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.
Moolah Kicks, a pioneering female-founded athletic footwear brand, is revolutionizing women’s basketball through their relentless focus on creating high-performance shoes for female players. With a meticulous approach that combines cutting-edge technology, extensive research, and exceptional craftsmanship, Moolah Kicks delivers footwear designed specifically for the unique anatomical structures and dynamics of women’s feet.
Moolah Kicks prioritizes optimal functionality, flexibility, and stability in their shoe design. Each pair is meticulously crafted to enhance performance and comfort on the basketball court. The company’s unwavering commitment to craftsmanship is evident in every aspect of their shoes. From the carefully selected materials to the precise engineering of each component, Moolah Kicks ensures superior quality and durability.
Understanding the importance of catering to the specific needs of female athletes, Moolah Kicks has set a new standard in basketball footwear. Their dedication to creating shoes that provide exceptional comfort and performance specifically for women sets them apart in the industry. Moolah Kicks has conducted extensive research to develop technologies and features that optimize functionality, allowing female basketball players to excel in their game.
With their groundbreaking approach, innovative designs, and exceptional craftsmanship, Moolah Kicks is poised to make a lasting impression on the basketball world. Explore their exceptional collection and discover how Moolah Kicks is transforming women’s basketball through their high-performance footwear by visiting moolahkicks.com.
Headline of the Week
The Overstock brand will sunset in the fourth quarter as the company gears up its e-commerce operations under the Bed Bath & Beyond banner. Following the online retailer’s acquisitions of BBB in late June, Overstock immediately relaunched the Bed Bath & Beyond Canada site. The U.S. Bed Bath & Beyond site – whose landing page will initially carry the Overstock identification as well – is scheduled to go live in August after Bed Bath & Beyond winds up its retail store liquidation activities in late July. In a fast-paced 30-minute interview, Overstock CEO Jonathan Johnson laid out the company’s plans for the coming months. Here are 7 takeaways from the conversation. The old BBB online business: Although Bed Bath & Beyond was relatively under-penetrated online, its total e-comm sales in 2022 hit $1 billion, according to Johnson. Heralding the new BBB: Overstock plans to begin promoting the U.S. site relaunch heavily next month, targeting both Bed Bath and Overstock customers. The company is currently porting over Bed Bath’s massive customer file. Corporate identify: Overstock plans to convert its company name to Bed Bath & Beyond once the integration of operations is complete. The new Bed Bath & Beyond e-commerce retail company will not use the old BBBY stock ticker because it has become “tainted” among the investor community.
Apparel & Footwear
Designer Brands has named Laura Denk President of DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse and EVP of Designer Brands, effective July 24. Denk replaces Doug Howe, who was promoted to CEO of Designer Brands in April 2023. She brings an extensive background in merchandising, most recently as Chief Merchandising Officer at Michaels Stores, and also has held leadership positions at Claire’s and Macy’s. Denk, who will report to Howe, will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of DSW’s nearly 500 U.S. store locations and its ecommerce channel as well as helping further elevate the company’s owned brands and top national brands. The retailer has been expanding its roster of owned and exclusive brands, most recently with the February 2023 acquisition of Keds and licensing of the Hush Puppies brand. “I am confident in Laura’s ability to lead the DSW organization forward in ways that will further elevate and grow the profile of our owned brands while ensuring we maintain our critical, core relationships with our top national brands within our retail footprint,” said Howe in a statement.
Fast-fashion retailers, known for their affordable prices, are branching out by adding pricier third-party brands into their product mix. H&M CEO Helena Helmersson said late last month that the company plans to sell more third-party brands online and in stores. Online fast-fashion company Shein has recently attracted high-end brands Paul Smith and Stuart Weitzman to sell products on its website as part of its broader third-party marketplace strategy. Zara, on the other hand, opted to collaborate with third-party brands like shoemaker Clarks and South Korean brand Ader Error for higher-priced exclusive products. In an effort to challenge e-commerce giants, fast-fashion companies are beginning to emulate the marketplace business model. By selling more brands and higher margin goods, fast-fashion brands not only gain new customers but also improve their image. For third-party brands, teaming up with fast fashion brands gives them exposure to a broader audience outside.
