The Big Story

Busting Door Busters

Doug Stebbins, CFA

For years, it was the front line of the holiday retail battle.  Black Friday was treated like the be-all, end-all by many retailers, and attracting foot traffic on that day was critical.  Accordingly, beginning decades ago, it became typical for retailers to offer special Black Friday deals to draw consumers into their stores, often at little or no gross profit.  Later, retailers started offering even more dramatic “door buster” discounts to consumers who showed up in the first hours of Black Friday.  In recent years, with retailers having limited ability to offer even deeper discounts, the battle line became how early the stores would open.  9:00am on Friday soon became 7:00am openings, which was soon outdone by 5:00am openings.  Eventually, it become fairly common for stores to open their doors at midnight on Thanksgiving, and certain retailers even started opening their doors on Thanksgiving evening, with many deal-hungry consumers heading to mall right after Thanksgiving dinner.  It seemed inevitable that retail establishments would eventually be open all Thanksgiving Day, allowing consumers to shop before, during, and between dinner courses.  However, since the onset of COVID, this trend has not only stopped but has reversed direction.

Last year, as the winter COVID spike was emerging, most retailers remained closed on Thanksgiving.  That strategy of staying closed on Thanksgiving continued in 2021, with Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Barnes & Noble, Kohl’s and Macy’s all remaining closed on Thanksgiving.  Target even made the announcement that it will be permanent policy to no longer open on Thanksgiving.  “What started as a temporary measure driven by the pandemic is now our new standard,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a note to employees.

As a result, this year’s Thanksgiving Day visits to brick & mortar retail locations declined more than 90% compared to 2019, the most recent pre-pandemic Thanksgiving.   Staying closed on Thanksgiving might not be viewed positively by savvy consumers, but it was embraced by a very important and valuable segment of the population: store employees.  With unemployment rates at historic lows, retailers used the policy to signal to store employees that they are valued and respected members of the team.

However, it is not just Thanksgiving Day that saw lower sales volumes.  There has been a concerted effort among retailers to de-emphasize the entire Thanksgiving weekend and spread shopping more evenly across the season.  With supply chain issues persisting and inventory levels depleted, smoothing out purchasing behavior is more important to retailers than ever.  Many retailers started offering attractive deals as early as mid-October, and holiday advertising was in full force by November 1.

Retailers’ efforts seem to have been successful.  In addition to the decline on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday shopper volume was also down relative to historic levels.  According to Sensormatic, Black Friday foot traffic in 2021 was down 28% from 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.  Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving known for high ecommerce volume, was also impacted by changing consumer behavior.  This year saw Cyber Monday volume of $10.7 billion, down 1.4% from last year’s level.  This is the first drop in Cyber Monday shopping volume since the data started being tracked in 2012.

While the cadence of most consumers’ shopping has been thrown off this year, it doesn’t seem to have held back their total spend.  The National Retail Federation is still predicting that overall November-December sales volume this year could be as much as 11.5% higher than 2020 levels.  Americans are still ready and willing to spend aggressively this holiday season, but the time, place, and manner of their shopping will be different than it has been in the past.


Apparel & Footwear

Allbirds Looks Beyond Losses in First Quarterly Report

Allbirds is looking to fly sustainably — but is still working on how to do that and turn a profit at the same time. In its first quarterly report as a public company, the buzzy sneaker company posted third-quarter net losses of $13.8 million, or 25 cents a share, as it paid for new stores, more employees and costs associated with its November IPO. The red ink compared with year-ago losses of $7 million, or 13 cents. Revenues for the quarter ended Sept. 30 had a stronger showing, rising to $62.7 million from $47.2 million a year earlier. Joey Zwillinger, cofounder and co-chief executive officer, said: “Revenue was strong across channels and geographies, growing 33 percent year-over-year, with notable strength in U.S. physical retail. Importantly, we saw strong consumer response in the quarter to our new product innovation, including our new Perform Apparel line. Company executives were careful to make clear that Allbirds was working to drive growth and to reach profitability while keeping true to its sustainable mission.

