- Nordstrom CFO Anne Bramman said she will be resigning from her position effective Dec. 2, the company announced in a SEC filing on Monday. The move makes Bramman the latest in a growing line of retail executives to step down as the industry faces persistent economic pressures.
- The company’s Chief Accounting Officer Michael Maher will fill the CFO role on an interim basis after Bramman’s departure, Nordstrom said in the filing. The company has begun an internal and external search for a permanent CFO, it said.
- Maher has served as the company’s CAO since 2020, and was SVP of finance from 2017 until 2020. He will continue to serve as Nordstrom’s principal accounting officer during his time as interim CFO, the company said in its filing.
Bramman was the retailer’s CFO for five years, taking over the company’s financials at a turbulent time. Her resignation may also be occurring at a less-than-ideal juncture for the company, according to Industry Dive sister publication Retail Dive.
Bramman’s five-year tenure was marked by several high-profile attempts by the retailer to shift its operating model, including an ill-fated attempt to take the company private. William Blair analysts noted they view her departure as a “setback in the company’s continuing attempt to drive greater financial stability and profitability,” Retail Dive reported.
Her resignation marks the latest in a line of retail executive departures and shake-ups in the past year. For example, clothing retailer Gap Inc. announced in July that its CEO will be leaving, while video and electronics retailer Gamestop fired its CFO as part of staff cuts that month, according to a July CNBC report.
More recently, home retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond scrambled to fill its CFO seat following the suicide of its previous financial head, Gustavo Arnal, appointing its CAO to take on the role in. The events served as a “wake-up call” and prompted questions regarding what the company might need from its permanent financial leadership, CFO Dive previously reported.
Retailers and their financial leaders have been hit hard by current macroeconomic pressures, facing both rising supply chain costs and swollen inventories as well as consumers holding back from spending because of high inflation.
The Consumer Price Index rose a higher than anticipated 0.4 percent in September, according to the most recent Labor Department data, with the all items index rising 8.2% over a 12 month period.
At the same time, retail and food service sales remained flat from August to September at $684 billion, according to Oct.14 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
CFO churn within the retail industry has also increased during the past few years, with turnover expanding from 17% in the retail or consumer space in 2020 to 27% in 2021, according to a 2021 study by executive search firm Russell Reynolds.
This puts retail financial executive turnover on par with the industrial space as sectors experiencing the highest rate of churn. The industrial sector has also reported 27% turnover during the past year.
While the economic pressures retail CFOs are facing are not likely to abate in the near-future, Nordstrom reaffirmed the adjusted full-year guidance it predicted in August during its second quarter earnings call.
This is an encouraging sign, Ashley Helgans, an equity research analyst for Jefferies said to clients Tuesday according to a report by Seeking Alpha. Helgans noted that while the retailer will face headwinds amid a slowing economy in the coming year, Nordstrom’s “exposure to a higher-income consumer would help it hold up relatively well.”
The retailer expects full-year revenue growth of 5% to 7% compared with 2021, according to its second quarter 2022 results, with an adjusted EBIT margin of 4.3% to 4.7% for the full year compared with 3.4% in 2021.
Nordstrom declined to comment beyond the details in its press release.