Activist investor pushes for removal of Kohl’s chairman, CEO

NEW YORK — Activist investor Ancora Holdings Group is pushing for the removal of both the chairman and the chief executive officer at Kohl’s for what it calls a botched strategy and dramatic sales declines.

Ancora, which owns 2.5% of outstanding shares in the department store chain, has pressured the company over the past 18 months to turn things around and has been able to get three of its directors installed on the company board.

In a letter to the board today, Ancora said Kohl’s needs to come up with a new plan and replace chairman Peter Boneparth and Chief Executive Michelle Gass. Boneparth has been on the board since 2008 and became chairman this year. Gass has been CEO since 2018. She joined the company in 2013 as chief merchandising and customer officer.

“Ultimately, Kohl’s needs leadership that can design and implement a precise turnaround strategy to ensure the company averts peril and starts producing enhanced value for shareholders over the long-term,” the letter said.

Last month, the Menomonee, Wisconsin, chain slashed its sales and profit expectations for the year after being forced to cut prices to shed unwanted merchandise. The department store also cut back on orders ahead of the critical holiday period.

Kohl’s has struggled for years. In July it called off buyout talks with Franchise Group, t he owner of Vitamin Shop, citing economic conditions.

Kohl’s did not comment immediately today.

Shares of Kohl’s Corp. slipped more than 1%.