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News Briefs

  • 2/9/2024

    Singapore-based fund manager takes large stake in Kohl’s


    Kohl’s Corp. has another big institutional investor.

    GIC Private Ltd., which represents the Government of Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, has acquired 5.5 million shares of Kohl’s common stock, representing about a 5.01% holding, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. GIC is one of Singapore’s three investment institutions that handle the country’s reserves.

    The move reflects rising investor interest in Kohl’s, whose other major institutional shareholders include Blackrock, Vanguard, T. Rowe Price and Macellum Advisors.

    Miami-based activist hedge fund Vision One Management Partners has built a stake in Kohl’s and expressed concerns to the company about its future, according to a report by Reuters, which cited anonymous sources. Vision One has asked Kohl's to launch a sale process and also give it board representation, the report, which cited anonymous sources.

  • 2/9/2024

    Amazon reportedly sued for favoring pricier goods with algorithm


    A new lawsuit has reportedly been filed by two consumers in federal court that accuses Amazon of unfairly promoting more expensive products in search results.

    According to Reuters, the proposed class action suit filed by California residents Jeffrey Taylor and Robert Selway in the U.S. District Court in Western Washington claims that Amazon violated a Washington state law that forbids deceptive trade practices. The lawsuit states that Amazon utilized an algorithm to intentionally promote more expensive items to display in its “Buy Box,” rather than relevant products with lower prices and/or delivery times.

    The lawsuit also reportedly accuses Amazon of leveraging the algorithm to promote sales of costlier goods sold by participants in its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) hosted fulfillment network for third-party sellers on the Amazon site, who pay a variety of storage and shipping fees. In addition, the suit claims that Amazon shoppers will select the e-tailer’s product suggestions almost 98% of the time, regardless of whether they are the lowest-priced option or not. 

    The lawsuit comes about five months after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an unrelated suit in the same federal district court in Washington, accusing Amazon of being a “monopolist” that uses anticompetitive and unfair strategies to stop rivals and sellers from lowering prices, degrade quality for shoppers, overcharge sellers, stifle innovation, and prevent rivals from fairly competing against it.  

    The case is Taylor et al v Inc, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, No. 24-00169.

    Amazon declined an offer to provide comment from Chain Store Age. Read more coverage from Reuters here. 

  • 2/8/2024

    How consumer plan to spend on Valentine's Day

    Valentine's Day

    With Valentine’s Day around the corner, experiences are expected to top products as the most-shopped gift, according to a new survey.

    RetailMeNot and Ziff Davis Shopping found that 66% of Valentine’s Day celebrators will purchase an experience for their significant other. A similar number (61%) will buy gifts or products, and 32% will treat their partner to a romantic dinner. Within the broader categories, consumers plan to spend on chocolate or sweets (52%), flowers (34%), gift cards (29%), and food or drink for at home cooking (29%).

    With prices remaining high, potentially impacting overall spend, RetailMeNot’s survey found that 27% of Valentine’s Day shoppers are letting the deals guide them to what to buy. 

    Here’s what consumers say inspire their Valentine’s Day shopping choices:

    • In-store displays: 35% 
    • Friends and family: 33%
    • Deal aggregator websites and apps: 27%
    • Retail websites and apps: 22%
    • Social media influencers: 17%

    More than six-in-10 (62%) American consumers say they’ll buy a Valentine’s Day gift his year, expecting to spend an average of $165 on the holiday. Perhaps unsurprisingly, overall, all U.S. shoppers plan to spend the most when they’re shopping for a romantic partner: $201 on average vs. the $98 on average. Survey respondents in the LGBTQ+ community say they’ll spend more on Valentine’s Day: an average of $248. 

    Outside of romantic partners, nearly one-fourth (22%) will be shopping for their kids and grandkids, and another 22% say they’ll be shopping for themselves. Nearly one-in-10 (9%) of shoppers plan to buy Valentine's Day gifts for their friends.

  • 2/8/2024

    Walgreens sells shares in pharmaceutical distributor for $992 million


    Walgreens Boots Alliance has reduced its stake in pharmaceutical distributor Cencora for the third time in about six months.

    The pharmacy and health care services company said that it sold shares of Cencora (formerly AmerisourceBergen) common stock for proceeds of approximately $942 million. It also gained about $50 million from a concurrent share repurchase by Cencora.

    The company said proceeds from the sale will be used primarily for debt paydown and general corporate purposes. 

    With the sale, Walgreens’s ownership of Cencora’s common stock has decreased from approximately 15% to approximately 13%. The company previously sold shares in November and August 2023.

    Walgreens said that the sale has no impact to the long-term partnership between the two companies, adding that it remains fully committed to the “strategic, mutually beneficial relationship with Cencora, which has been a strong and trusted partner since 2013.” 

    Ornella Barra, COO, international of Walgreens, will continue to serve on Cencora’s board of directors.

  • 2/8/2024

    Costco’s January sales up 4.5% fuled by strong e-commerce demand


    Rising online sales gave a big boost to Costco Wholesale Corp. in January.

    The membership warehouse club giant reported that its sales rose 4.5% year-over-year in January to $22.08 billion. By comparison, Costco’s December sales hit $26.15 billion amid holiday shopping. (The retailer noted that January 2024 had one less shopping day due to the timing of New Year’s Day, which negatively impacted total and comparable sales by approximately three to three and one-half percent.)

    Costco’s total comparable stores increased 2.7% in January, rising 1.6% in the United States and 6.2% in Canada. Other international comps rose 5.1%. The biggest comp increase was in e-commerce, where sales jumped 21%. 

    Excluding the impacts from changes in gasoline prices and foreign exchange, total company comparative sales rose 3.4%, with U.S. comps up 2.2% and Canadian comps up 6.6%.

    Earlier this week, Costco announced that longtime CFO Richard Galanti plans to step down in March. He will be succeeded by Gary Millerchip, CFO of The Kroger Co. Galanti, who has been with Costco more nearly 40 years, will remain with the company through January 2025 as an adviser.

    Costco currently operates 874 warehouses, including 602 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 108 in Canada, 40 in Mexico, 33 in Japan, 29 in the United Kingdom, 18 in Korea, 15 in Australia, 14 in Taiwan, six in China, four in Spain, two in France, and one each in Iceland, New Zealand and Sweden. 

    The company also operates e-commerce sites in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia.

  • 2/4/2024

    Batteries Plus names new chief development officer

    Batteries Plus

    Batteries Plus has elevated its chief franchising officer into a new role.

    Joe Malmuth will now serve as chief development officer for the Wisconsin-based consumer and business specialty battery retailer. In this new role, Malmuth will lead the company’s plans for franchise growth and development on the heels of a successful 2023 where Batteries Plus opened 30 stores in 2023 and signed 54 franchise agreements.

    Founded in 1988, Batteries Plus has more than 800 store locations in operation and development nationwide, where it offers services including cell phone repair and key fob replacement. Under Malmuth's leadership as chief franchising officer, Batteries Plus introduced its Market Stewardship franchising opportunity that awards franchisees an entire market, with the first of such agreements signed for the Atlanta market in Summer 2023. In Q4 of last year, Batteries Plus signed two, six-store agreements for Charlotte, N.C. and Florida’s Treasure Coast.

    "I am incredibly honored to take on the role of chief development officer at Batteries Plus as we navigate this exciting path of expansion," said Malmuth, who has been with the company for nearly four years. "This promotion is not only a testament to my evolving career with Batteries Plus, but also a reflection of our great leadership team and the remarkable franchise community we've built together. I look forward to continuing to grow Batteries Plus' footprint as we strive to strengthen our presence in the specialty battery retail market."

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