Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (NYSE:SKT) is starting off 2021 with new leadership. As the real estate investment trust (REIT) announced last April, Stephen Yalof is now its CEO, with long-serving leader Steven Tanger moving to the position of executive chair of the discount retail outlet operator's board of directors.

Yalof joined the company as its COO in April 2020. He has previous top leadership experience; before accepting his first Tanger job, he served as CEO of Simon Property Group unit Simon Premium Outlets since 2014.

Steven Tanger's continued involvement with the company should help it navigate an extremely trying period. The retail sector, already under siege from well-capitalized and popular online rivals, has been damaged by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Tanger's term as executive director of the company runs through Jan. 1, 2024.

Woman carrying shopping bags.

Image source: Getty Images.

Yalof was quoted in the REIT's press release heralding the transition: "While 2020 brought unprecedented challenges, our outlook is improving. We are curating new ways to serve our customers in a safe, secure manner to grow our business for the long term."

Tanger's most recently reported set of results indicates this optimism might be well-founded. With nearly all of its stores reopened after a big series of coronavirus-induced closures, customer traffic returned to almost pre-pandemic levels in Q3. And it managed to collect 89% of its rent from tenants, a vast improvement over the 43% it had been paid to date from Q2.

Meanwhile, investors seem cheered by the smooth transition in management's upper echelon. Tanger stock closed up by nearly 3.3% on Tuesday, trouncing the gain of the S&P 500 index.

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