Italian footwear company ACBC is ready to conquer the U.S. market. The firm, which specializes in designing and manufacturing responsibly-made shoes, is gearing up to file for an initial public offering, or IPO, on the New York Stock Exchange in the first part of 2024 as it sets its sights on increasing its influence in America. Gio Giacobbe, co-founder and CEO of ACBC, told FN in an interview that while he is already working with a handful of American companies — like Capri Holdings — he’s ready to “export” ACBC’s methodologies to the United States. “We are in a very strong position here in Europe and are working with all the major players in the industry,” Giacobbe said. “It’s time that we find a way to get more American companies to become part of our movement.” In total, ACBC has collaborated with more than 50 companies on shoes, including Missoni, Diadora, Themoirè, MSGM, Pinko, Piquadro, Garmont, Geox, Save the Duck, Philippe Model and many others. It also has its own in-house shoe collection and is slated to release even more collaborations in coming months.
For many small direct-to-consumer brands, expanding into brick-and-mortar retail is a pivotal moment. Plenty of brands are continuing to invest in running their own stores, especially after restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted. But opening physical stores can prove to be just as much of a company’s downfall as it is a lifeline. Such was the case with DTC sleepwear brand Lunya, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 16. Los Angeles-based Lunya is focused on selling men’s and women’s sleepwear, with its top-selling products made of washable silk material. The brand’s pricing is premium, with its washable silk cropped tee coming in at $128 while its cami pant set costs $248. Court documents from the brand’s Chapter 11 filing show how trends from the COVID-19 pandemic uplifted the brand, with its gross revenue peaking in 2020 and 2021 at $50 million. But the impact COVID-19 had on consumer demand in Lunya’s sector quickly went away. The company’s CEO Blair Lawson said in its bankruptcy declaration that multiple trends that helped push its growth have now experienced a “complete reversal,” leading to declining revenue.
Reality TV star-turned-entrepreneur Kim Kardashian has launched another fundraising round for her shapewear brand Skims that aims to value the company at close to $4 billion in anticipation of a possible initial public offering, according to a report. The brand is on track to register sales figures of around $1 billion this year — an increase of around 100% year-over-year, according to Women’s Wear Daily. The company, which has branched out from its bodysuits catalog to items such as pajamas and bathing suits, initially hoped to hit net sales of around $750 million this year. Last year, Skims raised $240 million primarily from hedge funds and investment firms including Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital, Lone Pine Capital, and D1 Capital Partners — doubling the brand’s valuation to $3.2 billion. Skims was co-founded by the 42-year-old Kardashian, whose net worth was pegged by Forbes at $1.2 billion, and her business partner, Jens Grede, four years ago. Her business portfolio also includes a minority stake in KKW Beauty, which she sold for $200 million last year to Coty Inc. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that she is in talks to buy back the brand.
Luxury lingerie brand La Perla is raising new funds and paying off outstanding debts in the U.K. that had led to a series of winding-up petitions filed by creditors. The Italian lingerie brand, which is now based in London, had been served winding-up notices in the past months by Purple PR; the accountancy firm Mazars; the design agency Edge Retail, and the consultancy firm HSO Enterprise Solutions. In the U.K., a winding-up petition is a legal notice that creditors file with the courts to establish whether a debtor company is insolvent. It can be a first step on the road to liquidation. Petitions from Purple PR, Mazars and Edge Retail have since been withdrawn after La Perla paid its debts. According to court documents, the company still owes HSO Enterprise Solutions more than 701,129 pounds, and a winding-up petition is still pending. The brand said in a statement to WWD on Tuesday that the outstanding debt was due to a “simple timing issue,” and added that a new business plan has since been submitted and approved by the board.
