A group of activist investors has nominated nine new directors to the board of retailer Kohl’s, a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report says.
The group of activist investors, which holds a big stake in the department store, is attempting to take control of the board, according to unnamed sources spoken to by WSJ.
The group, including Macellum Advisors GP LLC, Ancora Holdings Inc. and Legion Partners Asset Management LLC, as well as 4010 Capital LLC, controls a combined 9.5 percent stake in Kohl’s.
The board is now 12 people after the nine new nominations, WSJ writes.
The activists don’t think Kohl’s is moving quickly enough to address slowing sales and declining operating margin issues, which were both issues going on prior to the pandemic.
The company’s operating margin fell to 6.1 percent in 2019, WSJ reports, and the sales didn’t change much. After the pandemic hit, Kohl’s total revenue fell 25 percent and hit $9.8 billion for the nine months ending Oct. 31.
As to what the activists think should be done, they want to see an addition of more directors with retail experience so they can work better with Chief Executive Officer Michelle Gass, and are considering a sale leaseback of over $7 billion in noncore real estate, according to anonymous sources as well as a letter seen by WSJ. In addition, the group wants Kohl’s to reduce its inventory levels and make discounts and promotions easier to access for customers.
Last year Kohl’s reduced its corporate workforce by around 15 percent in what it said was a reaction to how COVID-19 had impacted business. The company said it would be seeing costs of around $23 million before taxes for this.
But Kohl’s said it saw that it could garner around $65 million in cost savings from the move.
The company said its digital sales had jumped in response to the pandemic, rising 58 percent even as its net sales fell 23 percent.