We are excitedly counting down the months and weeks until the return of the Consensus Great Brands Show (CGBS), which will take place September 13th, at the New York Times TimesCenter in Manhattan (CGBS Website). CGBS is returning for the 10th time, after a pause for COVID, and we are bringing the show back bigger and better than ever. With the date of the CGBS approaching, we are using this space each week to profile a different company that will be taking the stage in September. We hope our weekly previews underscore our growing anticipation for this year’s show and give you a head start on learning about these dynamic brands and entrepreneurs.
With the CGBS making its post-COVID return, we are excited to host a company that figuratively puts away our pandemic sweatpants and Crocs and gets us all back into the world again: Anatomie. Anatomie is the product of husband-and-wife team Kate and Shawn Boyer. Kate is a former gymnast and coach with extensive experience making athletic apparel for serious competitors, and Shawn has spent much of his career designing and making apparel for hard-to-fit athletic men.
Anatomie products reflect the confluence of fashion and activewear, and are designed to form the perfect wardrobe for the dream vacation or a business trip where the traveler intends to also see the sights or go out on the town.
Anatomie’s products have a clean, slimming profile due to their European craftmanship and tailoring and are made with engineered wrinkle-free performance fabrics that allow them to look great right out of a travel bag. Some have said Anatomie looks like Prada and Lululemon had a child and then took the kid on vacation to Ibiza.
Perhaps because it is a brand that has come of age during these tumultuous times, Anatomie has also rethought traditional distribution strategies. In addition to ecommerce and wholesale relationships, the brand sells directly to resorts and cruise ships (and operates an airport store in Venice), and through professional stylists and direct-selling sales reps who sell the product to their friends and acquaintances. It has also operated seasonal pop ups in areas such as Aspen, the Hamptons, and Sardinia. The Company wants to make sure its customers can find the product wherever their lifestyle takes them.
Consensus is excited to hear the Anatomie story at the New York Times Center on September 13, 2023. Kate Boyer says, “We at Anatomie believe that traveling freely is one of the greatest privileges in life. We exist to empower, inspire and outfit the global traveler and everyday adventurer, to be able to explore their world in comfort and style. This is how we make the world a better place. We can’t wait to tell our story at the Great Brands Show!”
Please join us at the show on September 13 and check out Anatomie beforehand at https://anatomie.com/
Headline of the Week
Bed Bath & Beyond and its debtors have accepted the Overstock stalking horse bid for the company’s key intellectual property, according to a filing with the United States District Court in New Jersey. The purchase price for the business’s intellectual property, including the Bed Bath & Beyond name, was $21.5 million. According to an Overstock filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Overstock bid included business data and rights to mobile applications in addition to the Bed Bath and Beyond name. Bed Bath & Beyond filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April and subsequently determined to liquidate. The company’s stores, which are not included in the Overstock transaction, continue conducting going-out-of-business sales. An auction of buybuy Baby assets is slated for June 28. Overstock share price gained Thursday on news of the court’s acceptance of its bid, although it gave back some of those gains Friday morning.
Apparel & Footwear
Victoria’s Secret & Co. announced Wednesday that Greg Unis will assume the role of brand president for Victoria’s Secret and Pink, while former Torrid executive Anne Stephenson will become the company’s new chief merchandising officer in July. Stephenson will report to Unis, the company said in the statement. Unis will continue to report to CEO Martin Waters. Unis, who joined the company in 2016, will lead design, merchandising, creative, planning, strategic patterning and business development for the brands. As the former CEO of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, Unis was responsible for the nearly $1 billion Victoria’s Secret Beauty, Victoria’s Secret accessories, and Pink Beauty businesses. Unis most recently worked as the company’s chief growth officer where he led new business development, international expansion real estate and store design and construction teams, among other responsibilities. Unis’s past retail leadership experiences include serving as executive vice president and global head of men’s and licensing merchandising for Coach. He also held senior positions at Brooks Brothers and Gap Inc. Stephenson previously worked for Victoria’s Secret and was most recently chief merchant at Full Beauty Brands and Torrid. Stephenson will rejoin the company next month.