Athletic & Sporting Goods
Smith’s Sporting Group reported it acquired Tanners Team Sports, Inc. The two companies distribute over 1,000 products worldwide and nationally through specialty retailers and big box stores including Walmart, Amazon, Lowe’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops, Academy Sports, and Tractor Supply. Smith’s Sporting Group, a manufacturer of sharpeners, knives and tools designed and engineered for outdoor use, was founded in 1886. Today the company includes team recreational activities in its portfolio through the acquisition of Tanners Team Sports. Tanners, founded in 1991, produces team and individual sports products, including baseball training equipment and accessories under the Rawlings and Easton brands; plus, it offers a complete line of equipment under its wholly-owned Vulcan brand, a supplier of pickleball gear.
Fin Rage Tackle, LLC, based in Green Bay, WI, acquired Al’s Goldfish Lure Company, owned and operated by Jeff and Mandy DeBuigne since 2018. Fin Rage Tackle, LLC said it would build on the history of Al’s Goldfish Lure Company by expanding the product’s reach into the Midwest. Paul Check said, “We are excited to acquire such an iconic fishing lure brand with a long history of catching fish all over the world. We will continue to build upon the momentum that Jeff and Mandy have built in the Northeast by bringing more options and colors for the variety of fish in the Midwest as well as saltwater baits.”
Cosmetics & Pharmacy
Texas-based private equity firm TPG Inc. is poised to fully acquire Samhwa Co., a South Korean cosmetic packaging supplier to global beauty powerhouses like L’Oréal S.A., the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and Chanel, according to banking sources. TPG has agreed to buy a 100% stake in Samhwa and controlling shares in some major affiliates, held by Chief Executive Cho Seong-hwan, Cho’s father and Samhwa founder Cho Hwi-cheol and affiliated persons. The sales price is in the mid-300 billion won ($236.9 million) range, sources said. Samhwa is expected to partner with global cosmetics firms of TPG’s portfolios, such as Anastasia Beverly Hills LLC that is best known for its eyebrow products, according to industry sources. The private equity firm acquired a 38% stake in Anastasia in 2018, according to Bloomberg. Samhwa was founded in 1977 as an electronics and daily supplies mold maker. The company and its affiliates, such as plastic molding maker Samhwa P&T Co., posted around $35 billion won in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) last year.
Foundry acquired Blu Atlas — which sells men’s skin care, hair care and fragrance — for an undisclosed eight-figure sum. The news marks Foundry’s third acquisition into the men’s personal care industry. Blu Atlas joins Foundry’s growing men’s portfolio that includes premium razor brand Supply, cosmetics brand Stryx and fragrance brand Craft & Kin. Blu Atlas launched in January 2022, with its founder Deep Patel saying in a statement that the brand launched after Patel couldn’t find “clean and effective men’s skincare that worked.” Foundry in 2021 launched with $100 million in capital. Investors included LightBay Capital and Monogram Capital Partners, with the funding intended to go toward hiring employees as well as developing a portfolio of brands.
Gemspring Capital Acquires Bradford Soap International
Gemspring Capital Management has announced that an affiliate has acquired Bradford Soap International, Inc. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Bradford is a leader in custom formulation and in-house manufacturing of sustainable and environmentally friendly solid personal care products.
Kim Kardashian is reportedly in talks with Coty to buy back the 20% minority stake in SKKN, according to Reuters. Coty bought the stake in 2020 when SKNN by Kim was valued at $1 billion. Kardashian reportedly wants to expand SKKN’s beauty categories.
Private brand beauty products are resonating with consumers as retailers are raising the bar on their assortments and marketing endeavors. “The private brand beauty business is glowing,” said PLMA President Peggy Davies. Dollar sales of private brand beauty products increased 5% to $3.6 billion in all outlets for the 52 weeks ending June 18, 2023, vs. the same period the prior year, according to Circana. Many segments experiencing double-digit dollar sales growth. Women’s fragrances soared 83% to $77.7 million, facial cosmetics are up 26% to $34.4 million and lip cosmetics, 19% to $18.1 million, according to PLMA.
