Shoppers leave Nordstrom at the King of Prussia Mall on December 11, 2022 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
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Shares of Nordström surged Friday morning after activist investor and meme stock maven Ryan Cohen bought a large stake in the upscale department store company.
The stock rose more than 20% on Friday.
Cohen is now one of Nordstrom’s top five non-family shareholders and wants to use his new position to shake up the retailer’s board, people familiar with the matter told CNBC. He is interested in board changes that could support cost-cutting efforts amid Nordstrom’s declining market capitalization.
Nordstrom, for his part, said he was ready to hear from Cohen.
“Although Mr. Cohen has not sought to engage with us in several years, we are open to hearing his views, as we do with all Nordstrom shareholders,” the company 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 has previously traveled to Seattle, where the company is based, to meet members of the Nordstrom family and learn more about the company, the people said. It is not known when the trip occurred.
Cohen’s news comes weeks after Nordstrom, which had to cut prices drastically to alleviate a glut of inventory, reported lackluster holiday sales and cut its forecast for the year. The company is expected to release its results on March 2.
Cohen, who founded a pet health and retail site Soft, is considered a champion of the meme stock crowd. He is the president of Reddit’s favorite GameStop. He also sparked a brief rally in Bed bath and beyond last year before he finally got rid of the stock. Bed Bath is expected to file for bankruptcy protection any day now.
Cohen is targeting Mark Tritton again, the former Target executive who was forced out as CEO of Bed Bath last year as Cohen’s company pressured the struggling home goods retailer. Tritton has served on Nordstrom’s board of directors for nearly three years, having worked for the company from 2009 to 2016.
Cohen doesn’t think Tritton should stay on the board or remain chairman of Nordstrom’s compensation committee overseeing the salaries of Nordstrom family members because he previously worked for them, the people said.
Erik Nordstrom is the company’s CEO, while Peter Nordstrom is its president.
Tritton declined to comment.
During his tenure at Bed Bath, Tritton raked in over $40million before being fired last year. Cohen had previously called him out on the compensation in a letter last year.
“Mr. Tritton should recognize that CEOs who receive outsized compensation and seek frequent publicity also drive much higher expectations for growth and creating shareholder value,” the letter said.
Cohen has recruited a number of director candidates as potential replacements, the sources said. The recruits have previously held C-level positions at large retail and e-commerce companies.
The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
–CNBC’s Kerry Caufield and Lillian Rizzo contributed to this report.
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