Jan Rogers Kniffen is a consultant to investors in retail companies, a former retail executive, and a CNBC contributor.
Kniffen is currently CEO of J Rogers Kniffen WWE, a firm that consults with long funds, mutual funds, hedge funds, and private equity firms as they make decisions regarding investments in retailers. Kniffen is self-described as the "country's leading expert on retailing."
Kniffen spent twenty years as a senior executive at The May Department Stores, a company operating Lord & Taylor, Filene's, Fox, Hecht's, May-Cohen's, Robinson's of Florida, Sibley's, Horne's, Kaufman's, Foley's, Marshall Field's, Famous Barr, ZCMI, Goldwater's, May D&F, The Denver, Meier and Frank, Robinson's, Strawbridge's, Thalhimer's, May Company Cleveland, May Company California, May Company Akron, Strauss, Venture, Caldor, Sycamore, Loehmann's, Payless ShoeSource, as well as developing, owning and operating 26 super regional shopping malls.
As SVP Finance and Treasurer Kniffen ran Treasury Operations, Tax, Risk, Investor Relations, Public Relations, Long Range Financial Planning, Acquisition Analysis, Competitor Comparison, and Medical. Kniffen also managed the $3 billion pension, profit sharing and foundation portfolio. Kniffen chartered and was president of the three May National Banks, and president of the insurance subsidiaries of May.
Prior to May, Kniffen spent two years reporting to the treasurer of Icahn and Company and doing acquisitions and divestitures with Carl Icahn's organization. In 1984 Kniffen issued the largest junk bond that had been issued up until that time.
Kniffen frequently points out (to anyone who will listen) that he stocked his first shelf in 1964, attended the grand opening of Walmart store number 26 (the first Walmart outside of Arkansas) in 1968 and the grand opening of the first Walmart SuperCenter in 1988 (by then he was already a VP at a major retailer), as proof of a lifelong dedication to what is happening in retail.
Kniffen grew up in Cairo, Illinois, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, the place where the steamboat runs over the raft in Mark Twain's novel "Huckleberry Finn," near the shore of the northernmost bayou on the North American Continent, and in the shadow of Bald Knob Mountain, the easternmost peak in the Ozark range.
Kniffen majored in English at the University of Illinois, received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University, an M.B.A. in finance from Lindenwood University, and did doctoral work in finance at St. Louis University.