GameStop CFO Jim Bell will resign on March 26, the company announced. The company didn't provide a reason for the departure, but in its February 23 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it said Bell's resignation was "not because of any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the company's operations, policies or practices, including accounting principles and practices."
The move comes weeks after the company was rocked by historic trading fluctuations stemming from mass purchases by users of a Reddit page called WallStreetBets. Over the month of January, GameStop share prices ballooned nearly 1,915%.
The company has initiated a search of internal and external candidates to replace Bell with the goal of repositioning the company's competitive posture. The new CFO, the company said in its 8-K filing, will have the capabilities and qualifications to help accelerate GameStop's transformation. If one isn't found by the time of his departure, the company will appoint its chief accounting officer, Diana Jajeh, interim CFO.
Last month's share price fiasco "raised questions about GameStop's future, as short sellers who believed the struggling retailer's fortunes would fall farther were pitted against retail traders who believed the company was being undervalued," CNN Business reported.
Key to the trading mix were at-home investors who pumped money into shares and call options in a coordinated short squeeze operation.
Bell joined the video game and consumer electronics retailer in June 2019, after serving as CFO of P. F. Chang's, Red Lion Hotels Corp., and Harry & David Holdings, among other companies.
Shortly after Bell arrived, company CEO George Sherman acknowledged to CNN the company was in a "tough place," weathering a drop in sales and planning to close up to 200 stores.
"We're at the end of the console cycle," Sherman said. "Gaming as an industry could not be stronger ... it's us that needs to pivot. It's GameStop that needs to make some changes."
The retailer's fortunes didn't improve in 2020. In September, it shared plans to close up to 450 brick-and-mortar stores globally by year's end, 100 more than it had projected six months earlier, and it suffered a $18.8 million net loss in its most recent reported quarter.
Jajeh, who joined GameStop as CAO last year, has more than two decades of experience as an auditor, controller and corporate finance executive. Since beginning her career as an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers, she has held senior finance roles at Visa, JUUL Labs and e.l.f. Cosmetics.
Sources close to the company told Business Insider Wednesday that Bell didn't quit, but rather was forced out by the company's board.
GameStop's board "lost faith" in Bell, one of the sources said.
The comment was in response to a November 2020 letter, in which investor Ryan Cohen, who owns 12% of the company, said the strategic vision GameStop needs to continue growing "has not yet taken hold in the c-suite or boardroom," according to the Business Insider report.
In its official statement, GameStop said it "thanks Mr. Bell for his significant contributions and leadership, including his efforts over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Representatives for GameStop and for Bell declined to comment.