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  • 2/12/2024

    Express reportedly considering bankruptcy filing


    Express may be heading towards Chapter 11 as it looks for a way to restructure its debt.

    The fashion  retailer is prepping for a debt restructuring that includes the possibility of filing for bankruptcy, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.  The report said Express has hired restructuring adviser M3 and law firm Kirkland & Ellis to advise it on how to restructure nearly $280 million of debt. 

    The Journal report also said that Express is trying to avoid a filing for bankruptcy by restructuring debt outside of filing for Chapter 11.

    In January 2023, Express and WHP Global entered into a strategic partnership that included an intellectual property joint venture to scale the Express brand through new category licensing and international expansion opportunities.  In November, WHP signed long-term licensing deals to bring the Express brand to new markets, including Indonesia (with PT MAP) and Paraguay (with Kemsa).  WHP will also expand the brand’s presence in Mexico.

    Also last year, Express and WHP Global entered into an agreement to acquire direct-to-consumer menswear retailer Bonobos from Walmart for a combined $75 million.

    Express operates approximately 530  and Express factory outlet stores in the United States and Puerto Rico; approximately 60 Bonobos Guideshop locations and 12 UpWest retail stores in addition to e-commerce sites.

  • 2/12/2024

    Petco names new chief human resources officer

    Holly May

    Petco Health and Wellness Company has tapped a retail veteran as its next chief human resources officer.

    Holly May will fill the role effective Feb. 4, leading the pet retailer’s HR strategy. Prior to joining Petco, May served as executive VP & global chief human resources officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance for over two years, where she led all aspects of the organization's global HR and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) functions. Previously, she held executive leadership roles at Starbucks, Abercrombie & Fitch, Visa and more, totalling two decades of HR experience.

    "Our knowledgeable and passionate partners (employees) are Petco's most valuable asset and differentiator — everything we do begins with their expertise and ability to deliver hands-on pet care," said Petco CEO Ron Coughlin. "Holly brings an impressive track record of driving comprehensive HR strategies that align with business objectives and deliver transformational growth. On behalf of the entire Petco leadership team, we look forward to working alongside her to continue supporting our 29,000 purpose-driven partners." 

    May is based at Petco's National Support Center in San Diego. She graduated from Wellesley College and earned her master of finance degree from the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University.

    "Over the past week, I've had the pleasure of meeting many Petco partners, and I've directly observed their passion for taking care of pets and pet parents," said May. "I look forward to helping this high-impact team further harness that passion to fuel both personal and business growth across the organization."

    Based in San Diego, Calif., Petco operates more than 1,500 pet care centers across the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico.

  • 2/12/2024

    E-commerce marketplace giant Temu spends big on Super Bowl

    Temu returned to the Super Bowl this year with an ad blitz.

    The Boston-based online discount marketplace, owned by Chinese conglomerate PDD Holdings, launched in the U.S. in fall 2022 and made its Super Bowl debut last year, with a 30-second spot, entitled “Shop Like a Billionaire” that ran several times.

    This year, Temu ran a series of ads during the Big Game. The ads featured a colorful animated shopper virtually trying on clothes and dancing through deals (starting as low as 99 cents) while an updated version of the company’s “Shop like a Billionaire” jingle played in the background. (Commercials for the 2024 Super Bowl sold for $6.5 million to $7 million per 30-second spot, reported CNN).

    As part of its Super Bowl campaign, Temu encouraged viewers to download its app by offering  $15 million in coupons and other giveaways.

    With hopes of taking on Amazon, Temu has ramped up its U.S. advertising since its launch, coming second only to Amazon in spending on Facebook last quarter, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Temu app had more than 50 million monthly U.S. active users as of January, according to market intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

    While its app has proved very popular with U.S. consumers, Temu has come under considerable scrutiny for allegations of forced labor and of noncompliance towards illicit products entering the U.S. market.

  • 2/12/2024

    Shell to acquire 45 convenience stores in New Mexico

    Shell is expanding its U.S. retail footprint.

    The company has signed an agreement  to acquire Brewer Oil Company’s (BOC) retail division, which includes 45 fuel and convenience store sites in New Mexico. The acquisition also includes traditional fueling stations and cardlocks for fleet vehicles.

    The acquisition will mark Shell’s first operated retail presence in New Mexico, complementing its company-owned footprint in the United States, where it owns and operates nearly 200 convenience retail sites.

    “The acquisition of Brewer will strengthen our company-owned footprint in the U.S. as we continue to target opportunities for paced retail growth in key markets,” said István Kapitány, executive VP, Shell Mobility. “Brewer’s expansive customer base and desirable locations will deliver immediate value as we strive to meet customers’ evolving needs and provide a premium refueling and retailing experience.”

    Subject to regulatory clearance and the satisfaction of closing conditions, the deal is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

    In the U.S., Shell serves around 8 million customers per day with a brand presence at approximately 12,000 fueling stations across 49 states.

  • 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.

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