March 23, 2022
Dollar General’s 4Q21 sales grew 2.8%; however, comps fell 1.4%, the 4th quarterly decline in a row, driven by a continued fall off in traffic, partially offset by gains in average ticket. Most categories saw comp declines. Dollar General continued its store growth, opening 1,050 new stores and remodeling 1,752. The Company also entered its 47th state, with a new store in Idaho. DG finished the year with roughly $1.60 billion in combined cash and revolver availability. Inventory was up about 7%, which seems modest given the Company’s expectations of continued supply chain challenges in 1Q22. For 1Q22, the Company projects comps to decline 1% - 2%, along with continued elevated cost pressures and ongoing supply chain issues. For FY22, the Company anticipates sales growth of 10% (including a 53rd week) and same-store sales to increase 2.5%. Full-year capex guidance is $1.40 billion to $1.50 billion, with 1,100 new stores including 100 new pOpshelf locations and share repurchases of $2.75 billion.
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Private equity firm Sycamore Partners and Canadian department store Hudson’s Bay reportedly submitted bids in the high $60s per share to acquire Kohl’s. Oak Street Real Estate Capital has also been named as a possible bidder for Kohl’s real estate. The Company’s board acknowledged yesterday it received multiple preliminary indications of interest. The proposals received are non-binding and without committed financing. The board has authorized Goldman Sachs to coordinate with select bidders who have submitted indications of interest to assist with further due diligence so that they have the opportunity to refine and improve their proposals and include committed financing and binding documentation. An unconfirmed report indicated that Hudson Bay is the most likely winning bidder.
Macellum Advisors, a long-term holder of nearly 5% of Kohl’s outstanding shares, sent a letter to shareholders regarding what it considers a “critical need for meaningful and urgent boardroom change” at Kohl’s. Macellum said that if Kohl’s does not reach an agreement to sell itself, it will need a reconstituted board. According to Macellum, the current board has “presided over years of share price and operating underperformance while allowing billions of dollars in real estate assets to languish on the Company’s balance sheet.”
Macy’s announced that beginning April 9 and rolling out through June 2022, it will open 37 new Macy’s store-within-store Backstage locations nationwide. Macy’s Backstage in-store shops, currently in approximately 300 stores, range from 11,000 to 16,000 square feet of retail space.
Grupo Comercial Chedraui is in integration mode after closing on its acquisition of Smart & Final from Apollo Global Management in July 2021; Smart & Final now operates as a division of Bodega Latina, the Company’s U.S. subsidiary, along with the El Super and Fiesta Mart chains. In late December 2021, Bodega Latina announced a name change to Chedraui USA to more closely align it with Grupo Comercial Chedraui. Altogether, Bodega now has 377 locations across California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Our report takes a closer look at the Company’s operational and competitive status, including market position, real estate and sales trends, and provides visual competitive analyses as well as key real estate metrics like store count, average sales per square foot, and the new Real Estate Intelligence analytics solution.
Last week, Amazon closed on its $8.50 billion deal to acquire MGM. The deal, first announced last May, brings MGM and its more than 4,000 films and 17,000 TV shows under the Amazon umbrella. It closed without a challenge from the Federal Trade Commission. The European Union’s antitrust commission also approved the deal, saying that Amazon’s purchase of MGM would “raise no competition concerns.”
In other news, Amazon signed a deal for a new delivery station in Prince George’s County, MD. The 130,000 square-foot facility will be Amazon’s first station built from the ground up, in the Washington, DC metro area. The station is expected to open in 2023. Last fall, Amazon opened three other delivery stations in Prince George’s County, a 264,000 square-foot facility in Beltsville, a 150,000 square-foot facility in Laurel and a 172,000 square-foot delivery station in Landover. The Company also operates nine other delivery stations in Greater Washington: in Rockville, Upper Marlboro, Waldorf and Cheverly in Maryland, and in Sterling, Gainesville, Manassas and two in Springfield, VA. Amazon has also announced plans to open a 630,000 square-foot fulfillment center in Stafford County, VA as an East Coast hub for supply chain operations.