The once invulnerable VF Corp. — humbled by declines at the Vans brand and an uneven start with Supreme — is now betting Bracken Darrell can get the company its mojo back. Darrell, 60, will take the reins of VF as president and chief executive officer on July 17, putting the fashion newcomer in charge of one of the industry’s leading players, which logged $11.6 billion in revenues last year and also a 34 percent drop in adjusted earnings. It’s a big job for the Procter & Gamble and Whirlpool veteran who has spent the last decade leading computer hardware and software company Logitech International. Darrell will be in charge of overseeing the turnaround of Vans, VF’s largest business, and also walking a fine line at Supreme, which is trying to expand while maintaining its well-honed sense of scarcity. Timberland is also a work in progress, but The North Face is hitting its stride as consumers gravitate toward outdoor brands. As CEO, he will also have to win back Wall Street, which for years saw VF as a broad-based powerhouse with a steady dividend payment only to watch that thesis unravel. Benno Dorer, who’s been interim CEO since Steve Rendle left the post abruptly in December, will remain on the board.
Shoe maker Skechers sued fashion company Steve Madden in Los Angeles federal court on Tuesday, claiming its “Kennie” line of sneakers violate Skechers’ trademark rights in its “S” logos. The Steve Madden sneakers feature an “S” design that is likely to mislead consumers into thinking Skechers made or endorsed them, the lawsuit said. Steve Madden Ltd said in a statement that its shoe was “in no way inspired by Skechers” and that its “swirl” design does not resemble the Skechers logo. The company said that it has used variations of the design since the 1990s and plans to “vigorously defend” against the lawsuit. Skechers’ lawsuit called the design on Steve Madden’s shoe “essentially a stylized ‘S’ of similar (if not nearly identical) proportions” to the ‘S’ logos on Skechers’ shoes, placed in the same location. Manhattan Beach, California-based Skechers asked the court to order Steve Madden to stop the alleged misuse of its trademarks and requested an unspecified amount of money damages. Skechers has been involved in intellectual property disputes with several other shoe makers including Nike, Adidas and Easy Spirit. It sued Berkshire Hathaway-owned Brooks Sports for trademark infringement and Hermes for design-patent infringement last year in lawsuits that were later settled.
A digitally native, “hands-free” sneaker brand has made its brick-and-mortar debut — with more to come. Kizik has opened its first-ever store, at Fashion Place Mall in Murray, Utah, which is close to Salt Lake City and the company’s headquarters in Lindon, Utah. 1,293-sq.ft. shop is the first of many, according to the company. It follows Kizik’s expansion into select Nordstrom stores, which represents a new chapter of growth for the brand, which has traditionally been direct-to-consumer. The new store features Kizik’s full portfolio of men’s, women’s, and kids’ shoes, which are designed for people who hate tying their shoelaces and those who simply can’t. Additional merchandise includes Kizik-branded shirts and shoe care kits, and no-slip socks. Kizik’s collection of hands-free footwear leverages more than 170 pending and granted patents developed by parent company HandsFree Labs, enabling consumers to easily step in and out of their shoes — with no hands and no hassle, the company said. (The heel compresses as the foot slides in and, once the foot is secure, snaps back into the upright position.) Kizik was founded by entrepreneur Mike Pratt, who filed the company’s first patents in 2014, and launched the very first product line in 2017.
Christopher Kane, one of London’s best-known and most talented designers, is closing the label, and hoisting a For Sale sign, the company confirmed Wednesday. The company said the board of Christopher Kane Ltd. has recently resolved to file a notice of intention to appoint FTS Recovery as administrators to wind down operations. “This difficult decision has been reached to give the company sufficient time to implement a rescue plan,” principals said. “Key stakeholders have been notified. A period of accelerated marketing activity will now follow, with a view to locating potential interested parties to either refinance the company’s existing debt, or alternatively locate a purchaser for the business and assets,” company principals added. Christopher Kane founded his company 17 years ago, and was one of the biggest names on the London Fashion Week calendar. Kering would eventually purchase his label before selling it back to the designer in 2018. The two parties parted amicably.
