September 28, 2022
Jason Buechel, the new CEO of Amazon’s Whole Foods, recently shared his vision of adding 50 new stores to the Company’s 534-store footprint. He did not provide details but plans to publicize the Company’s future strategy early next year and launch a roadshow “where every single store, facility and office will be visited by a member of the E-Team.” Buechel joined the Company in 2013 as CIO and was serving as COO when CEO John Mackey announced his retirement last year; he took over the CEO role on September 1.
A published report indicated Amazon is among the companies, along with Berkshire Hathaway, most likely to be impacted by the 15% corporate minimum tax that became law last month. Citing researchers at the University of North Carolina Tax Center, “fewer than 80 publicly traded U.S. companies would have paid any corporate minimum tax in 2021, and just six — including Amazon and Warren Buffett’s conglomerate — would have paid half of the estimated $32 billion in revenue the levy would have generated.” The tax goes into effect in January and is projected to generate $222 billion over a decade.
Finally, Amazon announced its second Prime Day of 2022 will be on October 11-12, marking the first time the Company is holding the event twice in the same year since its 2015 launch. Amazon is calling the event Prime Early Access Sale, and it is only open to Prime members. The first Prime Day event took place on July 12-13.
Click here to request a list of Whole Foods' future store openings and closings.
The longest strike in Starbucks’ history, in Boston, MA, came to an end last week after 64 days, with both the union and the Company claiming victory. Starbucks Workers United members agreed to end the strike after workers were informed that a policy on minimum employee availability would not be enforced at stores that unionized before that date. Starbucks denied that the policy was ever enforced at union stores; the Company did not negotiate with workers and made no concessions. In July, a manager informed store workers they would be required to increase their availability or would face reprimand or removal by the Company. The policy, combined with understaffing and alleged discrimination, prompted workers to walk out on July 18.
Meanwhile, a published report states that Starbucks sent letters to 238 stores across 36 states and D.C. yesterday, “offering a three-week window in October to start contract negotiations next month at hundreds of U.S. stores that have voted to unionize.” The union is skeptical after the Company asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to temporarily halt elections based on alleged evidence of misconduct. Click here to request a sample list of future store openings.
US Foods opened a new 33,000 square-foot CHEF’STORE, its cash-and-carry warehouse retail concept, in Spartanburg, SC on Saturday. The store is the Company’s fourth in South Carolina, with other units in Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Columbia. This follows US Foods’ announcement in July that it would open new CHEF’STORE locations in Merced and Santa Cruz, CA (fall 2022 opening, listed as opening soon); Winston-Salem, NC (December 2022 opening); and Helena, MT (early 2023 opening). US Foods acquired the Smart Foodservice Warehouse chain of stores in April 2020 and rebranded them to the US Foods CHEF’STORE banner in February 2021. There are currently more than 80 CHEF'STORE units across the country.
Walmart Canada is investing $1 billion in infrastructure this year, including more than $100 million to build a 457,000 square-foot high-tech sortable fulfillment center in Quebec (its first one in the province). The facility is currently slated to open in 2024. The $1 billion investment also includes plans to remodel a number of stores in a year, including modernizing and upgrading physical spaces. Walmart Canada is also implementing AI at all stores to keep shelves stocked, following a 70-store pilot with Focal Systems using cameras to automate out-of-stock detection. These projects are all part of Walmart Canada’s multi-year, $3.50 billion investment in omnichannel.
In other news, Walmart said it would hire 40,000 additional associates during the holiday season, a 75% drop from last year’s 150,000 seasonal associates. The announcement comes as inflation is changing shopping for a large portion of consumers. The Company is making “significant price investments in key categories,” so shoppers can purchase with savings in mind.
Finally, the Company is reportedly offering Walmart+ subscribers free pickup service beginning on October 1 as a new return option. The program, available in yet unnamed markets, allows a subscriber to use the app to schedule pickup of unboxed items from their homes and process the return. Walmart will also offer an extended Holiday Guarantee returns period, so eligible purchases made on or after October 1 can be returned through January 31, 2023, as well as curbside returns, where customers can remain in their vehicles and have an associate come to them to process returns.
