The Weekly Consensus

The Weekly Consensus

Maeghan Thompson

Story of the Week

StubHub eyes summer IPO, seeks $16.5 billion valuation

StubHub is eyeing a summer initial public offering, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC. The online ticketing service is aiming for a valuation of at least $16.5 billion, which is what it was valued at in late 2021 during its latest round of private funding. The company has been working with JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs over the past two years on the IPO. StubHub has been a longtime player in the ticketing industry since its launch in 2000. It was purchased by eBay for $310 million in 2007, but reacquired by its co-founder Eric Baker in 2020 for $4 billion through his new company Viagogo.

Apparel & Footwear

Salomon CEO Franco Fogliato Steps Down After Nearly 3 Years at the Helm

Salomon president and chief executive officer Franco Fogliato stepped down from his role after about three years at the helm of the Amer Sports-owned footwear brand. James Zheng, the CEO of Amer Sports, will lead Salomon and the outdoor performance segment on an interim basis until a successor has been identified. Fogliato joined Salomon as president and CEO in November 2021, according to his LinkedIn. Before Saloman, he had served as executive vice president of global omnichannel for Columbia Sportswear. During his career, Fogliato also held the roles of European CEO of Billabong, general manager of western Europe for VF Corporation and sales manager for The North Face.


Dr. Martens CEO to step down amid ‘challenging’ year ahead

Dr. Martens CEO Kenny Wilson will step down from the top position at the footwear company by the end of the fiscal year, according to a recent press release. Ije Nwokorie, chief brand officer, will succeed Wilson, and the two “will work together to ensure a smooth handover,” while Nwokorie continues in the chief brand officer position for the remainder of the year. The company announced Wilson’s departure on the same day it released its anticipated fiscal year 2025 outlook, which projects U.S. wholesale revenue to decline by double-digits year over year.

CEO Nick Beighton Out at Matches

Nick Beighton, the last hope of Matches’ former owners Apax Partners and the retailer’s fourth chief executive officer in five years, is out after less than two years in the role. According to Companies House, the register of U.K. businesses, his directorship has been terminated. Matches’ administrators Teneo, which is seeking buyers for all or part of the company, did not comment on the Companies House posting. Administrators generally would not comment on personal information about employees or executives when they are working on a case. Matches was put into administration abruptly in March by its new owners Frasers Group, although the company continues to trade and is seeking to clear as much inventory as possible before new owners are found.



Athletic & Sporting Goods

Caitlin Clark reportedly close to 8-figure deal with Nike that includes signature shoe

Much has been made of Caitlin Clark’s WNBA salary with the Indiana Fever.  It appears that Nike has her covered.  Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Clark is finalizing an endorsement deal with Nike that will come with a signature shoe and secure an eight-figure contract for Clark, per the report.  Specific numbers weren’t reported. But her anticipated contract with Nike will dwarf her WNBA contract that’s scheduled to pay her $338,056 over four years. Clark will earn a base salary of $76,535 as a rookie. It’s a number that was negotiated long before Clark turned pro as part of the WNBA’s collectively bargained rookie wage scale.

CCM hockey seeking new ownership after potential sale options

The famous hockey equipment manufacturer CCM is being sold once again, according to The Globe and Mail, which reported that Birch Hill Equity Partners intends to sell it.  More than 200 employees would still work at CCM’s head office in Montreal near Highway 40. They moved into that location in February.  The company was previously located a few kilometres away at 3400 Raymond-Lasnier Street in Saint-Laurent, where at one point in time, more than 500 people worked there.  However, in recent years, CCM has changed ownership numerous times.  Reebok bought it in 2004 for US $400 million, then Adidas got it and resold the company in 2017 to the investment fund Birch Hill Equity Partners for CAD $110 million. Since then, they’ve more than doubled revenue and boosted profits – now more than $75 million per year according to reports.

