January 13, 2021
On January 11, privately held Staples offered to buy ODP Corp., owner of Office Depot, for $2.10 billion in cash. The two companies previously tried to merge in both 1996 and 2014 and were rejected by the FTC as being anticompetitive. Should the companies merge now, it would create a stronger platform to compete against Amazon and mass merchants. Additionally, there could be significant cost savings. Staples said it would divest ODP's B2B business if the acquisition is approved. Below is a map of Staples stores within a 5-miles radius of Office Depot stores within the U.S.
Yesterday, Albertsons Companies reported results for its 3Q ended December 5. Sales increased 9.3% to $15.40 billion, driven by a 12.3% increase in identical sales, partially offset by lower fuel sales. Identical sales benefited from the Company’s 225% growth in digital sales. Adjusted EBITDA increased 53% to $967.7 million, primarily attributable to the Company’s identical sales, and the improved sales leverage experience in gross margin and selling and administrative expenses. During the YTD FY20 period, the Company spent approximately $1.10 billion in capital expenditures, which included accelerated investment in digital and technology initiatives, and the completion of 225 store remodels.
The Company updated it FY20 outlook and now expects identical sales of 16.5% (previously at least 15.5%), adjusted EPS of $3.05 – $3.15 (previously $2.75 – $2.85 per share), adjusted EBITDA of $4.40 billion – $4.50 billion (previously $4.15 billion – $4.25 billion), and capex of $1.65 billion – $1.75 billion (previously $1.9 billion, due to a timing shift between fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021).
In other news, Albertsons is piloting an automated and contactless grocery PickUp kiosk. The kiosk is located at one of its Jewel-Osco stores in Chicago, IL. Customers who use the “Kiosk PickUp” option select two-hour time slots to pick up their groceries. When customers arrive at the kiosk, they scan a code on their mobile device, and their groceries are robotically delivered to the front of the unit for pickup. The unit features two temperature zones—regular and deep freeze. A single order can be stored in two different zones and still be delivered in the same console for pick up. The kiosk in Chicago is currently fulfilling orders, and the Company plans to install a second unit at a Bay Area Safeway in the near future.
Following up last week’s story also dealing with grocery deliveries, Albertsons is shifting to third-party grocery delivery for its Safeway, Vons and Pavilions banners in California; a Company representative said that the shift will take place in several market areas across 10 states beginning February 27. Albertsons plans to rely on third-party fulfillment providers for orders in these areas. The Company has reportedly partnered with DoorDash to deliver for the Company’s banners across the U.S., not just California. Click here to request a list of store openings and closings.
Today, Target reported its November-December results. Comps rose 17.2% with e-commerce sales doubling. Home goods, hard lines, and sporting equipment were the strongest categories; comps in the home goods segment were up in the low 20% range, with food and beverage up 17%. Both traffic and average ticket improved, up 4.3% and 12.3%, respectively. Store sales comps improved 4.2% and digital comps were up just over 100%. The Company reported that the cadence of holiday sales slowed, as holiday promotions were spread out starting in late October. Sales growth slowed slightly compared to 3Q, which were up 21%. Target's same day services including Drive-Up (up 500%), Order Pickup, and Shipt (up 300%) grew a combined 193%. Target's fourth quarter will end on January 31, and will report the full quarter's results on March 2, 2021. Click here for a list of future store openings and closings.
Trader Joe’s plans to open its first store in Harlem in New York City. The 28,000 square-foot store will join Target as an anchor to the upcoming Urban League Empowerment Center. Target is slated to occupy 44,000 square feet in the mixed-use project. The new Harlem location will be the Company’s 13th store in New York City and its 9th in Manhattan.Click here to request a list of future store openings.
Last Wednesday, Amazon shut down its online Amazon Pantry grocery program, previously known as Prime Pantry, which it began in 2014. The program required prime members to pay an extra $4.99 a month for unlimited free shipping on any orders of more than $40. The Company will transfer its assortment to the main e-commerce store so customers can buy everyday household products faster, without an extra subscription or purchase requirement. Amazon will continue to push ahead with it grocery offerings through its brick and mortar Amazon Fresh and Go Grocery chains as well as its online rollout.
