April 7, 2021
At Kroger’s investor event held last Wednesday, management reiterated FY21 guidance for an identical sales decline of 3% – 5% and EPS of $2.75 – $2.95. The Company also outlined plans for shareholder return of 8% – 11% and net earnings growth of 3% – 5% through a number of strategies. Kroger believes it will double online sales to more than $20.00 billion by the end of 2023 and will have 11 of its planned 20 Ocado-powered robotic fulfillment centers open by the end of 2022. CEO Rodney McMullen said the Company plans to attract customers with an expanded fresh foods assortment, grow its advertising business as an alternate revenue stream, and fulfill online grocery orders more efficiently with the help of Ocado. Kroger already doubled its e-grocery business to more than $10.00 billion as the pandemic drove consumers online. The Company also said it doubled the number of digital households within its network during the past year.
Kroger disclosed that over the past year it invested more than $2.50 billion to safeguard and reward its associates, including nearly $1.00 billion to secure pensions for more than 30,000 associates. This was in addition to the $800.0 million incremental investment in associate wages and training over the last three years, which raised its average wage to more than $15.50/hour. The Company plans to invest an additional $350.0 million to increase its average associate wage to $16/hour by the end of the year. Click here to request a list of future store openings and closings.
Amazon 4-Star has opened a store at American Dream, the massive retail and entertainment center in East Rutherford, NJ. All merchandise in the 4,500 square-foot store has a customer rating above four stars on Amazon.com, is a top-seller or a new and trending item on the site. About 2,500 products are featured in categories ranging from books and games to beauty items and kitchen goods.
Meanwhile, according to published reports, Amazon had considered opening new retail stores that would sell discounted consumer electronics and home goods last year, but due to the pandemic it was forced to prioritize the demand and the launch of its Fresh grocery store. According to a source, “the idea for a consumer electronics and home goods store was a way to be able to clean out warehouses, and get through inventory without having to destroy it. Among the ideas discussed was also opening pop-up stores in parking lots to sell the goods (Amazon also runs a handful of stores called Amazon Pop Up). The discount stores would be similar in concept to the 30-store chain Amazon 4-Star. While the idea was put on hold because of the pandemic, it could be revisited. Click here for a list of Amazon future store openings.
Target is closing two underperforming stores in the San Francisco, CA area on June 26. The closings will leave the Company with five stores in the city and dozens of locations throughout the Bay Area. Target had announced plans to accelerate its new store openings with a focus on smaller stores, opening up to 40 stores annually, and 150 store remodels during the next several years. Click here to request a list of future store openings and closings.
Dollarama’s 4Q sales increased 3.6% to $1.10 billion, driven by net new store growth of 65 over the past year, bringing its store count to 1,356. Comps declined 0.2%, reflecting a 27% increase in average transaction size and a 21.4% decrease in the number of transactions. More stringent measures by provincial authorities in the month of December, including lockdowns, stricter in-store capacity limits in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, and the temporary ban on the sale of non-essential items in Quebec, where approximately 30% of the Company’s stores are located, negatively impacted in-store traffic and sales during the quarter. Operating income was $256.1 million, down from $266.1 million last year.
Management said that it believes Dollarama can profitably grow its Canadian store network to approximately 2,000 stores over the next 10 years, or by 2031, with an average new store capital payback period of approximately two years. This is an increase from Dollarama’s previously disclosed long-term store target of 1,700 stores in Canada by 2027.
Looking ahead at fiscal 2022, the Company expects 60 – 70 net new store openings and capex of $160.0 million – $170.0 million. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
Dick’s Sporting Goods is opening the first store under its new House of Sport concept in Victor, NY this Friday. House of Sport focuses on “multi-sport experiences,” stronger community engagement, and improved customer service. The store has a number of “experiential” elements, including a 17,000 square-foot track and turf field, a 32-foot rock-climbing wall, golf pro shops with simulator bays, a putting green, a batting cage, wellness services like yoga, and equipment services like baseball glove steaming, racquet stringing, and tune-ups. A second location under the banner will open in Knoxville, TN later this year.
Turning to other recent ventures by Dick’s, its Warehouse Sale concept will grow by two locations, with Concord, NC having opened on April 2 and Plano, TX set to open this Thursday. The Company also, as of yesterday, completed installing upgraded Soccer Shops in 34 of its existing stores, and announced plans to open nine new Golf Galaxy stores by the end of this month, for a total of 107 locations under the concept.
For background, in June 2020 as the early pandemic months pushed athleisure sales sky-high, the Company announced the launch of two new discount concepts, Overtime by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Dick’s Sporting Goods Warehouse. At the time, it had opened three Overtime stores and five Warehouse locations, referring to the latter concept as a “temporary pop-up-style” that would operate for six months (the initial Warehouse stores are now closed). In October, Dick’s added a Warehouse pop-up in a former Best Buy in Olathe, KS (set to close by the end of this month) and its first Soccer Shop in Leawood, KS. In March 2021, Dick’s opened another Warehouse store in Deer Park, NY.