Meanwhile, Amazon is opening its first same-day fulfillment center in Massachusetts. The 155,000 square-foot fulfillment center is located in Bridgewater. Since the Company launched same-day delivery in March 2020, Prime members in more than a dozen cities are able to order from a selection available of up to three million items across a dozen categories.
Lastly, the National Labor Relations Board sued Amazon in federal court last Thursday, asking a judge to force the Company to rectify what it called “flagrant unfair labor practices” before workers at one of its Staten Island warehouses begin voting in a union election on March 25. A second Amazon warehouse in Staten Island will have a union election on April 25.
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Lands’ End’s 4Q21 net revenue increased 3.2% and 1.1% compared to 4Q20 and 4Q19, respectively. E-commerce revenue was down 4.4% overall, due to shipping delays caused by supply chain challenges. U.S. ecommerce revenue decreased 2.2% while international ecommerce revenue declined 14.6%. Outfitters revenue was up 43.6%, driven by stronger demand from travel-related national accounts and school uniform customers. Third-party revenue increased 70%, primarily due to the Kohl’s partnership, including an expansion from 150 to 300 locations in 3Q.
Grocery workers across Southern California began voting Monday on whether to authorize a strike against Kroger’s Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions (banners owned by Albertsons) in an effort to pressure the companies to raise wages. More than 47,000 workers at 500 stores are eligible to vote over five days, with the result expected to be announced Sunday. A three-year contract between UFCW and Kroger and Albertsons expired March 6, and talks between the union’s seven locals and the companies stalled two weeks ago. This week’s vote is aimed at calling an unfair labor practice strike. Unlike a strike over economic issues, it gives the union the right under labor law to target walkouts to selected stores, rather than have its full workforce on strike.
Walmart recently said that it plans to hire more than 50,000 associates across its U.S. operations during the first quarter of its FY23 (ending about 4/30/22). This comes a day after the Company unveiled plans to hire over 5,000 technology associates globally this year.
Walmart Canada is investing more than $118 million to build a new high-tech fulfillment center in Rocky View County, Alberta. The latest investment is part of the Company’s plan to expand and transform its supply chain network while increasing its e-commerce capabilities. The investment in Alberta is part of Walmart Canada’s larger $3.50 billion investment to make the online and in-store shopping experience simpler, faster and more convenient.
The sortable fulfillment center will be about 430,000 square feet, serving as a delivery hub for millions of customer orders in Western Canada. The facility is slated to open in September 2022. In Alberta, Walmart operates 61 stores and four distribution centers.
Captain D’s has 14 restaurants set to open by mid-year in states like Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Texas and Tennessee. Two of those openings will be both franchise and Company debuts of the brand’s new ‘Express’ prototype, a significantly smaller footprint featuring only a drive thru and walk-up windows for ordering and picking up. Captain D’s also continues to convert vacant restaurant properties, with a recent franchise opening in Elberton, GA and two more conversions planned in Florida this summer. Looking ahead, the brand said the focus of its efforts is on corporate and franchise development in target markets throughout the South, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Captain D’s signed 16 new agreements in 2021 to develop 40 locations in key markets nationwide over the next several years, including Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; Houston, TX; Detroit, MI; and Tampa, FL. Captain D’s currently has 540 restaurants in 23 states.
Shoe Carnival’s 4Q21 sales grew 23.4%, primarily on a 17.7% jump in comps that was mainly driven by recovering traffic and a combination of higher product pricing and reduced promotions. The Company has completed a multi-year plan to close underperforming stores and now plans to ramp up expansion, with 10 stores in FY22, followed by 20 and 25 in the next two years. The recently acquired Shoe Station banner could contribute to this growth, though no specific targets for it have been given.
