When Karen Katz became president and chief executive officer of the Neiman Marcus Group last October, succeeding Burt Tansky, the switch was significant on multiple levels.
This story first appeared in the December 13, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It marked the end of Tansky’s long run in the luxury arena, as well as Katz’s initiation into a small and elite club — women running major retail companies.
Her ascension portends new directions for Neiman’s down the road. A number of initiatives will top her agenda. Among them is developing new channels of distribution, including the recently launched Last Call Studio stores and lastcall.com. Another key area of focus is technology, particularly new apps and mobile devices to inventory and point-of-sale systems.
On the merchandise front, Katz will lead Neiman’s efforts to broaden its offerings and provide greater value and options to affluent consumers at the store’s opening and middle price points while staying within its price spectrum and designer matrix.
Neiman’s took a big hit during the recent recession — more than most stores — but it is on the road to recovery. For its quarter ended Oct. 30, the company reported its net income tripled to $25.7 million from $8.5 million a year earlier, while operating earnings reached $99.8 million from $74.8 million, and comp-store sales rose 6.4 percent.
“We are making nice progress. I think the customer is responding to newness,” though spending is not back to prerecession levels, nor is it expected to be anytime soon, Katz said.
However, the new chief is considered aggressive and feisty, and has a long history at Neiman’s, with well-rounded experience on different sides of the operation. Said Katz, “We are looking at all aspects of the shopping experience and ways to make our stores exciting and modern.”