Longtime Neiman Marcus chief merchant to step down
Jim Gold, president and chief merchandising officer at Neiman Marcus and Neiman Marcus Group, will depart the company March 15, the day the department store opens its first New York City location at the massive Hudson Yards development, a company spokesperson told Retail Dive on the phone.
Gold began at Neiman Marcus Stores in 1991 and has steadily climbed its ranks since. He took various buying and store roles, held executive merchandising positions in men's and women's apparel and helped lead the company's clearance stores, according to biographical information emailed to Retail Dive. Before becoming chief merchant at Neiman, Gold served as president and CEO of the company's Bergdorf Goodman subsidiary from 2004 to 2010.
While the Hudson Yards opening marks the New York City debut of the Neiman flagship, the location has shrunk from the original plans amid financial concerns. The project's developer in 2017 was said to be interested in rescuing the company in order to salvage it as an anchor tenant.
In a statement emailed to Retail Dive on Monday, Neiman Marcus Group CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck said that Gold's tenure had made an indelible mark. "During his 28 years with NMG, Jim has embodied the Neiman Marcus brand values established by Stanley Marcus — customer service, brand partnership, and creative merchandising," he said. "His contributions will leave a lasting impact on our brand both through the enduring brand partnerships he has developed, as well as the talented team he helped build and nurture through his tenure."
But Gold's departure likely represents a desire on the part of van Raemdonck, who arrived a year ago to replace longtime chief Karen Katz, to assemble his own team and make his own mark. Whatever he hopes to achieve in merchandising, however, will continue to be bedeviled by the company's ongoing financial issues. Most recently, the department store has tussled with its lenders in court, and its creditors have become increasingly alarmed over the roughly $4.5 billion long-term debt load that it's working to refinance.
The company has nudged comps in the right direction: While first quarter net revenue fell to $1.093 billion from $1.096 billion in the year ago quarter and its net loss widened, store comps rose 2.8%, the fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year increases. But another executive departure this month — of Scott Emmons, who led the company's "Innovation Lab" — indicates that the financial squeeze may be undermining its ability to breathe life into the suffering department store model, as Emmons himself suggested recently in an opinion piece for the Business of Fashion.
"Corporate innovation programs seem to start strong and sharp, but over time, they are devoured and diminished by surrounding day-to-day business processes, making maintaining momentum nearly impossible," he wrote. "It's one thing to talk about agility and risk, but when you're not built for either, measured by cost reductions and operating silos, results tend to be only incremental."
- Business of Fashion Op Ed | Why I'm Leaving Neiman Marcus
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