Kohl's Corp. has named a chief executive officer — and reached an important agreement with an activist investor.
The department store retailer said its board has “unanimously” appointed Tom Kingsbury as CEO, effective February 2. Kingsbury has served as Kohl’s interim chief executive since December 2, 2022. He will continue to serve on Kohl’s board.
Kingsbury was named interim chief executive on Dec. 2, following the resignation of Michelle Gass, who left the company to become president of Levi Strauss & Co. She is in line to succeed longtime Levi CEO Chip Bergh.
Kingsbury has more than 40 years of retail industry experience serving in executive leadership and board roles at Kohl’s, Burlington Stores, and The May Department Stores Company. He led Burlington Stores, as president and CEO from 2008 to 2019.
In connection with Kingsbury’s appointment, Kohl’s said it has reached an agreement with Macellum, the activist investor group that has long targeted the retailer. In October, Macellum issued an open letter to Kohl’s shareholders in which it said that the retailer was having “one of the worst years in its long history” and called for an “immediate” board refresh as opposed to waiting for a vote at the company’s annual shareholders meeting next year.
In reaching an agreement, Kohl’s said Macellum has agreed to “multi-year standstill, voting and other provisions.”
“We are very excited about the future of Kohl’s under the leadership of Tom and have the utmost confidence in his ability to maximize shareholder value,” stated Jonathan Duskin, managing member of Macellum.
“Tom’s exceptional track record growing retail businesses and his deep knowledge of Kohl’s makes him the right choice for Kohl’s next CEO,” said board chair Peter Boneparth. “Since joining the board, Tom has added valuable insight and perspective, and as Interim CEO, he has demonstrated strong leadership and made a meaningful and positive impact on the organization,” the full confidence in Tom's ability to drive the business forward, focusing on accelerating sales and profitability, and we look forward to our continued work together."
In his statement, Kingsbury said: This is a pivotal time for Kohl’s, and I am excited and energized to work with our talented team to elevate our performance and create value.”
“During the last few months, I have seen the passion and dedication of the Kohl’s team and the unique value we can bring to our customers nationwide,” he continued. “I look forward to partnering with the board and leadership team to build on our strengths and deliver on our strategy for our shareholders and other stakeholders.”