News Briefs

  • 2/26/2024

    Bullish outlook for restaurant growth

    Consumers' penchant for eatint out is fueling overall industry growth.

    The total restaurant category — including full-service and limited-service restaurants — is projected to grow 0.6%  on top of 0.8% in 2023, according to the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) 2023 estimates and its latest 2024 Food Away-From-Home (FAFH) Industry and Segment Projections report.

    Quick-service restaurants, which have performed significantly better in recent years than other segments overall, are projected to grow 0.7%. The fast-casual segment shows bullish growth of 0.9 percent. The casual dining segment continues to grow, at a projected real rate of 0.5%.

    Midscale restaurants are the only major restaurant segment where IFMA projections a decline of 0.7%. 

    In other findings, the food away-from-home industry  will grow 0.9%, on a real basis, in 2024, following better-than-expected growth of 1.2%, on a real basis, in 2023.  Looking ahead to 2025, IFMA projects that the food away-from-home industry will have 1.3% real growth. The total restaurant category is expected to grow 0.9%, while the total on-site category is projected to grow 2.2%, on a real basis.  

    Collectively, on-site segments in 2024 are projected to grow 2%, largely because their recovery from 2020 was slower than that of restaurants. The college & university and lodging segments are expected to lead on-site growth at 3.0 and 2.8%, respectively. The business and industry segment continue to struggle.

  • 2/26/2024

    Benihana to expand with locations in South Florida, California


    Benihana Inc. is expanding its footprint with new locations slated to open in Florida and California.

    The Japanese hibachi and sushi restaurant chain has opened its newest sushi location in Miami’s affluent Brickell neighborhood. The 1,280-sq.-ft. Benihana RA Sushi Brickell will offer dine-in, take-out and delivery options.

    "It's an honor for us to be a part of one of the most well-respected brands in the United States and debut the new Benihana RA Sushi fast-casual restaurant," said Erick Passo, newest Benihana franchisee and owner of Black Market Miami and Ben's Pizza. "The restaurant invites our guests to treat themselves to something special while on the go.  Serving both teppanyaki and sushi, Benihana RA Sushi Brickell will delight guests with a broad array of menu items."

    In addition to the Brickell location, Benihana is aiming to open three other locations, including one more in Miami, where the chain is headquartered, later this year. Details on the scheduled openings are as follows:

    • Benihana RA Sushi Bayside in Bayside Marketplace, Miami, a fast-casual restaurant, is planned to open mid-year 2024.
    • RA Sushi Plantation, Fla. in Plantation Walk is planned to open this summer at 333 North University Drive. The RA Sushi restaurant will be over 3,800 square feet with 34 tables, a full-service sushi bar and dedicated area for take-out and delivery business.
    • Benihana San Mateo, Calif. is scheduled to open late 2024 at 2204 Bridgepointe Parkway with 18 teppanyaki tables and a full-service sushi bar.

    Founded in New York City in 1964, Benihana operates more than 100 restaurants operating under the brands Benihana, RA Sushi and Samurai brands.

  • 2/22/2024

    Walgreens-backed VillageMD primary care clinics to exit Florida


    Walgreens Boots Alliance is closing its remaining VillageMD clinics in Florida.

    The closings, which were first reported by Business Insider, come as the pharmacy and health care services company has been cutting costs. In October, Walgreens said it planned to close approximately 60 VIllageMD clinics, exiting five markets, as part of those efforts. 

    VillageMD had operated 52 clinics in Florida, and 14 have already gone dark. (In late 2021, Walgreens invested $5.2 billion in VillageMD, increasing its ownership stake in the company from 30% to 63%.)

    Business Insider, which cited a report by investment firm Jefferies, noted that cited Florida is VillageMD’s third largest market, behind Texas and Arizona. All of the VillageMD clinics in Florida are co-located in Walgreens stores, according to the report.

    A VillageMD spokesperson Chain Store Age sister publication Drug Store News, “To continue to scale our care delivery services and value-based care model, we assess and evaluate our progress on an ongoing basis and refine our approach as we grow, similar to most growth-oriented companies. Strategically, we are focused on geographic density in markets and locations where we can serve patients to our standards of quality care." 

    The spokesperson continued that in exiting the Florida market,  patients   remain the company’s top priority.

