The Weekly Consensus

CGBS Presenter Profiles: NICK’S and Tacombi

Lars Hem

We are excitedly counting down the days until the return of the Consensus Great Brands Show (CGBS), which will take place in two days, September 13th, at the New York Times Center 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 CGBS approaching, we are using this space each week to profile different companies and speakers 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. See you Wednesday!



NICK’S is a fast-growing, better-for-you snack company featuring ice cream and snack bars.  Founders Niclas “Nick” Luthman and Carl Backlund started the Company in 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden when they began experimenting with ice cream flavors that would be both indulgent and healthy.  NICK’S originally launched its products in Sweden and quickly found popularity in the US.

Today, NICK’S has grown into a successful brand featuring a wide range of ice cream and snack products with broad distribution in the US.  The Company’s flagship ice creams are rich and full-flavored while being low in carbs, calories and with no added sugar.  Consumers crave NICK’S innovative, Swedish-inspired flavors such as Rocky Fjord, Peanot Karamell Krunch, and Cherry Choka-Flaka.

Help us welcome NICK’S to CGBS and check out the company’s website before the show (and maybe even order some Rocky Fjord):


Tacombi is a New York-based Mexican taqueria that was founded in 2006 by Dario Wolos. Dario bought a 1963 “combi” style truck, fitted it with a kitchen and started serving tacos in the beach town of Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan Peninsula.  The fusion of the featured menu items (tacos) and the food truck (Combi)  gave rise to the brand name:  Taco + Combi = Tacombi.  Dario launched his first taqueria in a garage in downtown Manhattan in 2010.

Today, Tacombi operates 23 neighborhood taquerias New York, Washington DC, Miami and Chicago, serving authentic, locally-sourced Mexican cuisine to a passionate customer base who form long lines to enjoy the Company’s tacos, quesadillas and burritos.  Tacombi also has a rapidly growing CPG business under the Vista Hermosa brand.  These products include tortilla chips, frozen burritos, and corn/flour tortillas.

Tacombi’s growth is just getting started, so look for additional taqueria openings and continued expansion of the Vista Hermosa brand in grocery stores around the country.  Please check out Tacombi ahead of CGBS at

Headlines of the Week

WHP Global Acquires Majority Interest in G-Star Raw

WHP Global was busy over the Labor Day holiday, finalizing a deal to acquire a majority interest in G-Star Raw. Financial terms were not disclosed but founder Jos van Tilburg will retain an undisclosed minority stake in the brand. In addition, the current leadership team, led by chief executive officer Rob Schilder, will continue to operate the marketing and product development as well as the wholesale, retail and e-commerce distribution out of the company’s Amsterdam headquarters. The deal to add G Star’s $700 million to the fold brings WHP Global’s portfolio of brands to $7 billion in retail sales. WHP also owns Anne Klein, Joseph Abboud, Joe’s Jeans, Bonobos, Isaac Mizrahi, Lotto, Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us. It also holds a 60 percent interest in the Express brand. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. G-Star Raw was founded in Amsterdam in 1989 and offers jeans and related products for men and women. Its major markets include Europe, North America, Japan and South Africa and it operates more than 185 company-owned stores globally. In the U.S., it has 12 stores as well as an e-commerce and wholesale presence with digital representing the majority of sales. WHP Global is one of the more aggressive brand marketing firms, a group that includes Authentic Brands Group, Marquee Brands and others.

Amer Sports Files Confidentially to Go Public

Amer Sports, the parent of Salomon, Wilson, Arc’teryx, and other sports brands, filed confidentially for a U.S. initial public offering (IPO) that could value the group as high as $10 billion. The offering would come as Amer Sports’ business has seen accelerated growth, driven by Arc’teryx and Salomon and in China.  According to the report from Bloomberg News, the company plans to list by early next year. Amer Sports is seeking to raise more than $1 billion and seek as much as $3 billion depending on market conditions, sources told Bloomberg.  Amer Sports, headquartered in Finland and backed by China’s Anta Sports Products, Ltd., also owns Peak Performance, the Swedish outerwear and streetwear brand; Atomic, the Austrian ski brand; Armada, the U.S. ski brand; ENVE Composites, a manufacturer of carbon fiber bicycle rims and components; Louisville Slugger and DeMarini, both U.S.-based makers of baseball bats; Sports Tracker, a fitness tracking app; and Luxilon, a maker of strings for racquet sports.



