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Kohl’s Cuts Three Top Jobs at Headquarters Amid Weak Performance

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Kohl’s hasn’t had a great start to the year as sales have slowed and stock dropped to a near seven-year low, and now the department store has trimmed three top-level positions to help get things back on track.

Now Krista Berry, executive vice president and chief digital officer, has left the Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based company, as have Bevin Bailis, senior vice president for communications and public relations, and Paul Calderon, senior vice president for store environment, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The news came across in an internal email to employees, which the Journal Sentinel intercepted and then Kohl’s confirmed.

CEO Kevin Mansell said the company’s sales and profits “fell far short of plan,” and that Kohl’s is “not getting to the results we want as fast as we should.”

The retailer had previously announced in its outlined “Greatness Agenda,” a plan to “drive organic top-line growth,” that it wanted to increase sales to $21 billion—up from a current $19 billion—by the end of 2017.

Mansell had said in October when the company announced the new plan, “We are on course to meet our three-year goals and become the most engaging retailer in America.”

But just last week Kohl’s reported same-store sales for the three months ended Jan. 30 were up just 0.4%, missing the 1.7% projection, and revenue was only up 0.8% for the fourth quarter and 1 percent for the full fiscal 2015.

“While we experienced our fifth consecutive quarter of positive comparable sales increases, sales were very volatile and less than planned in the fourth quarter,” Mansell said at the time, adding that strong holiday sales were offset by week November performance thanks to unseasonal weather and slow traffic.

Kohl’s also revised its 2015 earnings down to between $3.95 and $4.00 per diluted share, compared to the previous $4.40 to $4.60 per diluted share call out.

The performance announcement sent stocks down as much as 19 percent in one day.

Department stores are facing stiff competition from fast fashion and online retail, and getting to shoppers to stores has been a challenge for more than just Kohl’s. Sears started selling off stores, Macy’s has been in talks with real estate developers to share space in some of its stores, and last week J.C. Penney said it would sell its own headquarters to drum up cash—all efforts to offset slower sales.

In its own analysis, the Wall Street Journal said the best option for Kohl’s would be to sell and the retailer has reportedly been considering the idea. Citing a source familiar with the matter, the Journal said Kohl’s is considering hiring an investment bank for advice that could include a sale to a private-equity firm amid concern that its “depressed” share price could alarm activist investors.

Kohl’s ended Friday with shares at $39.91, a far fall from nearly $80 in April.

The three jobs the retailer just eliminated won’t be re-filled, and Kohl’s said the move will make it more nimble and position it to work faster to meet the demands of today’s consumer.

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