Shoe Carnival acquires Shoe Station for $67M

Footwear retailer Shoe Carnival acquired the Shoe Station chain for $67 million, according to a press release. The deal represents Shoe Carnival’s first acquisition in its history, the company said. Shoe Station, family-owned until the acquisition, operates 21 stores located in the Southeastern U.S. Shoe Carnival said the chain would add roughly $100 million in net sales to its books. With the acquisition, Shoe Station CEO Brent Barkin is set to become Shoe Carnival’s senior vice president of new business development and integration, and will continue to lead Shoe Station. Shoe Carnival has been quietly growing in sales over the past two decades or so leading up to the pandemic, at an average rate of nearly 5% a year, according to the company. The retailer’s nearly 380 stores (sans Shoe Station) on average make about $2.5 million a year. The company’s chief has repeatedly said Shoe Carnival aims to be multi-billion dollar brand. He reiterated the company’s growth ambitions in the announcement of the Shoe Station acquisition, and said the deal would accelerate that effort.

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Moves to Buy Back Sean John Brand

Sean “Diddy” Combs has a new role: stalking horse. The entertainer and entrepreneur has submitted a bid in bankruptcy court to buy the Sean John brand he founded more than two decades ago. Combs, whose given name is Sean John Combs, submitted a bid for $3.3 million on Wednesday to purchase the label through an acquisition company named SLC Fashion LLC, according to court papers. As such, he is positioned as the stalking horse, meaning that any other bids would have to exceed his offer. Those bids have to be submitted by the end of the day on Dec. 15 and an auction would be scheduled for 10 a.m. on Dec. 17 if needed. In July, the North American arm of Global Brands Group, the Hong Kong-based company that owns 90 percent of the Sean John label, filed for Chapter 11 in New York and sought to sell its assets. So far, it has managed to dispose of Aquatalia, Ely & Walker and Tahari, according to court papers.

G-III Apparel Tops Estimates, Delivers Best Quarter Ever as Company Continues to Grow

G-III Apparel Group is anticipating a very merry Christmas. The firm, parent to the DKNY and Donna Karan brands, among others, revealed quarterly earnings Wednesday before the market opened, improving on both top and bottom lines as the retailer continues to grow its portfolio. In the most recent quarter, G-III picked up French brand Sonia Rykiel. It also agreed to a long-term global licensing deal with beauty company Interparfums Inc. to make DKNY and Donna Karan fragrances (coming in July 2022); launched Bass Outdoor; has plans to expand its nearly 40 other licensing agreements across brands and categories, and is on track for the Karl Lagerfeld Paris business — a joint venture between luxury brand Karl Lagerfeld, in which G-III owns half — to achieve at least $500 million in revenues in the next several years.

Inditex Hands Founder’s Daughter Reins in Surprise Shakeup

Inditex SA announced a surprise revamp of its top management by elevating the founder’s daughter and naming a new chief executive officer after just two years. Marta Ortega, 37, will become chairwoman next year, a long-awaited generational change that surprised investors because it was accompanied by the immediate replacement of CEO Carlos Crespo with Oscar Garcia Maceiras. The stock fell as much as 5.3% on investor concern the new leadership has less of a track record. The reshuffle marks the exit of Executive Chairman Pablo Isla, 57, who spearheaded Inditex’s expansion phase for more than a decade, bolstering the company’s market value sixfold to $100 billion. There had been growing speculation for more than a year that Isla was keen to move on. At the same time, Marta Ortega had been slowly gaining more public exposure and increased involvement in the business, founded by her father Amancio, who is 85 and owns a 59% stake.


Athletic & Sporting Goods

Sportsman’s Warehouse ends merger with Great Outdoors over FTC clearance concerns

Outdoor sporting goods retailer Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings Inc. and Great Outdoors Group, owner of the Bass Pro Shops chain, have called off their merger deal, according to a regulatory filing.  The decision follows feedback from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that led the companies to believe they would not receive clearance to close the deal, according to the filing.  Under Chair Lina Khan, the FTC has taken an aggressive stance on mergers.  The Sportsman’s Warehouse deal was originally announced in December last year.


Snipes Acquires Jimmy Jazz As It Continues Its Ambitious U.S. Expansion Plan

Snipes is making moves to expand its U.S. brick-and-mortar presence.  The global sneaker retailer has signed an agreement to purchase American sneaker chain Jimmy Jazz, which operates over 170 stores in the U.S. The deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year, will grow Snipes’ U.S. retail presence from 100 to almost 270 locations. Snipes currently operates more than 450 stores across Europe and the U.S. The deal marks Snipes’ largest acquisition to date and another example of the retailer going all-in on its U.S. retail presence. Snipes first entered the U.S. market in May 2019 with the acquisition of KicksUSA. Since then, the retailer has made headlines for other major moves, including the acquisition of Mr. Alan’s in July 2019 and the stateside introduction of its elevated Snipes 2.0 concept in July 2020.