Apparel & Footwear

Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James Sells Majority Ownership to Consortium Brand Partners

Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James is changing hands. Consortium Brand Partners, a fund manager, has acquired a majority ownership stake in Draper James, the eight-year-old fashion and lifestyle brand founded by Witherspoon, the actress, producer and entrepreneur. Draper James had been owned by a group of investors, and Witherspoon had a minority stake, which she will continue to own. At the outset in 2015, Draper James raised $10 million in series B funding from Forerunner Ventures, the lead investor, JH Partners and Stone Canyon Industries. Draper James offers a Southern-inspired range of clothing, accessories, and home decor items. The brand is headquartered in New York with the flagship and retail team based in Nashville, Tennessee. Consortium Brand Partners will now hold about 70 percent of the company while maintaining a collaborative partnership with existing Draper James management, led by chief executive officer Erin Moennich, chief financial officer and chief operating officer Sarah Foley, and head of design Kathryn Sukey. Witherspoon will remain a partner and board member in the business, working closely with Consortium Brand Partners to guide its strategic direction and growth.

Under Armour Names John Varvatos Chief Design Officer

In what could be among the industry’s most unorthodox pairings, Under Armour is bringing John Varvatos on board as its chief design officer, effective Sept. 11. The award-winning designer has been consulting for the sports brand since the spring and will now officially come on board to oversee the design direction across the company’s entire portfolio of apparel, footwear and accessories — both on field and off — and oversee its design studios in Baltimore, New York and Portland, Oregon. Although known more for his rock ‘n’ roll-inspired menswear than activewear, Varvatos pointed out in an exclusive interview with WWD that his background includes 15 years working with Converse as well as experience at both Polo Sport and the RLX collection during his years at Ralph Lauren. He is also credited with creating the boxer brief while at Calvin Klein.  He said that this new role came about after a meeting with Under Armour founder and executive chairman Kevin Plank, where they quickly developed a connection. That led to him joining the company as a consultant, where he quickly immersed himself in the product and the culture. He stressed that he won’t be as involved with the technical properties of the collection because Under Armour has “an amazing tech development team” already in place.



Athletic & Sporting Goods

New Balance Acquires Wolverine Worldwide’s US Leather Division

Wolverine Worldwide has announced the sale of its U.S. Wolverine Leathers division to New Balance in a deal valued at approximately $6 million.  In an official announcement, Wolverine Worldwide highlighted New Balance’s long-standing loyalty as a customer and confirmed the transfer of all of Wolverine’s U.S. tannery agreements to New Balance.  Additionally, the company intends to “explore alternatives” for its non-U.S. leather business. In December 2022, Wolverine Worldwide announced its plans to license or divest the Wolverine Leathers and Keds businesses. Subsequently, in February 2023, the company successfully sold Keds to Designer Brands.  Wolverine Worldwide is now also actively divesting its Hush Puppies intellectual property in China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Brunswick acquires Fliteboard

Brunswick Corporation announced the acquisition of Fliteboard.  Fliteboard, which combines advanced hydrofoils and electric propulsion on the water, allows Brunswick to enter the emerging, electric-foiling surfboard market and presents the opportunity for technological, manufacturing, commercial, and consumer synergies with the existing Brunswick portfolio. Fliteboard will operate as a business within Mercury Marine.  Fliteboard, established in 2016, has customers in more than 90 countries.

Cosmetics & Pharmacy

L‘Occitane Boss Decides Against Take-Private Deal

L’Occitane International, the Hong Kong-listed French skin care company, said Tuesday it had ended talks to take the company private.  The firm’s stock price fell as much as 29 percent on Tuesday, after the company resumed trading. L’Occitane halted trading on Monday due to a pending offer announcement.  The French beauty group’s portfolio includes L’Occitane en Provence; L’Occitane au Brésil; France’s Melvita; South Korea’s Erborian; American brand LimeLife by Alcone, and the group’s beauty start-up Duolab, which was launched in early 2020.  To increase its presence in the clean beauty market, the company acquired ElemisSol de Janeiro and Grown Alchemist in recent years.


