The company announced Tuesday that Jim Bell, its executive vice president and chief financial officer, will step down from his duties on March 26. GameStop (GME) has begun looking for a new CFO “with the skills and qualifications to help accelerate GameStop’s transformation,” he said, alluding to the company’s efforts to shift its focus from physical to online retailing.
The announcement comes about a month after a trading frenzy fueled by the Reddit WallStreetBets page caused a massive surge, and later a drop, in GameStop stock. From the start of the year to January 27, when the stock closed at $ 347.51, the stock gained nearly 1.915%. GameStop shares are now trading around $ 45, a big drop but still above where they started the year.
The event provided massive publicity for GameStop, drawing the attention of everyone from the White House and Janet Yellen to billionaires like Mark Cuban and Elon Musk, not to mention the entire internet. It also raised questions about the future of GameStop, as short sellers who believed that the struggling retailer’s fortunes would fall further were faced with retailers who believed the company was being undervalued.
When asked by CNN Business about the reason for Bell’s departure, a GameStop spokesperson said the company “is not providing further comment at this time on the announcement.”
In a press release, GameStop said it “thanks Mr. Bell for his important contributions and leadership, including his efforts during the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Bell became GameStop’s CFO in June 2019. That year, the company’s CEO admitted that GamesStop was in a “tough spot” – it was experiencing a drop in sales and had plans to close about 200. stores. While the video game industry has been growing, physical games, one of the mainstays of GameStop, have become less popular.
Then came the pandemic and things got a lot worse. In September, the company announced that it planned to close between 400 and 450 stores globally by the end of the year, about 100 more than it had initially projected last March. And in the three months ending October 31, the company’s most recent reported quarter, it posted a net loss of $ 18.8 million.
Still, some investors remain hopeful about the company’s ability to reduce its reliance on brick-and-mortar sales and the transition to e-commerce. Online pet store Chewy.com founder Ryan Cohen made a huge investment in GameStop last year and is now on its board, along with two former Chewy colleagues, and could help propel the retailer to digital age.
If a permanent replacement for the CFO cannot be found before Bell’s departure, the company plans to appoint chief accounting officer Diana Jajeh as interim CFO.