January 31, 2024
Southeastern Grocers Inc. (SEG) announced the completion of its strategic divestiture of Fresco y Más to Fresco Retail Group, LLC, an investment group focused on food and grocery. Fresco y Más operates 34 locations across South, Central, and Southwest Florida, including 28 stores and six liquor stores. Amerant Bank led the financing with a $120 million loan.
As we previously reported in August 2023, SEG entered into definitive agreements with Fresco Retail Group and ALDI to complete a comprehensive strategic divestiture of its businesses. Under a proposed merger agreement, ALDI will acquire all outstanding SEG capital stock in an all-cash transaction, which encompasses all SEG grocery operations under the Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie banners. Terms of both deals were not disclosed.
SEG currently anticipates that the proposed acquisition by ALDI will be completed sometime during the first half of calendar 2024. SEG will continue to operate its Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores in the normal course of business up to and until the transactions are completed. This includes approximately 400 stores in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, where 75% of the stores are located.
In the RITE AID CORPORATION, DIP case, the Court issued an order authorizing the Debtors to reject 147 unexpired leases. In addition, the Debtors notified the Court of their plans to close another 10 stores. To date, the Debtors have notified the Court of 387 store closures.
According to reports, HBC is taking steps to refinance a significant portion of its approximately $2.20 billion in debt, which it believes will enable it to increase its liquidity. Reports also state that HBCx is in talks with potential investors concerning $50 million in additional debt, which would be issued under an existing term loan, although the negotiations are ongoing and plans could change.
In other news, Saks will open in a former Barneys New York in Beverly Hills, CA on February 8.
Amazon and iRobot entered into a mutual agreement to terminate their previously announced acquisition agreement, originally signed on August 4, 2022, under which Amazon would have acquired iRobot for cash consideration. The termination agreement included Amazon paying iRobot the previously agreed upon termination fee. Amazon implied that regulatory hurdles prevented the acquisition from proceeding.
Target opened 21 new stores across 10 states nationwide in 2023, with nearly half in California and New York. Four were in new markets: Jamestown, NY, Kill Devil Hills, NC, Quincy, IL, and Grass Valley, CA. Twelve stores featured Target's larger format, which averages 125,000 square feet. Nine locations featured Target's smaller format concept, ranging from a 20,000 square-foot store for college students in Auburn, AL to a 92,000 square-foot store in Brooklyn, NY. Meanwhile, Target also remodeled more than 160 existing locations, adding space for drive up and order pickup services, new fitting rooms, and employee spaces. Full grocery was added to select locations. The Company refreshed more than 80 in-store Starbucks, and opened 40 Apple shops, 140 Ulta Beauty locations, and 20 Disney Clubhouses.
Reports state that CEO Eric Artz issued an internal memo stating that REI is laying off 357 headquarters and support employees as it “braces for a challenging year.” The cuts reportedly represent 2.2% of REI’s total workforce and will affect 200 headquarters employees, six from sales and customer support, 30 from teams that support classes and multiday trips, and 121 in distribution centers. Employees who work in the Company’s stores are not expected to be affected by these layoffs.
The reports stated that management expects this year’s revenue to be “down compared to 2023,” a difficult year that saw lower sales within the outdoor specialty retail industry. Artz noted that the industry has become “more challenging,” adding that in anticipation of lower revenues, “we must adjust our plans and cost structure accordingly.” He also said today’s layoffs were primarily driven by “financial necessity”, while the Company also “took a strategic approach to evaluating team structures against business needs.”
Additional reports indicate that REI plans to open at least 10 new stores this year.
Sprouts Farmers Market recently opened a store in Burtonsville, MD, marking the first Sprouts in the Washington D.C. Metro Area. It is also the first major retailer to settle in Burtonsville Crossing Shopping Center in the last decade.
Nordstrom plans to open a new Nordstrom Rack in Fort Myers, FL in fall 2024. The 31,000 square-foot store will be located at Bell Tower. The Company operates six Nordstrom stores and 19 Nordstrom Rack stores in Florida.
Amer Sports is seeking up to $1.80 billion in an IPO in which it plans to offer 100 million shares at a price between $16 and $18 per share. The high end of this range indicates a valuation of $8.70 billion. Underwriters were granted a 30-day option to purchase up to 15 million additional shares to cover over-allotments. The Company owns a portfolio of about 12 sports and outdoor brands including Wilson, Atomic, Arc'teryx, and Peak Performance.
According to reports, Walgreens Boots Alliance is exploring a sale of Shields Health Solutions, its specialty pharmacy business. The Shields investment was targeted to help Walgreens expand into the high-growth specialty pharmacy business, where it has historically underperformed.
Walgreens is reportedly working with advisers to find potential acquisition candidates for Shields, which is expected to draw interest from private equity firms and health-care companies. There is speculation that Shields could be worth up to $4 billion. Shields accounted for 7% of U.S. Healthcare segment revenue in FY23.
The report also said that Walgreens hasn't made a final decision on the business and may decide to keep it.
In September 2022, Walgreens Boots Alliance bought the remaining stake in Shields Health Solutions for $1.37 billion, after spending $970 million to increase its ownership interest in Shields to 71% the year before.
CVS Health is closing a store in Washington D.C. due to high levels of theft, effective February 29. Reports of robbery in the area are up 68% YOY. Reports say a group of teenagers regularly steal from the location, with street vendors allegedly reselling products.
FAST Acquisition Corp. will pay $12.5 million to resolve investor litigation alleging executives tried to retain a $33 million breakup fee to end a planned merger with the parent of Landry's restaurants, under a settlement approved by the Delaware Court of Chancery.
As background, FAST Acquisition was created in August 2020 by co-CEOs Doug Jacob and Sandy Beall as a special purpose acquisition corporation, or a SPAC, with the intention of acquiring a quick-service company. In February 2021, Fertitta Entertainment reached a deal to merge with FAST, with Tilman Fertitta retaining a majority stake and serving as chairman, president, and CEO. The transaction valued Fertitta Entertainment at around $6.60 billion. In December 2021, FAST and Fertitta terminated the deal, after Fertitta agreed to pay up to $33 million. Fertitta said the deal was terminated in order to keep the Company private. A lawsuit was filed in August 2022 alleging that FAST executives attempted to keep the fee, and FAST liquidated later that same month. The charter for FAST Acquisition called for an acquisition to be closed by August 25, 2022.
December Employment Situation... December unemployment rates increased in 15 U.S. states, up by three from the prior month, but was unchanged in the majority of states and Washington D.C., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment levels remained essentially unchanged in all states last month from November. On a YOY basis, employment rose in 30 states and remained essentially unchanged in 20. Nevada had the highest unemployment rate at 5.4%, unchanged from November, while Maryland and North Dakota had the lowest jobless rates at 1.9%. The national unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%. The economy added 216,000 jobs in December, up from 173,000 in November. 13 states and D.C. have unemployment rates at or above 4%, the highest count since December 2022. Nationally, the jobless rate remains near the lowest levels since the 1960s.
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