Maria Nila gets L Catterton backing to go global

Maria Nila, the Swedish professional hair care label, has attracted the attention of investment firm L Catterton.  The investor’s European fund has acquired a ‘significant minority stake’ in the Stockholm-based company for an undisclosed sum.  Maria Nila, which specialises in vegan, climate compensated hair care products, has, in the past five years, expanded its presence across all of Europe and the US.  With L Catterton’s partnership, it aims to accelerate this growth by expanding the brand, product portfolio and sales channels globally.  “This partnership will allow us to accelerate the development of our product portfolio and brand and expand even further across key European and US markets,” said Maria Nila’s CEO, Marcus Wikström, who is also the son of the brand’s founders.  Wikström will continue to lead the company in the CEO role.  Maria Nila was founded in 1999 in the South of Sweden by Ann and Ulf Wikström, with the aim of creating professional hair care products that were friendly to the planet and to animals.  It runs its own production plant located in Sweden.

Moxie raises $15.7M to make opening med spas easier

Treatments like botox are becoming more ubiquitous, spurring growth in the number of medspas, or centers that offer botox, IV hydration and laser treatments from certified providers like registered nurses. Opening a medspa, however, can be a lengthy and expensive process. Moxie wants to make it easier with its “business-in-a-box” model, offering providers coaching, access to discounted supplies and an EHR/POS software suite. So far, Moxie has helped launch more than 100 medspa locations.  The startup announced it has raised $15.7 million led by SignalFire and Boulton & Watt. It currently operates in seven states, and part of the funding will be used to expand across the United States.  Before launching Moxie last year, co-founder Dan Friedman started an online education business called Thinkful that helped adults learn new tech skills and change their careers for ones in software engineering, data analytics and marketing. It was acquired by Chegg in 2019


Discounters & Department Stores

Dollar General makes 5 top executive promotions

Dollar General announced Tuesday five promotions, including the appointment of Rod West to executive vice president of global supply chain and Jeff Vaughan to senior vice president of inventory and demand management. The discounter also announced three other vice presidents overseeing financial planning and analysis; health and beauty; and candy, snacks and tobacco categories. The promotions are the latest in a string of leadership changes at the discounter this year.

How J.C. Penney is pivoting its brand as part of $1B company turnaround plan

The J.C. Penney Company on Thursday said it would invest more than $1 billion to improve areas like customer experience and operations, the latest turnaround bid by the embattled department store chain. The effort also introduces a new brand positioning and campaign, called “Make It Count,” that center on four core areas: making fashion accessible, offering a compelling loyalty program, supporting varied local and cultural communities and reinforcing a commitment to positive change.

Walmart aims to grow its third-party marketplace at first seller summit

Walmart hosted its first summit dedicated to Walmart Marketplace. The “Let’s Grow! 2023 Walmart Marketplace Seller Summit” took place in Las Vegas on Wednesday and Thursday, with 1,500 registered attendees. The event brought together a group of third-party sellers as a continued means to build alongside them, according to Manish Joneja, senior vice president of Walmart Marketplace and Walmart Fulfillment Services. The retailer announced that it plans to open its Marketplace to sellers in Chile next year. It already has existing markets in the U.S, Canada and Mexico.

Target offers more details on its ‘secret sauce’ delivery strategy

As Target adds more sortation centers — its self-described “secret sauce” for delivery — the retailer shared on Friday more details about where it stands with the expansion of the facilities and why they matter. Target piloted its first sortation center in Minneapolis in 2020. As of Sept. 1, Target said it has 10 sortation centers. The retailer opened its latest one in August in Miami. “Our new sortation centers are delivering outstanding results. These facilities operate downstream from our stores and help to increase the speed and efficiency of last-mile delivery,” John Mulligan, Target’s chief operating officer, told investors during the retailer’s second-quarter earnings call on Aug. 16. Target on Friday called the sortation centers “an important piece” of its omnichannel strategy.