Athletic & Sporting Goods
European football league LaLiga launched its first online retail shop with Fanatics as part of a wide-ranging omnichannel retail and manufacturing partnership. The LaLiga online store will launch globally this summer, before the soccer season, offering officially licensed shirts, training gear and accessories from LaLiga and many of the league’s leading teams. The merchandise will expand to include clubs from both LaLiga divisions, marking the most extensive assortment of LaLiga fan merchandise.
Golf ball sales have surged upward this spring with a boost from healthier inventory levels and the return of promotions to help offset some weakening across golf club categories, according to the latest data from Golf Datatech and the National Golf Foundation. Growth across most equipment categories remains well ahead of pre-pandemic 2019 levels. U.S. data from Golf Datatech for both on and off-course retail for the year-to-date period through April found golf equipment sales down 4 percent in dollars. Double-digit growth in balls, as well as growth in golf gloves, wasn’t able to offset year-to-date declines across club categories as well as in golf bags and shoes.
Cosmetics & Pharmacy
By 2025, Amazon is predicted to surpass Walmart Inc. as the largest U.S. beauty retailer, according to an article from Bloomberg. Amazon will make up about 14.5% of a market that could hit $180 billion in value by 2025, followed by Walmart at about 13%, the article reports. Bloomberg also said that by 2025, Amazon is set to have about 46.5% share of the ecommerce market. This growth doesn’t come without some challenges, as last year Amazon lost almost half of its share value due to routs that ravaged technology and growth stocks.
Advent International has taken a majority stake in niche fragrance brands Parfums de Marly and Initio Parfums Privés. While financial details of the deal were not disclosed, it is estimated to be valued at more than $700 million per industry sources. The deal is primed to buttress the significant growth trajectories of each brand who together registered retail sales of $366 million in 2022. Investors have displayed interest in the niche perfume category as it continues to grow steadily within the prestige fragrance sector, which has picked up steam in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Henkel is rationalising its brand portfolio. The German consumer goods group, owner of haircare brand Schwarzkopf and detergents brand Le Chat, has very quietly sold its Diadermine skincare brand to Dutch cosmetics company Beauty International B.V., specialised in beauty products’ white labels. According to official documents filed in France, the value of the sale was €16.32 million. Henkel, which will continue to manage Diadermine’s business operations for a transitional period, has entered into a distribution agreement with Labori International B.V., also headquartered in the Netherlands. Diadermine was founded in 1904 under the aegis of brothers Giambattista and Cornelio Bonetti, and is well-known for its anti-ageing products commercialised in mass-market distribution. It had been owned by Henkel since the early 1980s.
Rembrand, a product placement platform powered by generative AI, has received an undisclosed investment from L’Oréal’s BOLD venture capital fund and venture firm Good Friends. The funding will help Rembrand scale up. Terms were not disclosed. Rembrand’s platform, launched in February 2023, reportedly “enables brands and other items to be inserted into video content with hyper-realistic product placement” with minimal invasiveness. Its investors include brands and talent agencies like United Talent Agency.
Discounters & Department Stores
Walmart celebrated the grand opening of a new 2.2 million-square-foot fulfillment center in McCordsville, Indiana, near Indianapolis. The company said in an announcement that the high-tech facility is its “largest fulfillment center to date, and will enable the retailer to fulfill more orders, more quickly. Walmart said in an earlier announcement that four new high-tech fulfillment centers will supplement 31 e-commerce fulfillment centers and 4,700 stores that the company currently uses to fulfill online orders.
