Activist shareholder Ancora calls for Kohl’s board to replace chairman and CEO; says company on ‘dangerous trajectory’


Activist shareholder Ancora Holdings Group LLC on Thursday urged the board of Kohl’s Corp. KSS, +0.14% to replace its chairman Peter Boneparth and chief executive Michelle Gass with a leader with turnaround experience. In a letter to the board made public, Ancora said the retailer’s “botched strategic review, credit downgrade, dramatic decline in sales, elevated costs and poorly received standalone plan” have placed it on a “dangerous trajectory.” Ancora owns a roughly 2.5% stake in Kohl’s. “During the Boneparth era, the Board has created an environment in which Ms. Gass is no longer well-positioned to lead,” the firm wrote. “The Board’s decisions to reject multiple indications of interest in the $64-$65 per share range in the winter and then proceed with an opaque strategic review throughout the spring — as financing markets gradually deteriorated — have destroyed billions of dollars in equity value and painted the Company into a corner.” The company’s citing of the pandemic as a reason for its recent performance issues is false, said the letter, noting that other retailers have recovered and see their sales increase in the past 12 to 18 months. Kohl’s shares were slightly lower premarket and are down 43.5% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 SPX, -0.43% has fallen 20%.

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