Neiman Marcus to Replace Longtime CEO Karen Katz With Outsider, Report Says

Karen Katz, a longtime Neiman Marcus executive and its president and CEO since 2010, will step aside in the near future to be replaced by an external hire, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Katz, who has shouldered criticism in recent years as Neiman Marcus battled sluggish sales and a heavy debt load stemming from a $6 billion leveraged buyout by Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 2013, will retain her board seat, people familiar the situation told WSJ.

The publication further reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that Neiman Marcus had been looking for Katz’s replacement for some time and that it retained executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates Inc. to find the soon-to-be announced CEO hire. Katz had reportedly told Neiman Marcus’ new owners of her plans to retire in the near future at the time of the 2013 acquisition.

During the past three-plus years, Katz had blamed a number of issues — such as increasingly price-conscious shoppers and cheaper oil in Texas hurting its luxury clientele  — for Neiman Marcus’ dismal profits.

But in recent months, the CEO unveiled a more ambitious digital strategy — placing significant investment behind omnichannel sales and the implementation of new technologies — which was already reaping dividends, according to the company’s latest earnings report.

In November, the luxury-goods seller announced its first comparable sales gain since 2015. Specifically, its first-quarter comparable sales climbed 4.2 percent, while overall sales increased 3.8 percent to $1.12 billion.

Still, the company widened its net losses during the quarter to $26.2 million, compared with losses of $23.5 million for the same period last year, as it continued to recover from previously challenging quarters.

Regarding Katz’s reported retirement, Neiman Marcus did not immediately respond to Footwear News’ request for comment.

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