Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
According to a Reuters report, activist investor Ancora Holdings is pushing for the removal of Kohl’s chief executive and chairman.
Ancora sent a letter to the board on Thursday requesting the replacement of CEO Michelle Gass and chairman Peter Boneparth. The company, which has a 2.5% stake in Kohl’s, wants new leadership so it can renew its business.
“Kohl’s needs new leadership with proven experience in cost control, margin expansion, product catalog optimization and, most importantly, lead times,” the letter from Reuters reads.
The push comes a few months after Kohl’s ended negotiations for the sale to Franchise Group. The company had been encouraged by activist investors to pursue a sale. Franchise Group proposed an offer of $60 per share before the uncertain economic environment forced it to lower its potential offer to $53.
Gass joined from Starbucks to take over as CEO from Kevin Mansell in 2018, with plans to expand Sephora’s presence in Kohl’s stores. Ancora called her a “talented leader” and praised the Sephora partnership. Boneparth has been a director of the company since 2008 and became chairman this year.
“During the Boneparth era, the Board of Directors has created an environment where Ms. Gass is no longer well positioned to lead,” Ancora’s letter said.
The activist investor, along with Macellum Advisors, tried to seize control of Kohl’s board in 2021, an attempt the company turned down. In that effort, Ancora, along with other stakeholders, pushed for new executives with shopping experience, stock reduction and the sale of Kohl’s real estate.
Kohl’s received an offer for its property from Oak Street Real Estate Capital earlier in September. The real estate investor offered a whopping $2 billion for the store’s property, which Kohl’s would lease back for its retail locations.
“Now you have an environment where financing has changed so much that it may actually be more attractive to use real estate as a means of generating income,” Boneparth told TBEN in a telephone interview prior to the Oak Street offering.
Kohl’s and Ancora Holdings did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shares of Kohl’s are down about 43% so far this year.