October 19, 2014 / 11:29 AM / 4 years ago

Germany's Karstadt eyes supervisory board head as new CEO: source

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German department store chain Karstadt is set to appoint its supervisory board head as chief executive, a person familiar with the process said on Sunday, as it battles to get back to profitability.

The logo of the German department store chain Karstadt is seen at a warehouse in the western city of Recklinghausen September 11, 2014. REUTERS/ Ina Fassbender

Stephan Fanderl, 51, a former manager at German supermarket chain Rewe [REGRP.UL], would be the best candidate to bring the struggling company back on track, the source said.

He will be Karstadt’s third chief within a year. Former IKEA executive Eva-Lotta Sjostedt stepped down in July after only a few months in the job.

No-one at Karstadt was immediately available for comment.

Privately-held Karstadt is a familiar sight in German cities and is the owner of the KaDeWe luxury department store in Berlin. It has seen its sales fall while rival chain Kaufhof [KAUF.UL] gained market share.

In August the chain changed hands for the second time in four years, with Austrian investor Rene Benko set to restructure the loss-making chain after paying a token 1 euro.

There has long been speculation that Karstadt and Kaufhof, each running around 100 stores, could merge, though retail group Metro, which owns Kaufhof, has always rejected such a move.

Benko previously tried to buy Kaufhof but Metro dismissed the bid as too low.

Separately, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported Karstadt may close 23 of its 83 stores, citing an internal document.

The person said the supervisory board’s thinking was along these lines and that a final decision would be taken later this week.

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Philipp Halstrick and David Holmes

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