consumer goods

Vote: 2013 Businessperson of the Year - Retail edition

November 15, 2013: 10:29 AM ET

UPDATE: The results are in. Here are this year's reader's choice winners. Thanks for voting!

Which retail execs owned 2013? Fortune's Beth Kowitt offers her selection of top performers. Cast your vote below for this year's reader's choice.

FORTUNE -- Every year, Fortune selects its Businessperson of the Year. (We'll reveal our winner along with the runners up on November 21.) But we want to open up the selection process to you, our readers.

This year, we've asked a select group of Fortune staffers and contributors to nominate their MVPs within their respective beats. In today's installment, Fortune writer Beth Kowitt offers her selection of top performers in retail and consumer packaged goods for 2013. Cast your vote below for this year's reader's choice.

Carol Meyrowitz

Carol Meyrowitz

Carol Meyrowitz, CEO, TJX Companies

I've been tracking Meyrowitz for several years now for Fortune's Most Powerful Women in Business franchise. Since she first appeared on the list in 2006 at No. 26 as TJX's (TJX) president and soon-to-be CEO, Meyrowitz has climbed to No. 12 in our ranking. The company's revenues and profits have climbed along with her: $16 billion in revenue has grown to nearly $26 billion, while $690 million in profits has nearly tripled to $1.9 billion.

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Every year, her numbers impress, and TJX's fiscal 2013 was no exception. Revenues and profits were both up by double-digits, and the discounter had its fifth year in a row of customer traffic gains. Even more impressive, TJX has had only one year with negative same-store-sales growth in 36 years. With brands including Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, and HomeGoods, the company has made attracting younger consumers a priority.

And there's still room to grow. Management thinks it can expand its store count of some 3,000 by at least 50% and is making a push into online sales. Meyrowitz, who keeps an exceedingly low profile, has set the tone from the top and believes TJX can be at least a $40 billion company.

Graham Mackay (Photo: Scott Eells/Bloomberg/Getty)

Graham Mackay (Photo: Scott Eells/Bloomberg/Getty)

Graham Mackay, former non-executive chairman, SABMiller

When it comes to the beer industry, the spotlight in recent years has been on ABInBev CEO Carlos Brito. He's got a great track record, but I've also always been impressed by Mackay at SABMiller, which is the second-largest brewer in the world, after Brito's shop.

Mackay, who started out as an engineer at South African Breweries in 1978, became CEO of the company in 1999 and led an acquisition spree that turned the company into the $34.5 billion brewing giant it is today -- including the 2002 purchase of Miller. Mackay was set to move into the non-executive chairman role in July. However, after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery in April, the CEO succession plan was accelerated. (Mackay went back to work in September as chairman, but the company announced Friday that he would be taking another leave of absence because of his condition has worsened.). He earns major kudos for having built an operation that could continue with business as usual even amid his sudden leave of absence.

That analysts and investors want Mackay involved in the company as long as possible is a testament to his track record. The stock has returned nearly 1000% since Mackay became CEO in 1999 until he took medical leave in April.

Frank Blake (Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Frank Blake (Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Frank Blake, chairman and CEO, Home Depot

Since 2008, when business was crushed by the housing crisis, Blake has managed to oversee an increase in profits at the home improvement giant every year. A recovery in real estate hasn't made him forget the lessons from the Great Recession, when he decided to end new store openings. It's not easy for a CEO to decide to turn his back on that kind of growth strategy, but Blake has invested in the company in other ways -- by putting money into customer service, employees, and Home Depot's (HD) supply chain. He's shown that he knows how to make those tough calls, including pulling out of China, which doesn't have a DIY culture.

MORE: Vote: 2013 Businessperson of the Year - Tech edition

Blake thinks he can continue to grow the company (the goal is at the rate of GDP growth plus two percentage points) by focusing on the web, which currently accounts for less than 2% of the business. And investment in technology means more than just upping online sales. Earlier this year, the company bought BlackLocus, a startup that uses data to help with pricing, and turned it into the Home Depot Innovation Lab.

Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz, chairman, president, and CEO, Starbucks

The king of coffee gets one of my votes this year. Schultz is no stranger to Fortune's Business Person of the Year list -- he topped it in 2011. Like Mackay, Blake, and Meyrowitz, he has a track record of success that other CEOs covet and the ability to continuously develop new ways of growing his company. Last year, revenue and profits at Starbucks (SBUX) were up 13.7% and 11.1%, respectively.

But Schultz gets my pick for what he's done beyond the financials. At a time when most CEOs like to stay out of the weeds, he's an executive who uses his platform to support causes he believes in.

Here are a few:

  • Committing to hiring veterans;
  • Rallying customers to push their representatives to reopen the government during the recent shutdown and solve the debt ceiling crisis;
  • Backing same-sex marriage;
  • Asking customers in open-carry states not to bring firearms into its stores;
  • And leading a group of CEOs in pledging to stop campaign contributions until Congress ends its gridlock.

Whether or not you agree with all of his positions -- and many are hard to argue against -- you have to at least respect Schultz for standing up for his principles. That's one of the characteristics that makes for a great CEO.

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