Williams-Sonoma reported 4Q sales growth of 9.1%, driven by comp store sales of 10.8%; West Elm was up 18.3%, Pottery Barn grew 16.2%, Williams Sonoma increased 4.5% but Pottery Barn Kids fell 6.1%. Pottery Barn Kids was impacted by shutdowns and delays in Vietnam, which are expected to last through 2Q. Gross margin expanded 290 bps, as the Company resisted being overly promotional, pushing up merchandise margins. For the full year, comps accelerated to 22% growth, with double-digit increases at all brands, including West Elm at 33.1%, Pottery Barn at 23.9%, Pottery Barn Kids and Teen at 11.6%, and Williams Sonoma at 10.5%. During 4Q21, the Company opened three stores but closed 36 other locations. One Pottery Barn, one Williams Sonoma and one West Elm were opened, while eight Pottery Barn, 21 Williams Sonoma, five Pottery Barn Kids, one West Elm and one Rejuvenation were closed. The Company ended the year with 544 stores.
GameStop’s 4Q21 sales growth was weak during the traditionally strong holiday season, at the same time as costs increased, leading to negative EBITDA. Sales increased 6% compared to 4Q20 and were up 3% compared to 4Q19. Store count fell 5% during the year, to 4,573 units at the end of 4Q21.
In 3Q22, Alimentation Couche Tard posted revenue growth of 41.2%, mainly attributable to higher average fuel prices, increased fuel demand, the contribution from acquisitions and organic growth. Same-store merchandise revenues increased 3.7% in the U.S., 7.2% in Europe and other regions, and decreased 0.8% in Canada. On a two-year basis, same-store merchandise revenues increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4% in the U.S., 5% in Europe and 2.1% in Canada. During 3Q, the Company completed the sale of 146 sites to various buyers for $147 million, as well as the construction of 32 stores and the relocation or reconstruction of three locations, for a total of 75 stores since the beginning of FY22. As of January 30, 2022, another 85 stores were under construction.
Floor & Décor released its long-term annual targets for FY22 to FY24. Sales are expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of at least 20% over the three-year period. The Company plans to grow its store base by 20% through 2024 (currently operating 160 warehouse-format stores and two design studios across 33 states). Adjusted operating income is expected to double from 2021 to 2024, representing 25% growth. Adjusted EBITDA margins are projected to be in the mid-teen range.
Joann’s 4Q22 net sales declined 12.5%, with total comparable sales decreasing 12.4%. On a two-year stack, total comps increased 6%. Omni-channel net sales were $102.8 million for the quarter, reflecting 125% growth on a two-year basis and representing approximately 14% of total 4Q sales. Following sales momentum in December, the Company experienced softness in January. This reflected lighter traffic due to the Omicron variant, which was combined with store closures resulting from winter storms to reduce 4Q sales performance 100 to 200 bps. Unfortunately, more recently over the past three weeks, Joann has seen a troubling shift in consumer behavior as the war in the Ukraine, along with inflation and surging fuel prices, have pressured discretionary spending. 1Q23 comps, which had been expected to come in negative low to mid-single digits, are now 5% below that forecast. The Company is maintaining an “incredibly cautious” outlook for 1Q and is not providing sales or earnings guidance for FY23 at this time. FY23 capital expenditures are anticipated at $70 million to $75 million, primarily to fund its new point-of-sale system, complete a new distribution center in Columbus, OH, and for 40 store refresh projects. The 40 anticipated refresh projects are down from 55 initially due to current challenges in availability and cost of obtaining construction labor, fixtures and related supplies; over half of the projects will be relocation of smaller stores to a larger prototype model.
Marco’s Pizza has signed a 46-store development agreement that will bring new restaurants to the Phoenix, AZ market over the next six years. Six units are projected to open in Phoenix over the next 18 months, with the first slated to open in 3Q22. The latest deal contributes to the brand’s overall growth goal of 1,500 units by 2023.
Walgreens Boots Alliance and VillageMD announced plans to open three new Village Medical at Walgreens primary care practices in the Southern New Hampshire area by the end of summer 2022, with the first opening on April 19 in Hooksett. Additional locations will open in Manchester and Nashua.