Off-price retailer Forman Mills is laying off 245 employees in Pennsylvania by Aug. 4, according to a WARN filing with the state’s Department of Labor & Industry. The layoffs affect workers at seven stores that could close, including one in Philadelphia that has already closed. The company is working to sell itself, and may file for Chapter 11 if it can’t, according to a WARN letter sent to the state.
Emerging Consumer Companies
Retail platform Leap has raised $15 million in a funding round co-led by existing investors BAM Elevate and Costanoa Ventures. The funds will be used to drive growth with existing and new brands, enhance platform capabilities and accelerate the company’s path to profitability. Leap has more than doubled its network size and revenue since its Series B financing in January 2022, with more than 50 brands using the platform to power over 100 stores across 11 markets. The platform enables brands to deploy stores that work in concert with ecommerce more rapidly at reduced cost and risk.
Beekeeper’s Naturals, a health and wellness company that creates products based on propolis, has raised $14 million in funding. The round was co-led by Devonshire Investors and Cavu Consumer Partners, with participation from Vibrant Ventures and Muse Capital. The company plans to use the funds to accelerate growth in retail and online, while expanding its innovation pipeline. Beekeeper’s Naturals creates products powered by propolis and backed by science, with a focus on providing solutions to modern health issues. The brand’s flagship product, Propolis Throat Spray, recently secured the #1 rank in the Cold & Flu category on Amazon.
GoodBuy Gear, an online resale marketplace for baby and kid gear, has secured $14m in funding co-led by Interlock Partners and existing investor Revolution Ventures. The funding will enable the female-founded-and-led startup to scale its online marketplace and solidify its position as the leading and most trustworthy baby and kid resale brand. GoodBuy Gear enables parents, brands and retailers to safely and sustainably recirculate quality-used baby and kid products. The company has sold over 270,000 secondhand items and has helped more than 12,000 families resell their used items to date.
Food & Beverage
Cultivated meat is officially able to enter the U.S. market, with the USDA issuing grants of inspection to Upside Foods and Eat Just today. This is the final step in the approval process. Both companies, based in California, will debut their cell-cultivated chicken products at restaurants run by famed chefs. Dominique Crenn will serve Upside Foods’ chicken at Bar Crenn in San Francisco, and José Andrés serving Eat Just’s Good Meat chicken at one of his restaurants in Washington, D.C. These are the first two cultivated meat companies to go through the U.S. government’s process to obtain full approval, which included approvals from both the FDA and USDA. Before today, Eat Just was the only company in the world that could sell cultivated meat, having received approval in Singapore in 2020.
Brown-Forman has announced an agreement to sell Finlandia vodka to Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC) for $220 million. Subject to regulatory approvals, the acquisition is anticipated to close in the second half of 2023. The Switzerland-based bottler of Coca-Cola products made the proposed deal through its subsidiary CC Beverages Holdings II. Finlandia was established in 1970 and has remained a leading vodka brand in Central and Eastern Europe with annual volumes of 2.7 million 9-liter cases globally, of which more than 60% is generated within Coca-Cola HBC’s geographic footprint. The brand comes in its original SKU and several flavored versions. Since debuting as Brown-Forman’s sole vodka in 2000, Finlandia has significantly contributed to the corporation’s global expansion, said Lawson Whiting, president and CEO of Brown-Forman Corporation. Brown-Forman acquired Finlandia from Altia Corp., attaining full ownership in 2004.
Food technology startup BetterBrand has closed a $6 million Series A funding round at a pre-money valuation of $170 million. The company has raised nearly $10 million since its founding in 2021. Dubbed “the Beyond Meat of carbs,” BetterBrand developed proprietary technology to produce the Better Bagel, which has the net carbohydrate equivalent of two banana slices, the protein content of four eggs and the sugar content of one stalk of celery. The product is formulated with modified wheat starch, wheat protein isolates, potato starch, prebiotic inulin fiber, extra virgin olive oil, yeast, sea salt and enzymes. Offerings include classic, everything, cinnamon, chocolate chip, pretzel and sesame. The Better Bagel is sold online and in more than 1,500 stores nationwide, including Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, Fresh Market, Gelson’s, Bristol Farms, Giant, Harmon’s, Lassen’s, Plum Market, Wild by Nature, Foxtrot Market and others. BetterBrand is set to unveil more than a dozen new items in the coming months and will begin expanding to new markets across North America and Europe. The company posted 800% year-over-year growth between 2021 and 2022 and said it is on track to deliver the same growth from 2022 to 2023.
