The Weekly Consensus

The Weekly Consensus

Maeghan Thompson

Story of the Week

Express to Be Bought Out of Bankruptcy for $174M

Express, which came close to being totally liquidated, is being rescued out of bankruptcy court. A stalking horse bidder, composed of brand management firm WHP Global and three of the retailer’s key landlords — Simon Property Group, Brookfield Properties and Centennial Real Estate — got its offer for the online and store operations of the specialty retailer approved by Delaware bankruptcy court on June 14. According to court papers, the total purchase price was approximately $174 million, consisting of $136 million in cash consideration and $38 million of assumed liabilities.

Apparel & Footwear

G-III buys stake in All We Wear Group

G-III Apparel Group bought a 12% ownership stake in Madrid-based All We Wear Group, the company announced. As part of the investment, All We Wear Group now becomes the agent for DKNY, Donna Karan and Karl Lagerfeld in Spain and Portugal. G-III said the deal was part of its plan to accelerate expansion in Europe. G-III announced the deal on the same day as its Q1 earnings for the company’s 2025 fiscal year, in which it reported net sales of $609.7 million, a slight increase from $606.6 million for Q1 last year. Net income for the quarter was $5.8 million.

Kim Kardashian’s Skims to open five stores throughout the US

Kim Kardashian is bringing Skims out from behind the screen, launching five in-person stores across the US. The soft clothing and intimates brand – founded in 2019 by the reality star and the entrepreneur Jens Grede – will open five brick-and-mortar-esque shopping locations in Georgetown, DC; Aventura, Florida; Austin and Houston, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia. Georgetown will be the first store to open, welcoming customers inside their 3,300-square-foot space starting June 13th. According to Women’s Wear Daily, the Skims store will offer their women’s collection before their men’s line comes in the third quarter. The Georgetown store opening gathered a mass of eager shoppers before the doors opened at 10am.



Athletic & Sporting Goods

Nike Loses EU Trademark Dispute Against Puma

Nike lost its bid to trademark the capitalized version of the word “footware” for tech-related products after a European Union court upheld a complaint from Puma. Nike had sought to trademark “footware” a play on words between “foot” and “software” or “hardware”. The General Court of the European Union, the second-highest court, upheld Puma’s earlier victory at an EU trademark appeals panel, which voided a trademark application from Nike’s innovation unit for the label. Nike must also pay legal costs in Puma’s favor. Puma has long argued that at least some consumers would misread “footware” to mean software or technology for the feet.

Vista Outdoor Receives New Bid For Ammo Business, JDH Capital Reported Bidder

Vista Outdoor reported it received an all-cash $2 billion takeover offer for its ammunition business from an unnamed private U.S. investment firm. JDH Capital, the investment group run by Texas oil billionaire Jeffrey Hildebrand, is behind a new bid, sources told the Financial Times.  Separately, Vista rejected an improved proposal last week from investment group MNC Capital Partners to acquire the entire company for over $3 billion. Both JDH’s offer and the MNC bid come as Vista’s Board has recommended selling the ammunition business, called The Kinetic Group, to Czechoslovak Group (CSG), a privately owned Czech defense group.

Pradco Outdoor Brands Acquires Ani-Logics Outdoors

Pradco Outdoor Brands has acquired Ani-Logics Outdoors, a Worthington, MN-based maker of deer nutrition products.   Started in response to the 2012 Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) outbreaks, Ani-Logics develops deer supplements designed to support herd health, promote antler growth and offer attraction and palatability. With this acquisition, Pradco said it “remains committed to continuing these efforts by conducting research and field testing to support the development of wildlife nutritional products.”  The company’s research, warehouse and manufacturing functions will remain in Worthington, MN.  Pradco Outdoor Brands, a family-owned company and subsidiary of EBSCO Industries, is based in Birmingham, AL. The Pradco Outdoor Products Division includes Summit Treestands, Code Blue Scents and D/Code Scent Elimination.

Cosmetics & Pharmacy

Unilever Prestige CEO Vasiliki Petrou to Step Down

The founding chief executive behind Unilever’s Prestige division, Vasiliki Petrou, is leaving the company. Petrou founded Unilever Prestige in 2014, overseeing the acquisition of 10 brands, including K18, for a portfolio that saw €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) of turnover in 2023. Among the brands in the portfolio, Dermalogica and Paula’s Choice are within Unilever’s 30 largest brands. The division has seen 13 consecutive quarters of growth. “The idea of Unilever Prestige disrupted long-held paradigms and created a new to the world playbook of premium beauty acquisitions and sustainable long-term growth,” she wrote in a June 13 announcement on LinkedIn. Petrou’s last day will be July 30; she plans to open her own investment fund.

