Over the years, Retail Dive has written about a lot more bankruptcies than IPOs. In 2019, 17 major companies filed for bankruptcy in the retail space. In 2020, that number nearly doubled as 30 major companies sought relief from struggles exacerbated by the pandemic.
In 2021, however, the story changed. Just eight major companies filed for bankruptcy, while the deals market took off. By November, 17 retailers had filed for IPOs or direct listings, while others announced plans to merge with blank-check companies as a means of going public. The M&A market also flourished, with well over 40 acquisitions as retailers built out parts of their business or, in Casper's case, sold themselves to private equity.
As far as the number of deals goes, 2022 has gotten off to a similar start. By this time last year, Retail Dive had tracked eight major deals across the industry. However, there are challenges in the market that weren't present last year. In recent weeks, stock markets have taken significant hits, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing companies to pause on planned IPOs or other transactions.
Those factors, along with how the pandemic evolves from here, could impact the willingness of retailers to enter into new deals. For now, we break down 10 deals that have been announced in 2022, from acquisitions to equity stakes and IPOs.
1. French resale site Vestiaire Collective acquires Tradesy
With the United States already representing its largest market, Vestiaire Collective is expanding further with its acquisition of U.S. resale rival Tradesy for an undisclosed amount.
After their tie-up, the company will have 23 million members, a catalog of 5 million items and gross merchandise value exceeding $1 billion, according to a press release.
2. Authentic Brands takes a stake in David Beckham's brand
After initial reports of an investment, Authentic Brands Group in February struck a deal with David Beckham to co-own and co-manage the soccer icon's brand. As part of the agreement, Beckham has also taken an undisclosed stake in the brand specialist. Authentic Brand's new European headquarters in London will house the David Beckham brand team, the company said.
The deal also makes Authentic Brands the largest shareholder in Studio 99, a production studio founded by Beckham.
Authentic Brands noted in a press release about the deal that Beckham's digital presence is "considered one of the most influential in the world," with a following of 138 million, which is nearly a third of Authentic Brands' total following across its entire portfolio post-deal.
Bloomberg previously reported that Authentic Brands agreed to pay $269 million for a 55% stake in Beckham's brand management company DB Ventures.
3. Fanatics acquires lifestyle brand Mitchell & Ness
Sports merchandise retailer Fanatics in February announced it acquired lifestyle brand Mitchell & Ness from Juggernaut Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount. Jay-Z, Maverick Carter, Meek Mill, Lil Baby, the D'Amelio family and others also participated in the acquisition.
The strategic investment group, made up of "some of the most recognized names in sports, entertainment and culture," will own 25% of the company, according to details emailed to Retail Dive.
Mitchell & Ness will operate as a separate entity under the Fanatics Commerce division, according to the announcement. Fanatics plans to grow the company's distribution network by adding Mitchell & Ness products to new retailers.
4. Kimberly-Clark takes a majority stake in Thinx
Kimberly-Clark — which makes Kleenex, Kotex and Huggies — acquired a majority stake in period underwear brand Thinx in February.
The investment will help further the brand's direct-to-consumer channels and drive growth with Kimberly-Clark's retail partners, said Russ Torres, group president of Kimberly-Clark's North American consumer business.
Kimberly-Clark made an initial minority investment in Thinx in 2019.
5. Farfetch acquires beauty retailer Violet Grey
Luxury marketplace Farfetch announced it would acquire beauty retailer Violet Grey in January prior to its formal launch into the category in 2022.
Cassandra Grey, founder of Violet Grey, will become a beauty adviser for Farfetch and co-founder of NGG Beauty, where she will incubate brands. She will also chair Violet Grey and provide strategic and creative direction. Farfetch Vice President of Operations Niten Kapadia will become Violet Grey's managing director.
Violet Grey is known for its "Violet code" where it tests beauty products with its community of makeup artists, estheticians, dermatologists, hairstylists and influencers to curate offerings.
6. Aerosoles gets acquired by American Exchange Group
Women's footwear brand Aerosoles in January inked a deal to sell itself to American Exchange Group, which owns brands along with doing design, manufacturing and wholesale work for outside accessories brands. American Exchange signalled it would keep Aerosoles as a separate operating division.
Formed in 1987, out of a division of Kenneth Cole, Aerosoles was profitable for most of its life before running into mall retrenchment and rising competition. After putting itself on the market, the brand filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and moved immediately to close most of its physical stores. Today the brand sells through its digital and wholesale channels, the latter of which includes partnerships with Nordstrom, Macy's, Zappos and other retailers.
7. Digital Brands Group acquires apparel brand Sundry
As it looks to scale its customer base and bolt more brands to its platform, Digital Brands in January picked up the women's apparel brand Sundry for $34 million in cash and $7.5 million in stock. Digital Brands' marketing chief, Laura Dowling, said Sundry's large direct-to-consumer reach would significantly accelerate growth in its customer base, allowing it to cross-sell its other brands to Sundry customers.
Founded in 2011 by Matthieu Leblan as a coastal brand with French inspiration, Sundry is profitable and made $18.2 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2021, up 37.9% from the year-ago period.
8. Victoria's Secret sells a minority stake in its China business
After losing sales and mindshare in an environment that had grown unfavorable to its sexualized marketing, Victoria's Secret has worked hard to revamp its image and overhaul its merchandise. Now it's working on reigniting its global sales. On Jan. 25, the brand announced it will form a joint venture with a longtime supplier, Regina Miracle. Subject to regulatory approval, the Hong Kong-based lingerie maker will pay $45 million for a 49% stake and run the brand's Chinese stores and website.
The deal makes sense, according to Jane Hali & Associates analysts. "This seems to be a wise solution to distribution in China," she said by email. "Companies are successful when they are consumer-centric and know their customers' wants and needs. [Victoria's Secret] was in China but it was unsuccessful under their management."
9. LVMH Luxury Ventures takes stake in Aimé Leon Dore
Streetwear's grip on upscale fashion seems to only grow tighter. LVMH Luxury Ventures – the investment arm that French luxury conglomerate LVMH established a few years ago to "support desirable, high potential brands, with clear identities and built to address clients' desires today and into the future" – took a minority stake in New York City's Aimé Leon Dore in January.
A spokesperson for the brand declined to disclose the amount. But LVMH Luxury Ventures tends to make equity investments of between 2 million euros ($2.3 million at press time) and 15 million euros in companies with revenue between 3 million euros and 30 million euros, seeking stakes of 5% to 25%.
"LVMH's vast network of global leaders across the industry and its rich history in growing exceptional storied brands offers a truly unique partnership opportunity to fuel the next chapter of growth for Aimé Leon Dore," said fashion designer Teddy Santis, who founded the brand in 2014.
10. Mattress Firm files for IPO
Mattress Firm in early January filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering. The filing came about four months after the retailer confidentially filed papers to go public.
Mattress Firm will list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "MFRM."