September 1, 2011, 1:22 PM

Costco’s co-founder will step down as CEO on Jan. 1

Chief operating officer Craig Jelinek will take over for Jim Sinegal.

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Craig Jelinek has worked for Costco for nearly 28 years.

Costco Wholesale Corp. will have a new CEO come Jan. 1.

The company, No. 16 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, said today that Craig Jelinek will take over as president and CEO, replacing Jim Sinegal, who co-founded the members-only warehouse chain in 1983.  Sinegal, 75, has worked as CEO since 1988. Jelinek is president and chief operating officer.

"Costco has a very strong culture and a deep bench of management talent," Sinegal says. "I have total confidence in Craig's ability to handle his new responsibilities and feel we are fortunate as a company to have an executive of his caliber to succeed me as CEO of Costco."

Costco hired Jelinek nearly 28 years ago as a warehouse manager, and the chain says he has held nearly every major position since then, including those related to operations and merchandising. 

Sinegal will work as a Costco advisor through January 2013. He will remain on the board of directors and is scheduled to stand for reelection at the January 2012 annual meeting.

Costco says it will release sales figures for the 2011 fiscal year on Oct. 5. For the fiscal year ended Aug. 29, 2010, the chain reported an increase in web sales of about 6.3% to $1.7 billion from $1.6 billion in fiscal 2009.

Costco says its operates 592 warehouse stores, including 429 in the United States.

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