Karen Katz, President and CEO of Neiman Marcus since 2010, officially stepped aside on Feb. 12, clearing the way for luxury fashion and retail veteran Geoffroy van Raemdonck to fill the role.
Katz started at the Dallas-based retailer in 1985 and moved up the ranks through various executive positions, including EVP of Store Operations, President of catalog division Neiman Marcus Direct and President of NM stores, before taking over as CEO.
In recent years, Katz has had to wade through a changing retail environment that hasn’t been friendly to department stores. Neiman still must pay off a $4.8 billion debt load, mainly due to its leveraged buyout in 2013, when Ares Management and Canadian public pension fund CPPIB acquired the company from other private equity firms.
To add to this, the retailer has seen continued sales and income declines in recent years, even scrapping its planned IPO in 2017. The company also explored potential strategic alternatives such as a sale to Hudson’s Bay before deciding to take itself off the market.
As Katz exits, van Raemdonck will have big decisions to make with regard to the company’s future, especially when it comes to potential ownership.
Katz still serves on the Neiman Marcus Board of Directors. Additionally, she serves as Chair of the NRF Foundation Board and First Vice Chair of NRF.
In an interview with Retail TouchPoints at the fourth annual NRF Foundation Gala, Katz expressed confidence about the company’s performance going into 2018, echoing the sentiments of her fellow retail CEOs that personalization would continue to deliver positive results throughout the industry.
“We have a hit industry buzzword. It was ‘transformation’ last year and it’s ‘experience’ this year,” Katz said. “Everybody’s trying to figure out how to develop that experience in a much more personalized and intimate way. The people that use technology personalization with a human touch are those who will be successful in 2018.”