Cosmetics & Pharmacy

West Lane Capital Partners Acquires Mented Cosmetics

West Lane Capital Partners is diving deeper into beauty by acquiring Mented Cosmetics. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. It marks West Lane’s second beauty transaction this year. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles private equity firm that’s made over $250 million in capital investments across six sectors, including distribution, food and beverage, manufacturing and business services as well as beauty and wellness, announced it bought haircare brand Seven. Mented will be joining West Lane’s portfolio company Blooming Brands, which houses beauty brands Blossom, By Blossom and Blue Cross Nail Care. Simply Organic and Body Spa are other beauty companies in West Lane’s portfolio, and the firm is scouting the beauty industry for future pickups. Prior to selling to West Lane, Mented raised $9 million in venture capital funding, including a $5 million series A round in 2022 led by Corazon Capital and CircleUp Growth Partners. The brand stuck to DTC distribution for about four years before it landed at retail. In recent years, it’s been impacted by the shifting DTC and funding landscape.

Give Back Beauty Acquires INCC Parfums; Gains Mercedes-Benz License

Give Back Beauty has acquired INCC Parfums. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but the move will see the manufacturer of Chopard, Zegna and Elie Saab add INCC’s Mercedes-Benz license to its portfolio. According to a report published by WWD, Give Back Beauty will take over the creation, production, marketing and global distribution of the German car manufacturer’s associated fragrance line as well as beachwear brand Vilebrequin’s body care and perfume line. Corrado Brondi, Founder and Executive Chairman of Give Back Beauty told WWD, “We are happy to integrate INCC under Give Back Beauty’s roof since its key values, respect, innovation and social responsibility are very consistent with the ones of [our company].”

Gregg Renfrew Buys Beautycounter Back From Foreclosure

When private equity firm The Carlyle Group acquired a majority stake in Beautycounter in 2021, it was a groundbreaking deal for clean beauty with a whopping $1 billion valuation. But three years later, the partnership has ended on a sour note. Due to a change in its investment strategy and Beautycounter’s underperformance, Carlyle wanted out and had been looking for interested parties with the help of Goldman Sachs, sources told WWD. On Thursday, it was revealed that the new owner is none other than founder and chief executive officer Gregg Renfrew, who announced that she would be buying her brand back from foreclosure. The business’ holding company, Counter Brands LLC, is winding down and Renfrew is creating a new entity that will keep the brand’s name and assets.

Beauty Farm Acquires 70% of Naturade, China’s Second-Largest Industry Player

Beauty Farm Medical and Health Industry Inc., one of China’s largest beauty and wellness service providers and aesthetics medical brands, is pleased to announce its acquisition of a 70% equity interest in the core assets of Naturade Health Technology Co., Ltd. (PRC) (“Naturade”), for a consideration of RMB 350 million. The acquisition includes a total of 80 beauty and wellness service stores, six aesthetic medical clinics and two Chinese medicine outpatient clinics under the Naturade brand. This transaction represents the largest beauty industry acquisition to date in 2024. Naturade, founded in 2007, is the second-largest beauty, body care, and healthcare group in the Chinese market and the largest beauty brand in the Guangzhou-Shenzhen region. For the year ended December 31, 2023, Naturade’s revenue and net profit were approximately RMB514 million and RMB33 million, respectively.


Discounters & Department Stores

Nordstrom family may try again to take the company private

Nordstrom’s board of directors has formed a special committee of “independent and disinterested directors” to “carefully evaluate any proposal from Erik and Pete Nordstrom and any proposals from other parties and consider whether they are in the best interests of Nordstrom and all shareholders,” per a company press release. The Nordstrom brothers had notified the board in February of their interest in “potential equity financing for a ‘going private transaction,’” according to a Thursday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Erik Nordstrom, who is CEO, owns 7.45% of the company’s outstanding shares; Pete Nordstrom, who is president and chief brand officer, owns 7.41%; and other family members also own shares.