Beauty brand Pretty Smart launches exclusively at Walmart

Startup beauty brand Pretty Smart launched exclusively in 2,800 Walmart stores, on the retailer’s website and on its own site, per a company press release. Founded by beauty industry veteran Marissa Shipman, Pretty Smart is a price-sensitive, vertically integrated collection of makeup products, and is a subsidiary of Renfield Manufacturing, which is a family-owned business. At launch, the brand offers 27 products with more than 145 shade variations. All products are priced from $7.50 to $10 per product, and are aimed at providing luxury beauty products at an accessible price.

Too Faced joins Amazon’s premium beauty store

Too Faced Cosmetics has launched on the Amazon Premium Beauty store, per a news release. This marks the second Estée Lauder beauty brand to hop on the Amazon bandwagon this year, after Clinique brought its products to the marketplace in March. As part of the launch, Too Faced has partnered with lifestyle content creator Darcy McQueeny to be its official ambassador. She’ll host other influencers this month at brand headquarters to educate them on all things Too Faced while also posting across her social pages and on her own Amazon storefront.

Rihanna enters hair care space with Fenty Hair

Rihanna is looking to revolutionize the hair care space with the formal launch of her Fenty Hair line of products. Consisting of 9 hair care and styling essentials, the collection is formulated with clinically tested technology to repair strands at every step, no matter the hair type or texture. “Creating products that were easy to use, no matter your hair type or texture, and that included repair in every step and could keep up with me, was crucial,” said Rihanna.

Discounters & Department Stores

Nordstrom nears completion on West Coast fulfillment transition

Nordstrom expects to complete the transition of operations from its fulfillment center in San Bernardino, California, to its West Coast omnichannel center in Riverside, California, during its second fiscal quarter, according to a May 30 earnings call. The shift builds on the retailer’s efforts to optimize its supply chain capabilities, which in Q1 resulted in a more than 5% increase in click-to-delivery speed and an improvement in fulfillment costs, according to the call. “The West Coast Omnichannel Center is our newest, most automated, and lowest cost fulfillment center,” Nordstrom CEO Erik Nordstrom told analysts. “It has been scaled to serve our customers across the Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack banners.”

Five Below wants employees to handle 75% of checkouts

After fighting against high shrink for more than a year, Five Below has transitioned to 75% associate-led transactions at all stores and 100% associate-led transactions at high shrink stores, company executives said during an earnings call last week. Five Below said in March it would scale back self-checkout to fight shrink. It also said it tested additional shrink reduction strategies in about 70 stores during Q1. They include receipt checks by associates, more video cameras, and adding guards. Stores with associate-led checkout and other mitigation measures saw lower shrink rates, CEO Joel Anderson said. The news comes as Five Below reported that while its net sales rose 11.8% year over year to $811.9 million in Q1, comp sales fell by 2.3% from a year ago. Net income also declined in the quarter, dropping 16% to $31.5 million from $37.5 million a year ago.

Walmart to bring electronic shelf labels to thousands of stores

Walmart plans to install electronic shelf labels in 2,300 stores by 2026, the company announced June 13. The retailer’s decision to deploy the digital tags on a large scale follows a test at a single supercenter in Grapevine, Texas. Walmart’s move promises to sharply expand the presence of ESLs in U.S. grocery retail locations, where the technology has been relatively slow to take off.

TJX to expand into Mexico

TJX, which runs TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Marshalls and other off-price banners in the U.S. and abroad, is expanding into Mexico, thanks to a joint venture with Grupo Axo, which operates full- and off-price brands in Mexico and South America. The partnership entails running and growing Axo’s off-price, physical store business in Mexico, including more than 200 Promoda, Reduced and Urban Store locations. TJX would own 49% and Axo would own 51%. The deal remains subject to antitrust clearance in Mexico, plus customary closing conditions, the companies said in a press release. Financial details will be disclosed after closing, expected to be later this year. TJX said the proposed transaction won’t likely impact its guidance for the year.



Emerging Consumer Companies

Whizz, e-bike brand, raises $12 million

E-bike subscription startup Whizz raised $12 million to build more e-bikes, begin producing e-mopeds and expand beyond New York to other cities, including Boston, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The round was broken into $5 million in equity led by Leta Capital and $7 million in debt from Flashpoint VC. Founded in 2022, Whizz offers gig workers access to safe, high-quality e-bikes for between $139 and $149 per month. Couriers for Grubhub and DoorDash, Whizz’s official partners in NYC, can access subscriptions and rent-to-own programs for 15% off. Subscriptions include service, maintenance, anti-theft protection and more.

