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 Aerie's move to bring positivity to social media to Walmart's plans to hire 50,000 associates in Q1, here's our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
Aerie tackles social media through Aerie Real brand platform
Aerie on Tuesday announced the "evolution" of its Aerie Real brand marketing campaign, which has been around since 2014, with an emphasis on bringing positivity to social media.
The Aerie Real platform was built on redefining beauty standards and promoting inclusivity by emphasizing real people in the brand's marketing and not touching up photos. The company's new focus is social media, and attempting to increase positive messaging across social platforms. In pursuit of that goal, Aerie is working with a team of brand ambassadors that includes Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman; actresses Alisha Boe and Carlacia Grant; TikTok stars Erika Priscilla, Hannah Schlenker and Elyse Myers; and country artist Kelsea Ballerini (who wrote a song, "Keepin' It Real," for Aerie).
Aerie is highlighting its "commitment of self-acceptance and well-being" through a series of spots where brand partners will talk about how to control time spent on social media and mental health issues, which will air across the brand's social media channels. In addition to those PSAs, which Aerie is referring to as "Positive Scrolling Always," the company will also launch a TikTok hashtag challenge to share inspiration and already hosted a pool party event in Miami with its brand ambassadors.
"The #AerieREAL movement revolutionized the industry, bringing inclusivity to the forefront and empowering young women to love their REAL selves inside and out. As we build on the strength of Aerie, we are committed to helping our community find their happy and prioritize positivity," Jennifer Foyle, president and executive creative director at American Eagle and Aerie, said in a statement. "We know that social media can have a negative impact, which is why we are creating a safe and happy space that fosters healthy conversations and cultivates a positive social scroll for our Aerie community."
In hopes of appealing to young luxury shoppers, Saks Off 5th rebrands
Saks Off 5th joins Macy's in letting customers know they're free to express themselves. The luxury off-price retailer has launched a new campaign, "Where Fashion Takes Off," and updated its logo, according to an announcement emailed to Retail Dive.
"Over the past year, Saks Off 5th conducted extensive market research to more completely understand its target customer base, including how they want to shop and build their wardrobe. Through this work, the company discovered a significant opportunity to appeal to a younger, fashion-minded core customer that is a growing segment for Saks Off 5th," the company said in its announcement. "This customer loves to shop, find great deals and stay on top of the latest trends, using fashion as an outlet for their personality and point of view on life. Saks Off 5th’s evolved brand positioning was created with this customer in mind."
Saks Off 5th is now two companies after HBC and private equity firm Insight Partners split up its e-commerce and brick-and-mortar operations last year. Proponents of such splits, which have been suggested for other department stores as well, have insisted that brands in those circumstances can remain cohesive, but there appear to be different expectations for the two sides. Insight Partners last year poured $200 million to reshape Saks Off 5th's business strategy into "a digitally native model focused on customer experience," according to the firm's website. The goal is ultimately to take at least that dot-com portion of the Saks Off 5th enterprise public, Women's Wear Daily reports.
Resale consolidates further as Vestiaire Collective acquires Tradesy
French resale site Vestiaire Collective this week announced its acquisition of U.S. resale site Tradesy for an undisclosed amount.
Even before this deal, the United States had become Vestiaire's largest market. 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.
Both sites were founded in 2009 by women. Vestiaire founder Fanny Moizant will stay on as the company's president and Maximilian Bittner will stay on as chief executive, while Tradesy founder and CEO Tracy DiNunzio will become CEO of the combined U.S. operations.
In a statement, Bittner said the deal is a confirmation of "Vestiaire Collective's ambition to be a truly global player, promoting circularity in Europe, the U.S. and Asia-Pacific." Moizant said the companies' leadership is "particularly enthusiastic about the scale we are reaching together and the associated benefits in the highly attractive U.S. market."
The resale segment may see more consolidation as startups chase scale and global reach. Rival site ThredUp, which also runs resale platforms for several retailers, last year snapped up European resale company Remix for over $28 million.
Vestiaire Collective also said it will open an authentication center in the Los Angeles area, its fifth globally, and second in the U.S. Authentication of luxury items has become a point of contention in the rapidly growing resale market.
It takes 2, baby
Tailored Brands, which is the parent company of a number of apparel retailers including Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, announced on Wednesday that board members Bob Hull and Peter Sachse will be the company's co-CEOs.
Hull and Sachse were appointed as interim co-CEO's a year ago, and have obviously worked together well enough that the company wants them to continue being a team.
