Neiman Marcus names Ralph Lauren exec to be CEO

Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group is naming a Ralph Lauren executive to succeed its CEO and President Karen Katz, who is retiring.

The Dallas-based retailer, which has been looking to cut its debt from leveraged buyouts and reshape how it markets to customers' changing buying habits, says that Geoffroy van Raemdonck will officially start Feb. 12. Katz will continue to serve on the company's board of directors and will work closely with van Raemdonck to facilitate a seamless transition. Katz has been with the company for 30 years, including the last seven as CEO.

Van Raemdonck, who was a group vice president for Europe, Middle East, and its Africa business at Ralph Lauren, led the transformation of all Ralph Lauren brands across all stores, wholesale and digital. His resume also includes stints at St. John Knits International and Louis Vuitton.

Under Katz, Neiman Marcus has been focusing more on exclusive merchandise and personalized offers. Katz also has further developed Neiman Marcus's online business, which now accounts for about a third of total sales. Like many luxury retailers, Neiman Marcus has been struggling as even wealthier shoppers are looking for cheaper deals online.

The change in leadership comes as Neiman Marcus has seen improving results because of its latest efforts to win over customers. In November, it reported a 4.2 percent increase in comparable revenue during its first fiscal quarter compared to a year earlier. That's the first such gain since the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015. The figure includes a 14 percent increase in online sales. Comparable revenue at department stores, though, was flat.

Katz told The Associated Press in a phone interview in November that the retailer is attracting new shoppers and its core customers are spending more.