Finally, Dick’s announced plans for its outdoors-focused concept Public Lands in November 2020, set to debut with two store openings (Pittsburgh, PA and Columbus, OH) in 2H21. The Company had already been working on this concept prior to the pandemic; Dick’s has been looking to exit its Field & Stream banner as it has ceased firearm sales. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
Bass Pro Shops said plans for its proposed 100,000 square-foot Bakersfield, CA location are on hold. The Company noted, “We may well proceed with the project at a later time,” and would not indicate whether or not the project was canceled. Plans for the store were unveiled in 2017; it was slated to anchor the Bakersfield Gateway’s 800,000 square feet of mixed retail, for which construction finally began earlier this year. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
Our analysts recently issued a report on Icahn Enterprises, dba Pep Boys, which discusses the Company’s overall outlook and that of the automotive sector in general, as well as financial highlights. Click here to request a copy of the full report.
Dom’s Kitchen & Market, a Chicago-based grocery startup of urban food stores, has raised an additional $15.0 million in Series Seed growth investment, bringing the total raised to $25.0 million to date. The concept was first introduced last year by Bob Mariano, founder of Mariano’s and previously CEO of Roundy’s and Dominick’s. Dom’s Kitchen & Market will open its first store in June 2021 and expects to accelerate future store openings as well as further develop the e-commerce platform for mobile ordering, loyalty programs, and curbside pickup. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
H&M’s 1Q21 revenue declined 27% to SEK 40.06 billion (approximately US$4.60 billion) excluding VAT, down 21% in local currency, primarily impacted by the pandemic and store closures. The second wave of the pandemic resulted in extensive restrictions, forcing H&M to temporarily close more than 1,800 stores during 1Q21, or about 36% of the Company’s total. Sales declined across all markets except China, which posted a 21% sales increase in local currency. Online sales grew 57% in local currencies. Gross margin eroded 340 bps on the sales deleveraging of fixed costs and increased markdowns. The Company continues to implement cost mitigation measures, including reducing rent, marketing, and labor expenses; however, these measures were insufficient to mitigate the sales deleveraging impact and gross margin deterioration, and ultimately the Company recorded an operating loss of SEK 1.13 billion for the quarter. Click here to request a list of future openings and closings.
Famous Dave’s is introducing its counter and line-serve “Quick ‘Que” restaurant prototypes to Las Vegas, NV and Salt Lake City, UT. The Las Vegas location will feature a line-serve model, while the Salt Lake City restaurant will feature a counter-serve model. Both restaurant models have smaller footprints and will offer quicker service. Famous Dave’s expects to open five new Quick ‘Que locations in 2021. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
Licensed sports merchandise retailer Fanatics raised $320.0 million from current investors, on the heels of a global online sales increase of 30% in YTD21. The new funding brings the Company’s valuation to $12.80 billion, more than double its $6.20 billion valuation six months ago. Silver Lake led the round of funding, with Fidelity, Neuberger Berman, Franklin Templeton, Thrive Capital, and Blackstone among the other contributors. Fanatics plans to use the new funds for mergers and acquisitions and to expand further internationally. In announcing the new funding, a Company spokesperson also hinted at a possible IPO: “While an IPO is clearly an available option to us, there is no update on any timeline. Our focus remains on building a great global company and strengthening our vertical commerce business model.”
Fanatics, owned by Kynetic LLC, sells products through its website as well as through more than 300 online and brick-and-mortar stores. The Company operates ecommerce sites for all U.S. major professional sports leagues; more than 200 collegiate and professional sports teams; major media brands like NBC Sports, CBS Sports and Fox Sports; and several European football clubs and Japanese baseball teams. Fanatics forecasts total sales of more than $3.00 billion for the current fiscal year, with approximately 80% of its sales occurring online. Since its last round of funding six months ago, Fanatics acquired college headwear brand Top of the World and novelty / non-apparel sports retailer WinCraft; signed a deal with hat retailer Lids and Barnes & Noble Education to operate 770 collegiate websites and bookstores through a joint venture; and launched Fanatics China through a joint venture with Asian private equity firm Hillhouse Capital. Click here to request more information.
