Neiman Marcus CEO blasted by employees over ‘snobbish’ pivot to wealthy clients
Neiman Marcus’ chief executive is facing an employee backlash after he said the luxury chain plans to focus more exclusively on its wealthiest clients — a “snobbish” pivot that some sales staffers fear will alienate shoppers.
In an interview with Fortune last week, CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck noted that a tiny, 2% sliver of the company’s customer base accounts for a whopping 40% of its business. Accordingly, Neiman plans to work harder courting those well-heeled shoppers — and spend less time on the rest, he said.
“Many customers shop at Neiman Marcus 25 times a year and spend $27,000,” van Raemdonck said. “I see much more risk in having a one-time transaction where I don’t know if you will ever come back.”
The luxury department store’s top sales reps were horrified. Indeed, one who asked not to be identified said a customer who has spent $5,000 at Neiman Marcus over the past year mentioned van Raemdonck’s interview over the weekend and “felt personally insulted.”
“I’m scrambling now,” the rep said.
“What about the future millionaires?” the sales rep added. “We work so hard to create a welcoming culture at our store for everyone and now we have our CEO excluding some that come in. He’s actually hurting us and our future.”
Van Raemdonck said that the Dallas-based department store is no longer going to sell “everywhere on the price spectrum, from clearance to high-end jewelry,” arguing that focusing on the most affluent customers avoids the “churn and the price is no longer the main consideration.”
One of the hallmarks of van Raemdonck’s five-year tenure at Neiman Marcus is his decision to close the company’s 22 Last Call discount stores in 2020 — though a handful of stores are still open.
“We looked at the numbers and couldn’t see customers who shopped at Last Call and then became Neiman Marcus customers,” van Raemdonck told Fortune.
The air of exclusivity was too much for the company’s own employees.
“Many of us who sell are extremely upset,” a veteran store sales rep told The Post. “Not all of our clients spend $27,000 and they aren’t millionaires. Why would he say this and alienate some of our customers — and with such a snobbish tone.”
The rep added, “They may not be important to him but they are to us. We have personal relationships with all sorts. And we work on commission.”
Neiman Marcus didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.