Activist investor pushes for removal of Kohl’s chairman, CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — Activist investor Ancora Holdings Group is pushing for the removal of both the chairman and the chief executive officer at Kohl’s for what it calls a botched strategy and dramatic sales declines.

Ancora, which owns 2.5% of outstanding shares in the department store chain, has pressured the company over the past 18 months to turn things around and has been able to get three of its directors installed on the company board.

In a letter to the board Thursday, Ancora said Kohl’s needs to come up with a new plan and replace chairman Peter Boneparth and Chief Executive Michelle Gass. Boneparth has been on the board since 2008 and became chairman this year. Gass has been CEO since 2018. She joined the company in 2013 as chief merchandising and customer officer.

“Ultimately, Kohl’s needs leadership that can design and implement a precise turnaround strategy to ensure the company averts peril and starts producing enhanced value for shareholders over the long term,” the letter said.

Last month, the Menomonee, Wisconsin, chain slashed its sales and profit expectations for the year after being forced to cut prices to shed unwanted merchandise. The department store also cut back on orders ahead of the critical holiday period.

Kohl’s has struggled for years. In July it called off buyout talks with Franchise Group, t he owner of The Vitamin Shoppe, citing economic conditions.

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, the company said that the Kohl’s board “unanimously supports” Gass and her leadership team.

“We remain committed to maximizing value and acting in the interests of all our shareholders by staying focused on running the business, and the board continues to actively engage with management to navigate the current retail environment,” the company said.

Shares of Kohl’s Corp. were down almost 4%, or $1.04 per share to $26.86 on Thursday afternoon.

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