Discounters & Department Stores
BuyBuy Baby’s brand name may live on but the retailer’s physical stores are officially closing. Judge Vincent Papalia in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey approved Dream on Me’s purchase of BuyBuy Baby’s trademark and digital assets for $15.5 million. New Jersey-based Dream on Me was one of BuyBuy Baby’s former vendors and made a stalking horse bid in late June. According to court documents, the purchase gives Dream on Me all of BuyBuy Baby’s business intellectual property, including digital properties, the mobile platform, business data, and advertising and marketing assets.
Coresight Research’s U.S. back-to-school (BTS) 2023 study found the big BTS winner to be Walmart, with Amazon and Target losing ground. Dollar stores and off-pricers have also gained BTS share with those channels, as has Walmart, benefiting from the post-pandemic recovery in-store shopping. The study forecasts that the average spend per child in 2023 will climb 9.2 percent as double-digit gains in in-store sales offset flat growth online.
To connect shoppers with popular personalities’ favorite products, Walmart has partnered with NFL player Patrick Mahomes, singer Becky G and the Barbie brand to create shoppable carts where customers can view curated product picks, the retailer announced. The three listed a variety of party essentials, electronics and other items in their carts, such as a Bose portable speaker, an Igloo Cooler, a Better Homes & Gardens throw blanket and a wood-burning fire pit.
Emerging Consumer Companies
Munich-based smart fitness startup EGYM has raised $225 million in a Series F funding round led by Affinity Partners, the investment firm started by Jared Kushner. EGYM offers a range of connected hardware, software, and a corporate health network called Wellpass. The company aims to improve healthcare outcomes by focusing on preventative care through exercise. EGYM reported $130 million in revenues in 2022, with a 70% year-over-year growth rate. The funding will be used to expand into new markets, including the US, and double overall revenues to $260 million in 2023.
Incontinence care brand Attn: Grace has raised $2 million in funding to support its growth in the $20 billion incontinence category. The female-founded company, which is a Certified B Corp, recently launched its products in Walmart Supercenters and on Walmart.com and Target.com. The funding round was led by For Later and included participation from Flybridge and existing investors. Attn: Grace aims to provide natural, high-performing solutions in the incontinence care market and is committed to excluding harmful chemicals from its products. The company plans to expand its distribution network and continue driving the conversation around incontinence.
Non-alcoholic spirits brand Lyre’s has raised £18 million in its latest funding round, led by investors DSquared and Morgan Creek Consumer Fund. The funding will help the brand meet increasing global demand and expand its presence in key markets. The investment will also enhance the company’s global production and inventory capabilities. Lyre’s has appointed Paul Gloster as its new CEO, replacing co-founder Mark Livings. Gloster’s industry experience will drive the brand’s growth and allow Livings to focus on future ambitions. Lyre’s aims to change the way the world drinks by introducing a wider audience to the non-alcoholic spirits category.
Belgium-based startup Guud has raised $1.7 million in seed funding to invest in its menstrual health supplements. The funding round was led by global investors from various countries and included angel investors from the health and FMCG sectors. Guud, which launched in 2021, focuses on empowering women through knowledge, expert support, and clinically proven supplements. The company plans to expand its team and presence across Europe and aims to provide comprehensive solutions for menstrual health, including an online platform for women with limited access to specialized healthcare resources.
Fearless Fund, a venture capital fund focused on supporting Women of Color entrepreneurs, led a multi-million dollar seed funding round for BREAD Beauty Supply (BREAD), a breakthrough haircare line of basics for not-so-basic hair. With this new investment, BREAD plans to further expand its product line and enhance its research and development capabilities. With recent expansion in over 460 Ulta Beauty doors, these funds will also strengthen its distribution channels to reach a wider customer base and grow the company’s team to bolster its marketing efforts to amplify brand awareness and engagement.
