Neiman Marcus Chooses New CEO -- WSJ

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (January 5, 2018).

Neiman Marcus Group Ltd., the luxury retailer saddled with debt from two leveraged buyouts, is preparing to appoint a new chief executive, according to people familiar with the situation.

Karen Katz, a Neiman lifer who has served as CEO and president since 2010, is stepping aside and will be succeeded by former Ralph Lauren Corp. executive Geoffroy van Raemdonck, the people said. Ms. Katz, 60 years old, plans to retire from her executive duties but will retain her board seat, the people said.

Through a spokeswoman, Ms. Katz declined to comment. Mr. van Raemdonck wasn't immediately reachable.

Mr. van Raemdonck, 45, who was a group president at Ralph Lauren, left late last year. He most recently oversaw Ralph Lauren's Europe, Middle East and Africa business, a role he assumed in November 2014, according to his LinkedIn page.

Previously, he was CEO of the high-end women's apparel brand St. John Knits. Rounding out his luxury experience, he spent five years as an executive at Louis Vuitton.

Neiman Marcus has faltered since it was acquired for $6 billion in 2013 by Ares Management LLC and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, shifting ownership from one set of private-equity firms to another. Together, the transactions left Neiman saddled with about $4.8 billion in long-term debt as of Oct. 28.

Ms. Katz joined the Dallas chain known for its high-end designer goods in 1985 and climbed the ranks. She held various roles, including president of its catalog division, which included internet operations. She successfully led the company out of the recession, returning sales and profits to prerecession levels.

More recently, the company has struggled with weak sales growth and losses, as even wealthy shoppers search online for the best deals.

Neiman Marcus filed to go public in 2015 but scrapped the planned offering in January 2017. Later, it was approached by Saks Fifth Avenue parent Hudson's Bay Co. about being acquired. But the talks ended without a deal.

"We believe that we can deliver better shareholder value by remaining an independent retailer," Ms. Katz said in an interview at the time.

Under Ms. Katz, Neiman took steps to attract younger shoppers, including a partnership with fashion startup Rent the Runway.

She also invested heavily in Neiman's digital operations. Those investments began to produce results in the quarter ended Oct. 28, when sales excluding newly opened or closed locations rose 4.2%, the first quarterly increase since 2015. About a third of Neiman's $4.7 billion in annual sales comes from e-commerce.

But losses in the most recent period totaled $26.2 million, extending a string of losses that date to July 2016.

Mr. van Raemdonck is expected to build on and accelerate the current strategy, one of the people familiar with the situation said.

At the time of Neiman's acquisition by Ares and the pension board, Ms. Katz had made it clear to the new owners that she was thinking about retiring in the not too distant future, this person said. A clause was included in her employment contract that specified she could retire on or after the second anniversary of the agreement.

The contract required Ms. Katz to give fellow directors 12 months written notice about her intended retirement.

Executive-search firm Russell Reynolds Associates Inc. handled the unt for Neiman, people familiar with the situation said.

Write to Suzanne Kapner at and Joann S. Lublin at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 05, 2018 02:47 ET (07:47 GMT)