Jay SchottensteinThe Retail Visionary Behind His Business Realm

Jay Schottenstein didn’t just inherit a retail legacy — he embodies it. With nearly five decades of experience since joining his family’s furniture chain, Schottenstein, now 69, has propelled the family empire into modernity and expansion.

Drawing inspiration from past generations, Schottenstein’s lineage laid the groundwork: his great-grandfather’s wagon-based trade, his grandfather’s early 1900s store, and his father’s transformation into department stores, furniture, and real estate ventures. Today, Schottenstein serves as CEO of American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and executive chairman of DSW-parent Designer Brands Inc., both publicly traded. Beyond fashion and footwear, he also oversees American Signature Inc. in furniture, Schottenstein Property Group in real estate, Mayacamas Vineyards in winemaking, and SB Capital in liquidation sales and dealmaking.

Despite the vast responsibilities, Schottenstein exudes an effortless, ‘been-there-done-that’ demeanor. He emphasizes the importance of optimism in retail, stating, “You can’t run a good retail operation without being a good optimist.”

This optimistic outlook, coupled with his extensive industry tenure, earns Schottenstein recognition as he joins the World Retail Congress’ Hall of Fame. Alongside luminaries like Jean-Paul Agon and Supaluck Umpujh, Schottenstein’s induction underscores his foresight and adaptability.

Schottenstein’s journey from store manager to his current roles has endowed him with a comprehensive understanding of the retail landscape, spanning traditional principles and high-tech advancements. He emphasizes the enduring importance of inventory turnover and acknowledges the evolving role of technology in reshaping the industry.

To stay ahead, Schottenstein fosters collaboration among his companies, hosting seminars and integrating cutting-edge technologies like AI and RFID. This collective approach proved invaluable during the pandemic, as Schottenstein navigated closures and subsequent rebounds across 1,800 stores.

Despite recent upheavals, Schottenstein remains bullish, citing low unemployment rates and a return to near-normal business conditions. However, he acknowledges the need for course corrections, particularly within Designer Brands, where shifts towards casual footwear styles require strategic balance.

Looking ahead, Schottenstein sees ample opportunity for growth and expansion, fueled by strategic acquisitions and a focus on operational excellence. American Eagle’s diverse portfolio, including Aerie and Offline by Aerie, positions it for continued success, with plans to reach $6 billion in revenue within three years.

Schottenstein’s pride in American Eagle’s dominance in denim reflects his unwavering commitment to excellence. As he continues to steer his retail empire forward, Schottenstein’s vision and leadership remain instrumental in shaping the future of the industry.

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