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Activist Investor Takes Big Stake in Nordstrom

Ryan Cohen may seek to remove ex-Bed Bath & Beyond exec as a director

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Photography: Connie Zhou, New York Photography: Connie Zhou, New York

Activist investor Ryan Cohen is amassing a major stake in Nordstrom Inc. (Seattle) with the intention of urging the upscale department-store chain to make changes to its board following a steep stock-price decline, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Cohen, who built his fortune at online pet retailer Chewy Inc., has become known in recent times for helping ignite big rallies in so-called meme stocks, including GameStop Corp.

One of his main goals at Nordstrom is to replace at least one director, with a particular focus on ex-Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. CEO Mark Tritton, who worked for the upscale department store chain from 2009 to 2016. Cohen believes it is inappropriate for Tritton to sit on a committee deciding compensation for Nordstrom family members who are executives at the company, given that he used to work around them, sources told the business newspaper. Tritton has been a Nordstrom director since April 2020.

“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.”

As of March 2022, Nordstrom family members together owned roughly 30 percent of the company’s common stock, according to an annual filing—which means that making any change would be difficult without their support. Erik Nordstrom is the retailer’s CEO, and his brother, Peter, is President and Chief Brand Officer. Both are also directors.

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