November 1, 2023
In the RITE AID CORPORATION, DIP case, the Debtors filed a motion seeking authorization to reject 35 unexpired store leases, which is in addition to previously filed motions seeking to reject 350 unexpired leases. The Debtors said they will have vacated the related 35 stores as of the rejection date (10/31/23). A hearing will be held on November 16, 2023.
Meanwhile, the Court issued an interim order approving the Debtors' motion for its post-petition supply agreement with McKesson Corporation. The agreement provides that McKesson will continue supplying pharmaceuticals for the duration of the Chapter 11 cases. In exchange, Rite Aid will pay McKesson on seven-day terms for post-petition goods.
HEB continues to grow its presence in Texas this year, including its latest openings in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Over the next two years, the Company plans to open several more HEB stores in the market, including in the communities of McKinney, Frisco, and Mansfield. In addition, the Company's discount chain Joe V's will open a new location this fall (Katy) and two more over the next two years (Dallas). Meanwhile, HEB continues to open e-commerce facilities to help fulfill pickup and delivery orders across its operating regions. It open two such locations this year, including its first standalone fulfillment center at 100,000 square feet.
Authentic Restaurant Brands completed its previously announced acquisition of FIESTA RESTAURANT GROUP, parent of the Pollo Tropical restaurant brand. Under terms of the definitive agreement, a wholly owned subsidiary of ARB acquired all of the outstanding shares of Fiesta. The consideration paid to Fiesta common shareholders is $8.50 per share in cash. The transaction was approved on October 24 and Fiesta's stock ceased trading on Nasdaq on October 30.
OVERSTOCK.COM, which operates as Bed Bath & Beyond, announced plans to "reimagine" its namesake brand by relaunching a new, stand-alone website that will offer a broad selection of closeout home merchandise at clearance prices by the end of 2024. This comes as the Company relaunched its website as Bed Bath & Beyond earlier this year. The Company said it will work with former, existing, and new supplier partners.
The Company also plans to change its corporate name to Beyond Inc., effective November 6. In addition, it will transfer its stock listing from Nasdaq to NYSE and change its ticker symbol from OSTK to BYON. It will continue using the Bed Bath & Beyond name for its consumer facing e-commerce business.
CLAIRE'S is partnering with Kohl's to roll out an assortment of on-trend jewelry, accessories, and cosmetics, along with seasonal items, to more than 700 Kohl's locations across the country. The roll out includes a product display for children, a display targeting Gen Z and a mature audience, and a display positioned near the checkout featuring seasonal items and novelty products. The partnership builds on Claire's partnership with Macy's, which began in late 2022 with 20 Macy's locations nationwide, including eight flagships. Currently, Claire's is available in more than 125 Macy's locations. In September 2022, Claire's expanded its partnership with Walmart to more than 1,200 additional stores; products are now available in more than 2,500 Walmart stores.
WALMART is investing more than $9 billion over a two-year period to upgrade and modernize 1,400 U.S. stores with improved layouts, expanded product selections, and new tech additions. On October 27, 117 stores in 30 states were reopened following enhancements, representing investments of more than $500 million. As part of the upgrades, the Company is testing remodeled concept stores called "Stores of the Future" at a few Walmart Supercenters, including in Teterboro, NJ earlier this year. Stores will have more grab-and-go food and beverage options in its grocery areas, larger pharmacies, and more home goods and clothing.
FOOD BAZAAR SUPERMARKET opened a newly redeveloped supermarket in Brooklyn, NY. Long Island City, NY-based Bogopa Service Corp., operating under the name Food Bazaar, is a family-owned and operated company with 30 full-service supermarkets in the New York metro area. It carries staple grocery items, international offerings, and its own product lines under the Bogopa private label.
HERITAGE GROCERS GROUP is expanding its footprint in Dallas, TX. El Rancho Supermercado, acquired in June 2023, opened an 18,000 square-foot store on October 25, representing its 29th store and its parent's 114th store overall. Heritage operates in six states, California, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Kansas, and Illinois under the Cardenas (57), El Rancho (29), Tony's Fresh Market (21), and Los Altos Ranch Market (seven) banners.
TARGET began a four-week Black Friday promotion on October 29 that will last through Thanksgiving weekend. The promotions include Target's best prices planned for the holiday season, with discounts on items in categories such as electronics, toys, kitchen appliances, everyday essentials, and beauty. Target is also bringing back its holiday price match guarantee, available from October 22 through December 24. To support the expected increased holiday customer traffic and demand, Target plans to hire nearly 100,000 seasonal workers.