Yesterday, Signet Jewelers announced it has acquired Rocksbox, an innovative jewelry rental subscription platform, as part of its strategy to accelerate growth in the services category. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Launched in 2012 by CEO Meaghan Rose, Rocksbox allows monthly members to rent and swap exclusive and designer jewelry styles via its online platform. Rocksbox further strengthens Signet’s portfolio of banners that includes Kay, Zales, Jared, Peoples, jamesallen.com, H. Samuel, Ernest Jones, and Piercing Pagoda. It provides an additional point of entry for self-purchasing female customers, an underdeveloped segment for Signet, and is expected to help the Company continue extending market share. Signet recently announced a focus on the acceleration of its Services business as part of its “Inspiring Brilliance” growth strategy. The Company expects to grow its repair and warranty services and piercings as well as introduce new services.
Camping World signed a deal to acquire nine acres of land in Cheyenne, WY for the development of a new location. This will be the Company’s first store in Wyoming, with an anticipated opening in late 2021/early 2022. Camping World also signed a deal to acquire Hilltop RV Superstore, which operates dealerships in Escanaba and Ishpeming, MI. These are the Company’s first locations in the Upper Peninsula and will bring Camping World’s store count in Michigan to six once the deal closes, which is slated to occur in May 2021. Camping World currently operates 174 locations in 38 states, with plans to eventually expand to all 48 contiguous states.
On April 21, Atlanta will serve as the backdrop for the U.S. debut of an entertainment concept combining mini-golf with food and drink. Puttshack is preparing to open the 25,000 square-foot upscale space, which features four tech-driven mini-golf courses, a “high-concept” menu, a full bar, and an indoor-outdoor rooftop patio. The courses are colorful and custom-themed, with interactive leader boards and a digital prize wheel. Each customer is assigned a sanitized ball with a chip that automatically records shots and registers scores. Puttshack currently operates three locations in London, and more U.S. sites are in the works, with openings in Chicago and Miami later this year. The Company also recently signed a lease in Nashville, TN, slated to open in 2H23. The concept was created by Steve and Dave Jolliffe, the original founders of Topgolf and World Golf Systems, and Adam Breeden, co-founder of Flight Club, Ace Bounce and All Star Lanes.
Dillard’s 4Q20 comparable sales fell 17% primarily due to lower store traffic, but comps have improved sequentially over the last three quarters. Sales of home and furniture significantly outperformed other merchandise categories, with women’s apparel the weakest-performing segment. Gross margin advanced 130 basis points due to fewer markdowns. Dillard’s has instituted tight inventory controls to align purchases with sales; as a result, inventory declined 26% year-over-year. The gross margin expansion and lower expenses outpaced the sales decline and lifted quarterly EBITDA 30% to $191.4 million. However, FY20 EBITDA fell 66% to $133.3 million due to the impact of the pandemic and store closures earlier in the year. Debt was essentially flat year-over-year at $566.5 million. Dillard’s has no debt maturities until January 2023 when a $45.0 million note matures. During FY20, Dillard’s closed three locations and announced the upcoming closing of its Paradise Valley Mall location in Phoenix, AZ. Click here to request a list of future store openings and closings.
Testimony in the Bankruptcy Court proceedings for Tailored Brands shed some light on circumstances that necessitated $75.0 million in financing for the Company from Silver Point Capital, its largest shareholder, last month. As background, the Company emerged from bankruptcy on December 1, 2020. Following emergence, the Trustee administering the Liquidating Trust attempted to increase the payout to general unsecured creditors. The Trustee was ultimately successful, as the Court approved a settlement between the Liquidating Trust, the Debtors and Silver Point, which increased the payout to general unsecured creditors to $3.3 million, or about 6% of allowed claims, from the initial expected recovery of about 1.3% of allowed claims. The Trustee also testified about operational problems at the go-forward company, which we believe highlight that its operational performance was below the expectations set forth in the Plan of Reorganization. This necessitated the need for the $75.0 million loan only three months after emergence. In that regard, the Trustee revealed that the Company’s “receipts in November and December 2020 were $181 million, roughly $84.0 million below the Company’s forecast.” Additionally, net cash flow during that period, was $72.0 million below budgeted levels in the Plan. The Trustee stated, “Addressing these difficulties quickly was key to preventing another possible bankruptcy filing.” He added, “If the liquidity issues could not be resolved, and trade creditors stopped supplying, and there were cross defaults triggered … there was a real risk of another [bankruptcy] filing, particularly given how quickly the Company was experiencing these issues.”
Michaels is launching a test program with Instacart to offer same-day delivery of online orders from nearly 100 stores across Chicago, Dallas, and Washington D.C. With the new partnership, customers can now shop from thousands of arts and crafts products, including canvases, yarn, paint, and other art supplies for delivery within an hour. Following the initial pilot, Michaels plans to expand delivery via Instacart to all of its stores in the U.S. over the coming months. Other non-food retailers partnering with Instacart since the outbreak of COVID-19 last year include Walgreens, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Best Buy. Michaels currently operates more than 1,272 stores in 49 states and Canada. Click here to request a list of future openings and closings.