Food & Beverage
Coca-Cola and eight bottling partners have closed a $138 million venture capital fund focusing on sustainability investments that will be managed by VC firm Greycroft. The bulk of the capital comes from Coca-Cola and the eight bottlers accounting for nearly half of the Coca-Cola system’s global volumes, who have each contributed $15 million. The Greycroft Coca-Cola System Sustainability Fund will focus on technologies that can reduce the carbon footprint of the Coca-Cola system in areas including packaging, heating and cooling, facility decarbonization, distribution, and supply chain. The plan is to invest in companies “at the point of commercialization,” according to Coca-Cola and its bottlers, who have invested in several packaging tech startups in recent years. These include Ioniqa, which seeks to transform mixed-color, partly contaminated PET waste into clear, food-grade PET; and CuRe Technology, which uses polyester rejuvenation to target plastics that cannot be recycled by mechanical recycling methods and prevents them from being incinerated, downcycled or sent to landfill.
Higher prices haven’t stopped shoppers from buying Gatorade and Doritos. Ramon L. Laguarta, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, Inc., said the consumer response to price increases across its portfolio of brands has exceeded management’s expectations. “…we’re seeing the majority of consumers staying within our categories, staying within our brands, and it’s remarkable what our marketing teams and commercial teams have been doing to minimize elasticity,” he said during a July 13 conference call with securities analysts. “In some respects, it is what we have been investing for the last few years. Our brands are stronger. The perceived value of our products is better than it was. And obviously, we’ve been able to raise prices, and consumers stay within our brands.” Based on strong year-to-date performance, as well as improved supply chain and labor market conditions, management has raised its full-year outlook. Organic revenue now is expected to increase 10%, up from a previous guidance of 8%, while earnings per share in core constant currency are expected to increase 12%, up from a previous guidance of 9%.
Traceability company Oritain raised $57 million in a Series C funding round, led by Highland Europe. The funding will be used to develop Oritain’s technology and expand into new markets and industries. Food and beverage producers, such as A2 Milk and Nestlé’s Nescafe, use Oritain to assure customers that the items they purchase are genuine and produced from an ethical supply chain. As consumers put more value in understanding how the ingredients in their favorite products are produced when they shop, food and beverage makers are debuting more offerings that show how, where and by whom they are grown.
Grocery & Restaurants
After facing multiple quarters of market pressures and rising costs, Domino’s Pizza is relinquishing its former industry-differentiating commitment to first party-only delivery by partnering with Uber Eats and Postmates in a company-first aggregator partnership. For the first time, Domino’s U.S. customers will be able to order pizza through the Uber Eats or Postmates marketplaces starting in four test markets this fall — including Las Vegas — before rolling out to the rest of the country by the end of the year. Uber Eats will have an exclusive delivery partnership with Domino’s through at least 2024 under this current agreement, which will also open the door to third-party delivery options in Uber’s 27 international markets. That process of international expansion is starting now, as master franchisees in international countries look to negotiate individual partnerships with Uber Eats. This is a monumental change for the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based pizza chain because in the past, Domino’s has always fought the ubiquity of third-party aggregators and used its first party-only delivery operations as a differentiator to stand out in the industry. However, in recent years, this plan has proven to be detrimental to their profits as competitors like Papa Johns have increasingly relied on aggregator partnerships to pick up the slack in the current inflationary environment.
Home & Road
In its fourth quarter/fiscal year earnings report, MillerKnoll cited a number of economic factors as posing difficulties, “particularly for the luxury housing market and discretionary spending on goods,” such as higher interest rates, regional banking crisis and lower consumer confidence. Net sales for the three months ended June 3 were down 13.1% from the year-ago period, to $956.7 million, faring better for the fiscal year at a 3.6% increase to $4.09 billion. Gross margin in the quarter was 37.1%, up 230 basis points from the same time last year and mainly driven by the realization of price optimization strategies and benefits from integration synergies. The quarter included special charges associated with recent restructuring and ongoing acquisition integration. In addition, the company said in its release, it recognized a non-cash pre-tax charge of $19.7 million related to the impairment of the Knoll trade name. Looking ahead, MillerKnoll says it remains cautious on the near-term outlook. For fiscal 2024, it expects net sales to be slightly lower on a year-over-year basis and earnings to be back-half weighted.