In other news, Shipt has eliminated "select positions across the organization" and closed multiple open roles, eliminating 3.5% of its filled positions. The news comes as e-commerce demand has plateaued following the surge caused by COVID-19 in 2020. Over the past five years, Shipt has fallen short of the hiring goals it promised state and local governments in Birmingham, AL, where it is headquartered. The jurisdictions agreed to provide the Company with at least $19 million in combined cash incentives and tax breaks in return for boosting its local presence. In March, Shipt asked to end its agreement because it no longer expected to generate the number of jobs it originally committed to.
GIANT EAGLE is searching for a new headquarters space in Pittsburgh, PA to accommodate its updated work policy. The Company plans to transition away from its fully remote corporate working model and confirmed plans to explore a potential new headquarters. The Company did not specify how much space it would need. In 2020, the Company chose not to renew its lease for a building located in the Pittsburgh suburb of O'Hara Township. The year before it secured 23,000 square feet of office space in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lawrenceville, which was slated to be the home of 150 current and new employees. Meanwhile, Giant Eagle is currently looking to fill more than 500 positions across its supermarkets and warehouses going into the holiday season.
A lawsuit was filed against ABERCROMBIE & FITCH alleging the Company enabled the actions of its former CEO Michael Jeffries, who is accused of running a sex-trafficking ring for years that took advantage of young men hoping to become Abercrombie models. Jeffries is also listed as a defendant in the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District for the Southern District of New York. According to the lawsuit, "Knowing that it would earn millions of dollars in exchange for facilitating Jeffries' sex abuse and trafficking, Abercrombie chose profits over following the law. Specifically, Abercrombie chose participating in and facilitating the sex-trafficking conspiracy for many years to keep its sexually abusive CEO at the helm and to churn profits."
AUTHENTIC BRANDS GROUP signed a long-term agreement for its Forever 21 banner with Singapore-based Shein. Under the terms of the deal, Forever 21 will design, manufacture, and distribute a line of sportswear, activewear, and swimwear for men and women. The line will be available for sale online exclusively on Shein sites in the U.S. and parts of Europe and Australia. The Shein platform has 154 million users. The partnership comes after Shein acquired a one-third interest in SPARC Group, a joint venture between Authentic and Simon Property Group (SPARC is the core operating partner of Forever 21 in the U.S.).
POSHMARK announced its decision to end operations in Australia, India, and the U.K. on October 26. Beginning November 2, buyers and sellers for India, Australia, and the U.K. will no longer have access to the marketplace via the app or web. CEO Manish Chandra commented, "This move, while difficult, will allow us to focus our energy and increase our investments in our core markets, the U.S., and Canada." Poshmark entered the U.K. in January 2023 after launching in India and Australia in 2021. Last year Poshmark was acquired by South Korean e-commerce retailer Naver Corp. for $1.20 billion.
Blue Clay Capital Co III, long-term shareholders of SLEEP NUMBER CORPORATION, sent a letter to Sleep Number's board urging them to immediately elect three Stadium Capital board representatives. Blue Clay currently owns over 1% of Sleep Number's shares and previously sought shareholder board representation in 2015. Since it withdrew its proxy, it said Sleep Number's shares have declined 46%, compared to a 161% gain for Tempur-Pedic and 125% for the S&P 500. Blue Clay claimed the poor performance is due to poor management, ineffective strategic decisions, and a lack of accountability in management and governance. Stadium Capital Management, LLC, the owner of 9% of Sleep Number's shares, expressed disappointment with Sleep Number's board's rejection of a good faith offer to collaborate on director refreshment last month. In response, Sleep Number issued a letter saying it has engaged in regular discussions with Stadium Capital to better understand its views. Sleep Number's board is comprised of 10 directors, nine of which are independent and three of which have joined in the last four years.
FAT BRANDS confirmed that its sports bar concept Twin Peaks will be filing an IPO in the near future, potentially 2Q or 3Q24. The Company said it is not committed to that timeframe as it may wait longer for the market to normalize. FAT Brands also plans to convert 30 to 40 Smokey Bones locations into Twin Peaks restaurants moving forward, while simultaneously opening new Smoke Bones locations in new markets through franchising.
WAWA shared details on its expansion into eastern North Carolina. The initial phase of expansion includes plans to open about 80 stores across the eastern region of the state over the next 10+ years, with the first eight stores opening in 2024. Those eight stores will open in the following cities: Kill Devil Hills, Elizabeth City, Wilson (2), Rocky Mount, Goldsboro (2), Greenville. In addition to these stores, Wawa has more than 30 sites under contract going through local approval processes. The Company expects to open up to 15 stores in 2025 and another 10 in 2026.