Wild Common, agave spirits brand, raises $5 million

Wild Common, a leading creator of agave spirits, announced it has raised $5 million for its Series A funding round from HIPstr, the early-stage investment arm of HighPost Capital. Wild Common intends to use the capital to continue to scale its platform and enter into new markets, grow its team with best-in-class talent, further enhance its award-winning agave spirits, and capitalize on the growth of the broader tequila market. Founded by Andy Bardon in 2021 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and distilled in the Jalisco Valley, Mexico, Wild Common produces agave spirits honoring tradition, community, and the land through a unique, time-honored process.

Stellar, resale marketplace for lifestyle experiences, launches

Stellar, a leading provider of lifestyle experiences, launches its platform on June 12th to reduce losses from fixed fees and non-cancelable reservations. Stellar’s new platform is a dedicated secondhand market for exclusive lifestyle experiences, including hotel bookings, tickets for travel, dining reservations, and more. Designed for both sellers and buyers, Stellar allows sellers to effortlessly recoup investments on unusable bookings. Sellers simply provide reservation details, and Stellar handles the rest, curating content to attract buyers.



Food & Beverage

Wicked Kitchen begins new ownership under animal-free Ahimsa cohort

Wicked Kitchen, the diversified plant-based retail and foodservice brand, has been acquired by the Ahimsa group of companies. Included in the transaction, struck for an undisclosed sum, are the alternative-seafood lines Good Catch and Current Foods, which were acquired by Wicked Kitchen in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Ahimsa VC was set up in 2020 in Bengaluru, India, and is centered on start-ups in the plant-based and fermentation spaces, along with cell-cultured foods. The investor took part in a $20m bridge financing round for Austin, Texas-headquartered Wicked Kitchen in 2022, taking the company’s external funding at the time to $34m.

Mission Produce posts another record quarterly earnings as El Niño effects linger

Mission Produce, Inc. delivered back-to-back record quarterly earnings this year driven by strong consumer demand, and is looking to maintain momentum after El Niño conditions impacted avocado groves in Peru. Operating profits totaled $20.2 million in the second quarter, an increase of 165% over last year. The company also reported improved cash flows as it advances cost savings efforts to offset anticipated losses in the back half of 2024. CEO Stephen Barnard said in an earnings call the company is in a strong position to remain competitive as global avocado supply dwindles. Mission is looking to source from third-party suppliers in other regions to mitigate its avocado shortages.

La Lorraine Bakery enters North America with Bakery de France stake

Family-owned La Lorraine Bakery Group (LLBG) in Belgium has acquired a 50% stake in Bakery de France, a bread and pastries business in the US. LLBG said it will team up with Bakery de France in a joint venture to supply the North American market, where the latter generates around $80m in annual revenue selling into the retail and foodservice channels. The venture will be headed up by Alexander Salameh as CEO. He is the chief operations officer of family-run Bakery de France, which was set up 40 years ago and is based in Washington DC.

Kyokuyo takes majority stake in Northseafood Holland

Tokyo-listed seafood company Kyokuyo has bought a majority interest in Northseafood Holland as part of its strategy to establish an overseas processing presence. The undisclosed stake has been acquired through the Netherlands holding business NSF Holding, the financial terms of which were not revealed in a statement from the Japanese firm. NS Holland, as the Dutch business is known, will trade as a subsidiary of Kyokuyo Europe. The deal adds to the majority holding the Japanese parent company took in Turkey’s Kocaman Fisheries Export and Import Trade in January.



Grocery & Restaurants

Noodles & Company enters support agreement with activist investor Hoak & Co.

Noodles & Company has entered into a support agreement with activist investor Hoak & Co. and related companies as it continues to struggle with sales and traffic. As part of the agreement, the Broomfield, Co.-based chain has appointed Hoak investor and Vice President Britain Peakes to its board of directors, effective June 10, and Hoak has agreed to maintain its investment at around 9.48% of outstanding shares and support the current executive board. Noodles & Company has been struggling since customers responded badly to a price hike in February of 2023 which led to the departure of then-CEO Dave Boennighausen and the eventual appointment of Panera veteran Drew Madsen.

Sony Pictures acquires movie-dining company Alamo Drafthouse

Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and is creating a new experiences division of the motion-picture company, the company announced. Culver City, Calif.-based Sony Pictures, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Group Corp., said Michael Kustermann will remain as CEO of the Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse and head the new experiences division. Kustermann will report to Ravi Ahuja, president and chief operating officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the company said, adding that Alamo Drafthouse will continue to operate 35 cinemas across 25 metro areas. Sony Pictures Entertainment acquired Alamo Drafthouse from owners Altamont Capital Partners, Fortress Investment Group and founder Tim League.

