May 5, 2021
Today, The ODP Corporation announced that its Board of Directors unanimously approved a plan to separate the Company into two independent, publicly traded companies, including:
ODP, a provider of retail consumer and small business products and services distributed through approximately 1,100 Office Depot and OfficeMax retail locations, and officedepot.com, its eCommerce unit; and NewCo, a B2B solutions provider (ODP’s Business Solutions Division contract business, Grand & Toy, and ODP’s independent regional office supply distribution businesses) serving small, medium and enterprise level companies. NewCo will also own the Company’s newly formed B2B digital platform technology business, including BuyerQuest, as well as the Company’s global sourcing office and its other sourcing, supply chain and logistics assets.
The separation is expected to occur through a distribution of shares of NewCo as a tax-free dividend to ODP’s shareholders, as of a record date to be determined by the directors of ODP, after which ODP shareholders will own 100% of the equity in both of the publicly traded companies. The separation is intended to be completed during the first half of 2022, subject to customary conditions, including final approval by the Company’s Board, opinions from tax counsel and the favorable ruling by the IRS on the tax-free nature of the transaction, the filing and effectiveness of a registration statement, the approved listing of NewCo’s common stock on a national securities exchange, and completion of any necessary financings. Click here to request additional information.
Amazon’s 1Q21 sales advanced 44%, and operating income more than doubled to $8.87 billion, despite worldwide shipping costs rising 57%. The Company noted there are now more than 200 million Prime Members worldwide, and Prime Day will take place later in 2Q. Amazon also opened its first international physical retail stores (three in London) powered by Just Walk Out technology and announced it is providing the technology to Delaware North, to open two checkout-free convenience stores in Boston. The Company also opened four Amazon Fresh grocery stores in the U.S. in the quarter. Looking forward to 2Q, Amazon is expecting sales gains of 24% to 30% and operating income between $4.5 billion to $8 billion from $5.8 billion in 2020.
In other news, Amazon will raise wages for more than 500,000 fulfillment-center workers between $0.50 and $3 an hour starting next month. The pay increases amount to an investment of over $1.00 billion in incremental pay for these employees. This is on top of its starting wage of at least $15 an hour and the more than $2.50 billion the Company invested last year in additional bonuses and incentives for front-line teams. Click here for a list of Amazon future store openings.
7-Eleven has agreed to sell 106 convenience store properties to CrossAmerica Partners LP for $263 million. The sale is conditioned upon the completion of 7-Eleven’s August 2020 agreement to acquire approximately 3,900 stores in 35 states from Marathon Petroleum Corp. for $21 billion in cash. CrossAmerica expects to close on its acquisition of these sites on a rolling basis, beginning approximately 60 to 90 days after 7-Eleven closes its transaction with Marathon.
In other news, 7-Eleven has expanded its foodservice presence with a new “Evolution Store” in Manassas, VA that includes two restaurant brands. The store features the Company’s second Raise the Roost Chicken and Biscuit restaurant and the first unit of new concept Parlor Pizza, which offers made-to-order pizzas. 7-Eleven currently has eight Evolution Stores, which act as testing grounds for customers to try items before they are rolled out more widely. The Company’s EVP and COO Chris Tanco called the expansion into the QSR space aggressive, with plans to open nearly 150 restaurants in 2021. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
L.L. Bean plans to open seven new stores this year, including three in the U.S., with the first set to open on May 14 in Salem, NH. This fall, openings are planned in Millbury, MA and Amherst, NY. Meanwhile, four stores are slated to open in Canada in Victoria and Burnaby, BC; Dartmouth, NS; and Calgary, AL this fall, following three locations that opened in Ontario last year. L.L. Bean currently operates 55 stores in 19 states across the U.S., along with 25 stores in Japan and three in Canada. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
In addition, L.L. Bean’s 220,000 square-foot flagship store and Hunt & Fish store in Freeport, ME returned to 24-hour schedules on May 3. Both locations had been operating with limited hours for the past year and were temporarily closed due to the pandemic in March and April 2020.
Our Hot Market Report takes a closer look at the Washington D.C. real estate landscape, and provides visual competitive analyses as well as key real estate metrics such as future openings, store count, market share, digital insights, and demographics. Click here to request a copy of the full report.
Target has opened 12 new stores since the start of 2021, bringing its total store count to more than 1,900. Earlier this year, Target announced plans to open up to 40 stores annually, with some 140 remodels completed in time for holiday shopping. The new locations including five in New York (four urban sites in NYC), three in California, and one each in Utah, Oregon, Delaware and Georgia. The stores all feature online order pickup, and many also offer drive-up services. Click here to request a list of future store openings and closings.
Wingstop Restaurants plans to expand into Canada through an agreement with JPK Capital to develop 100 Wingstop locations across the country in the next 10 years. The first location is set to open in Toronto in 2022. JPK Capital provides long-term capital, strategy, and tech expertise for consumer businesses needing to scale and grow their operations.
Grocery Outlet Bargain Market recently opened a new store in Port Angeles, WA. The $1.4 million, 16,000 square-foot supermarket sits across from a Safeway-anchored shopping mall complex. Click here to request a list of future store openings and closings.
At Weis Markets’ annual shareholders meeting, Chairman, President and CEO Jonathan Weis disclosed the Company’s plans to invest $135 million in its growth during 2021, which will include investing in new stores, remodels, fuel centers, information technology upgrades, and more than a thousand smaller store improvement projects. So far during 2021, the Company has opened a new store in Martinsburg, WV and remodeled a store in Gap, PA. It is currently completing work on two stores in the Lehigh Valley, PA, which will open later this spring, and have started work on a new store in Warminster, PA. Weis Markets is also planning eight remodels and eight fuel centers in 2021, some of which may not be completed until 2022.