Dollar Tree poised to gain most as 99 Cents Only disappears

The relatively small fleet of stores run by 99 Cents Only Stores was a major factor in its downfall, due to the importance of high volume and economies of scale in value-oriented retail, GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders told Retail Dive earlier this year. The discounter runs about 370 locations across Texas, California, Nevada and Arizona. Nevertheless, its decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and liquidate opens up an opportunity for other discounters, and rival Dollar Tree stands to gain the most, according to research from Earnest Analytics and Jefferies analysts led by Corey Tarlowe. “Looking ahead, we believe there is a robust market share gaining opportunity,” Tarlowe said.

Why J.C. Penney’s loyalty program is the next step in its $1B turnaround plan

J.C. Penney on Wednesday launched a new loyalty program that could deliver half a billion dollars to its consumers, per details shared with sister publication Marketing Dive, representing another major investment by the retailer following the $1 billion turnaround plan it announced last year. With the launch of a revamped J.C. Penney Rewards and Credit Program, the retailer is delving into one of the four core areas it established with last year’s launch of its “Make It Count” brand positioning, alongside accessible fashion, community support and a commitment to positive change. snags up to $60M in additional liquidity

The e-commerce business affiliated with Saks Fifth Avenue recently got a cash infusion from longtime financial partners Pathlight Capital and Bank of America, the company confirmed by email. Women’s Wear Daily first reported the news. “As expected, Saks has closed a transaction with Pathlight Capital and Bank of America, securing up to $60 million in incremental liquidity while maintaining our low debt levels,” a Saks spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “The additional capital enhances our financial position as we continue to navigate the challenging macro-environment. As long-time financing partners to Saks, we are grateful for Pathlight and Bank of America’s continued confidence in our business.” Earlier this year the HBC-owned luxury website had indicated it was close to securing additional capital following late payments, according to a March report from Janine Stichter, BTIG managing director and consumer retail and lifestyle brands analyst.



Emerging Consumer Companies

Forward Consumer Partners Acquires Firehook Bakery

Forward Consumer Partners, a private investment firm focused on branded consumer businesses, announced that it has acquired Firehook Bakery, a fast-growing artisan baking business built on an unwavering commitment to quality. Pierre Abushacra, Firehook’s founder, will retain a significant minority ownership stake in the Company going forward. Firehook was founded in 1992 in Alexandria, Virginia as a neighborhood bakery specializing in organic sourdough breads and simply-made baked goods. Firehook has grown at a 50% CAGR over the past decade to become the #1 brand of artisanal crackers in the U.S. Firehook bakes all of its products in-house and is proudly Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Kosher, and SQF Certified. Firehook marks the first acquisition from Forward’s $425 million Fund I, which was oversubscribed and closed at its hard cap in December 2023. Matt Leeds, Forward’s Founder and Managing Partner, has become Chairman of Firehook.


Storyteller Overland acquires Taxa Outdoors, expands product lineup in the recreational vehicle industry.

Storyteller Overland, a US-based manufacturer of Class B RVs and adventure vans, has acquired Taxa Outdoors, a leading provider of lightweight, mobile human habitats designed for outdoor adventure. The key development in this article is the acquisition, which aims to enhance the product offerings of both companies and create a more comprehensive adventure lifestyle platform for consumers. By integrating Taxa’s innovative, NASA-inspired design, and engineering expertise into Storyteller Overland’s manufacturing capabilities, the combined entity will be able to offer a broader range of products and services to outdoor enthusiasts. The acquisition will also help both companies expand their market reach and cater to the growing demand for outdoor adventure vehicles and equipment.



Food & Beverage

Glanbia buys Flavor Producers for $300M

Glanbia Nutritionals has agreed to acquire Aroma Holding Company, which owns ingredients maker Flavor Producers, for an initial price of at least $300 million, plus additional deferred consideration of up to $55 million, it announced. Flavor Producers is one of the largest makers of natural, organic flavoring and extracts within the food and beverage industry. Glanbia, based in Ireland, said the deal will help expand its Nutritional Solutions business with an array of new flavors and R&D capabilities, particularly in the U.S. where Flavor Producers is based. The deal is expected to close within the first half of 2024, according to the company. While mergers and acquisitions in the food and beverage category slowed down in the past two years, purchases like Glanbia’s indicate some major players in the space are still willing to spend their dollars to boost their presence in trendy categories like natural ingredients.