Home & Road

Lovesac’s Q1 sales drop, but outlook remains on track

Net sales for home furnishings brand and Top 100 retailer Lovesac decreased by just more than 6% for its first quarter in fiscal 2025 to $132.6 million, with Internet sales down 9% and showrooms off by 2.3%. Although sales were down, CEO Shawn Nelson said: “We are pleased to deliver first quarter performance in line to slightly above the high end of our expectations. Our results reflect continued outperformance compared to the industry and demonstrate our commitment to executing against our objectives.” In the company’s earnings call, Nelson noted while Lovesac hasn’t experienced the drop off in business associated with constraints placed on lower-income consumers, Lovesac’s customers are being “more thoughtful” on their choices when it comes to size configurations and accessory purchases.

Havenly continues acquisition streak with addition of St. Frank

Luxury home brand Havenly, which just two months ago acquired The Citizenry, has followed up with the purchase of select assets of St. Frank, an online retailer focused on printed textiles and heritage-inspired décor sourced from vintage dealers and artisan businesses. This latest move marks Havenly’s fourth acquisition in two years. Havenly’s portfolio of home brands includes Interior Define, a custom furniture maker with 13 design studios nationwide, and The Inside, a direct-to-consumer home furnishings brand. The Citizenry, also a DTC brand, offers globally inspired and sourced home décor, rugs and bedding along with its own line of bedroom furniture and upholstered seating.

Texas bedding retailer files for Chapter 11 protection

Southwest Mattress Sales, Inc., which does business as Factory Mattress, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 7 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division. The company will remain in business through the bankruptcy process and continue normal operations thereafter. Owner and founder Steve Frey said road construction projects have put a strain on access to many of his store locations for years. “The reorganization is a mandatory step to get economic relief,” he said. “Our stores will have no interruption in operations for sales and support to our customers.” In the filing, the company listed estimated assets of $1,000,001 to $10 million with estimated liabilities totaling $1,000,001 to $10 million to an estimated 50 to 99 creditors.

Jewelry & Luxury

JTV Gets New CEO, Plans to Expand Sales Channels

Kevin Cleary has been named CEO of Jewelry Television (JTV), taking over from Tim Matthews, who had headed the company since 2008. Cleary has served since October as co-CEO alongside Matthews, who will remain on the JTV board. Cleary is the founder and managing partner of Fort Dearborn Partners, a management consultancy with a focus on turnarounds and consumer goods. He tells JCK that with cable viewership down, he hopes to expand JTV’s distribution channels. It recently began selling on the Amazon Marketplace and will soon be added to the Macy’s platform, using the Judith Ripka brand as its way in. “Our strategy is to get on other people’s marketplaces,” he says. “We continue to expand into our other channels of distribution. Our plan is to build a big business on Amazon, and then get on Walmart and Target and build big businesses there.”

Bruce Cleaver Is Gemfields’ New Chair

Gemfields announced it has appointed former De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver as chair and independent non-executive director. “Bruce’s reputation as a preeminent leader is well documented and he brings considerable experience of mining gemstones in Africa and marketing them internationally,” said Gemfields. Cleaver joined De Beers in 2016 and headed the company for more than six years, overseeing the launch of Lightbox and the creation of blockchain platform Tracr among other key initiatives. His position with Gemfields will begin July 1.


Luxury prices in spotlight as Chanel enters new chapter

The departure of Chanel’s top designer early June 13th sent ripples across the $1.62 trillion luxury goods industry at a time when all the major global players are at a crossroads. The playbook at the world’s top fashion labels like privately owned Chanel and LVMH-owned Louis Vuitton and Dior has been to heavily market new styles from their high-profile designers while significantly boosting retail prices. Major luxury companies have hiked product prices by 33% on average since 2019. That accounted for half of the industry’s organic sales growth in the past two years, RBC estimates show. As the cost of living soars around the world, shoppers have become pickier, challenging the companies’ core strategies.


Office & Leisure

Joann names new interim CEO

Arts and crafts retailer Joann has appointed Michael Prendergast interim CEO. Prendergast is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal Consumer and Retail Group who has over 20 years of retail transformation leadership experience, the company said June 7. A search for a permanent CEO is underway. Chief Customer Officer Chris DiTullio and Chief Financial Officer Scott Sekella, who served as interim co-leads of Joann’s office of CEO for about a year, including through the company’s recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy, will stay with the retailer and continue with their respective roles.