Emerging Consumer Companies

UK-based bladder care startup Jude secures $4.2 million in seed funding
UK-based bladder care startup Jude has secured $4.24 million in seed funding, with plans to expand its services and enter the US market. The company caters to individuals in mid-life who desire an active and independent lifestyle, offering online and on-the-phone assessments, tailored medical essentials, and holistic treatment plans. The funding round was led by Eka VC, Joyance, Samos VC, and received grant funding from Innovate UK. Camilla Dolan, Partner at Eka Ventures, praised Jude’s vision and understanding of consumer needs, highlighting the significant commercial opportunity in the market. Jude had previously raised £2 million in pre-seed funding in March 2022.

SkinnyDipped raises $12 million in Series A funding round
Snack maker SkinnyDipped has raised $12 million in a Series A funding round, led by Miami-based hospitality entrepreneur David Grutman. The funding will be used to expand retail presence and develop new products. SkinnyDipped offers lightly coated cashews, almonds, peanuts, and low-sugar chocolate confections, which are sold in over 25,000 stores nationwide, including Target, Walmart, and Kroger. The brand plans to roll out its products in Costco and Publix. The funding round saw participation from notable names in sports and entertainment, including Amy Schumer, Mark Wahlberg, Post Malone, Kevin Durant, and Steve Aoki. Breezy Griffith, CEO of SkinnyDipped, expressed gratitude for the support from consumers, industry, and investors. David Grutman praised the brand’s achievements and expressed excitement for the future collaboration with investors.

Eko health partners with FIGS to expand digital stethoscope
Healthcare apparel company FIGS has partnered with digital health tech outfit Eko Health to launch the FIGS | Eko Core 500 digital stethoscope in the US. The device combines Eko’s TrueSound sound filtering and noise reduction technology with a full-color screen that displays heart rate and ECG tracing. When used with the Eko App, the stethoscope can flag specific cardiac abnormalities such as atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, and tachycardia. Additionally, when paired with Eko’s Sensora platform, it can detect early signs of valvular heart disease through the detection of structural murmurs. The FDA has cleared all editions of the Core 500 for healthcare professional use only, and the AI-assisted features are currently limited to users in the US. Trina Spear, CEO and co-founder of FIGS, and Connor Landgraf, co-founder and CEO at Eko, expressed excitement about the collaboration, with Landgraf stating that the partnership will support clinicians, advance cardiovascular care, and benefit millions of patients.



Food & Beverage

PepsiCo brings hydration juggernaut Gatorade into water

Gatorade is launching its first-ever water offering as the multi-billion-dollar PepsiCo brand works to aggressively expand its dominant presence in hydration.  Gatorade Water, which is expected to hit shelves in the first quarter of 2024, brings an electrolyte-infused beverage popular with athletes and exercise buffs to consumers who are looking for a healthier hydration offering throughout the day. The drink is electrolyte-infused and is alkaline with a pH of 7.5 or higher.  For now, Gatorade Water will not incorporate flavors as it focuses on consumers who don’t want them in their beverages. Gatorade also owns Propel, a line of flavored fitness waters with electrolytes, vitamins and antioxidants that meet this need.  While Gatorade has become a juggernaut brand with annual sales topping $6 billion and controlling more than 70% of the sports drink market by focusing on hydration, the brand is looking for other ways to meet the needs of the consumer.

Icelandic Glacial Announces New Investment, New Shareholder Structure and Expansion of Operations

Icelandic Glacial, the naturally alkaline, super-premium spring water from Iceland, announced that it has received new equity funding from new and existing investors.  The new investor group, through an investment holding company based in Liechtenstein, will acquire a substantial stake in one of the world’s leading bottled water companies by way of subscribing new shares and injecting substantial capital into the business. Along with the new share issuance, the existing investors, including the Icelandic founders and funds managed by Blackrock’s US Private Credit team, converted and reinvested the majority of their existing debt into equity to remain as significant shareholders in the company to together strengthen and support the growth of the business with the new incoming majority shareholder.  Renowned for its exceptional purity, Icelandic Glacial is bottled at the source from the legendary Ölfus Spring in Iceland, providing customers with the highest level quality of natural spring water. The company delivers the world’s first CarbonNeutral® bottled water with a net-zero carbon footprint and has a naturally occurring alkaline pH level of 8.4, providing a clean fresh taste with the perfect healthy balance for the body.