BJ’s Wholesale Club will open its first store in Indiana this Friday in Noblesville, a northern suburb of Indianapolis. The 104,460 square-foot location includes a gas station and offers curbside and in-store pickup, and standard and same-day delivery. The new unit comes just weeks after opening a new club in Canton, MI. The Company now operates 231 clubs and 160 BJ’s Gas locations in the U.S. Click here to request a sample list of future store openings.
According to published reports, The Gap intends to cut roughly 500 positions or 6% of 8,730 corporate roles in San Francisco, New York and Asia. As of January 29, 2022, the Company had a workforce of roughly 97,000 employees, of which 81% work in retail stores, 9% in corporate locations, and 10% in distribution centers. Management has also pausing planned hiring for open positions. The layoffs are consistent with interim CEO Bob Martin’s stated objective of reducing operating costs, including labor, technology, and overhead expenses during 2H22, in anticipation of lower sales. Lower operating expenses are expected to have a “more significant impact” in fiscal 2023. The Gap’s 2Q22 consolidated sales and comps were down 8% and 10%, respectively, as it lapped 2Q21 elevated results, which were driven in part by government stimulus. Sales trends improved in July and into August despite near-term macro headwinds, as management attempted to correct inventory imbalances, particularly at Old Navy.
Sportsman’s Warehouse set operational and financial targets for FY25, including total revenue of between $1.80 billion and $2 billion, up from $1.50 billion last year, reflecting low single-digit comps and continued store openings that will include entering new markets in the eastern part of the country. The store base is expected to expand to between 190 and 210 locations, from 127 currently. The new locations will be in underserved markets and will range from 7,500 square feet to 65,000 square feet. All of the new stores are anticipated to achieve a four-wall EBITDA margin of more than 10% and a return on invested capital of over 20% within 18 to 24 months of opening. The Company also plans to open a second distribution center east of the Mississippi River, which will support the new store openings in the eastern part of the country.
Stater Bros. will open a 49,480 square-foot replacement store in Riverside, CA tomorrow; the location replaces a store that opened in 1978, two miles west of the new store, which closed permanently on Sunday. The new store is larger, more modern, with spacious aisles and décor “reflective of the local community,” eco-friendly features, and full-service meat, seafood, deli and bakery departments.
Tuesday Morning (TM) announced 4Q22 results, which did not show much improvement, with comps down 8%, and EBITDA dropping to negative $22.3 million from negative $8.2 million last year. The Company expects 1Q23 results to fall even further, with comps anticipated to decline from 10% to 12% and with an EBITDA loss of between $21 million and $24 million, before improvement begins.
The transaction with strategic investors was completed on September 19, with the Company issuing the parties $35 million in convertible debt, which potentially gives them 81% of the Company’s equity. Some of the proceeds were used to retire outstanding debt and ultimately bolstered liquidity by $20 million. The investors control the intellectual property on several retail names, including Pier 1 Imports, Linens ‘n Things, Stein Mart, Modell’s and Radio Shack. Allegedly, they were preparing to open 200 Pier 1 stores across the country and decided it would be much more efficient to essentially acquire TM and utilize its store base to inject the Pier 1 brand throughout the chain, which it hopes will also improve TM’s performance. It was noted that the Radio Shack and Linens ‘n Things brands may also be used by TM in the future. This shift may provide the liquidity needed to get through the year, as the holiday season also generally throws off cash, which should help offset the projected rough 1Q ending. However, liquidity will be tightly watched by the lenders, with Gordon Brothers retained for continued inventory appraisals.
Among its 2,200 fast food restaurants nationwide, Jack in the Box operates in more than 90 convenience stores in its core markets of California and Texas, and the Company is looking toward expanding that count as part of its plans for substantial growth. A representative commented, “We feel like there’s an opportunity for about 6,000 total Jack in the Box locations…. Our primary focus had been on growing with our existing franchisees in our core footprint, but now we’re pursuing development and aggressive growth in new markets. We’re looking for new franchisees and operators to come into our system and operate c-stores and travel plazas.” While further details were not revealed, the expansion push is comprised of a mix of Jack in the Box approaching c-stores and vice versa. Click here to request a sample list of future store openings.
