Active investors push to oust Kohl .’s CEO and Chairman

Michelle Gass

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | beautiful pictures

Activist investor Ancora Holdings is pushing for removal Kohl’s chief executive officer and president, according to a report from Reuters.

Ancora sent a letter to the board on Thursday asking to replace CEO Michelle Gass and Chairman Peter Boneparth. The company, which has a 2.5% stake in Kohl’s, wants new management so the company can revamp its business.

“Kohl’s needs a new leadership team with proven experience in controlling costs, expanding margins, optimizing product portfolios and most importantly, pivoting,” reads the letter obtained by Reuters. Okay.

The push comes a few months later Kohl’s terminates negotiations to sell to Franchise Group. The company has been encouraged by activist investors to pursue an acquisition. Franchise Group proposes a bid of $60 per sharebefore the uncertain economic environment forced it to lower its potential selling price to $53.

Gass came from Starbucks to take over as CEO for Kevin Mansell in 2018, with plans to include expanding Sephora’s presence in Kohl’s stores. Ancora called her a “talented leader” and praised her partnership with Sephora. Boneparth has been the company’s director since 2008 and became president this year.

“In the Boneparth era, the Board of Directors has created an environment where Ms. Gass is no longer in a position to lead,” Ancora’s letter read.

Active Investor, together with Macellum Advisors, try to take control of Kohl’s board in 2021, an attempt the company rejected. In that effort, Ancora, along with other stakeholders, promoted new directors with retail experience, reduced inventory, and sold Kohl’s real estate.

Kohl’s received a bid for its property from Oak Street Real Estate Capital in early September. The real estate investor has given up to $2 billion for the store’s assets, which Kohl’s will sublease its store locations.

Boneparth told CNBC in a phone interview ahead of Oak Street’s offer: “Now that you’ve got an environment where the financing has changed so much, in fact, the use of real estate does. Means of making money can be more attractive.

Kohl’s and Ancora Holdings did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Shares of Kohl’s are down about 43% this year.

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