McCain Foods acquires Strong Roots

McCain Foods has acquired a majority stake in Strong Roots, a plant-based frozen food company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. McCain’s relationship with Strong Roots dates back to 2021, when it invested $55 million for a minority stake in the company. Founded in 2015, Strong Roots offers cauliflower hash browns, mixed root vegetable fries, bites and burgers. With its acquisition of Strong Roots complete, McCain said it plans to expand the frozen food company into more regions and develop additional vegetable-focused products. As part of the acquisition, the companies have agreed to create a brand advisory council to steward the brand and business for future growth. The council will include Strong Roots’ founder and members of the Strong Roots and McCain teams, as well as external advisers.

Oberweis Dairy issues statement after bankruptcy filing, plant closure announcement

Illinois-based Oberweis Dairy Inc. has issued a statement following the company’s decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, saying it strives to maintain “ordinary course of business” as it moves forward. The company, known for its ice cream stores and milk packaged in glass bottles, notified the state that 127 jobs will be eliminated at their North Aurora facility on June 11, according to a filing under the Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. There is no immediate word on whether operations will be impacted at the company’s retail outlets across the state, with the company saying in a recent statement that they intended to continue operations while the bankruptcy process plays out.



Grocery & Restaurants

TGI Fridays to go public through merger with its U.K. franchisee

TGI Fridays and Hostmore, the chain’s U.K. franchisee, announced plans to merge on Tuesday. The all-share deal is valued at 177 million pounds ($220 million). If it closes, TGI Fridays, best known for its potato skins, chicken wings and endless appetizers, will be publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker “TGIF.” The company’s headquarters for its U.S. and global brand operations will remain in Dallas, Texas. CEO Weldon Spangler, who has led the company since October, will keep his current role. “This transaction represents the next step in our journey as it increases our corporate-owned restaurant locations and provides capital to expand our presence globally,” Spangler said in a statement. The new company would own 189 restaurants in the U.S. and the U.K., the companies said. Franchisees would operate the remaining roughly 400 locations of the chain’s global footprint, which spans 44 countries.

Weight loss drug patients spend less on restaurants, takeout: survey

A highly popular group of weight loss and diabetes drugs is decreasing some consumers’ appetites — and also how much they spend on food. Most people taking those medications, called GLP-1s, say they are spending less on eating out at restaurants and ordering takeout, according to a Morgan Stanley survey released on Tuesday. A smaller share of those surveyed say they are tightening their purse strings in the grocery store. The findings add to the mounting concerns that soaring demand for GLP-1s could take a bite out of the bottom lines of some of the biggest restaurant companies and makers of packaged snacks like Doritos, Oreos and Hershey’s Kisses. “There is growing evidence that the drugs have a meaningful impact on consumer behavior and spending on groceries and restaurants,” Morgan Stanley analysts said in the survey. “All of these dynamics suggest GLP-1 drugs’ impact across consumer sectors is set to increase as drug uptake grows and the drugs reshape behavior among a demographic group that represents a disproportionate share of calorie consumption.”

Home & Road

Wayfair is opening its first-ever physical furniture store

Online furniture and home furnishings seller Wayfair is set to open its first-ever namesake store next month, the company announced Thursday. The large-format store, clocking in at 150,000 square feet and located in Edens Plaza in Wilmette, Illinois, will open to shoppers on May 23. It will also feature an onsite restaurant called “The Porch,” the company said, taking a page out of Ikea’s store setup. Although this will be the first brick-and-mortar location for the Wayfair brand, the company has tinkered with opening test stores for some of its other owned brands, including Joss & Main and AllModern. But the move to expand its flagship Wayfair brands into physical stores comes as it struggles with sluggish sales and an increased need for spending on advertising.