Grocery & Restaurants
British online grocer Ocado Group shares jumped as much as 47% in London, the most in more than five years, following a Times report on “speculation of bid interest” from technology firms such as Amazon.com, according to reporting from Bloomberg. The report, which did not specify the source of the information and was released late Wednesday, said Amazon and several other tech “heavyweights” were considering the merits of a bid worth $10.21 (800 pence) per share for the company. Kroger has had an exclusive partnership with Ocado since 2018 in an effort to spur the Cincinnati-based company’s delivery output via the construction of robotically operated warehouses in the U.S. So far, Kroger is currently live with eight Ocado sites, with 16 ordered.
Toast is adding a new consumer-facing $0.99-cent surcharge to all online orders, without giving restaurants the option to opt out of the new fee, in an unpopular move that has caused restaurant operators to post letters and tweets of protest on social media. As first reported by The Boston Globe, the fee will be added to all online orders over $10 and will be beta-tested with a small group of restaurants before being rolled out nationwide on July 10. According to a mockup of Toast’s interface, the .99-cent fee will not show up separately and will be instead part of a combined line called “taxes & fees” that already regularly shows up when customers place online orders. Unless consumers expand the “taxes and fees” subsection, they won’t see the new “order processing fee,” which, according to Toast, is intended to “help fund product investments” like SEO menus, customization, and chargeback coverage. “As we innovate, we remain committed to keeping restaurant digital ordering costs low and protecting restaurant bottom lines from third-party commission fees,” a representative from Toast told NRN in an emailed statement.
Home & Road
Fourth quarter growth in its retail segment capped off La-Z-Boy Inc.‘s fiscal year, which generated records for both retail segment sales and consolidated earnings per share. For the full year ended April 29, the company generated consolidated sales of $2.3 billion, up 2% when adjusting for the 53th week in the FY calendar. Sales in the retail segment jumped 22% to $982 million, with record operating profit and operating margin. “We achieved these results through disciplined supply chain investments and solid execution in our company-owned retail stores, reflecting the strength of our vertically integrated retail and wholesale model,” said Melinda D. Whittington, president and CEO. For Q4, consolidated sales were down 18% (-12% adjusted for the 53rd week) to $561 million, beating Wall Street’s consensus estimate of $533 million. Laz-Z-Boy saw lower unit volume compared with the year-ago quarter, which got a lift from backlog-driven sales. That acted as a drag on the quarter’s positives, which included the realization of pricing and surcharge actions and the positive effects of a favorable product and channel mix.
Office and contract furniture giant Steelcase reported $751.9 million in first quarter revenue for fiscal 2024, a 2% gain from last year. Revenue was better in the Americas, climbing 5% from last quarter. Internationally, revenue declined 9%. Growth in the Americas was primarily driven by higher pricing, the company said, but also benefited from faster order fulfillment patterns, partially offset by a lower beginning backlog. Despite revenue growth, orders declined 7% compared with the prior year, which had grown 22% compared with the first quarter of fiscal 2022. Company management attributed the decline to a decrease in project business, partially offset by growth in continuing business. The order decline in International was across most markets in EMEA and China, partially offset by growth across all other markets in Asia Pacific.
Jewelry & Luxury
De Beers Group’s rough diamond sales declined for the third month in a row in June, with the company’s CEO describing the diamond industry’s outlook as “cautious” heading into the summer months. De Beers said that rough diamond sales to sightholders and auction customers totaled $450 million in the fifth sales cycle of the year, covering the period of June 5-20. That is down 32 percent from $657 million in the fifth sales cycle of 2022, and down 6 percent from $479 million in rough diamond sales in May.
