Houston Chronicle

Kohl’s fights back against investors’ takeover

- By Anne D’Innocenzio

NEW YORK — Kohl’s is fighting back against an investor group’s efforts to take control of the department store chain’s board, arguing that it would derail its progress and momentum.

The response, issued Monday, comes after the investor group said it had nominated nine members for Kohl’s board of directors as it looks to boost the company’s stock and its financial performanc­e. The group owns a 9.5 percent stake in Kohl’s.

In a letter to shareholde­rs made public on Monday, the investor group said Kohl’s hasn’t kept up with the fast-changing retail landscape and needs to cut its inventory, fix its store label assortment, cut expenses and improve its app and website among other things.

The investor group is made up of Macellum Advisors, Ancora Holdings, Legion Partners Asset Management and 4010 Capital.

Kohl’s faced challenges even before the pandemic forced the chain and its peers to close temporaril­y last spring. The retailer was wrestling with increasing competitio­n from online players like Amazon and discounter­s like Target and Walmart, both of which have been sprucing up their assortment­s.

But the pandemic has accelerate­d shoppers’ shift online and increased the dominance of stores like Walmart, which offer one-stop shopping. The department store chain has said that expects to report that its most-recent quarter saw another steep drop in sales at stores opened at least a year, a key measure of a retailer’s health.

The investor group said it believes that Kohl’s problems are fixable, but will require a high-powered board with relevant expertise and experience that “does not shy away from its oversight role and will hold management accountabl­e.“

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