Amazon is buying 11 used Boeing 767-300 jets from Delta (7) and WestJet (4) as part of its rapidly expanding air cargo operations. It is the first time the Company has bought, rather than leased, planes for its fleet and a sign of increasing demand for cargo carriers and fast deliveries amid a pandemic that has seen air passenger demand plummet. The aircraft from WestJet are being converted from passenger to cargo use and are expected to join the Company’s growing Amazon Air network, comprised of leased aircraft, in 2021. The seven planes from Delta are slated to join the fleet in 2022; the Company stressed it will continue to rely on third-party carriers to operate these new aircraft. Amazon says its cargo fleet will total 85 aircraft by the end of 2022.
In other news, on Monday Amazon announced that it will open five facilities in metro Detroit during 2021. This will include a 820,000 square-foot fulfillment center that will use robotics technology to pack smaller items, a fulfillment center supporting same-day deliveries, a site to handle big items, and two more to manage sortation and distribution in Amazon’s “middle mile,” where goods move from Amazon Air hubs, gateways and fulfillment centers to be sorted by ZIP code before being transported to delivery stations or last-mile delivery partners for the final move to customers. Amazon currently operates 10 sites in Detroit to support customer fulfillment and delivery operations. That includes four facilities that it opened during 2020. Last August, Amazon said it would build a 3.8 million-square-foot distribution center in Detroit set to open in mid-2022. Click here for a list of Amazon future openings.
Michaels plans to close five underperforming stores this month, located in North Babylon and Manhattan, NY; New Bern, NC; Hermitage, PA; and Vancouver, Canada. The 25,000 square-foot North Babylon store opened in July 2015 and employed more than 60 people. The 34,000 square-foot Manhattan location opened in 2010, and the lease had been renewed in 2018. The Hermitage location was previously a Pat Catan’s before it was converted to a Michaels in 2019. The 16,000 square-foot Vancouver location first opened in 2012 and was one of the last remaining non-upscale retailers within the Alberni Street luxury retail strip. Michaels owns and operates 1,271 locations. It reported 3Q20 sales increased 15.1% to $1.41 billion, and comps were up 16.3%. Click here to request a list store openings and closings.
Last July, NPC International, Inc., a franchisee of Yum! Brands and The Wendy’s Company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At the time of the filing, NPC was the largest U.S. franchisee of both the Pizza Hut and Wendy’s concepts with about 1,200 and 385 restaurants under the two banners, respectively. In August 2020, NPC reached an agreement to close up to 300 underperforming Pizza Hut locations.
Last week, NPC reached an agreement to sell all of its remaining Pizza Hut locations and about half of its Wendy’s restaurants to Flynn Restaurant Group for $552.6 million. The Wendy’s restaurants are located in the Salt Lake City, Central Maryland, Baltimore North, and Baltimore South regions. Flynn Restaurant Group operates over 1,200 restaurants in the U.S. under a number of banners including Taco Bell, Panera Bread, Applebee’s, and Arby’s.
NPC also agreed to sell its remaining Wendy’s restaurants, including locations in the Kansas City, North Greensboro, South Greensboro, Raleigh, and Pennsylvania areas, to a group of existing Wendy’s franchisees for an aggregate price of $248.3 million. Neither of the franchisors Yum! Brands and The Wendy’s Company expect to acquire or operate any of the restaurants in these transactions. Wendy’s expects the deal will close by 2Q21, subject to final approval from the bankruptcy court.
A Grocery Neighbour tractor-trailer that has converted to a grocery store on wheels will start to visit neighborhoods across Canada in the next few months. Grocery Neighbour anticipates it will be the first of a new fleet of mobile grocery stores that could serve thousands of communities across North America. The concept evolved as a result of the pandemic, and it has taken 10 months for the first truck to be completed. With an automated checkout system, shoppers enter through one end, pick up what they want, scan it with their phone and leave through the other end. The selection will obviously be smaller than in a traditional grocery store, but the prices will be competitive.
