Kohl's rebuffs investor group's plans for board control
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based department store chain Kohl’s Corporation has rejected the plans presented by a group of investors on Monday, as well as the slate of nine directors nominated by the group.
Kohl’s was responding to actions taken by a group of investors that includes Macellum Advisors GP, LLC; Legion Partners Holdings, LLC; Ancora Advisors, LLC; and 4010 Capital, LLC. Collectively the group owns a 9.5% stake in the retailer.
On Monday, the investor group announced a series of measures that they want to be implemented at Kohl’s in order to turn the business around and up its stock price. As well as nominating a controlling slate of nine new directors for the company’s board, the investor group stated that they want the retailer to cut inventory levels and executive compensation and sell some non-core real estate.
The group also wants to push up stock prices via a sale-leaseback program for $3 billion in real estate, as well as a large-scale share repurchase program.
“Kohl’s is committed to maintaining constructive engagement with all shareholders regarding the Company’s strategies and prospects,” responded the retailer.
“However, we reject the investor group’s attempt to seize control of our board and disrupt our momentum, especially considering that we are well underway in implementing a strong growth strategy and accelerating our performance, and we have refreshed half our Board with six new independent directors since 2016.”
According to Kohl’s, although it has been in discussions with the investor group since December, this is the first time that the group has outlined its proposals in any detail. The company further pointed out that its own new strategic plan already includes a number of the investor group’s proposals and that it considers that other initiatives put forward by the group would not be accretive to shareholder value.
Among the measures already being implemented by the company, Kohl’s highlighted the several sale-leaseback transactions that it has carried out since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The department store operator also claimed that investors and analysts are reacting positively to its strategic plan, which is focused on accelerating top-line growth. Initiatives being implemented as part of this plan include the development of a transformational beauty business with Sephora, growing the retailer’s active business to 30%, kick-starting its women’s business and investing in omnichannel.
Business wasn’t exactly booming at Kohl’s before the pandemic, with stiff competition from the likes of Walmart and Target, as well as from e-commerce giants such as Amazon, already taking its toll.
However, it’s the disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis that have really made the retailer suffer. In the nine-month period ended October 31, 2020, the company’s total revenues fell 25% to $9.8 billion, while its losses came to $506 million, down from earnings of $426 million in the prior-year period.
Kohl’s currently operates more than 1,100 stores across 49 states.
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