Karstadt CEO Sjoestedt Resigns Months Into Turnaround Plan

Karstadt Warenhaus GmbH, the German department-store operator, said Chief Executive Officer Eva-Lotta Sjoestedt resigned after less than five months as the retailer struggles to cope with a moribund sales environment.

The former Ikea executive, who started her job in February, said a “close examination” of the business and detailed look at the numbers led her to decide there wasn’t a path forward for her plan. Karstadt’s owners supported her strategy, Sjoestedt said today in a statement released by the company.

Karstadt, which operates 83 stores across Germany, named Sjoestedt as CEO in December, saying her expertise could help the company put recent difficulties behind it. Her resignation “comes as a surprise for us and in very difficult times” for Karstadt, supervisory board Chairman Stephan Fanderl said.

Chief Financial Officer Miguel Muellenbach and human resources officer Kai-Uwe Weitz will take over the running of the retailer for now, Fanderl said.

Karstadt, owned by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, is being weighed down by a lackluster climate for department stores in Germany. Its first-half revenue fell 3.9 percent to 1.41 billion euros ($1.9 billion) and the company lost 34 million euros in the period, Handelsblatt reported May 25.

Karstadt, based in Essen, Germany, said in March that its corporate headquarters would no longer dictate the product lines for local stores. In today’s statement, Sjoestedt said that when she took the CEO job, she presumed she “would be allowed to develop” Karstadt from its “very difficult situation.”

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