BERLIN — Outgoing Karstadt chief executive officer Andrew Jennings is still very much in the driver’s seat, the executive said.
“I am the ceo and will be running this company until the end of my contract,” Jennings told WWD Monday.
Jennings, who is not renewing his two-year contract when it expires at the end of the year, will be personally overseeing the upcoming Christmas business, a major communications initiative in early fall, as well as the second-phase introduction of new brands at Karstadt in September. The vast majority of brands introduced in 2012, he pointed out, “are showing great results.”
Jennings underlined that he is staying, as planned, at the Essen, Germany-based department store group until his contract ends.
He also denied published reports that he and Karstadt owner Nicolas Berggruen were having a dispute. “I was on a store tour with our owner Nicolas Berggruen on the weekend when I was made aware of the article in Bild newspaper and saw this news piece about he and I having a conflict,” Jennings said. “Absolute nonsense.
“Let me clarify,” he told WWD. “Nicolas and I are both committed to strategy ‘Karstadt 2015’ and we have no dispute whatsoever. In fact, Nicolas is a great supporter of ‘Karstadt 2015’ having recently spent two intensive days discussing the business. Together we are undergoing a normal management succession-planning process and I am totally involved in this.”
Jennings also “never threw in the towel,” he declared, denying a characterization by WWD in Monday’s edition. “I have far more integrity than that. I am committed to the 20,000 Karstadt staff and the talented management team.”
With six months to go at the helm of Karstadt, the retail veteran declined to discuss any future plans.
On Sunday, Karstadt issued a statement denying a report in Bild am Sonntag that there were conflicts between Berggruen and Jennings over strategy. The retailer said that Berggruen and his team “are in harmony about the continuation of the Karstadt strategy and agree on the long-term succession planning of the ceo.”
Berggruen added, “This succession planning is the normal course of the business and we look forward to continuing a long-term relationship with Andrew Jennings beyond 2013 when his contract officially ends.”