Activist investor Ryan Cohen is racking up a sizable stake in Nordstrom and plans to urge the department-store chain to make changes to its board after a decline in share prices, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
He is looking to engage with Nordstrom's management about a targeted board refresh that he believes can support cost-cutting efforts as sales decline, WSJ said, adding that he is one of the top-five nonfamily shareholders of the company.
Cohen wants to replace at least one director at Nordstrom, with an eye on former Bed Bath & Beyond Chief Mark Tritton, who chairs the compensation committee and whom Cohen views as conflicted and unqualified, the newspaper said.
The billionaire investor believes it is inappropriate for Tritton, who used to work at Nordstrom from 2009 to 2016, to be deciding compensation for Nordstrom family members who are executives at the company, as he used to work around them, according to WSJ. Tritton has served as a director at Nordstrom since April 2020.
Cohen has previously traveled to Seattle, where Nordstrom is based, to meet with members of the family and learn more about the business, WSJ said.
Both Cohen and Nordstrom did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
The department store chain in September last year adopted a "poison pill" to prevent investors from amassing 10% or more of its shares, after Mexican department store chain Liverpool disclosed a 9.9% passive stake in Nordstrom.
Cohen also had a 9.8% stake in Bed Bath & Beyond, which he sold in August, following a stunning rally in the stock. He stood to earn a profit before taxes of between $55 million and $60 million on the sale, according to a Reuters review of regulatory filings and a person familiar with the matter.