Cosmetics & Pharmacy

Church & Dwight acquires TheraBreath

Church & Dwight’s oral care portfolio is expanding. The Ewing, N.J.-based company announced its acquisition of TheraBreath for $580 million in cash. “Oral care is important to us strategically,” Matthew T. Farrell, Church & Dwight’s chief executive officer said. “TheraBreath represents a powerful addition to our existing oral care portfolio which includes Arm & Hammer toothpaste, Spinbrush battery-operated toothbrushes, Orajel oral analgesics and Waterpik water flossers. The TheraBreath brand is a problem/solution product and one of the fastest growing brands in the mouthwash category. This acquisition gives Church and Dwight a strong position in a growing category with tailwinds as the brand skews towards younger consumers and consistently has a high level of brand loyalty and repeat purchase.” Known for its alcohol-free mouthwashes, TheraBreath shared that its EBITDA as of Sept. 2021 was $27 million with a 31% margin.

Edgewell Personal Care to acquire Billie

After previous acquisition talks with P&G fell apart, personal care brand Billie has a new buyer. Edgewell Personal Care announced plans to acquire the brand in an all-cash transaction of $310 million, which is subject to customary adjustments. “We are thrilled to add Billie to our portfolio of brands. We are focused on our stated goal of building on our leading position in the women’s shave category and executing on our M&A strategy with discipline and precision, both of which this acquisition accomplishes,” Rod Little, Edgewell president and chief executive officer said. The transaction has already cleared under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improved Act and closed, the Shelton, Conn.-based company said. Founded in 2017, Billie’s current portfolio of women-focused personal care products includes razors, shaving cream, makeup wipes, body lotion, lip balms, dry shampoo and body wash. The acquisition was financed with a combination of cash on hand and revolver capacity, the companies said.

Gryphon Investors Acquires Revision Goodier

Gryphon Investors, a leading middle-market private equity firm, signed a definitive agreement to acquire Revision Skincare and Goodier Cosmetics (collectively “Revision Goodier”). For more than two decades, Revision Skincare has provided dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and medical spas with clinically proven, high-performing skincare products. The portfolio includes well-known franchises such as Nectifirm, Intellishade, D·E·J, and Revox, sold in more than 10 countries. Since 1922, Irving, TX-based Goodier Cosmetics has been a trusted developer and manufacturer in cosmetic and OTC topical skincare solutions. Differentiated by an industry-renowned Innovation Center of Excellence, Goodier, along with its team of R&D chemists, engineers, and regulatory experts, remains at the forefront of market trends, new technologies, ingredients, and advancements in formulation science. Based in San Francisco, Gryphon Investors is a leading private equity firm focused on profitably growing and competitively enhancing middle-market companies in partnership with experienced management.

Ulta Beauty tops expectations as beauty business rebounds

Ulta Beauty reported better-than-expected third-quarter results with comp sales that topped pre-pandemic levels. The beauty giant’s net income increased to $215.3 million in the quarter ended Oct. 30, from $74.8 million in the year-ago period. Earnings per share of $3.94 topped analysts’ expectations of $2.48. Adjusted earnings per share was $1.64. Net sales increased 28.6% to $2 billion compared to $1.6 billion the year-ago quarter, amid stronger consumer confidence and fewer COVID-19 restrictions compared to last year. Analysts were expecting sales of $1.89 billion. Comparable sales (sales for stores open at least 14 months, including stores temporarily closed due to COVID-19, and e-commerce sales) increased 25.8% compared to a decrease of 8.9% last year. Comp sales rose 14.3% compared to the third quarter of 2019. Sales were driven by a 16.8% increase in transactions and a 7.7% increase in average ticket, Ulta said.

