Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz to Step Down

Dallas–Neiman Marcus Group announced Friday that President and CEO Karen Katz will retire next month and be replaced by Geoffroy van Raemdonck.

Katz led the luxury retailer for seven years and has been with the company for more than 30. She will retain her seat on the company’s board of directors following her retirement, which will be effective Feb. 12.

Neiman Marcus said Katz’s stepping aside is a part of a “long-term leadership succession planning process.”

Van Raemdonck comes to Neiman Marcus from Ralph Lauren, where he spent the last three years in Geneva, Switzerland, serving as the group president for EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Asia) and Global Travel Retail.

Prior to that, he turned around the business as CEO of clothing company St. John Knits and also has held executive positions at Louis Vuitton.

Van Raemdonck has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a master of business and sciences from the Universite catholiqué de Louvain in Belgium.

He is currently based in New York.

Neiman Marcus, like so many other department stores, has seen sales decline due to a number of factors—including competition from online and brick-and-mortar discounters, the rise of fast fashion, a more casual society and the decline in mall traffic—and is saddled with billions in debt.

In January 2017, the company withdrew its long-delayed initial public offering because it was “not in its best interests” to proceed, and its attempt to find a buyer later in the year failed.

In July, Neiman Marcus announced that it was cutting 225 jobs and re-evaluating the size of its off-price business, Last Call, after closing three of the stores in the preceding months.

The department store chain saw same-store sales decline every quarter in fiscal year 2017, though it did report a 4.2 percent increase in comps in the first quarter 2018 ended Oct. 28. It was the retailer’s first same-store sales increase since Q4 of fiscal 2015.

The company attributed the increase to its “Digital First” strategy.

On National Jeweler’s $100 Million Supersellers list, Neiman Marcus went from No. 13 in 2016 (based on 2015 sales) to No. 15 this year (based on 2016 sales), with jewelry and watch sales slipping from $510 million to $481 million (both estimates).

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