U.S department store chain Kohl’s is facing pressure to remove its chair and CEO, after activist Ancora Holdings raised concerns over the company’s “botched strategic review.”
In the September 22 letter, Ancora, which holds a 2.5% stake, criticized Kohl’s leadership for “sustained underperformance” and argued the company’s “botched strategic review, credit downgrade, dramatic decline in sales, elevated costs and poorly received standalone plan have placed Kohl’s on a dangerous trajectory.”
Noting a share price annual decline of 45%, the Ohio-based investment firm contended that the board’s actions have created an environment in which CEO Michelle Gass is “no longer ideally suited to lead Kohl’s to long-term value creation.”
“Looking ahead, we believe shareholders’ capital should be utilized to compensate a new chairman and chief executive officer who possess operating expertise and turnaround pedigree,” Ancora stated.
Since the election of Boneparth 15 years ago, Kohl’s total shareholder return has declined by 11.38%, and is down over 43% in the last year, according to Ancora.
The dissident has urged the board to appoint a new chairman and develop a CEO succession plan.
“The combination of the Boneparth-led board’s ineffective leadership and management’s poor execution, as evidenced by the company’s numbers, compel us to call for a new chairman and CEO at this critical fork in the road,” the statement stressed.
The activist noted that the company board rejected approaches to acquire the company last year in the $64 to $65 range, which would be a 131% premium on its current share price of $27.57 per share as of 10:07 a.m. EDT on Thursday.