Carrols Restaurant Group reported preliminary sales results for 4Q and FY20 ended January 3. Total 4Q sales increased 5.8% to $420.5 million (4Q20 had one extra week vs 4Q19). Comparable sales fell 0.9% at its Burger King restaurants and 12.9% at Popeyes, after a gain of 21.2% in the prior-year quarter, largely attributable to COVID-19 impacts. For FY20 sales increased 6.5% to $1.55 billion. Comparable sales fell 2.8% at Burger King and 0.1% at Popeyes. Management commented that delivery rose to 3.4% of total Burger King 4Q sales, up from 2.9% in 3Q.
On January 4, Carrols reached an agreement with its franchisor, Burger King Corporation, to amend its area development agreement. The old agreement required Carrols to open 200 new Burger King restaurants and remodel or upgrade an additional 748 restaurants by September 30, 2024. Following the amendment, Carrols is now required to open 50 new BK restaurants by September 30, 2021, 10 additional units by September 30, 2022, and then 12 more units each by September 30, 2023, 2024, and 2025. Carrols also relinquished its right of first refusal to acquire restaurants from franchisees selling their locations in 16 states. Click here to request a list of future store openings and closings.
Boise Cascade plans to open a new door shop in Houston, TX. The 160,000 square-foot facility will serve approximately 900 customers from the Company’s Houston building materials distribution center. Boise Cascade expects to start producing doors at the facility beginning in the 3Q21. This will be the Company’s ninth door shop in the U.S. and second in Texas, joining a Dallas location that opened in May 2020.
Earlier this month, Simply, Inc. opened a 1,400 square-foot Simply Mac store at Destin Commons mall in Destin, FL. The store sells the entire suite of Apple products, third-party accessories, and Simply Mac’s service and warranty repairs by its team of Apple-certified technicians. Simply Mac, an authorized reseller under the Apple “premier partner program,” operates 44 stores in 19 states. The Company expects to accelerate store growth beginning next year, to expand its footprint across North America.
IKEA unveiled its first store to open in the U.S. with a smaller format, located at the Rego Center shopping mall in Queens, NY. The store offers a full range of products across 115,000 square feet of space, about half the size of an average IKEA. The products and featured room sets are designed to meet the lifestyle needs of New Yorkers, with a focus on small-space living solutions. Larger furniture items can be ordered for home delivery for $49 to anywhere in New York City. This is IKEA’s third location in New York City, joining a store in Brooklyn and a 17,000 square-foot “planning studio” in Manhattan. The Company recently opened a customer fulfillment center in Staten Island to support demand. By the end of January, all of IKEA’s last-mile deliveries in New York City will be completed by electric vehicles. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
In the Francesca’s bankruptcy case, the Debtors entered into a stalking horse purchase agreement to sell substantially all their assets as a going concern to a group including TerraMar Capital, LLC (an investment firm that provides debt and equity capital to middle-market businesses) and Tiger Capital Group, LLC (which was engaged to dispose of the Debtors merchandise and also provided DIP financing). The purchase price is $17.4 million in cash and $6.6 million in assumed liabilities. The purchasers will acquire all avoidance actions. A break-up fee of $693,000 (3% of the purchase price) applies if Francesca’s were to back out of the transaction. The Court also granted final approval for the Debtors to:
- use cash collateral, and
- access up to the entire $25.0 million under a DIP Facility provided by Tiger Capital.