Are things looking up for furnishings retail segment? DOC numbers released for March

Furniture and home furnishings sales stayed relatively flat in March, dipping 0.3% from February’s numbers, according to the Department of Commerce’s advance monthly estimates. The segment didn’t fare quite as well when compared with March 2023, dipping 6.1% year over year. For the month, the category totaled $11.073 billion in adjusted sales, down from February’s adjusted $10.712 billion. Through the first three months of 2024, the DOC estimates $30.763 billion in sales for furniture and home furnishings, which represents an 9.6% decline from first quarter of 2023.

Jewelry & Luxury

De Beers Jewelers Names New Managing Director for North America

Caleb Bonvell, who’s worked at watch brands IWC Schaffhausen and Chopard, has been named managing director for De Beers Jewelers, North America. Prior to joining De Beers Group in 2022, as director of sales, Bonvell was director of sales and marketing at Richemont-owned IWC Schaffhausen, and before that, he served as sales and operations manager for Chopard, according to his LinkedIn profile. Bonvell will work on “developing and growing our De Beers Jewelers brand in the North American market and will lead our interactions with key De Beers Jewelers stakeholders in the region,” says De Beers spokesperson David Johnson.

Platforms Merge as EveryWatch Acquires Watch Auction HQ

Watch data platform EveryWatch is acquiring, which bills itself as the world’s largest repository of watch auction records. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. “Both companies share a common goal of providing unparalleled transparency and empowering collectors and industry professionals to make informed decisions,” said a statement. Post-acquisition, Watch Auction HQ founder Marc Montagne will become an adviser to Everywatch. A veteran of such brands as Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin, Montagne hosts a podcast, has written a book, and developed an app for watch owners and collectors. EveryWatch provides historical, current, and upcoming information from auctions, dealers, and marketplaces, helping consumers make educated decisions when considering a new watch purchase or sale, the statement said.

Unique Designs Acquires China Pearl

Fine jewelry manufacturer and wholesaler Unique Designs acquired California-based China Pearl last week. The company’s offering includes Chinese freshwater pearls, Japanese Akoya cultured pearls, white and golden South Sea pearls from Australia and Southeast Asia, and Tahitian Black Pearls from French Polynesia. It serves a customer base that spans from department stores and chain stores to independent retailers. The company also produces pearl jewelry, offering private label goods and other services such as customized boxes and packaging. “China Pearl brings with it a legacy of quality and innovation. [Its] product line complements ours, creating a synergy that will allow us to offer a more diverse and comprehensive range of products to our customers,” said Albert Franco, CEO of Unique Designs.

LVMH’s Q1 Jewelry Sales Fall 5%

LVMH started off its fiscal year on a low note, posting a drop in overall reported sales and in its watch and jewelry division. The luxury conglomerate had a muted first quarter with reported revenue down 2 percent (up 3 percent in organic growth) to €20.69 billion ($21.97 billion). “LVMH had a good start to the year despite a geopolitical and economic environment that remains uncertain,” said the company. In the U.S. and Europe, the company saw growth on a constant currency basis, while Japan saw double-digit revenue growth. The rest of Asia also saw strong growth, which LVMH said reflected the growth in spending by Chinese customers in Europe and Japan. Its jewelry and watch category struggled with quarterly sales down 5 percent (down 2 percent in organic growth) to €2.47 billion ($2.62 billion).


Office & Leisure

Take-Two Announces Layoffs While Canceling Multiple In-Development Projects

Take-Two Interactive is laying off around 5 percent of its workforce, or about 579 workers, and canceling several projects, the GTA 6 publisher announced in a new filing. The news follows claims from CEO Strauss Zelnick that the publisher had “no plans” for layoffs amid its planned cost reduction program. In the filing, Take-Two said it is “eliminating several projects in development and streamlining its organizational structure,” which includes laying off workers. Take-Two said it expects to incur between $160 and $200 million in total charges, with $120 million to $140 million related to title cancellations.