Family Skincare Brand Evereden Raises $32M In Series C Funding As It Ramps Up For A Sephora Launch

Family skincare brand Evereden has raised $32 million in series C funding as it aims to become the No. 1 multigenerational skincare brand in the world. The round was led by GSR Ventures, a venture capital firm backing early-stage companies across the globe. The funding is expected to support the expansion of Evereden’s research and development capacities, workforce and retail distribution network. Although the brand’s retail distribution to date has been relatively small, it’s already gone international. It’s available in the United Kingdom at e-tailers Lookfantastic and Cult Beauty, and France at department store La Samaritaine. Still, direct-to-consumer commerce constitutes the majority of Evereden’s sales. Next year, the brand is slated to launch at around 90 Sephora stores in 20 markets worldwide, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other select Asian countries.


Discounters & Department Stores

As inflation hits harder, middle-class shoppers gravitate to dollar stores

As inflation continues to push up the price of consumer goods, shoppers from higher income levels are starting to abandon their regular grocery store in favor of a new favorite: the dollar store. These no-frills retail stores, where shoppers can buy everything from cotton underwear to toothpaste for around a dollar, have traditionally served low-income and rural shoppers with few options to stock up on what they need. But over the course of the pandemic, middle-class shoppers have streamed into dollar stores for their essentials. Shoppers swapping out higher-ticket items at big-box stores for dollar items “continue to exceed our expectation retention rate,” Todd Vasos, CEO of Dollar General, told investors in an earnings call Thursday.

Neiman beefs up executive ranks

Neiman Marcus Group recently hired two interim executives as it searches for a permanent chief financial officer, a company spokesperson said by email. Mark Weinsten, who was interim chief operating officer at the company from 2019 to 2020, is serving as CFO in the interim. Jim Scully, previously at J.Jill, Avon and J. Crew, according to his LinkedIn page, is interim chief growth officer, reporting to CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck. In November, Neiman Marcus also promoted Natalie Lockhart to senior vice president, strategy and execution, “responsible for coordinating all aspects of the luxury retailer’s growth roadmap,” and Chris Demuth to senior vice president, people services, ESG, belonging and corporate philanthropy. The company also hired Tiffin Jernstedt, previously at PVH, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, as chief communications officer.

Dollar General plans to build 1K new Popshelf stores over next 4 years

As Dollar General continues its physical expansion — at the fastest pace in retail this year — the discounter said it would nearly triple the number of locations for its new suburban-focused concept Popshelf next year. For 2021, the company is on pace to add 50 Popshelf locations by year end, executives said on a conference call. The retailer is targeting 1,000 Popshelf locations total by the end of fiscal 2025. Dollar General made the announcement in its third quarter earnings release, in which it posted a comparable sales decrease of 0.6% against last year’s growth of more than 12%.

Beauty poised for growth at Target and Kohl’s as shoppers prep for parties, shop in person again

Beauty is always a big holiday category, but this year it’s poised to be even bigger. Shoppers aren’t just looking for perfumes or candles to give to family and friends. They are eager to replenish makeup bags, refresh routines and buy new lipsticks to don at parties. Consumers are also heading back to stores in larger numbers — a shift that could lift sales in a category that’s driven by in-person experiences. A trip to a beauty store offers the chance to try out an item before purchasing, talk to an expert or grab stocking stuffers and impulse buys after seeing colorful displays. That is playing out at Target and Kohl’s stores, which will mark the first holiday season with a stepped-up focus and more square footage dedicated to lipstick, perfume, gift sets and more. Target has opened about 100 mini Ulta Beauty shops inside of its stores. Kohl’s has debuted about 200 Sephora locations. And more are coming soon.

Popsugar releases first fitness equipment line at Target

Continuing its experimentation with retail, Popsugar Fitness will release its first fitness equipment collection in Target at the end of December, the company announced on Wednesday. Inspired by the company’s Class FitSugar franchise, the collection features 17 items, including yoga mats, dumbbells, kettlebells and jump ropes, the company said. In 2020, thanks in part to the pandemic, Popsugar Fitness’ YouTube page gained more than three million new subscribers, per the announcement.



Emerging Consumer Companies

Quince, online retailer, raises $50 million

Quince, a San Francisco-based online retailer, announced a $50 million Series A investment, marking its first official round of funding following a $14 million raise prior to its 2018 launch. The investment was led by Insight Partners, with additional participation from Founders Fund, Basis Set Ventures, Lugard Road/Luxor Capital and 8VC. The business model, which aims to give customers luxury-quality goods at lower prices than competitors by selling them straight from the manufacturer, attracts shoppers outside of apparel, leading Quince to launch a home decor category last year. Quince’s new $50 million will be used for three purposes: hiring more than 100 employees in the next six months, improving the company’s back-end technology and expanding into new categories. More than half of Quince’s employees work on the engineering or tech side of the business.

