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The BoF Podcast: Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Sees Stores As Vital for Digital Growth

In an exclusive conversation with BoF’s Imran Amed, Geoffroy van Raemdonck expresses optimism for the retailer’s bankruptcy process and explains why brick-and-mortar remains integral to its core business.
Geoffroy van Raemdonck | Source: Courtesy

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LONDON, United Kingdom — When facing both a nation-wide retail shutdown and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing, Neiman Marcus Group Chief Executive Geoffroy van Raemdonck found solace in one fact: his most loyal customers, even at stores that have yet to re-open to the public, are shopping more than they did last year.

“Neiman Marcus is a relationships business,” Van Raemdonck told BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed in an exclusive interview this week.

Despite the global health crisis — and a dire debt problem that loomed even pre-pandemic — Van Raemdonck sees an opportunity for growth.

  • As consumers continue to migrate online, Neiman Marcus' 43 stores remain integral to forging lasting connections between shoppers and sales associates. Prior to the coronavirus, every Neiman Marcus store that was open for more than a year was profitable. That's why the retailer is planning on closing fewer than 10 stores, Van Raemdonck said.
  • Neiman Marcus' primary problem is debt. In 2019, the company generated $415 million in adjusted EBITDA, which represented 9 percent of its sales. The issue is that $365 million of that profit had to go toward paying down its debt. In the bankruptcy process, Neiman Marcus has been able to convince more than 75 percent of its debtholders to exchange what they are owed for equity in the company.
  • The retailer's objective now is to maximise its existing relationships with customers and meeting them where they are. To do so, it recently unveiled a new clienteling app called Neiman Marcus Connect. The app allows sales associates to connect with their individual customers wherever and however they like to shop.

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