Maxwell Kohl, who had previously operated traditional grocery stores, built his first supermarket in 1946, the first in what would become a southeastern Wisconsin chain known as Kohl's Food Stores. In 1962, he started his first department store, Kohl's Department Store, in Brookfield, Wisconsin. He positioned Kohl's between the higher-end department stores and the discounters, selling everything from candy to engine oil to sporting equipment. In 1972 the British-American Tobacco Company's US retail division, BATUS Inc., bought a controlling interest in Kohl's Corporation, which at the time operated 50 grocery stores, six department stores, three drug stores and three liquor stores. The Kohl family, led by Allen and Herbert Kohl, continued to manage the company. The family left the management in 1979, and Herbert Kohl became a United States Senator and owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. The firm then expanded Kohl's presence from 10 to 39 stores in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. The grocery stores were sold to A&P in 1983, operating under the name Kohl's Food Store, and later Kohl's Food Emporium. In February 2003, A&P put the Kohl's Food Stores up for sale, as part of an effort to reduce debt. In June 2003, A&P announced their plans to close all Kohl's Food Stores and administrative offices. By the end of 2003, all Kohl's Food Stores locations were closed.
A group of investors, including the senior management, purchased the company in 1986, and the company added 27 more...