J.Jill’s 4Q21 sales increased 15% from the prior year, with comps up 19.7%. However, sales were still down 14% compared to 4Q19, partially due to 34 net store closures. Direct-to-consumer sales were down 9% over the prior year period, and represented 52% of total sales. Looking forward, the Company expects 1Q22 revenue to be up 11% – 14% compared to 1Q21, with adjusted EBITDA expected to be $20 million – $22 million. FY22 capital expenditures are expected to total $15 million – $18 million, and management anticipates about 10 net store closures during the year.
Wingstop is expanding into Spain, with the opening of four ghost kitchens in Madrid. The first two ghost kitchens will open on March 31, and the third will open early April. Through a delivery-only method, the four ghost kitchens will collectively reach nearly all customers across Madrid. Wingstop said it is using the delivery-only model to expand the brand into Spain but expects a traditional franchise opportunity to follow in time. The brand is actively seeking a partner to lead its brick-and-mortar growth. On March 17, the brand said it believes it can operate 7,000-plus global restaurants, 3,000 of which are expected to be outside of the U.S.
In other news, Wingstop announced the resignation of Chairman and CEO Charlie Morrison. Mr. Morrison left the Company to become CEO of Salad And Go, where he serves on the board. Wingstop has appointed its President and COO Michael Skipworth to succeed Morrison as CEO.
Save Mart will open a new 10,000 square-foot Lucky store in San Francisco in a former Walgreens space. The opening date has not yet been revealed. The area has been considered a food desert, as some grocery stores shuttered in recent years. Currently, there is a Grocery Outlet and a Super Save Supermarket in the area. Save Mart operates more than 200 stores under the Save Mart, Lucky California and FoodMaxx banners.
Designer Brands faced supply chain issues in 4Q but still generated 35% sales and 37% comp growth against easy comparisons. While in-store traffic was a big driver of the recovery, direct-to-consumer online sales remained strong and were up 98% year-over-year. Management sees resolving the supply issues as a priority if it wants to be able to shift its product assortment on a dime and keep up the solid e-commerce momentum. During 4Q, the Company did not open any new stores, and closed seven U.S. and four Canadian locations, ending the year with a total of 508 U.S. and 140 Canadian stores. Management is guiding for high-single digit comp growth in FY22.
FAT Brands announced a new development deal to expand its presence in Alaska, with three new Fatburger and Buffalo’s Express locations set to open over the next 3.5 years. In partnership with franchisee Robert Monteith, the development deal will increase the total count of Fatburger and Buffalo’s Express locations in Alaska to four.
A 19,000 square-foot Price Chopper Limited store in Saratoga Springs, NY will close on April 16, after losing business to a nearby larger Market 32 supermarket (another banner for Northeast Grocery – which also operates Price Chopper).
Destination XL’s 4Q21 revenue increased 33.3% year over year, and comps grew 9% compared to 4Q19. Top-line growth was driven by the comp gains and an 18% increase in the direct business, slightly offset by decreases in wholesale revenue and 33 net store closures over the past two years. During FY21, the Company closed 21 stores, including four in 4Q.
In 4Q21, Cato’s sales continued to recover from supply chain challenges in Southeast Asia. Management had warned of a challenging environment for 4Q21, resulting from late merchandise deliveries. In 4Q21, revenues were up 13% to $176 million, driven by a 14% yoy increase in comps but still 8% below pre-pandemic levels. The Company is also operating with 19 fewer stores than last year; it opened four stores, relocated two, and permanently closed 23 locations, ending 4Q with 1,311 stores in 32 states. Management warned of continuing supply chain disruptions but plans to open up to 30 new stores and close up to 25 units as leases expire.
Tim Hortons, which is part of Restaurant Brands International, will launch in India later this year as part of an exclusive agreement with a joint venture owned by Apparel Group and Gateway Partners. The first restaurant is set to open in New Delhi, and there are plans to launch more than 300 locations across the country over the next 10 years. India will become the fourth country in the Asia-Pacific region where Tim Hortons exists.
New Seasons Market is opening a new store in Milwaukie, OR in fall 2023. The 28,000 square-foot store will open in a space vacated by Albertsons in 2015. New Seasons Market operates 19 stores in Oregon, Washington and Northern California.
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