Ember, maker of temperature controlled mugs, raises $23.5 million

Ember, the global temperature control brand and technology platform, announces a $23.5 million Series E funding round led by GOLDTek Technology, a subsidiary of Foxconn Technology Group, alongside Singapore-based global investor EDBI, and additional new and returning private investors. The Company intends to use the funds to develop new product categories under its healthcare and consumer verticals, including the new Ember Cold Chain Technology, which will transport temperature-sensitive medicines.  The capital will also help to scale the brand further internationally.



Food & Beverage

Royal DSM acquires plant-based protein supplier Vestkorn Milling for $73 million

Royal DSM has entered an agreement to acquire Vestkorn Milling, Tau, Norway, for €65 million ($73 million). Vestkorn is a processor of pea- and bean-derived ingredients for plant-based protein products.  Vestkorn Milling’s proteins, starches and dietary fibers are complementary to DSM’s offerings to food manufacturers developing plant-based food and beverages.  The acquisition also builds on DSM’s goal to develop an alternative protein business.

Wide Open Agriculture (WOA) Raises $20 million to transition to production of plant-based milks

Wide Open Agriculture (WOA), an Australian company whose subsidiaries include Dirty Clean Food (DCF) and OatUP, announced it raised $20 million to transition into plant-based production and construct a factory to initially focus on oat and then produce other varieties of plant milks. The funds will also support the expansion of a planned pilot facility to develop lupin proteins.  WOA’s food brand, Dirty Clean Food, currently uses oats that are processed in Italy; the expansion activities planned with the fresh funds include the construction of what will be Western Australia’s first oat milk factory, so that the oats will be locally grown rather than imported, thus creating what the Perth company states will be “the world’s lowest carbon plant-based drinks”.

Plant-based bacon maker Hooray Foods raises $2.7 million seed round

Plant-based bacon maker Hooray Foods announced today it has closed a $2.7 million seed extension round, bringing the company’s total capital raised to over $4 billion. The round was led by new and existing investors including David Hoffmann, the former CEO of Dunkin’, Lyra Growth Partners, Evolution VC Partners, Gaingels and Sand Hill Angels. According to a press release the new funding will allow the alternative meat company to scale production in order to continue expanding its retail presence.  The plant-based bacon launched nationwide at Whole Foods earlier this year and recently entered Canada, rolling out at 180 Sobeys, Safeway and Thrifty Foods locations across Ontario and British Columbia.



Grocery & Restaurants

Kroger’s focus on fresh and digital growth pays off in Q3

The Kroger Co.’s total company sales were $31.9 billion in the 2021 third quarter ending Nov. 6, compared to $29.7 billion for the same period last year, according to the company’s earnings report released on Thursday. Identical sales without fuel increased 3.1% year over year to $27.7 billion up from $26.8 billion, with a two-year stacked increase of 14.0%. Year-to-date in fiscal 2021, identical sales are down just 1.0% from 2020, at $91.9 billion. Significantly, Kroger’s digital sales grew 103% on a two-year stack. The Cincinnati-based grocer, the nation’s largest supermarket chain with more than 2,700 stores, is seeing rewards from its dual-pronged focus on fresh and digital, as well as its continued expansion in its Our Brands lineup, which launched 216 new items during the quarter — up from 142 new products in the second quarter — with plans to launch several new products focused on the holiday season. On the digital front, Kroger in the third quarter launched Kroger Delivery Now nationwide with Instacart to provide 30-minute delivery.

Velvet Taco sold to Leonard Green & Partners

Fast-casual chain Velvet Taco has been sold to private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners L.P., former majority owner L Catterton, another private equity firm, said Tuesday. Both L Catterton and founding company FB Society, formerly Front Burner Restaurants, will retain “significant minority ownership stakes in the business,” L Catterton said in a release announcing the sale. President and CEO Clay Dover will retain his position, he said in an email. “Nothing changes except significant capital and resources to accelerate … growth,” he said. “It’s been a great experience in the past growing Velvet Taco from four restaurants to 29 today and we have 17 more company restaurants in the pipeline for 2022/23 and I look forward to continuing leading this great brand to the next level with our new partners,” he added.

