The resignation of Donald Brennan, chief merchandising officer at Kohl's Corp, is seen by analysts as underscoring the shifting strategy currently underway at the department store operator.

Kohl's disclosed Brennan's departure in a filing today (25 March), noting that he will be leaving the company on 1 April.

The resignation is the latest in a line of management changes, and follows a 12% drop in fourth-quarter earnings to US$334m in the three months to 1 February, and a 3.8% slide in sales to $6.1bn.

It could also be positioning chief customer officer Michelle Gass "as front-runner for CEO in the future," according to UBS analyst Michael Binetti. Gass was hired from Starbucks in last year.

Binetti also notes that the CMO position is key at Kohl's as the company undergoes a merchandise strategy transition. But he points out that CEO Kevin Mansell was previously CMO, "so has a good working knowledge of the merchandising function to fill the gap during the search for a replacement."

In the interim, all merchants will report directly to CEO Kevin Mansell.