Numerator has assembled an early read of the results from the first 32 hours of Prime Day 2023, which reveals that the event is triggering strong sales of home-related merchandise. Top categories that Prime Day buyers reported purchasing were home goods, at 27%, household essentials, at 26%, apparel and shoes, at 25%, consumer electronics, at 21%, and beauty and cosmetics, at 20%. Numerator’s Prime Day purchase data findings include: The average Prime Day 2023 spend per order is $56.64 versus $53.14 in the same period during the 2022 event. In the first 32 hours of Prime Day, 39% of orders were placed for $20 or less, and 30% were for more than $100. In the period, 57% of households shopping Prime Day already placed more than two orders, and 11% placed five or more orders.
Christmas Tree Shops is going out of business. The Massachusetts-based discount home décor and furniture retailer is holding going-out-of-business sales at all its remaining locations nationwide. The liquidation event is being managed by Hilco Merchant Resources, a division of Hilco Global. The liquidation was outlined in proposed orders filed in the federal bankruptcy in Delaware on June 29. It follows the inability of the company to meet the financial obligations of its debtor-in-possession financing, which was authorized on June 5. (Christmas Tree Shops filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May.) At the sales, shoppers can take advantage of discounts up to 50% off the lowest ticketed prices. In addition to holiday items and décor, Christmas Tree stores offer home décor, furniture, gifts, paper and party goods, and more. Select fixtures, furnishings and equipment will also be available for sale in closing locations.
Helen of Troy, Ltd. reported earnings and sales were down in the first quarter ended May 31 due in part to the bankruptcy of Bed, Bath and Beyond, but topped analyst expectations, and the company reiterated its full-year guidance. Sales at its Home & Outdoor segment, including OXO, Hydro Flask and Osprey, were down 7.3 percent in the period. Adjusted EPS of $1.94 was down from $2.41 a year ago but ahead of Wall Street’s consensus of $1.68. Sales fell 6.6 percent to $474.7 million but was above Wall Street’s consensus of $465.4 million.
Jewelry & Luxury
Signet Jewelers Ltd. has announced another acquisition as it continues to expand its services segment. On a call with National Jeweler, Chief Financial, Strategy and Services Officer Joan Hilson said the company has acquired the assets of the Service Jewelry Repair National Repair Center, or SJR. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed, though Signet confirmed it will retain SJR’s employees, who will become Signet employees and remain in their current location.
Brilliant Earth opened two new showrooms this spring and plans to add two more over the summer, bringing its total of physical locations across the United States to 34. The San Francisco-based retailer, which started as an online-only operation in 2005 and went public in 2021, opened a showroom in Fairfax, Virginia’s Mosaic District in May, and in the Fulton Market in Chicago in June. It plans to open the two additional stores this summer in the Broadway Plaza shopping center in Walnut Creek, California, and in the Coconut Grove area of Miami, a new market for Brilliant Earth.
Chrono24 has inked a deal with one of the world’s most famous athletes, but not as a brand ambassador. The online luxury watch seller announced this week that Cristiano Ronaldo is now an investor in the company. According to the Forbes “Highest Paid Athletes of 2023” report, Ronaldo ranks No. 1, earning $136 million last year from his contracts with the United Kingdom’s Manchester United, Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr, and endorsements.
Office & Leisure
Surprisingly one of the hottest stocks in the past month isn’t leading AI play Nvidia, profit beast Apple, or even Threads-dropping Meta. Nope. It’s Mattel stock, as the 78-year-old toymaker appears to have struck cultural relevance gold with its upcoming “Barbie” movie. Shares of Mattel are up 15% over the past month, outperforming the stock price of Mr. Potato Head-selling Hasbro, which has a 7% gain. Mattel’s “Barbie” is a live-action PG-13 flick headlined by Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken. It was directed by Greta Gerwig and reportedly had a budget of up to $100 million to make. The movie is slated to hit theaters on July 21, and Robbie, Gosling, and the rest of the star-studded cast are currently out doing red carpet events to build anticipation. “Barbie is a cultural conversation at this point,” Mattel COO Richard Dickson told Yahoo Finance Live. Dickson is credited with reinventing Barbie and making the brand more in line with cultural trends in his work at Mattel over the last five years.