Home & Road

Helen of Troy Agrees To Acquire Osprey Packs

Helen of Troy Limited announced that one of its subsidiaries has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Osprey Packs, Inc. Founded in 1974, Osprey is among the largest maker of technical and everyday packs in the U.S. Its product lineup includes backpacks and daypacks for hiking, mountaineering, skiing, climbing, mountain biking, trail running, commuting, school, and adventure travel packs, wheeled luggage, and travel accessories. Helen of Troy said it believes the acquisition is an “important next step as it advances its strategic goal of acquiring and investing in businesses that can accelerate profitable growth in categories where it can add value and leverage its scalable shared services and operating platform.”

Furniture orders drop 20% in September

New orders for residential furniture dropped 20% in September 2021 over September 2020, according to Smith Leonard in its latest Furniture Insights survey. But the decline isn’t as alarming as it sounds. “The results of our monthly survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors once again requires explanation,” said the Smith Leonard report. “At first glance, the September 2021 results would be alarming, but one has to look beyond the first glance. New orders in September 2021 were down 20% from September 2020, but the look beyond showed that September 2020 orders were up 43%. So we looked to compare 2021 with 2019 and found that September 2021 orders were up 15% over 2019.”

Culp sees dip in overall net sales for fiscal Q2

Culp Inc. reported net sales of $74.6 million for the second quarter fiscal 2022 ended Oct. 31, down 3% from the same quarter in 2020. While mattress fabric sales were up 2.1%, upholstery fabric sales dipped 8.5% for the period. Net income came in at $851,000 for the quarter, or 7 cents per diluted share, as compared with net income of $2.4 million, or 19 cents per share, for the year-ago period. In the earnings release, Culp announced a 5% increase in its quarterly cash dividend, to 11.5 cents per share, beginning in the third quarter of fiscal 2022. Culp cited ongoing uncertainty in the macroeconomic environment and said it expects current headwinds to continue to pressure results throughout the second half of fiscal 2022, especially during the third quarter. The company is withdrawing its previously issued annual guidance for fiscal 2022 and is providing a limited outlook for the third and fourth quarters.

Sleep Country Canada to open ‘Express’ stores in Walmart Canada stores

Specialty sleep retailer Sleep Country Canada Holdings Inc. plans to have seven Sleep Country Express stores in Walmart Canada stores across Ontario by the end of this week. The new concept store signals the company’s expansion and its licensee relationship with Walmart Canada to broaden its consumer reach through strategic partnerships. The first concept store opened at the end of October and the most recent one is scheduled to open Saturday, Dec. 4. Each of the locations has an average footprint of 5,00 square feet and offers cash-and-carry products and traditional mattresses delivered with the company’s white glove service. A curated assortment of products – from the company’s bed-in-a-box selection to sheets, pillows and headboards, as well as eight to nine traditional mattresses for customers to experience on-site – will be available at each location. The stores within a store will be staffed by Sleep Country Canada’s Sleep Experts.

Clarus Acquires Maxtrax

Clarus Corp. announced it has acquired Australian-based Maxtrax, a maker of Overlanding and off-road vehicle recovery and extraction tracks, for a combination of cash, stock and future consideration. Clarus’ portfolio of products includes Black Diamond, Rhino-Rack, Sierra, and Barnes. Maxtrax will continue to operate independently as a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of Clarus and will be part of the company’s Overlanding reporting segment, which includes recently acquired Rhino-Rack. Maxtrax’s net sales for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021 were approximately AUD 21 million. Founded in 2005 by Brad McCarthy, Maxtrax is considered the creator of the vehicle recovery board.

Jewelry & Luxury

Signet Sees Strong 3rd Quarter As It Moves Toward “Accessible Luxury”

Signet Jewelers released another strong set of results for the third quarter of fiscal 2022 (ended Oct. 30), with its average transaction price moving upward as the company targets the “accessible luxury” segment. The jewelry giant—which owns Kay, Jared, Zales, Piercing Pagoda, James Allen, and recently purchased Diamonds Direct—saw comps rise 18.9% over the same period in 2020 and jump 37.2% over the same period in pre-pandemic 2019.