But, the nature of co-CEOs seems a bit … odd. Not impossible, just a bit, perhaps, confusing.
The character of Oscar Nunez addressed this exact issue on an episode of "The Office" when Michael Scott and Jim Halpert were tasked to work alongside each other in a shared leadership role.
"Look, it doesn't take a genius to know that any organization thrives when it has two leaders. Go ahead, name a country that doesn't have two presidents. A boat that sets sail without two captains. Where would Catholicism be without the Popes?" Nunez mused.
Not to be outdone, a day later Kontoor Brands announced co-chief operating officers. Chris Waldeck, who is currently the global brand president of Lee was named the co-chief operating officer and global brand president of Lee. Tom Waldron who is currently the global brand president of Wrangler was named the co-chief operating officer and global brand president of Wrangler. (That's a lot of words to simply say they are each taking a brand.)
Splitting a C-suite role isn't unheard of. Many DTC brands have two leaders at the top. Take Warby Parker, which has co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa and co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal, and just reported its fourth quarter net loss increased by 967% year over year. So, yeah. It has worked out great.
Ain't nobody got thyme for that
Here at Retail Dive we've been following the trajectory of direct-to-consumer bedding company Parachute for a while now. From the company adding mattresses to its lineup, to hiring a Gap veteran as its first chief merchandising officer, to as recently as this week naming its first CFO, we've been keeping tabs on the retailer.
So imagine our surprise when the company became a trending topic on Twitter this week due to a catalog cover. Whether the cover was meant to be (slightly, humorously) controversial or not, it sent up a flurry of conversations about the woman pictured, who is casually re-potting plants in the middle of her neutral-toned, expensive-looking bedroom. You know, like a psychopath.
The marketing campaign had many people scratching their heads. And others asking to be sent a copy of the catalog, or following the brand for the first time or generally having fun laughing (at? with?) the company.
Parachute seems to be taking it all in stride. On Sunday it published a tweet that says, "Our apologies to anyone who was triggered by our latest catalog cover. We should have included a TW [trigger warning], we have rug-rets."
Our apologies to anyone who was triggered by our latest catalog cover. We should have included a TW, we have rug-rets. pic.twitter.com/02XsVPrSNU— PARACHUTE (@parachutehome) March 13, 2022
What we're still thinking about
That year marked the beginning of "consistent revenue declines" at office supplies stores that has continued through the pandemic, amid a work-from-home revolution. Consumers are buying office supplies in greater numbers than they did in the pre-pandemic era, but it has only slowed the sales declines at the specialists. According to Euromonitor data, the market for office supply and stationary stores has contracted by 38% between 2016 and 2021.
In that context, ODP Corp, which owns the Office Depot and OfficeMax banners, is having an existential moment. Rival Staples, owned by private equity firm Sycamore Partners, has been pursuing ODP for a sale of some sort for more than a year. Another unnamed suitor has also come to the company with interest in its retail business. ODP has also been moving toward a split of its business-to-business and retail units, which is on hold as it mulls acquisition offers. What the company chooses could determine what happens next in a sector in perpetual decline.
That's how many associates Walmart plans to hire in the first quarter alone. It tracks with two years of strong sales growth in the U.S. during the pandemic and management estimates of more than 3% domestic comparable sales growth for the current fiscal year. The retailer is looking to add more hands to its stores, Sam's Club shops, supply chain facilities and campuses.
As it looks to hire in a still-tight labor market, Walmart said it has reduced its frontline hiring process to 24 hours.
Along with frontline hiring in the U.S., Walmart is looking to add another 5,000 employees to its global tech team, which last year grew 26%. The company is seeking out talent for cybersecurity, development, software engineering, data science and engineering, and other fields, as well as adding new work hubs in Toronto and Atlanta.
What we're watching
Warby Parker says it has room to grow to 900 U.S. stores
Warby Parker executives on Thursday made clear the value the brand sees in brick and mortar. The DTC eyewear company in the fourth quarter opened seven stores, pushing its total 2021 openings to 35 locations.
And Warby Parker isn't through with its physical footprint expansion: The brand, which now operates 161 stores, is planning to open 40 more in 2022, and executives signaled a potential for several hundred more in the future.
"Last year, we commissioned a third-party study that concluded our retail footprint has room to expand to over 900 retail locations in the U.S. while maintaining our best-in-class four-wall economics," co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal said on a call with analysts. "This is still a fraction of the 41,000 optical shops that exist today."
Over the years, DTC brands have begun to take their products offline in some way, shape or form as the limitations of selling goods exclusively online grow more apparent.