Nordstrom shares surge as investor Ryan Cohen takes stake: report

Cohen reportedly wants to shakeup the company's board of directors to support cost cutting measures

Nordstrom shares jumped 24%  on Friday following reports that billionaire Ryan Cohen has taken a sizable stake in the department store.

The activist investor reportedly intends to urge the chain to make changes to its board following a steep share-price decline, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Cohen is one of the top-five non-family shareholders of Nordstrom and has been known to ignite rallies in so-called meme stocks, including GameStop.

Cohen built his fortune as the founder of the online pet retailer Chewy.

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Exterior of a Nordstrom location

This image shows a Nordstrom retail store at a suburban shopping mall. (iStock-Nordstrom / iStock)

The investor looks to refresh Nordstrom's board, which he believes can support cost-cutting efforts as sales decline, according to people familiar with the situation.

His goal is to replace at least one director, believed to be former Bed, Bath & Beyond CEO Mark Tritton, who chairs Nordstrom's compensation committee.

Tritton worked for Nordstrom from 2009 to 2016. 

Cohen believes it is inappropriate for Tritton to have a say in compensation for Nordstrom family members, given that he used to work around them, the people said. 

Ryan Cohen and Mark Tritton

Investor Ryan Cohen and former Bed, Bath & Beyond CEO Mark Tritton (FBN)

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"While Mr. Cohen hasn’t sought any discussions with us in several years, we are open to hearing his views, as we do with all Nordstrom shareholders," a Nordstrom spokeswoman said in a statement. "We will continue to take actions that we believe are in the best interests of the company and our shareholders."

Cohen once had a large stake in Bed, Bath & Beyond and pushed for changes during Tritton’s tenure at the home-goods retailer, which may soon file for bankruptcy production.

Tritton was ousted from Bed, Bath & Beyond in June as sales started to drop.

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Shoppers enter a Nordstrom

Shoppers enter the Nordstrom store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. ((Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) / Getty Images)

When Cohen cashed out of Bed, Bath & Beyond, he made about $60 million, based on an analysis of regulatory filings.

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Ticker Security Last Change Change %
JWN NORDSTROM INC. 17.77 -1.29 -6.77%

The company is set to report its fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year results on March 2, according to its website.