The Company subsequently reported 1Q21 results for the period ended March 27. Sales increased 2.1% to $1 billion, while comps rose 1.4%. Net income fell 9.1% to $24.3 million, and operating income was down 14.9% to nearly $32 million. Sales were up 14.8%, and net income jumped 70% compared to pre-pandemic levels in 1Q19.
Commenting on the Company’s results, Jonathan H. Weis, Chairman, President and CEO said, “Our first quarter 2021 results remained significantly elevated in absolute terms and were in line with expectations with sales up 14.8 percent and net income up 69.6 percent compared to the pre-pandemic levels in first quarter 2019, which is a more appropriate baseline for comparison.” Click here to request a list of future openings and closings.
Starbucks’ 2Q21 revenues rose 11.2% to $6.70 billion, mainly driven by a 15% growth in comps from lapping the unfavorable impact of business disruption in the prior year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and strength in U.S. Company-operated sales in the current year. This was partially offset by the unfavorable impact of Global Coffee Alliance transition-related activities. U.S. comps increased 9%, with a 21% increase in average ticket partially offset by a 10% decline in comparable transactions. International comparable store sales increased 35%, driven by a 26% increase in comparable transactions and a 7% increase in average ticket; China comparable store sales jumped 91%, with a 93% increase in transactions, slightly offset by a 1% drop in average ticket.
Starbucks opened five net new stores in 2Q21, yielding 3% year-over-year unit growth, ending the period with 32,943 stores globally, of which 51% and 49% were Company-operated and licensed, respectively. Net new store openings reflect the impact of 300 U.S. and Canada Company-operated store closures in relation to its store optimization program. Click here to request a list of future store openings and closings.
Macy’s is partnering with online alcohol delivery platform Drinks to launch Macy’s Wine Shop, a new online wine store available in 40 states and Washington D.C. Eligible consumers can have wine shipped to their home within one to two days. The new wine shop expands Macy’s previous online wine subscription offering; the new model has a broader assortment of international wines and does not require a subscription. Online alcohol delivery is an increasingly popular offering, typically found in grocery retailers including Kroger, Sam’s Club, and ALDI.
Walmart plans to roll out a service called InHome that has employees deliver groceries directly into people’s kitchens and refrigerators. The Company first began testing the service in the fall of 2019, in Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Vero Beach, FL. It recently brought InHome to Northwest Arkansas, expanded in Southeast Florida and in July will add Atlanta.
Walmart Canada plans to build a $56 million grocery distribution center in Moncton, New Brunswick, its debut in Atlantic Canada. The 221,000 square-foot distribution center will provide fresh and frozen groceries for Walmart Canada’s 43 Atlantic Canada locations. It is slated to open in fall 2022. Click here to request a list of future store openings and closings.
Savers has entered into a definitive agreement for Ares Capital, an equity co-sponsor, to acquire full ownership of the Company by purchasing the interest of the other co-sponsor, Crescent Capital Group. Crescent and Ares took control of Savers in a 2019 restructuring transaction. The Company will issue a $600 million senior secured first-lien term loan to refinance its capital structure and for related transaction expenses. Savers is the largest for-profit thrift retailer in North America, with 300 stores split roughly evenly between the U.S. and Canada.
Little Caesars Pizza is looking to expand its Pacific Northwest presence with a goal of awarding more than 50 new franchise units across Portland, OR and Seattle, WA by 2026. It is primarily targeting Beaverton and Tigard, OR and Tacoma and Bellevue, WA. Little Caesars currently has 120 locations operating across the Pacific Northwest. Click here to request a list of future store openings.
Staples likely lost sales and profits over the last year, especially in its B2B unit, as business volume from corporate clients fell due to lower demand for office supplies. We estimate FY20 sales fell between 5% and 10%. Now that COVID-19 cases are beginning to decline in many areas, there are concerns over the Company’s ability to recoup the lost revenue. This will ultimately depend on the extent of recovery for small and medium-sized businesses (Staples’ core customers) and whether office utilization will return to pre-pandemic levels. In the near term, there is more pressure to cut costs and accelerate the pace of store closings. For years, industry-wide demand has fallen faster than the Company’s rate of store closings, exacerbated by the pandemic. Staples’ retail unit closed only 1% of its stores in 2020, which is likely only a small portion of the loss of revenue and profitability during the COVID period. The slow pace of store closings relative to the number of underperforming units has been problematic since before the failed attempt to merge with Office Depot six years ago. A merger would have enabled cooperation between the companies toward the common goals of cutting costs and increasing efficiencies in light of competition from Amazon and mass merchandisers. Instead, the two companies remain competitors, each trying to acquire part of the other’s market share. In territories with considerable store overlap, each entity has adopted a defensive posture, which extends the lifespan of underperforming stores. This is part of a questionable strategy under which each attempts to block the other from acquiring forfeited business following a closure. Lower demand during the pandemic has rekindled the need for a business combination. This ultimately prompted Staples’ recent overture to Office Depot, which was initially rebuffed. Negotiations for a better deal may be ongoing between the parties.
On another front, Staples remains highly leveraged following its LBO by Sycamore Partners in 2017 and Sycamore’s payment of record-setting dividends to itself. Thus far, it appears that the dividends have enabled Sycamore to recover most of its original investment. The interests of private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies do not always align, and Sycamore has been associated with a number of retail bankruptcies. In that regard, Staples’ path to operational recovery in the current unstable economic environment may clash with Sycamore’s ultimate goal of cashing out of its investment. Click here to request a list of future store openings.