Adults account for more toy sales than preschoolers

Shoppers over the age of 18 accounted for more toy sales in the first quarter than any other age group, surpassing preschoolers for the first time, according to a report by Circana. Adults contributed over $1.5 billion in toy sales in Q1. Nearly half (43%) of adults purchased a toy for themselves in the past year for a number of reasons including collecting, socialization and enjoyment, per the report. Toy sales dropped 1% from January through April year over year, but are 38% above 2019 levels, per the report.

GameStop tanks with huge volume in the call options owned by ‘Roaring Kitty’

A sell-off in GameStop shares intensified in afternoon trading June 12, and that coincided with a spike in trading volume in the call options that meme stock leader “Roaring Kitty” owns. The last time Roaring Kitty, whose legal name is Keith Gill, disclosed his portfolio was Monday night (June 10), showing he still owned 120,000 call options contracts with a strike price of $20 and an expiration date of June 21. GameStop calls with the exact strike price and expiration traded a whopping 93,266 contracts June 12, more than nine times its 30-day average volume of 10,233 contracts. The price of these contracts dropped more than 40% during the session, while the stock plunged 16.5%.

Technology & Internet

Everything Apple announced at its big AI event

Apple just kicked off a brand new era for the company with the introduction of its first generative AI features for the iPhone. At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10, the company unveiled the first batch of tools powered by “Apple Intelligence,” from personalized Genmoji – Apple’s AI-generated emoji – to a significantly smarter Siri, which can answer questions about your schedule, what’s in your email and what time your loved one’s flight is landing. It also announced a partnership with ChatGPT creator OpenAI to power the features. Although the partnership will likely give the company a much-needed boost, Apple aligning itself with a company and a technology that have yet to win public trust, facing criticism for taking user inputs and incorporating them into ChatGPT’s data set may cause some challenges down the road.

Tesla shareholders vote to reinstate Elon Musk’s $56 billion pay package

Tesla shareholders on June 13 voted to ratify CEO Elon Musk’s mammoth 2018 pay plan, five months after a judge in Delaware ordered the company to rescind the package, finding it had been improperly granted by the board. At Tesla’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas, the vote in support of the compensation plan, doesn’t override the court’s ruling, but provides a public relations victory for Musk and could help his effort to sway a court to give him his performance options in the future. In a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, Tesla said 77% of those who voted were in favor of granting Musk the compensation package.

Finance & Economy

Inflation slows in May, with consumer prices up 3.3% from a year ago

Inflation numbers eased in May. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a 0.1% monthly gain and a 3.4% annual rate. The monthly rate rose 0.3% in April while the annual rate was 3.3%.  Excluding volatile food and energy prices, core CPI increased 0.2% on the month and 3.4% from a year ago, compared with respective estimates of 0.3% and 3.5%.  Though the top-line inflation numbers were lower for both the all-items and core measures, shelter inflation increased 0.4% on the month and was up 5.4% from a year ago. Housing-related numbers have been a sticking point in the Federal Reserve’s inflation battle and make up a heavy share of the CPI weighting.

Wholesale prices unexpectedly fell 0.2% in May

A measure of wholesale prices unexpectedly decreased in May, adding another piece of evidence that inflation is pulling back. The producer price index, a gauge of prices that producers get for their goods and services in the open market, declined 0.2% for the month, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. That reversed a 0.5% increase in April and compared with the Dow Jones estimate for a 0.1% rise. Excluding food, energy and trade services, the PPI was unchanged, compared with expectations for a 0.3% increase. On an annual basis, the all-items PPI rose 2.2%.

The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits jumps to the highest level in 10 months

The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits jumped to the highest level in 10 months last week, a sign that the labor market is likely cooling under the weight of high interest rates. Unemployment benefit applications for the week ending June 8 rose by 13,000 to 242,000, up from 229,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported. That’s significantly more than the 225,000 new claims analysts were expecting and the most since August of 2023. The four-week average of claims, which softens some of the week-to-week volatility, rose to 227,000. That’s an increase of 4,750 from the previous week and the highest since September, but still less than the average one year ago.

Treasury Secretary Yellen says U.S. debt load is in ‘reasonable place’ if it remains at this level

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the swelling national debt is manageable as long as it stays around where it is relative to the rest of the economy. In a CNBC interview, Yellen also noted that high interest rates are adding to the burden as the U.S. manages its massive $34.7 trillion debt load. During the 2024 fiscal year, net interest costs on the debt have totaled $601 billion — more than the government has spent on health care or defense and more than four times what it has laid out for education.