UFCW Local 1059, which represents 12,500 employees at 82 Kroger stores across Central Ohio, offered an update on the status of contract negotiations as it works to avert a potential strike. A representative commented, “We are working to secure a deal that works for them, and have scheduled a time to return to the bargaining table with Kroger representatives on Tuesday, Sept. 27.” Last Friday, union members rejected Kroger’s most recent three-year contract offer, prompting workers to authorize a strike. Talks continue, and it is important to note that although a strike has been authorized the union has not yet issued a required “10 Day Notice.”
In other news, Kroger announced it will roll out BrightDrop’s temperature-controlled Trace Grocery e-carts to its stores later this year to help streamline the fulfillment of its curbside grocery orders. The move follows the Company’s pilot of the e-carts at its stores in Lexington and Versailles, KY. The Trace Grocery carts keep food at safe temperatures for up to four hours, assist propulsion to reduce physical strain, auto-brake, have nine compartments to segment items by temperature and product type, and are weatherproofed. The carts can be filled with orders and stationed at pickup points, where shoppers use an app to unlock the carts.
Lidl opened its first store in Washington, D.C. today. The store anchors the Skyland Town Center, a mixed-use development in a community that was once considered a food desert. Construction is underway on another Lidl store in Washington, D.C., slated to open in 2023. The Company’s U.S. headquarters is in nearby Arlington, VA. Click here to request a sample list of future store openings.
According to Yum! Brands’ CFO Chris Turner, the Company is actively “scanning categories” in the M&A market. He said that having multiple brands with little overlap — KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and The Habit Burger Grill — allows the Company to serve a higher density of customers domestically and internationally. He noted that franchisees have recently reached out about growing further in the Yum! system, asking how they can take advantage of expansion outside their market. Turner attributed that demand to the improved company/franchisee relationship during COVID, including operators prioritizing customers and employees, and Yum! providing royalty grace periods and extensions on capital requirements.
Target plans to hire up to 100,000 seasonal employees, the same amount as last year, and down about 30,000 from the 2019 and 2020 seasons. It is also bringing back its Target Deal Days omnichannel event, which will take place on Thursday, October 6 to Saturday, October 8 and will include “hundreds of thousands” of discounts. The event is a few days earlier than last year, when it ran from Sunday, October 10 to Tuesday, October 12, and is five days earlier than Amazon’s recently announced second Prime Day of the year.
QuikTrip is reportedly planning to open three convenience stores in the Chicago, IL metro area. The first two are expected to open in Peru and Bellwood in April 2023, followed by Lansing, at the site of a former Kmart store, in June 2023. A representative commented, “All stores will be our new remote travel center design featuring a larger designed lot and more spacious store—approximately 8,200 square feet—than a traditional QT. All travel centers will be equipped with QT Kitchens that offer made fresh to order food and drink items. We will also offer grab-and-go freshly crafted sandwiches, salads and wraps [as well as] … doughnuts and pastries.” Currently, the Company operates five locations in Illinois. In June, QuikTrip opened its first Colorado location, north of Denver in Firestone. The Company is also planning to open locations in Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama. Tulsa, OK-based QuikTrip QuikTrip operates more than 950 locations in 16 states. Click here to request a sample list of future store openings.
7-Eleven has listed for sale 73 gas stations and convenience stores in its latest real estate deal. The Company is selling the locations without branding. The sites include 33 in New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York; seven in Texas; several in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest; and a few on the West Coast. Thirty-five are fee-owned properties, and the remaining are leaseholds. NRC Realty & Capital Advisors LLC will sell the properties using its “buy one, some or all” sealed-bid sale process; the deadline is November 1.
Nordstrom’s board adopted a “poison pill,” which is a defensive tactic allowing existing shareholders the right to purchase the Company’s common stock at a discount, if an activist investor or opportunistic buyer acquires more than a certain amount of its common stock. The adoption of the plan comes weeks after Mexican department store chain El Puerto de Liverpool acquired a 9.9% stake in Nordstrom.
