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Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass stepping down

Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass is stepping down from her role effective Dec. 2 to become president of Levi Strauss, the companies said in separate announcements Tuesday.

  • She will be replaced at Kohl’s by board member Thomas Kingsbury on an interim basis until a new successor is chosen.
  • Gass will eventually be promoted to CEO of Levi Strauss within the next 18 months, the denim brand said.

Why it matters: The Kohl’s banner has long been under pressure from activists, most notably Ancora Holdings, which was pushing for a change at both the chair and CEO positions in late September.

  • Macellum Capital Management began agitating a month ago to add more board members with retail experience, likely gearing up for another proxy contest next year.

Of note: Sources told Axios that Ancora’s preferred candidate was Kingsbury.

Details: A committee led by Michael Bender and including Christine Day, Margaret Jenkins, Peter Boneparth and Kingsbury, to oversee the search for a new CEO.

  • “Tom is highly regarded and perfectly equipped to take the role of interim CEO, and the Board looks forward to working closely with him and the team to facilitate a smooth transition process and continue driving Kohl’s strategy,” chair Peter Boneparth said in a statement.

Flashback: Kingsbury has had previous success running retailer Burlington Stores.

What we’re watching: Will this move be enough to satisfy both Ancora and Macellum?



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