"The activist investor group’s comparisons of 2019 results to expectations for 2021 are nonsensical given a continuing global pandemic," Kohl's said in a statement sent to BizTimes Friday afternoon.The group argued again for a large-scale sale-leaseback program for the Kohl's real estate assets, even after the company shot down that suggestion due to a 1995 indenture that prevents further such transactions. "This indenture was written in 1995 when the company had 125 stores and just over $1 billion in revenue. The investor group believes that the board’s failure to address the overly restrictive nature of this indenture is yet another example of the board’s ineffectiveness," the letter reads. In addition, the investor group believes the cost of Kohl's Amazon returns program outweigh its immediate benefits, despite the company's statements otherwise and intentions to continue to the program. The group said it could be years before the program impacts the bottom line, and it suggests that Kohl's has failed to properly disclose Amazon "royalty payments" to investors. Concluding its letter, the group said it fears "history will repeat itself in a series of failed initiatives," with Kohl's continuing to underperform. In its statement, Kohl's said the group's comments indicate it's on focused on "short-term payout at the expense of sustainable success." Under its current board and management, the company said it's headed for a multi-year improvement of both the top and bottom line. "We reject the activists’ short-termism and their attempt to disrupt our momentum at this critical time," Kohl's said. The company's board is set to present its recommendation of the nominated director replacements and shareholders will vote on the decision at the 2021 annual meeting.
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