Jewelry Sales Rose 78% (!) Over Holiday Weekend, Says SpendingPulse

During the Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 26–Nov. 28), jewelry sales rose an amazing 78% over the same period in 2020, according to the latest data from Mastercard SpendingPulse. That’s an impressive result, as 2020 was also considered a generally strong holiday for jewelry. It also exceeds SpendingPulse’s September prediction of a 50% jump in jewelry sales in the 2021 holiday season and a 52.9% rise from the pre-pandemic season in 2019. It does, however, continue the trend that SpendingPulse has found throughout the year. In August, it reported that jewelry sales rose 73.9% over August 2020 and 58.9% over pre-pandemic August 2019. In July, it found that jewelry sales jumped 83% over July 2020 and 54% over July 2019.

De Beers Opens New Flagship Store In London

De Beers Jewelers, the diamond giant’s retail chain, has opened up a new flagship store at 45–50 Old Bond Street in London. Old Bond Street was the home of De Beers Jewelers store, which opened in 2002. The two-floor, 250-square-meter location has been completely redesigned, so it now has a transparent storefront and a mixture of open spaces and intimate areas. A new lighting system, designed for the De Beers flagship, brings out the fire, light, and brilliance of each diamond.

Top 100 luxury companies generated $252 billion in 2020

2020 was a difficult year for a broad range of sectors and the luxury industry was no exception. Indeed, Deloitte’s recently published Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2021 report reveals that the revenue generated by the world’s top 100 luxury companies fell from $281 billion in 2019 to $252 billion last year. More than 80% of the companies in Deloitte’s top 100 reported lower sales of luxury goods in 2020, as pandemic-related store closures, travel bans and supply chain disruptions all took their toll.

Luxury Brands Rush to Own the Resale Experience

Each week, it seems, another luxury brand jumps into the secondhand market. Last week, for example, it was Oscar de la Renta; before that, it was Net-a-Porter; and last month, Valentino launched a project with four international boutiques to create a dedicated resale section on its website. Many of these brands have been sold and resold on platforms such as The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective for years, but as the growth of the secondhand market continues to pick up speed and supply chain bottlenecks slow the availability of some merchandise, luxury brands are trying to make sure they don’t miss out.


Office & Leisure

Aussie Pet Mobile Acquired

Home Franchise Concepts (HFC), a subsidiary of JM Family Enterprises, has acquired Aussie Pet Mobile, a franchisor of mobile pet grooming services for dogs and cats. Aussie Pet Mobile is the eighth brand in the Home Franchise Concepts portfolio, joining Budget Blinds, Tailored Living featuring PremierGarage, Concrete Craft, AdvantaClean, Kitchen Tune-Up, Bath Tune-Up and Two Maids & A Mop. While at-home pet care is a new field for HFC, it is a symbiotic fit as the company continues to capitalize on its success in the franchise business model and leverage its strong culture and growing suite of products and services., company officials said. First founded in 1996 by Australian husband-and-wife team Ian Moses and Vivienne McIntosh, Aussie Pet Mobile established its headquarters in the United States in 1999. The company is headquartered in Aliso Viejo, Calif., and operates in 95 U.S. territories with a network of 74 franchises and 354 grooming vans. The company’s president, Leon Feuerberg, who started as a franchisee in 2006, will continue leading day-to-day operations.

Student media giant Chegg acquires language learning startup Busuu for $436M

Chegg, the NYSE listed student media learning platform is acquiring Busuu, the online language learning startup established in Europe in 2008, for approximately $436 million (€385 million) in an all-cash transaction. At its exit Busuu had raised only $16.1m in total, a tiny amount even in European terms, and testament to the sheer grit of the founders who, by the end, had built a business that had reached over 120 million learners to date across more than 160 countries. Busuu provides courses in 12 different languages to over 500,000 paying subscribers. Dan Rosensweig, President and CEO of Chegg said: “The addition of Busuu gives Chegg the unique opportunity to expand our business while also adding tremendous value to our existing users. It will allow us to drive further into international markets, as well as accelerate Busuu’s growth in the US market.” Chegg says it expects Busuu’s full-year 2021 revenue to be approximately $45 million with year-over-year growth of greater than 20%. The $17 billion digital language market is expected to triple in size in the next five years, said a statement by Chegg.