TreeHouse to sell snack bars business, plant to John B. Sanfilippo for $63M

TreeHouse Foods said it plans to sell its Lakeville, Minnesota, manufacturing facility and snack bars business to John B. Sanfilippo & Son for approximately $63 million in cash. The transaction is expected to close within 30 days.  The private-label food maker said the divestiture underscores its efforts to focus on products in high-growth and high-margin categories. For John B. Sanfilippo, the company said the purchase allows it to expand its presence in snack bars and diversify its product offerings.  The sale of TreeHouse’s snack bar unit is the latest in a series of deals under CEO Steve Oakland as the company aims to improve its balance sheet and focus on its trendier snacks and beverage portfolio of crackers, pretzels, creamers, coffee and hot cereal, among other items.

Eat Just, maker of plant-based eggs and cultivated chicken, gets a funding boost

Eat Just secured a new round of funding led by VegInvest/Ahimsa Foundation, an organization that supports companies looking to replace the use of animals in the food system and other industries.  The investment will be used for both divisions of the company, Just Egg as well as its cultivated meat division Good Meat, a spokesperson told Food Dive. The company did not disclose the amount that was funded.   The funding comes as Eat Just recently went through a round of layoffs in March, along with several other ongoing cost cutting initiatives, like a cutback in ingredient spend and consolidating operations.



Grocery & Restaurants

Kroger, Albertsons selling more than 400 stores in $1.9 billion deal

Grocers Kroger and Albertsons are selling more than 400 stores and other assets to C&S Wholesale Grocers in an approximately $1.9 billion deal as part of their efforts to complete their merger. The agreement includes selling 413 stores, along with QFC, Mariano’s and Carrs brand names. Kroger will also divest the Debi Lilly Design, Primo Taglio, Open Nature, ReadyMeals and Waterfront Bistro private label brands. In addition, C&S will get eight distribution centers and two offices. Kroger and Albertsons agreed to merge in October. Kroger, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, bid $20 billion for Albertsons. Kroger would also assume $4.7 billion of Albertsons’ debt. The deal is targeted to close early next year.

Home & Road

Revman Announces Home License Agreement for Calvin Klein in U.S., Canada and Mexico

Revman announced that it has entered into a license agreement with Calvin Klein, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PVH Corp., for the design, manufacturing and distribution of home accessories in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The new Calvin Klein home collections will launch at the New York Home Textiles Market week this month. The agreement’s initial term is through 2028. Crafted from the highest quality materials, the Calvin Klein home collections will offer essentials for the modern home, including fashion bedding, bath products and window coverings. “For our Spring 2024 collections, we closely partnered with the talented Calvin Klein team to develop elevated home accessories focused on comfort that incorporate more environmentally-preferred materials,” said Laurie Sages, VP Creative Services and Product Development. “In order to pay homage to the brand’s signature style, it was important that the product have a clean, minimal look and overall soft, serene feel.” The first Calvin Klein home collection will launch in Spring 2024. Calvin Klein home will be distributed through all major levels of retail distribution in the United States as well as retailers in Canada and Mexico.

Jewelry & Luxury

Head of Luxury Goods Maker Kering Buys Majority Stake in Talent Agency CAA

In a deal that shows the ever-growing convergence of fashion and fame, François-Henri Pinault, the French billionaire and chief executive of the luxury goods company Kering, said on Thursday that his family office had bought a majority stake in one of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies, Creative Artists Agency. Mr. Pinault’s family office, Artémis, already has investments that include the auction house Christie’s and a stake in Puma. Like them, CAA will be managed separately from Kering, which owns such brands as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga. Talent — actors, singers, filmmakers — has become a uniquely powerful tool in selling products. Celebrities, be they actors, athletes or social media stars, give a brand direct access to legions of followers and are handsomely paid for that access. Fashion brands are increasingly racing to lock in relationships with the next big name.


