Activist investor Ryan Cohen plans to sell his shares of Bed Bath & Beyond after taking a stake earlier this year and agitating for change at the home goods retailer.
Cohen’s investment firm, RC Ventures, indicated in a securities filing that it plans to sell all roughly 9.5 million shares in Bed Bath & Beyond (about 11.8% of the company’s outstanding shares) that it had acquired between mid-January and early March of this year.
On taking a stake, Cohen — who founded the online pet retailer Chewy and has taken on the chairman role at GameStop after launching an activist investor campaign at that company — called the retailer’s turnaround strategy “scattershot.”
Cohen also suggested at the time that Bed Bath & Beyond sell the fast-growing BuyBuy Baby unit and maybe even the entire company. Not long after buying into the retailer, Cohen and management reached a settlement giving consideration to Cohen’s proposals.
After an initial pop once Cohen’s activist stake became public, Bed Bath & Beyond’s stock price continued its lackluster performance over much of the spring and summer as the retailer continued posting profit and sales losses.
Things got so bad that the retailer’s CEO, Mark Tritton, who came from Target and hoped to revitalize the company with similar private label strategies pursued by the mass merchant, left in June.
Cohen’s intended exit from his Bed Bath & Beyond stake follows a pop this month in its stock price, which financial media have attributed to its current “meme stock” status — something GameStop enjoyed as well after Cohen’s arrival.
“We were pleased to have reached a constructive agreement with RC Ventures in March and are committed to maximizing value for all shareholders,” Bed Bath & Beyond said in a statement Wednesday. “We are continuing to execute on our priorities to enhance liquidity, make strategic changes and improve operations to win back customers, and drive cost efficiencies; all to restore our company to its heritage as the best destination for the home, for all stakeholders.”
The company also noted that it has been “working expeditiously” with financial advisers and lenders in recent weeks to strengthen its balance sheet. Bed Bath & Beyond added that it will provide an update on the process at the end of August.