Conn’s CEO exits after just over a year - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Conn’s CEO exits after just over a year


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Dive Brief:

  • A little over a year after joining Conn’s, Chandra Holt is stepping down as the home retailer’s CEO and president, effective immediately. She has also resigned from the company’s board of directors.
  • Holt joined the retailer in August 2021 from Walmart where she served as the mass merchant’s executive vice president of e-commerce. Norman Miller, who served as Conn’s CEO from 2015 to 2021, has taken on the chief executive role in the interim, according to a company press release.
  • Conn’s on Tuesday also withdrew its full-year financial outlook as a result of the leadership change as well as “continued macroeconomic and retail uncertainty.”

Dive Insight:

Conn’s is facing a leadership shakeup as the broader home goods category experiences waning demand.

Like others in the segment, Conn’s benefited last year as more consumers actively sought out products for their homes. In the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, the retailer saw full-year net sales increase nearly 15% to $1.6 billion, while same-store sales grew 15.3%. Conn’s in January laid out a three-year plan to further growth, which included reaching revenues of $2 billion to $2.2 billion, increasing its e-commerce business to represent 20% of revenues and continuing to grow geographically. At the time, Holt said Conn’s was “a stronger company today than at any other time in our 132-year history.”

But more recently consumers have begun to shift spending away from the home and have started to pull back on discretionary purchases altogether as they grapple with inflation and other economic uncertainty.

In its most recent quarter, Conn’s reported total revenue fell 19.4% year over year to $279.5 million, while comparable sales fell 22%. The retailer’s operating income fell to $107,000 from $28.7 million in the year-ago period, while net income was $2.1 million from $37 million in 2021.

In addition to pulling its full-year outlook, Conn’s on Tuesday said it expects third quarter total revenue to be down between 21% and 23%, while operating margin is projected to be in the negative mid-single digits.

As it navigates a tough retail environment, it’s turned to someone who has experience leading the company. In addition to serving as Conn’s CEO from September 2015 to August 2021, Miller served as the retailer’s executive chairman from August 2021 to April this year and has been a board member since 2015. Miller has over 30 years of experience at companies like Sears, Aramark, Nestle and Kraft.

“Under Mr. Miller’s previous tenure as president and chief executive officer, the company’s operating margins increased from 7% to 12% helping drive a 40% increase in the company’s book value,” Bob Martin, Conn’s lead independent director, said in a statement. “Additionally, annual credit segment income before taxes improved from negative $100 million to a positive $65 million, and e-commerce sales increased from less than 1% of total retail sales to over 5% of retail sales during his previous tenure.”


Caroline Jansen, Khareem Sudlow