Signet Sees Hope for Holiday After Tough Quarter

Even though Signet’s second-quarter comps fell 12%, its CFO tells JCK the company has spotted some positive signs for the holiday. “We do anticipate a cautious consumer, but trends reflect modest improvement within the jewelry category,” says chief financial, strategy, and services officer Joan Hilson. “June and July [results] saw consequential improvement from earlier in the quarter.” Hilson says that gifts moved to higher price points during the quarter and that sales of lower-price-point fashion also increased. Though the under-$1,000 category had been weak for a while, sales at that level recently improved, which Hilson attributes to a rebound in consumer confidence. She expects that current macroeconomic pressures “are likely to drive holiday shopping later in the season,” but Signet will “use strategic levels of promotion to improve traffic and conversion” this holiday.

Brilliant Earth Opens Showrooms in Three Luxury Malls

Brilliant Earth is adding three showrooms in luxury malls, which marks a new type of venue for the e-tailer. Showrooms opened during the last week of August at Roosevelt Field in Garden City, N.Y., and King of Prussia mall in the same-named Pennsylvania city. A Brilliant Earth showroom will open Sept. 14 in Westfield Galleria in Roseville, Calif. The new locations are all on the ground floor and are the first Brilliant Earth stores in luxury malls. They bring its overall showroom total to 37. In a statement, Brilliant Earth senior vice president of merchandising and retail expansion Kathryn Money said the company is “strategically moving into spaces with higher foot traffic and larger consumer footprints.”


Office & Leisure

Sweetwater names CEO

Mike Clem has been promoted to the role of chief executive at music technology and instrument retailer Sweetwater, effective Sept. 29. He will replace John Hopkins, who is retiring after more than three decades with the company, according to a company press release.  Clem joined the retailer in 2003, and was named president of Sweetwater in January of this year. Prior to that role, he served in various leadership positions including as chief growth officer and chief digital officer.  Sweetwater last year achieved $1.57 billion in sales and saw revenue growth of 9.5% year over year. It’s the third consecutive year the company reported sales exceeding $1 billion. The company is based out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and describes itself as the No. 1 e-commerce provider of musical instruments and audio gear in the U.S.

Staple Street Capital Acquires Delaware Valley Floral Group in Partnership with its Management Team

Staple Street Capital (“SSC”), a middle-market private equity firm, announced a partnership transaction with members of the Wilkins family to acquire Delaware Valley Floral Group (“DVFG” or the “Company”). Headquartered in Sewell, NJ, DVFG is the largest supplier of fresh cut flowers and floral supplies across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. DVFG is a third-generation family-owned business founded in 1959 by the Wilkins family, members of which will continue to hold a significant stake post-close. The Company’s hub-and-spoke distribution architecture, cold chain delivery infrastructure, and global supplier relationships have entrenched DVFG as the mission critical wholesale partner of thousands of retail florists and supermarket customers. SSC is actively seeking other investment opportunities in the wholesale florist distribution sector as add-ons or independent platforms.

Party City Cleared to Exit Bankruptcy, Avoiding Fate of Retail Peers

Party City Holdco Inc. on Wednesday received court approval to exit bankruptcy and emerge with a leaner balance sheet, avoiding the fate of retail peers who stumbled in Chapter 11 and ceased operations. The New Jersey-based retailer is set to hand ownership of the company to lenders and reduce its debt load by some $1 billion, according to court papers. US Bankruptcy Judge David R. Jones on Wednesday said he would approve the company’s restructuring plan. “This plan sets the company up for success going forward,” Ken Ziman, an attorney for the company, said during the hearing. “And most important, your honor, this is a plan that preserves thousands of jobs.” Other major retailers have not been so fortunate. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. liquidated after failing to find a way to keep operating after Chapter 11. The story is similar for home goods retailer Christmas Tree Shops LLC, while Jenny Craig Inc. opted to go straight into a liquidation after failing to find a rescuer.

Hallmark partners with Venmo to send digital cash via greeting card

Hallmark and Venmo are enabling consumers to securely send money with Venmo in a physical Hallmark card. The new Hallmark + Venmo cards let customers select a card from the new line celebrating a range of occasions, such as birthday, wedding, and holiday, and scan a unique QR code inside each card. They then choose the amount they want to give, and hand write a personalized message. When the recipient opens the card, they scan the QR code to gain access to the gifted amount in their own Venmo account. Only a gift giver’s intended recipient will be able to have access to the money sent in a Hallmark + Venmo Card by scanning the QR code on receipt and adding it to their Venmo account. The new card line offers an assortment of birthday, congrats, wedding, holiday and everyday cards for $4.99 and will be available at, Hallmark Gold Crown Stores and select retailers nationwide.