The Federal Trade Commission says it is appealing a judge’s ruling that would have allowed Microsoft to close its deal to buy video game company Activision Blizzard. A Wednesday court filing from the FTC says it is appealing it to the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Antitrust enforcers at the FTC have been trying to stop Microsoft’s $68.7 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard, maker of popular game franchises like Call of Duty, arguing it will harm competition in the video game industry. But in a Tuesday ruling, U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley denied the FTC’s request to block the deal from closing. She said the FTC hadn’t shown that the merger would cause serious harm and was unlikely to prevail if it took the case to a full trial. Microsoft had promised to pay Activision Blizzard a $3 billion breakup fee if it can’t close the deal by Tuesday, which will mark 18 months since it was announced. But both companies could also agree to delay that deadline.
This summer, guests at a slew of high-end hotels and resorts can eschew the usual gift shop and instead browse exclusive, highly curated offerings from some of fashion’s most coveted brands and designers — without ever leaving the property. At the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel on the coast of Orange County, for instance, guests can book personal shopping and styling appointments at the on-site Fifth Avenue Club, an unassuming suite-turned-boutique where all merchandise is curated specifically for each client. At the beloved Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, visitors can shop a limited-edition Dioriviera capsule collection (one of many recent luxury beachwear capsules) or book a special Dior beauty treatment before lounging poolside on Dior-branded cushions, under Dior-branded umbrellas. These special shopping experiences are certainly not limited to the west coast. This summer’s many hotel-fashion partnerships also include: a new collaborative collection between Sporty & Rich and the iconic Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in the French Riviera and an expanded partnership between Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and The Webster on a series of retail pop-ups and activations.
Technology & Internet
Online spending in the U.S. climbed 6.1% to $12.7 billion during Amazon’s Prime Day promotion, according to Adobe Analytics, as deal-hungry consumers snapped up home goods and household essentials. Amazon called the event its “biggest ever” Prime Day, with shoppers buying more than 375 million items worldwide over two days, up from 300 million items sold last year, the company said Thursday. The 48-hour sales event kicked off Tuesday and ran through Wednesday. Amazon, which didn’t disclose total sales from the event, said the first 24 hours of Prime Day marked the “single largest sales day in company history.” Home goods, fashion, and beauty were among the top categories during the discount bonanza, while shoppers scooped up Fire TV sticks, Apple AirPods, and Laneige lip balm, the company said. Adobe also highlighted appliances, housekeeping products and office supplies as popular categories, while some of the deepest discounts were on electronics, apparel and toys.
Finance & Economy
Inflation dipped in June to its slowest pace in more than 2 years, indicating price increases are cooling amid the Federal Reserve’s rate-hiking regime. The Consumer Price Index grew at an annual rate of 3%, the Labor Department said. Economists had expected a 3.1% increase, according to FactSet. The increase was the smallest since March 2021, the Labor Department noted. On a monthly basis, inflation rose 0.2%. Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, rose 4.8% on an annual basis. Economists focus more on “core” inflation as it presents a truer gauge of price increases. A sustained slowdown in inflation could bring meaningful relief to American households that have been squeezed by the price acceleration that began two years ago.
US applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, suggesting companies are holding onto workers despite a moderation in job gains. Initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped by 12,000 to 237,000 in the week ending July 8, according to a Labor Department report. The print was below all but one estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Continuing claims, which include those who have received benefits for longer than one week, rose to 1.73 million in the week through July 1, marking the first increase in four weeks. Applications for unemployment benefits have remained largely steady at historically low levels over the last few months, even as other labor-market indicators have suggested an emerging slowdown.