Airline executives predict a record summer and even more demand for first class

While the aviation industry has been in the spotlight lately for a host of safety issues, airline executives say there is no sign of slowing demand for flights. United Airlines “as an airline and as an industry” will carry record numbers of travelers this summer, the carrier’s Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella said on an earnings call. Alaska Airlines forecast 2024 earnings ahead of estimates as the airline expands capacity 3% over last year. “Demand continues to be strong, and we see a record spring and summer travel season with our 11 highest sales days in our history all occurring this calendar year,” Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said on his company’s call a week earlier. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines report results on April 25.


Michaels lowers prices on over 5K products

Michaels announced that it has lowered prices on over 5,000 products across categories including arts, crafts, DIY and home decor, according to a company press release. Prices on frequently purchased items including paint, markers and pens have been reduced up to 15%, papers and stickers up to 20%, canvases up to 35% and T-shirts up to 40%, among other reductions. The price drops are being promoted through in-store signage, advertisements and emails to customers.

Technology & Internet

Amazon starts selling smart grocery carts to other retailers

Amazon will begin selling its smart grocery carts to other retailers, the company said Wednesday, marking its latest bid to turn its Dash Cart technology into a service. A handful of Price Chopper and McKeever’s Market stores located in Kansas and Missouri are testing the smart grocery carts, which track and tally up items while customers shop, Amazon said. Amazon launched the Dash Cart in 2020 at its Fresh supermarket chain before adding it to select Whole Foods stores. They use a combination of computer vision and sensors to identify items as they’re placed in bags inside the cart. As shoppers add and remove items, a display on the cart adjusts the total price in real time. Amazon is following a similar playbook previously deployed for its “Just Walk Out” cashier-less technology. Just Walk Out was first conceived for use in Amazon’s Go convenience stores, until Amazon began selling the system to third-party retailers in airports, stadiums, hospitals and other venues.


Bitcoin network completes fourth-ever ‘halving’ of rewards to miners

The Bitcoin network on Friday evening completed its fourth “halving,” reducing the rewards earned by miners to 3.125 bitcoins from 6.25. The price of bitcoin has been volatile ahead of the event, and fell about 4% this week to trade around $64,100, according to Coin Metrics. Mechanically, the halving itself shouldn’t affect the price of bitcoin in the short term, but many investors are expecting big gains in the months ahead, based on the cryptocurrency’s performance after previous halvings. After the 2012, 2016 and 2020 halvings, the bitcoin price ran up about 93x, 30x and 8x, respectively, from its halving day price to its cycle top. The event is a big test for mining companies, however. “All else equal, the halving will cut industry revenues in half, triggering a wave of consolidation and business closures, while (hopefully) rationalizing the network hashrate and industry capex, which is ultimately good for the remaining operators,” JPMorgan analyst Reginald Smith said in a recent note to investors. Hash rates are a measure of the computational power used to process transactions on the bitcoin network. The larger a miner’s hash rate, the greater of a revenue opportunity it has.


Finance & Economy

Retail sales jumped 0.7% in March, much higher than expected

Rising inflation in March didn’t deter consumers, who continued shopping at a more rapid pace than anticipated, the Commerce Department reported.  Retail sales increased 0.7% for the month, considerably faster than the Dow Jones consensus forecast for a 0.3% rise though below the upwardly revised 0.9% in February, according to Census Bureau data that is adjusted for seasonality but not for inflation.  The consumer price index increased 0.4% in March, the Labor Department reported last week in data that also was higher than the Wall Street outlook. That means consumers more than kept up with the pace of inflation, which ran at a 3.5% annual rate for the month, below the 4% retail sales increase.

Mortgage rates are now at the highest level of the year and could still climb

The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage crossed over 7% on April 1, according to Mortgage News Daily, and it just kept going. It now sits right around 7.5%, the highest level since mid-November of last year. Rates hit their highest level in a few decades last October, causing home sales to grind to a halt. Builders jumped to buy down rates for their customers and managed to do better than existing home sellers.  Rates then fell through mid-January to the mid-6% range and held there into February, causing a surge in home sales. But then they began rising again.