Activist company

Kohl’s says two top executives are leaving, as company seeks buyer

Vehicles are parked in front of a Kohl’s department store in Ashland, Kentucky.

Luke Sharret | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Kohl’s said on Wednesday it was losing two of its top executives, as the retailer searches for a potential buyer under pressure from activists to sell the business.

Doug Howe, Kohl’s merchandising director, is leaving immediately, the retailer said in a securities filing. Greg Revelle, director of marketing, is expected to leave on June 1.

Kohl’s shares fell more than 4% in extended trading.

The company said Howe and Revelle are leaving to pursue opportunities elsewhere.

“A search for replacements is already underway,” Kohl’s said. “In the meantime, we have a wide range of marketing and merchandising talent that will ensure the continued execution of our strategies.”

The filing comes the night before Kohl’s releases its fiscal first-quarter results before market open Thursday.

The report will be widely watched, for a number of reasons. For one, Kohl’s has faced significant pressure from activist investors in recent months to reshuffle its board and find a new buyer.

Just last week, Kohl’s shareholders voted to re-elect the company’s current slate of 13 directors, eclipsing Macellum Advisors’ proposal for a new slate of people. But Macellum replied that he would still hold Kohl’s accountable for his decisions in the months ahead. Primarily, the campaigning firm wants the retailer to find a new buyer, arguing that current Kohl CEO Michelle Gass hasn’t done enough to boost sales.

Kohl’s worked with bankers from Goldman Sachs to evaluate the offers. Earlier this year, he rejected a Starboard-backed Acacia Research proposal at $64 a share as too low.

Shares of Kohl’s closed Wednesday down 11% at $43.13.