Meanwhile, Nordstrom plans to cut 222 employees at a distribution center in Cedar Rapids, IA, according to a WARN notice filed with the state. The layoffs will occur on October 18. The Company operates one other supply chain facility in Iowa, which will become its only DC in the Midwest following the closure. It should be noted that about 40% of the Company’s store base is located on the West Coast, compared to 15% in the Midwest.
In other news, Nordstrom Rack plans to open an additional three stores in California next year, in Anaheim Hills (24,000 square feet), Clovis (31,000 square feet), and San Clemente (32,000 square feet). This is on top of the three announced earlier this month, two in Washington and one in Oregon. Once these stores open, the Company will operate 57 Nordstrom Rack stores, 23 Nordstrom units, five Nordstrom Locals, and one ASOS (opened in May 2022 in an existing Nordstrom). See our Retail Openings & Closings tracker below for Nordstrom Rack’s future openings.
Over the last few weeks, Hilco Real Estate collected $65.2 million on the sale of seven J.C. Penney stores in three separate all-cash transactions. Five properties generating $3.9 million in annual rent were sold for $53 million, one property generating $367,000 in annual rent was sold for $6.55 million, and one property generating $441,000 in annual rent was sold for $5.65 million.
The stores are located in Nashua, NJ; Sterling, Fairfax, and Springfield, VA; Newark, DE; and Columbia and Annapolis, MD. Annual rents for the stores range from $300,000 to $800,000. Hilco acquired 160 properties and six DCs from JCP as part of its Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization in 2020. Since then, Hilco has disposed of six DCs and 23 stores, valued at $868 million.
As previously announced in July 2022, Macy’s and Toys “R” Us are moving forward with their partnership, opening Toys “R” Us in-store shops at all U.S. Macy’s locations. The nationwide rollout is anticipated to be complete by October 15. The shops range from 1,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, with larger footprints in Macy’s flagship locations in Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. The shops may increase by 500 – 3,000 square feet during the holiday season to accommodate a wider assortment of products.
Similarly, Target will soon offer FAO Schwarz in-store shops starting mid-October; the assortment will include more than 120 items across all toy categories, as well as exclusive content.
Meanwhile, Macy’s plans to hire 41,000 full and part-time seasonal employees this year, mostly at its Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Bluemercury stores. Last year, it hired 76,000 employees, of which 48,000 were seasonal.
European private equity group Investindustrial is investing €200 million (US$194 million) in Eataly and will receive additional shares that will bring its stake to 52%. The remaining 48% ownership will be split between existing shareholders Eatinvest (Farinetti family), the Baffigo/Miroglio family and Clubitaly (Tamburi Investment Partners). With this investment, Eataly said it will be able to repay its net debt as well as open new flagship stores and develop new formats, with its global expansion plans including growing its presence in North America. Currently, Eataly has more than 40 locations in 15 countries, including eight flagship stores in North America and 16 franchise stores in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. A new Eataly CEO is soon to be announced, and Nicola Farinetti — son of founder Oscar Farinetti —will take over as chairman.
Reitmans (Canada) Limited reported 2Q23 sales increased 33% to C$229 million, as more of its stores were open in 2Q23 compared to the partial government-imposed lockdowns during 2Q22. Increased customer traffic in stores, higher average transaction value, and less markdowns and promotional discounting contributed to the sales increase, despite a net reduction of seven stores. E-commerce sales remained strong and continued to represent 25% of total sales. As of July 30, the Company operated 404 stores throughout Canada, consisting of 236 Reitmans, 91 Penningtons, and 77 RW&CO.
Schnucks Markets announced it will acquire Fricks Market, which operates two stores in Missouri. Financial terms were not disclosed. The Union, MO Fricks Markets will remain open through October 23, then will close for three days and reopen under the Schnucks banner on October 27. The Sullivan, MO Fricks will close and reopen in the same timeframe but will retain the Fricks banner, operated by Schnucks, until a new 23,000 square-foot “Schnucks Fresh” replacement store is completed nearby (opening date to be announced in the coming months). The Company’s “Fresh” stores focus on produce, meat, seafood and bakery; last year, it opened a Schnucks Fresh market in Jasper, IN. Schnucks operates 112 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
According to published reports, Sprouts Farmers Market signed a lease to open in South Philadelphia’s Quartermaster Plaza, a large shopping center. Quartermaster Plaza and the adjacent South Philadelphia Shopping Center are being merged and rebranded under new ownership and a $250 million redevelopment plan. The Southwest Philadelphia region was long considered a food desert, but ALDI is constructing a 22,000 square-foot store a few blocks away, there is a BJ’s Wholesale Club, a ShopRite on the north side and an Acme to the east. It will be Sprouts’ second location in Philadelphia; it opened a store about four years ago at Lincoln Square along South Broad Street. The Company operates about 380 locations in 23 states. Click here to request a sample list of future store openings.