Movie theaters must ‘urgently’ rethink the experience, a study says

About 49 percent of prepandemic moviegoers are no longer buying tickets. Some of them, roughly 8 percent, have likely been lost forever. To win back the rest, multiplex owners must “urgently” rethink pricing and customer perks in addition to focusing on coronavirus safety. Those were some of the takeaways from a new study on the state of the American movie theater business, which was troubled before the pandemic — attendance declining, streaming services proliferating — and has struggled to rebound from coronavirus-forced closings in 2020. “The research clearly shows that theaters are suffering because the pandemic intensified, accelerated, amplified all of the nascent trends that were already underway.” The nascent trends? Rising ticket and concession prices. Decreasing “experiential value,” including the perception that moviegoing has become a hassle. A generational shift toward streaming, gaming and other smartphone-based entertainment. “Before, maybe you went every now and again — overlooking the drawbacks,” Mr. Herrin said. “Now you add safety concerns to that mix, and you suddenly become a former filmgoer.”

Technology & Internet

eBay acquires the sneaker authentication business from partner Sneaker Con Digital

Online marketplace eBay is further investing in its sneaker business with today’s news that it’s acquiring Sneaker Con Digital’s authentication business, which verifies the authenticity of high-value footwear. The business has operations in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and Germany, and had been previously working with eBay to vet the sneakers being bought and sold on its platform. Sneakers have become a large category on eBay’s marketplace, where today there are over 1.9 million pairs available to buy every day.  In October 2020, eBay launched an “Authenticity Guarantee” service in partnership with Sneaker Con, whose team of experts would verify the sneakers at no cost to sellers before items were shipped to the buyers.


Amazon touts record sales amid weak start to holiday shopping season

Amazon said Tuesday it rang up record-breaking sales during the post-Thanksgiving rush, providing an upbeat outlook for a holiday shopping period that’s been lackluster for the retail industry. In a blog post, Amazon said home goods, toys and apparel were among the top categories in the period from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Popular purchases included Apple AirPods, Fire TV sticks and the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer. Amazon didn’t disclose sales figures for the two notable shopping days, which are typically its busiest in the holiday period. U.S. shoppers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday, according to data from Adobe Analytics, marking a 1.4% decline from year-ago levels. Black Friday online sales also fell slightly short of last year’s total, with retailers recording $8.9 billion in sales, Adobe said. While shopping at physical stores rose substantially from last year, when the pandemic kept consumers glued to the couch, traffic was down 28% from 2019 levels, according to preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions. Amazon, with its sprawling marketplace, next-day delivery options and competitive pricing, keeps on growing regardless of the macro conditions. This year, the company captured 17.7% of Black Friday dollars, according to data from Numerator, more than any other retailer.


Finance & Economy

Omicron could pose ‘significant’ threat to global economy, Yellen says

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 could slow global economic growth by exacerbating supply chain problems and depressing demand, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the Reuters Next conference.  Yellen cited a great deal of uncertainty about the impact of the highly contagious variant, first detected in South Africa, given the severe U.S. economic slowdown caused by the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 earlier this year.  Yellen said the new strain of the coronavirus could exacerbate supply chain problems and boost inflation, but it could also depress demand and cause slower growth, which would ease some of the inflationary pressures.  The spread of Omicron has roiled financial markets and prompted governments around the world to tighten travel and workplace restrictions.

Retail inventories up ahead of holidays but replenishment cycle still lengthy

Neither waning stimulus and extra unemployment benefits nor a peaking delta variant kept consumers from spending at a robust clip during retail’s fiscal third quarter, which ran through the end of October. The more notable takeaway from the period may be the amount of merchandise retailers took in as inventory growth significantly outpaced higher sales when compared to the year-ago quarter.  Retailers have been ordering merchandise much earlier than normal this year to meet what is expected to be record holiday demand and to avoid dislocation in the supply chain that is causing shipment delays. The group incurred higher freight costs to do so, with some even bearing the expense of chartering their own container ships to guarantee the stock needed for the biggest buying season of the year would be on the shelves.

Holiday sales on track to blow past record for spending, topping retail trade group’s biggest forecast

Holiday sales could exceed even the rosiest expectations for the major shopping season, according to the National Retail Federation.  The major trade group’s economist, Jack Kleinhenz, said that spending in November and December could grow as much as 11.5% compared with the same period a year ago — higher than many retail analysts and NRF itself had predicted.  The NRF had already called for a record holiday season, projecting in late October that sales would rise between 8.5% and 10.5% from last year. The group said it expected sales in November and December would hit an all-time high of between $834.4 billion and $859 billion. The sales forecast excludes spending at automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants.




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