Menomonee Falls, Wis. – As it seats its new CEO, Kohl’s has reached a détente with the activist investor that has bedeviled the company since early 2021.
The retailer announced that interim CEO Tom Kingsbury is taking on the top position permanently, effective Feb. 2. He was appointed to the interim role on Dec. 2 as then-CEO Michelle Gass exited the company for an executive position at Levi Strauss.
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In connection with the announcement, Kohl’s said it has struck a cooperation agreement with Macellum Advisors – the activist investor that upended Bed Bath & Beyond’s board of directors in 2019. The investment firm has made several attempts to shake up Kohl’s leadership over the past two years. It also pushed for the sale of the company last year, a deal that fell by the wayside as the retail environment soured. This past fall, Macellum was advocating for the ouster of current chairman of the board Peter Boneparth.
Macellum and a group of its affiliates have now agreed to multi-year standstill, along with voting and other provisions.
“The board appreciates our constructive dialogue with Macellum during the last few months and their engagement as we conducted the CEO search process. We look forward to their continued support and partnership,” said Michael Bender, independent director and chair of the board’s Nominating and ESG Committee.
Managing member of Macellum, Jonathan Duskin, said: “We are very excited about the future of Kohl’s under the leadership of Tom and have the utmost confidence in his ability to maximize shareholder value.”
This is “a pivotal time” for Kohl’s, Kingsburg said. “I am excited and energized to work with our talented team to elevate our performance and create value,” he added.