Office & Leisure
On Thursday, Microsoft opened a weeklong hearing that will decide whether its $69 billion bid to purchase video game behemoth Activision Blizzard should be temporarily blocked with a warning: If a federal judge grants the injunction that the Federal Trade Commission is seeking, the deal won’t go through. “If we can’t close by July 18, and the court enjoins the transaction,” Microsoft’s lead attorney Beth Wilkinson said, “nobody can withstand that and we certainly can’t.” She stressed that siding with the FTC in the case will drag the company into a “three year administrative nightmare” that will doom the deal. The argument set the stage for a mini trial in federal court in San Francisco between Microsoft and the FTC. The agency in December sued to block the merger, arguing that it will enable the tech giant to suppress competition in gaming. If approved, the deal will marry Microsoft, which owns the Xbox console and a game streaming service, with Activision, maker of Call of Duty, Diablo and Candy Crush, as the company maps out an aggressive expansion of its gaming arm. The FTC’s suit represents another aggressive step taken by competition regulators to rein in consolidation of the tech industry. For the agency, its ask for a preliminary injunction to pause the deal goes beyond this particular case.
Staples on Tuesday launched a three-tiered set of computer tech support plans. The retailer said that its Total Support Plans are designed to support customers dealing with unexpected tech troubles, like damaged devices, laptop crashes, viruses or identity theft. Designed for students, small businesses and individuals, all of the plans include access to live support through messaging, by phone or in person at any Staples store. The company has about 1,000 retail locations. Customers can also access their support plan details through the Staples Connect app. All of the plans include unlimited virus removals, at one price. Customers can purchase tech support and device protection when they buy a new computer at Staples. They can also add support and protection to a device they already own.
Technology & Internet
Amazon will hold its annual Prime Day mega sale on July 11 and 12, the company announced Wednesday. For the first time, Amazon will offer invite-only deals where members of its Prime subscription club can request an invitation to access discounts on items that typically sell out fast. Prime Day deals will also appear on other retailers’ websites through its Buy with Prime program, which enables third parties to add Amazon’s payment and fulfillment services to their own site. Amazon launched Prime Day in 2015. The discount celebration is partially designed to secure new Prime subscribers, to promote Amazon’s products and services, and to provide a sales boost in the middle of the year. The event is also a big revenue driver for other retail sites like Target, Walmart and Best Buy, which typically offer competing discounts for customers.
The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday sued Amazon, alleging the nation’s dominant online retailer intentionally duped millions of consumers into signing up for its mainstay Prime program and “sabotaged” their attempts to cancel. The agency claims Amazon violated the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act by using so-called dark patterns, or deceptive design tactics meant to steer users toward a specific choice, to push consumers to enroll in Prime without their consent. “Amazon tricked and trapped people into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users but also costing them significant money,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement. Amazon spokesperson Heather Layman said in a statement that the FTC’s claims are “false on the facts and the law.” “The truth is that customers love Prime, and by design we make it clear and simple for customers to both sign up for or cancel their Prime membership,” Layman said.
Finance & Economy
Sales of previously owned homes were essentially flat in May compared with April, according to the National Association of Realtors. They rose 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted, annualized pace of 4.30 million units. Compared with a year earlier, however, sales were 20.4% lower. The slow spring sales pace is a combination of still-high prices, elevated mortgage rates and a critical shortage of homes for sale. There were just 1.08 million homes on the market at the end of May. That’s 6.1% lower than the supply in May of last year.
The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits for the first time held steady at a 20-month high, remaining elevated for a third straight week in what may be an early indication of a softening labor market in the face of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive credit tightening. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 264,000 new claims were filed for jobless benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis in the week ended June 17, unchanged from the prior week’s upwardly revised level, which is the highest level of initial claims activity since October 2021.