Update: At Annual Meeting, Dillard's CEO Welcomes Better Days

Update: At Annual Meeting, Dillard's CEO Welcomes Better Days
Dillard's headquarters

Now is “the best of times,” and last year was “the worst of times,” Dillard’s Inc. CEO William Dillard II said Saturday morning at the department store chain’s annual meeting at its Little Rock headquarters.

On Thursday, Dillard’s reported improvement in first-quarter profit and sales compared to the first quarter of 2020, which saw the company’s worst loss in its 80-year history after stores had to close or cut hours in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions. 

Dillard's said first-quarter profit hit $158.2 million — a big swing from the $162 million loss in the same period last year.

Investors responded. On Friday, shares of the company (NYSE: DDS) closed at a new high of $125.35. On Saturday afternoon, the company announced a new $500 million share repurchase program and a cash dividend of 15 cents per share. Shares were trading higher by mid-morning Monday, at about $140.

The mood at Saturday's meeting was more upbeat than last year. At its annual meeting on May 16, 2020, Dillard described watching his company go from “reasonably normal” in February to “total chaos” by the end of April.

This year, as usual, executives made few comments during the brief, five-minute meeting. In addition to marking improving business conditions, executives welcomed three new members to the board of directors, with shareholders voting to expand the body from 12 to 15.

The new members are:

  • William "Bill" Dillard III, 50, the son of Dillard's CEO who has been a senior vice president of the company for the last five years; 
  • Rob Holmes, 56, president and CEO and a member of the board of Texas Capital Bank and its parent company, Texas Capital Bancshares Inc. of Dallas; and 
  • Denise Mahaffy, 63, another senior vice president who is a member of the Dillard Family. She is the sister of Dillard II, President Alex Dillard and Executive Vice Presidents Mike Dillard and Drue Matheny. 

Shareholders also reelected the rest of the board and re-appointed KPMG LLP as its accounting firm.