It’s been another week with far more retail news than there is time in the day. Below, we break down some things you may have missed during the week, and what we’re still thinking about.
From Ace Hardware's expansion plans to the horrors of Ikea, here’s our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
In a blow to subscription retail, Birchbox reportedly mulls bankruptcy
In a quest for growth and profitability, Birchbox has tweaked its approach in various ways, including offering sales of full-size products, selling through Walgreens stores, opening its own stores and expanding internationally. The beauty subscription retailer, which launched over a decade ago offering boxes of sample-sized products, was acquired a year ago by FemTec Health.
Now it’s considering a bankruptcy filing, Women’s Wear Daily reported this week. At press time, its website was devoid of product images and a notice there indicates its mobile app has been shut down. Neither Birchbox nor FemTec immediately responded to requests for comment.
“We believe, in the best interests of Birchbox and the entire FMTC family of companies spanning the U.S. and Europe, a Chapter 11 or some equivalent structure may be necessary,” FemTec wrote in a letter to creditors cited by WWD.
Creditors challenge Revlon's loan restructuring
A group of lenders have sued bankrupt beauty giant Revlon and some of its lenders over a financing package assembled in 2019 and 2020 to help the struggling company. The plaintiffs alleged that Revlon, employed financial institutions and some of the company’s lenders worked together in a “concerted scheme” to strip collateral — including the intellectual property behind some of the company’s biggest brands — that backed a $2 billion loan from 2016 to use as collateral for the new financing. The plaintiffs asked the court overseeing Revlon’s Chapter 11 case to unwind the financing deals as the company tries to reorganize and potentially sell itself to repay its creditors. Revlon did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Ace Hardware to open more than 170 stores this year
Despite economic uncertainty and waning demand in the overall home market, Ace Hardware this week said it plans to open at least 40 stores in Q4, putting it on track to open more than 170 stores by the end of the year.
Ace Hardware has opened more than 900 stores globally over the past five years, and as of right now, it operates more than 5,600 locations across 50 states and 65 countries.
"With 130 new stores already opened for the year, we remain enthusiastically bullish about the continued prospect for new store growth," Ace Hardware President and CEO John Venhuizen, said in a statement. "I applaud our local Ace owners for the pace with which they've integrated our digital efforts with our physical assets. Seventy percent of acehardware.com orders are picked up in store and 20% are delivered to customers by our own red vested heroes, thus further advancing the relevance and necessity of our neighborhood stores."
Cobblers are here to save your sole
DSW on Wednesday announced that it has partnered with Cobblers Direct to offer shoe repair service to its over 500 locations.
Customers can scan a QR code at their local DSW, place an order through a smart device, and hand items to a store associate. Cobblers Direct will complete the repairs and return them to the same DSW store for pickup.
"We believe that repairing shoes, boots, and bags – and not throwing them away – will lead to a healthier planet and happier humanity," Stephen Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Cobblers Direct, said in a statement. "Together with DSW, shoe lovers all over the country now have easy access to expert repair services so they can enjoy their beloved items once again."
Bark and Dunkin’ continue partnership for a good cause
As the holiday season approaches, many pet owners are seeking out the perfect gift for their furry friends.
According to Wakefield Research data commissioned by PetSmart, 83% of pet parents said they are very likely to give their pet a gift, while 54% revealed spending more time shopping for their animals than for some family members.
In a move that provides the perfect gift, as well as a reminder to fuel up during the busy months ahead, online pet retailer Bark partnered with Dunkin’ to create dog toys for a good cause.
Marking the partnership’s third year, the two companies have teamed up to provide Dunkin’-inspired dog toys — including iced coffee, chocolate glazed doughnut and “Munchkins” doughnut holes — when consumers make a donation between $12 and $15 to the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation.
Since launching the partnership in 2020, the companies have raised $4 million and the foundation has funded 33 service dogs across 23 hospitals.
Ikea is reportedly afraid that people will be afraid of its stores
Furniture retailer Ikea has reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to indie developer Jacob Shaw over his unreleased horror game The Store Is Closed, according to Kotaku.
The survival video game, which was created with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, is set in an infinite furniture store that requires players to use weapons and fortifications to survive overnight.
Ikea is alleging trademark infringement, Kotaku reported, telling the developer to remove anything that is similar to the brand and specifically called out the blue and yellow signage, the blue box-like building and outfits similar to those worn by Ikea employees featured within the game.
Whatever the result of the cease-and-desist letter, it sounds like Ikea didn’t get the message it was spooky season!
What we’re still thinking about
That’s how many Americans say they often or always read through company privacy policies. As retailers are adopting more technology, their ability to gather consumer data has broadened. That’s left more consumers concerned about how their personal data is being used by brands, and states across the U.S. are enacting more laws to protect them.
That’s how much cash Victoria’s Secret will plunk down to buy one of the lingerie upstarts, Adore Me, that have stolen its market share in recent years. The intimates giant said it valued Adore Me’s growth potential, inclusivity, tech, subscription options and B Corp. status. But the takeover also indicates that the angels-to-empowerment pivot that Victoria’s Secret has been working so hard to make in recent years needs a push up, some analysts said.
“Having lost an extensive amount of market and customer share over the past decade, Victoria’s Secret is now trying to claw it back,” GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders said in emailed comments. “Part of this is being done through a reinvention of the core brand, with a focus on making it more inclusive. However, in a market where demand is tightening and where competition is intense, this strategy is taking time to deliver.”
What we’re watching
Under Armour finally acknowledges athleisure
Under Armour, which has long defined itself by a stalwart emphasis on performance and has generally ignored the athleisure trend, appears to have changed its mind. In a set of two “refinements” to its brand strategy, interim CEO Colin Browne on Thursday announced a new target audience — 16- to 20-year-old team sports players — and a broadening of its apparel offering to “outfit occasions beyond the fields, courts and gyms.”
Athleisure, which is an area “we haven’t really focused on or worked through how to play in,” will nearly triple the brand’s total addressable market, according to Browne, to approximately $300 billion. Browne also said the categories Under Armour currently sells probably account for only 20% or 30% of its customer’s day.
“Leaning into that other 70% of the day is clearly a huge opportunity there,” Browne said. “And when we talk to athletes as well, it's clear they want to have access to our product, or they want to feel comfortable to wear our product as they're traveling to the court, field or pitch.”