Neiman Marcus names Geoffroy van Raemdonck CEO, replacing Karen Katz

  • Neiman Marcus taps Ralph Lauren veteran Geoffroy van Raemdonck to succeed Karen Katz as CEO.
  • The move comes as the high-end department store has been trying to manage its steep debt load and adjust to a rapidly changing retail landscape.
Geoffroy van Raemdonck
Adriel Roboh | Patrick McMullan | Getty Images
Geoffroy van Raemdonck

Neiman Marcus is appointing Ralph Lauren veteran Geoffroy van Raemdonck to succeed Karen Katz as its CEO, the retailer announced Friday.

Katz's retirement is effective Feb. 12, 2018. However, she will continue to serve on the company's board of directors, Neiman Marcus said.

The move comes at a crucial time for the high-end department store, which has been working to restructure its roughly $4.4 billion in long-term net debt and readjust to the rapidly changing retail landscape.

Katz's resignation follows that of John Koryl, president of Neiman Marcus stores and online, who stepped stepped down late last year.

Raemdonck previously worked as CEO of luxury fashion brand St. John Knits International and held several internationally focused positions at Ralph Lauren, including most recently president of south Europe.

Raemdonck is "a global industry leader and business builder with exceptional vision and energy," Neiman Chairman David Kaplan said in a statement.

"Neiman Marcus is still one of the great American retail companies," said Gilbert Harrison, chairman of Harrison Group and founder and chairman emeritus of investment bank Financo. "With the new leadership working with existing management, there could be opportunity for the brand to extend its reach globally."

Still, the retailer has challenges ahead.

It made its name in large part on high-end clothing and personal shopping, but the younger generation spends less on, and seemingly cares less about, clothes. The stronger U.S. dollar has also been negative for Neiman Marcus, curbing spending at its Bergdorf Goodman department stores, which are popular with New York tourists.

Department stores across the board have struggled as brands increasingly look to reach their shoppers without a middleman, and they deal with excess real estate no longer in sync with how consumers shop.