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Will Kohl’s Go Private?

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More than two decades after it became a public company, Kohl’s could take itself private.

A person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the department store chain is debating whether to remove itself from the watchful eye of public shareholders or break up the business.

The news came following last week’s announcement that Macy’s will cut more than 4,500 jobs and close 36 of its 770 stores as part of a plan to save $400 million in annual expenses and reverse the effect of sluggish sales.

Kohl’s, meanwhile, has seen its business improve of late. For the third quarter ended Oct. 31, the retailer reported a 1 percent increase in comparable store sales, compared with a 1.8% decline in the same period the previous year, while its diluted earnings per share for the quarter grew 7 percent to $0.75. However, its stock is down roughly 17 percent for the past year.

The WSJ’s source said that’s why the Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based company is considering whether to hire an investment bank to help weigh options that could include a sale to a private-equity firm—an idea that management has rejected in the past.

The board is expected to discuss next steps this week, the source continued.

Kohl’s currently has nearly 1,200 stores in 49 states. Following a successful foray into the off-price format with the opening of an Off-Aisle by Kohl’s pilot store last June, it plans to open two more locations in 2016. Additionally, it will open as many as 15 Fila sportswear outlets across the country this year.

Chairman, CEO and president Kevin Mansell has said he expects Kohl’s to increase sales to $21 billion by the end of 2017 by focusing on categories and items “that create the greatest impact on value perception” in order to reclaim the retailer’s spot in the segment.

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