Butternut Box wolfs down $354M for subscription canine cuisine

Butternut Box, a U.K.-based startup that prepares and ships healthy food and supplements for dogs, is raising £280 million ($354 million) in a round of funding from General Atlantic and L Catterton. Founded out of London in 2016, Butternut Box serves a handful of European markets with myriad culinary products spanning the meat and vegetable fray, with the promise of “human-quality” ingredients tested and tasted by real people. Prior to now, Butternut Box had raised a little over $110 million in funding across several rounds, but its latest cash injection stands out in a world of venture capital seemingly averse to anything beyond smaller early-stage investments. This, perhaps, is testament to the enduring and robust market for all-things pet. Indeed, the broader pet food market was pegged as a $100 billion market in 2022, with canine chow representing more than 40% of that segment.

Technology & Internet

In a surprise tie-up, Shopify merchants will be able to offer Amazon’s ‘Buy with Prime’ option

Amazon and Shopify have announced a significant integration that will now allow Shopify merchants to offer “Buy with Prime” on their Shopify stores. The Buy with Prime feature allows online consumers the option to purchase their items using the store payment method in their Amazon wallet when processing payments through Shopify’s checkout. Meanwhile, they’ll also receive fast, free delivery and the option for returns through Amazon’s fulfillment network. The tie-up is notable given Shopify has been positioned in the past as a challenger to Amazon’s business. The e-commerce platform focuses on providing tools for merchants, allowing them to host storefronts, manage inventory, process payments and more. The move also comes as a bit of a surprise, given that it was only a year ago that Shopify was warning merchants not to use Amazon’s Buy with Prime as it was in violation of Shopify’s terms of service. The company wanted its merchants to use its own payment and checkout service, Shop Pay instead. As a result, merchants who wanted to use Buy with Prime previously had to do so outside of their Shopify admin tools. Today, Shopify has changed its tune.


Best Buy Scales Back Sales Outlook as Results Top Expectations

Best Buy on Tuesday surpassed Wall Street’s quarterly sales expectations, but tempered its outlook for the rest of the year as it feels the lull of post-pandemic spending on kitchen appliances, computer monitors and other electronics. CEO Corie Barry said the company still anticipates this year will be “the low point in tech demand,” before sales bounce back. “Next year the consumer electronics industry should see stabilization and possibly growth driven by the natural upgrade and replacement cycles and the normalization of tech innovation,” she said in a news release. Best Buy is seeing a reversion to pre-pandemic sales levels, as consumers return to more typical spending patterns and feel pressure on their budgets because of inflation. Similar to Home Depot and Lowe’s, Best Buy had outsized gains during Covid, fueled by big purchases that people don’t frequently repeat. Over the past year, the consumer electronics retailer has felt the sting of inflation and consumers’ shift back to spending on experiences.


Finance & Economy

US jobless claims hit lowest level since February; productivity strongest in years

The number of Americans seeking jobless benefits for the first time fell unexpectedly last week to the lowest level since February, pointing to a U.S. job market that remains relatively tight even as other recent data indicate it has begun to soften.  Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 13,000 to 216,000 in the week ended Sept. 2 from a revised 229,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said. That was the lowest since the same level was touched in the week ended Feb. 11 and it marked the fourth straight weekly decline.  Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new claims would rise to 234,000 in the latest week.

US economy grew modestly in recent weeks, Fed survey shows

U.S. economic growth was modest amid a cooling labor market and slowing inflation pressures in July and August, a Federal Reserve report showed, buttressing expectations that the central bank was either done, or close to being done, with interest rate increases.  The U.S. central bank is widely expected to leave its benchmark overnight interest rate in the current 5.25%-5.50% range at the end of its Sept. 19-20 policy meeting, while leaving open the door to a final quarter-percentage-point hike before the end of the year.  The report also flagged some fraying around the edges of the consumer sector, noting that a rising number of households had exhausted savings built up during the coronavirus pandemic and were turning more to borrowing. At the same time, the report found evidence more households were struggling to manage debt.