know that Steve, Michael and Sam will work very well together towards achieving our vision to become the best sports and outdoors retailer in the country.”

Academy is a leading full-line sporting goods and outdoor recreation retailer in the United States. Originally founded in 1938 as a family business in Texas, Academy has grown to 269 stores across 18 states. For more information, visit




SOURCE: Academy Sports + Outdoors

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