This learning journey covers:

  • Costco’s culture and how Sinegal’s rigorous gross margin philosophy has slightly faded under Jelinek
  • How COST's buying role and team is structured vs other retailers 
  • The buying team’s principles and how buyers work with suppliers to reduce costs
  • Why Canada runs at higher operating margins than the US
  • How COST have expanded across Asia and outlook for China and Asia store count
  • UK and Europe case study and why it’s challenging to grow units

Culture & Gross Margin Philosophy 

A key angle of our COST research is to understand how the culture of Costco has changed as leadership evolved from Sinegal to Jelinek. A core tenet of COST’s philosophy has been to strictly limit the gross margin per item to ~14%. This aims to ensure that COST maximizes the “slope of value”, the value per item relative to input costs and competition, and ensures COST is putting its members first.

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