RH announced it is making an initial equity investment of $105.0 million in connection with real estate development initiatives in Aspen, CO. The investment includes properties that will be developed into a two-story downtown storefront, two restaurants, multiple residences, and a boutique hotel. RH Gallery will include 25,000 – 30,000 square feet of retail space and will offer interior, architecture, and landscape services; it will feature a restaurant similar to other RH properties. RH Guesthouse, Bath, and Spa at the historic Crystal Palace will feature guest suites, a bathhouse, spa, and restaurant. RH Residences at the historic Boomerang Lodge, purchased in June 2018 for $10.0 million, will include five fully furnished four-bedroom custom homes. A second RH Residence will be built on Red Mountain and feature a fully furnished a six-bedroom home. These properties are expected to be completed in 2022. The Company is referring to the Aspen investment as an “ecosystem,” branching out from home furnishings retail. RH will test the concept in Aspen with an eye on future opportunities to develop similar ecosystems. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
Denny’s Corporation also reported selected preliminary results for its 4Q and FYE December 30. Domestic FY20 system-wide same-store sales were down 31%, with 4Q sales down 33%. As of December, 891 dining rooms were open, 586 were closed, and 31 were temporarily closed due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. In 2020, Denny’s opened 20 restaurants, including 8 international locations, and closed 73 restaurants, bringing the year-end total restaurant count to 1,650. In addition, 22 remodels were completed during fiscal 2020, including two at Company restaurants. During 4Q, the Company paid down $20.0 million on its revolving credit facility, resulting in an outstanding balance of $210.0 million as of December 30. After considering cash on hand, the remaining capacity under its revolving credit facility, and liquidity covenants, the Company had approximately $82.0 million of total available liquidity. Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and resulting dining room closures, the Company now anticipates adjusted EBITDA for 2020 of $24.0 million – $26.0 million. The Company previously provided full year guidance of $5.0 million – $7.0 million in cash tax refunds, however these are now expected to be received in fiscal 2021. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
On January 7, LVMH completed its acquisition of Tiffany & Co. As previously disclosed, LVMH acquired Tiffany for $131.50 per share, down from the original deal price of $135.00 per share, bringing the total price to $15.80 billion, which saved LVMH about $425.0 million. Tiffany will now operate as an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of LVMH. The acquisition is expected to strengthen LVMH’s position in jewelry and further increase its presence in the U.S.
Concurrently, LVMH announced several leadership appointments at Tiffany:
- Anthony Ledru, previously EVP, global commercial activities at Louis Vuitton and formerly SVP of North America at Tiffany, was appointed CEO of Tiffany. Alessandro Bogliolo, the current CEO of Tiffany, has agreed to remain with the company to facilitate the transition through January 22.
- Alexandre Arnault, previously CEO of luggage company RIMOWA, took over as EVP, product and communications of Tiffany.
- Michael Burke, the chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton, is now chairman of Tiffany’s board.
In the ascena retail group bankruptcy case, the Debtors filed a list of 13 additional planned store closings (seven Ann Taylor, five LOFT, and one Lane Bryant), and a motion to reject two additional leases. Click here to request the list of additional closures.
Shake Shack announced preliminary unaudited results for 4Q ended December 30. Total sales increased 4% to $157.5 million, showing sequential improvement when compared to a decline of 17.3% in 3Q20. Same-Shack sales declined 17.4% compared to down 31.7% in 3Q, and down 49.0% in 2Q. Same-Shack sales at suburban locations were approximately flat in the 4Q compared to the prior year despite the challenging operating environment due to COVID-19.
The Company recently launched curbside pickup and has begun testing delivery through its app at several locations in the Miami, FL area to support a broader rollout in 2021. Shake Shack is planning to step-up unit growth for FY22 with the opening of 45 – 50 new domestic Company-operated Shacks, which will incorporate digital pre-ordering and pick-up capability. It plans to build its first drive-thru Shack later in 2021. Additionally, it expects to open 15 – 20 new licensed Shacks in FY21 and 20 – 25 in FY22. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
On January 6, Loves Furniture and Mattresses, owned by Dallas-based private equity firm U.S. Assets Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid struggles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Loves was formed in April 2020 by investor Jeff Love when it acquired 27 Art Van Furniture locations across Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, and Maryland. Art Van Furniture, which operated 167 stores under the Art Van Furniture, Levin Furniture, and Wolf Furniture banners, had filed Chapter 11 in March 2020. It also opened or acquired 13 additional locations between May and October in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The board attributed the continuing pandemic, government restrictions on business operations, the need for additional operational financing, and creditor demands as reasons for the filing. The Company plans to reduce its store base to 13 core locations, with the remaining stores to host going-out-of-business sales organized by Planning Furniture Promotions. A recent lawsuit filed by Mississippi-based furniture maker Southern Motion Inc. and its subsidiary Fusion Furniture Inc. alleges a breach of contract by Loves over more than $1.8 million in unpaid merchandise. The bankruptcy filing estimates the number of creditors to be between 100 and 199, and its assets and liabilities to be $10.0 million – $50.0 million each.