Shamrock Foods has acquired 81 acres for a planned distribution center in Marana, AZ that will serve southern Arizona markets. A planned opening date was not released. The DC will be the Company’s eighth; it already operates distribution facilities in Phoenix, AZ; Boise, ID; Commerce City, CO; Albuquerque, NM; Eastvale, CA; Sacramento, CA; and dairy manufacturing facilities in Stanfield, AZ and Verona, VA. The Company, based in Phoenix, is also in the process of opening a new regional headquarters and DC in Aurora, CO.
On Friday, workers at the Williamsburg, Brooklyn Trader Joe’s filed paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board to begin the process of joining the Trader Joe’s United union. The store has 185 employees and has alleged racial discrimination and poor working conditions. Last month, workers at a Trader Joe’s in Minneapolis, MN voted to join the union, following those at a store in Hadley, MA, who voted in July. Click here to request a sample list of future store openings.
Publix opened its newest Alabama location in Mobile last week. The 48,387 square-foot supermarket has a full-service bakery, deli, seafood department, and pharmacy. Click here to request a sample list of future store openings.
Walmart’s Sam’s Club announced a new a design studio at its Bentonville, AR headquarters, which will “focus on facilitating cross-functional team collaboration across engineering, product management and design departments.” The space also will foster projects with external partners in a workshop environment. Sam’s Club will conduct physical product and hardware testing in the new space and use the results to cultivate new omnichannel tools.
Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) entered into an agreement to acquire the remaining 30% stake (approximately 35% on a fully-diluted basis) in specialty pharmacy operator and integrator Shields Health Solutions for approximately $1.37 billion.
Rouses Markets broke ground on a new 44,000 square-foot store in North Baton Rouge, LA, in an area recognized as a food desert. The store, set to open next summer, will be the Company’s 11th in the metro area. The location will offer online shopping and curbside pickup. The closest full-service grocery store is an Albertsons over a mile away.
Dick’s Sporting Goods intends to hire up to 9,000 seasonal employees for positions at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Public Lands, Field & Stream, and Going, Going, Gone stores across the country. This is down from 10,000 hired last year, the most in its history, and on par with 2020. In addition, the Company’ store locations and DCs will be closed on Thanksgiving, November 24. Click here to request a sample list of future store openings.
Reports indicate that workers at a Home Depot store in Philadelphia, PA have filed a petition to unionize with the National Labor Relations Board. The 274 employees work in merchandising, specialty and operations, and the union is listed as “Home Depot Workers United.” The Company responded, “While we will of course work through the NLRB process, we do not believe unionization is the best solution for our associates.” Home Depot operates 2,316 stores in North America. Click here to request a sample list of future store openings.
Global Partners LP acquired Tidewater Convenience Inc.’s 14 Company-operated gas station and convenience stores located throughout Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, VA. Financial terms were not disclosed.
McDonald’s reopened three locations in the Ukraine in Kyiv; the restaurants are delivery only. Over the next two months, the Company plans to open more locations in the city of Kyiv while Western Ukraine locations will also reopen. McDonald’s shuttered all its Ukraine units shortly after Russia invaded the country in February, and in August the Company indicated it would begin reopening there.
Over in Japan, McDonald’s will reportedly raise prices about 60% due to rising costs and a weakened yen. The price of a Big Mac will increase to 410 yen (US$2.85), from 390 yen, and other menu items will increase 10 to 30 yen. This would mark the Company’s second price increase in Japan this year; before that, it had not raised prices in the country since 2019.
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