What happened

Shares of arts and crafts retailer The Michaels Companies (NASDAQ:MIK) surged higher on Friday due to a sudden shakeup in the executive suite. The stock was trading 24% higher at 1:55 p.m. EST.

So what

Michaels has tapped former Walmart executive Ashley Buchanan as its new CEO and president, effective Jan. 6. Current CEO Mark Cosby will stay on as co-CEO until April 1 in order to achieve a smooth transition, and will keep his seat on the board of directors until further notice.

Also, CFO Denise Paulonis has taken a position at an unnamed company and will leave her post at Michaels by the end of its fiscal year, Jan. 31.

Closeup shot of the hands just before a handshake between two businessmen.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Buchanan recently served as chief merchandising officer and chief operating officer for Walmart's U.S. e-commerce arm. Prior to his 12-year stint at the world's largest retailer, he worked for a couple of major technology companies. All of this bodes well for Michaels' ambition to boost its online presence in order to stay relevant in a retail world that is moving online at a staggering pace.

Cosby only came to his permanent CEO title on Oct. 22, having served as interim CEO for eight months before that. At the time, Michaels described their choice as a "seasoned retail executive." This time, they upgraded their plaudits, calling Buchanan a "world-class retail executive."

Investors embraced this executive upgrade in a hurry, but Michaels isn't out of the woods yet. The disappointing third-quarter report it delivered earlier this month revealed a few weak spots in the company's current business plan, so some fresh ideas could be what the doctor ordered. The stock is still trading 54% below its 52-week high, even after Friday's big gains.