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Neiman Marcus taps ex-Ralph Lauren executive as new CEO

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Geoffroy Van Raemdonck, a retailer with mostly luxury brand experience, has been named CEO of the Neiman Marcus Group.

Dallas-based Neiman Marcus said Friday in a filing that Karen Katz, 60, will retire as CEO on Feb 12 and then will stay on as a board member.

Van Raemdonck joins Neiman from luxury apparel manufacturer Ralph Lauren, where he was group president for Europe, Middle East and Africa and head of travel retail.

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

Under Katz, Neiman Marcus has been focusing more on exclusive merchandise and personalized offers. Katz also has further developed Neiman Marcus’s online business, which now accounts for about a third of total sales. Like many luxury retailers, Neiman Marcus has been struggling as even wealthier shoppers are looking for cheaper deals online.

The change in leadership comes as Neiman Marcus has seen improving results because of its latest efforts to win over customers. In November, it reported a 4.2 percent increase in comparable revenue during its first fiscal quarter compared to a year earlier. That’s the first such gain since the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015. The figure includes a 14 percent increase in online sales. Comparable revenue at department stores, though, was flat.

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