GameStop Shakes Up Board; Kathy Vrabeck to Become Board Chair

Fiscally challenged GameStop March 9 announced the appointment of three new members to its board, including Reginald Fils-Aimé, William Simon and James Symancyk.

Kathy Vrabeck, the gaming retailer’s lead director, will become board chair, succeeding Dan DeMatteo, former interim CEO, who is retiring in June. George Sherman remains CEO.

Kathy Vrabeck

Simon and Symancyk’s appointments are effective immediately; Fils-Aimé’s appointment will be effective April 20. GameStop’s board also announced a number of corporate governance enhancements, implementing new guidelines for board tenure and committee refreshment, also effective immediately.

Directors DeMatteo, Gerald Szczepanski, Larry Zilavy and Steve Koonin are retiring from the board in June and will not stand for re-election at the annual shareholders’ meeting. In addition, two current directors — Jerome Davis and Tom Kelly — are retiring from the board, effective June 2021, and will not stand for re-election at the 2021 meeting.

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Following the 2020 meeting, the GameStop board will be composed of 10 directors, nine of whom will be independent and six of whom will have served on the board for less than two years. Median director tenure will be one year, significantly reduced from the prior median director tenure of eight years. These changes represent key elements of a board “refreshment process” initiated in early 2019.

“The refreshment and governance enhancements represent an important milestone in GameStop’s transformation as we continue to evolve the company’s business strategy for long-term success,” Sherman said in a statement.

Indeed, the board changes come as GameStop faces increased challenges in a retail market undermined by digital streaming and lack of new-generation hardware. The company reported a 27.5% decline in winter holiday sales. Comparable store sales decreased 24.7%.

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The three new directors are said to have “deep” experience and expertise in retail, turnaround, consumer products, gaming and finance that are relevant to the GameStop’s business.

Fils-Aimé brings more than 35 years of experience transforming companies, revitalizing brands and reshaping industries. From 2006 to 2019, he served as president/COO of Nintendo. During his tenure, Fils-Aimé focused on the development and launch of Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch, quadrupling the company’s revenue from 2005 to 2010.

Simon has more than 30 years of operational and strategic advisory experience in the retail, consumer and food and beverage industries. Since 2014, he has served as a senior advisor at KKR & Co. Previously, he served in multiple leadership roles at Walmart from 2006 to 2015, including CEO of Walmart U.S. from 2010 to 2014; and COO of Walmart U.S. from 2007 to 2010.

Symancyk has more than 25 years of executive leadership and operational experience in the retail and consumer products industries. He has been CEO of PetSmart since 2018. Symancyk previously served as CEO of Academy Sports & Outdoors, a retail and ecommerce sporting goods chain, from 2015 to 2018.

“We appreciate the perspectives and input of our shareholders, which we carefully considered in making changes to our corporate governance guidelines,” Vrabeck said. “The board unanimously supports these enhancements, and we remain committed to ensuring that the Board is positioned to drive long-term value for all shareholders.”

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