    “We are supporting our patients during this transition including giving them resources of where they can receive care, access their medical records and answer their questions,” the spokesperson said.

  • 2/22/2024

    Pep Boys CEO out; successor named

    Pep Boys

    The activist owner of Pep Boys has named a new CEO.

    Icahn Enterprises L.P., which acquired the auto aftermarket service chain in 2016 in a deal valued at $1.03 billion, has named its current chef executive, David Willetts, as CEO of Pep Boys.  Icahn is the investment arm of billionaire activist investor Carl C. Icahn.

    “David Willetts has done an admirable job in improving the operational performance of our portfolio companies,” stated Carl Icahn. “We believe David's skill set is particularly suited to work on a day-to-day basis to drive the significant value creation potential in Pep Boys."

    At Pep Boys, Willetts replaces Scott Collette, who has served as CEO of the chain since February 2023. Prior to that, Collette spent 32 years at Menards, with his most recent position being COO, from 2007 to 2022. Collette is transitioning to the role of COO at Pep Boys, focusing on driving Greenfield initiatives, acquisitions and evaluation of new service offerings.

    In his statement, Icahn defended the activist approach he takes to investing, which he called “the best investment paradigm that exists." 

    “The reason activism works so well is that, somewhat unfortunately, many public companies are not well run,” he said. "It is very difficult and expensive to remove a poorly-performing CEO and board. And that is why so few investors today employ true activism.”

  • 2/19/2024

    Activist investor group nominates candidates to Macy’s board

    Macy's New York City flagship

    The stage is set for a proxy fight at Macy’s. 

    Macy’s on Tuesday said it has received notice from Arkhouse Management Co. that it has nominated nine candidates for election to the board of the department store retailer at its 2024 annual meeting.  (The date of the meeting has not yet been set.)

    The nominations follow Arkhouse’s and Brigade Capital Management’s unsolicited $21-a-share bid for the company in December. In January, Macy’s rejected the $5.8 billion bid, saying the firms failed to address the board’s concerns regarding their ability to finance the proposed transaction and that there was a “lack of compelling value” in the proposal.

    In its statement on Tuesday, Macy’s said that rather than make any attempt to provide additional information, Arkhouse instead sent a letter its board on February 11, requesting the retailer extend its director nomination window by 10 days and “claiming inaccurately that they had responded to any outstanding issues.”

    “Arkhouse and Brigade have yet to provide any financing details that would enhance the actionability of their proposal despite multiple opportunities to do so, and instead of attempting a constructive dialogue, Arkhouse has chosen to launch a proxy contest,”  Macy’s stated.

    Macy’s reiterated that Arkhouse had “yet to provide any financing details that would enhance the actionability” of its proposal.

    The company added that, “notwithstanding the sole objective of Arkhouse is a sale of Macy’s Inc.," it will evaluate Arkhouse’s director candidates.


  • 2/16/2024

    Guess making first acquisition in its 43-year history


    Guess Inc. is teaming up to acquire a trendy fashion brand.

    The apparel retailer and brand management firm WHP Global have entered into an agreement to buy Rag & Bone. Under terms of the agreement, Guess will buy all of the operating assets of the  jeans brand. Separately, Guess and WHP will jointly acquire and own Rag & Bone's intellectual property.

    Founded in 2002, Rag & Bone directly operates 34 stores in the U.S. and two stores in the U.K. Its merchandise, which includes both men's and women's fashions, is also available in high-end boutiques, department stores and through e-commerce globally. In 2023, the brand generated revenue of approximately $250 million.

    "We are excited to add an iconic brand such as Rag & Bone to Guess?, further diversifying our portfolio with complementary customer bases and price points," said Guess CEO Carlos Alberini. "We look forward to partnering with WHP Global to build on rag & bone’s heritage. We expect the transaction to deliver earnings per share accretion in the first year and strong value creation for our shareholders for years to come.”

    Rag & Bone will continue to be based in New York City. As part of the Guess portfolio, the company's team will operate as an independent fashion brand.

    "Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter as rag & bone joins forces with a much larger international fashion company," said chairman Andrew Rosen. "It’s a great opportunity for our team to take the brand to the next level, blending our unique styles and respective expertise to create new possibilities for rag & bone on a global scale.”

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