Exclusive: GameStop initiates search for new CEO – sources

(Reuters) – GameStop Corp is looking for a new chief executive to replace George Sherman as it pivots from being a brick-and-mortar video game retailer to an e-commerce firm, three people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A GameStop store is seen in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of New York City, New York, U.S. January 27, 2021. Picture taken January 27, 2021. REUTERS/Nick Zieminski/File Photo

It would be the biggest shakeup at GameStop since Ryan Cohen, the co-founder and former chief executive of online pet food company Chewy Inc, joined its board in January. Its stock is up almost 4,000% from a year ago, after it became the poster child of retail traders betting on so-called “meme” stocks.

GameStop’s board is working with an executive headhunter on the CEO search, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential.

Several GameStop board directors are involved in the search and have spoken with potential candidates from the gaming industry, as well as the e-commerce and technology sectors, the sources said.

A GameStop spokesman declined to comment.

GameStop shares were trading down 12% at $138.75 in afternoon trading on Monday, giving the company a market value of about $10 billion.

The CEO replacement is the latest in a string of changes that Cohen has pursued since joining GameStop. Former Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell and Chief Customer Officer Frank Hamlin are among the senior executives who have left the company in recent weeks.

George Sherman, who has been CEO since April 2019, has been credited internally with slashing costs and steering GameStop through the COVID-19 pandemic that led many retailers to go out of business.

But Cohen and other GameStop board members view Sherman’s 25 years of experience with primarily brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Advance Auto Parts Inc and Home Depot Inc., as less relevant to the digital transformation they have embarked on as a technology company.

Cohen, who last week was named GameStop’s board chairman, is seeking to make the company the online destination of choice for video game fans, just as Chewy won over pet lovers.

He pushed for a number of hires at GameStop, including Elliott Wilke as chief growth officer, Jenna Owens as chief operating officer and Matt Francis as chief technology officer. All three previously worked at Amazon.com Inc.

Cohen also brought on people from Chewy, including Andrea Wolfe as vice president of brand development, Neda Pacifico as senior vice president of e-commerce and Kelli Durkin as senior vice president of customer care.

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