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 Mattel launching an NFT marketplace to a setback in a discrimination lawsuit against Nike, here’s our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
Express aims to boost liquidity
Express made some refinancing moves this week aimed at boosting liquidity, lowering its interest rates and paying down debt.
Specifically, the fashion retailer added $40 million in availability to its revolver while also refinancing a $90 million FILO (first in, last out) term loan and terminating a $50 million delayed-draw term loan. Express Chief Financial Officer Jason Judd said in a press release the company plans to keep reducing its debt exposure through 2023.
Judd added that the refinancing deal makes Express “well-positioned” to execute on its strategic initiatives and pursue “growth opportunities.”
Judge deals blow to Nike discrimination lawsuit
A lawsuit filed against Nike in 2018 received a blow from Judge Jolie Russo in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon last week, who recommended the case not be considered a class action lawsuit. The suit was filed in August four years ago and included claims that Nike pays women less than men and gives them fewer opportunities for advancement. The plaintiffs in the case also detailed a series of sexual harassment incidents and said executives at the retailer had called women terms including “stupid b----,” “dykes” and a “failure.”
Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In 2019, the retailer said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation but added that Nike “opposes discrimination of any type and has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion. We are committed to competitive pay and benefits for our employees. The vast majority of Nike employees live by our values of dignity and respect for others.”
Russo wrote in a court filing that the “pursuit of individual claims is the better method to litigate claims of discrimination.” Russo pointed out that hiring managers at Nike were given discretion in setting pay, promoting and granting raises, which would make any inquiries into discrimination unique to each plaintiff. Any objections to the recommendation are due by Dec. 22.
Supreme teams up with True Religion
Supreme and True Religion on Tuesday announced they partnered on a 22-piece Fall 2022 collection. Items are available exclusively at Supreme stores and its website.
The companies previously collaborated on a Fall 2021 collection.
The collection features a denim trucker jacket, hooded sweatshirt, beanie and denim cargo pants, among other products.
“We’re thrilled to partner once again with Supreme to offer True Religion-inspired Supreme apparel,” True Religion CEO Michael Buckley said in a statement. “So many of True Religion’s innovations have taken on iconic status—like our Super T Stitch, distinctive hardware, and horseshoe logo. We’re honored to see these elements incorporated into Supreme’s collection.”
Mattel launches NFT marketplace
Famous toy company Mattel has launched a non-fungible token marketplace on its Mattel Creations platform, according to a press release shared with Retail Dive on Nov. 21.
The Mattel Creations Digital Collectibles Marketplace will first feature Series 4 of the Hot Wheels NFT Garage, which will be live on Dec. 15. Users will not need to use cryptocurrency to purchase the NFTs, but the marketplace is built on the Flow blockchain.
“In launching our own marketplace, we’re able to translate iconic Mattel IP into digital art, engaging directly with our customers and providing a best-in-class user experience,” Ron Friedman, vice president at Mattel Future Lab, said in a statement. “This is the latest evolution of our digital endeavors, and we look forward to sharing more drops soon inspired by some of the world’s favorite Mattel brands.”
Trading will become available on the platform sometime in 2023.
Hot Pockets made shorts that suit even the coldest weather conditions
“Oh, it’s too cold for me to eat my Hot Pocket outside today … even though it is not too cold to wear shorts” is a sentence consumers will no longer be able to say.
Enter in the new shorts from famous food company Hot Pockets, which include an insulated pocket within the cargo shorts to keep your Hot Pocket warm. The company announced on Tuesday that the limited-edition shorts — made in collaboration with the Columbus Fashion Alliance — will be available online for free starting Dec. 12.
"Wearing shorts in winter is a bold choice," Bryan Waddell, brand marketing manager at Hot Pockets, said in a statement. "With our insulated shorts, HOT POCKETS found an unexpected way to bring the heat to this chilly fashion trend."
Could Jeff Bezos return to lead Amazon?
Amazon may have evolved into the “everything store” and disrupted retail for a quarter century, but it can’t escape the trouble descending upon Big Tech right now. With shares down some 45% this year, the e-commerce giant recently earned the dubious distinction of being the first U.S. public company to lose a trillion dollars in value.
That calls for drastic measures, and Amazon has recently confirmed massive layoffs. CEO Andy Jassy is also said to be evaluating underperforming business units. That reportedly includes voice assistant Alexa, who has a mixed record taking song requests from dancing toddlers and a worse one for stoking product sales. Reportedly.
Will Jassy’s interventions suffice? If the share price stays down, uber-pundit Scott Galloway expects Amazon to spin off its AWS cloud service, which he says is worth more than the entire company, and for Jeff Bezos to return as chief executive of the remaining business, if not the whole enterprise.
“I think Bezos is going to come back to Amazon as CEO,” Galloway said on a recent episode of the Pivot podcast. “He's going to wake up and go, ‘My wealth is down by two thirds.’ … And I think a guy like that has a tough time being out of the game this long. I also think he's arguably, maybe with the exception of [Apple CEO] Tim Cook, the best CEO of the last 50 years. He's still got a lot of tread left on his tires.”
Amazon didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the idea. But a few days after Galloway floated it, Disney acted on it, returning ex-CEO Robert Iger to replace his replacement, Bob Chapek, after just two years.
What we’re still thinking about
That’s how many consumers shopped online and in stores between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation, marking a record high since the firm began tracking numbers in 2017.
On Black Friday specifically, 72.9 million shoppers took to stores, an increase from 66.5 million last year, according to NRF. And those consumers shelled out for products this year: Shoppers spent an average of $325.44 million on holiday-related purchases over the weekend, up from $301.27 in 2021.
That’s how many employees will be impacted by layoffs at H&M. The move is part of a previously announced cost-cutting program.
The company said the program will save it some 2 billion Swedish Krona ($188 million at the time of the announcement) each year.
Earlier this year, H&M announced an expense overhaul in response to its profits being squeezed from a pullback from Russia, higher freight costs, a strong U.S. dollar and other macroeconomic pressures.
What we’re watching
President Biden signs bill to avert rail strike
Major retail groups lauded Congressional action to avert a railway labor strike by imposing a labor agreement on rail companies and their workers.
“American consumers can rest assured they will have an exceptional shopping experience this holiday season with the threat of a rail strike averted,” Sarah Gilmore, government affairs director with Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), said in a statement Thursday after the Senate passed the measure first signed by the House of Representatives.
The retail industry as a whole had been watching closely, worried that a strike by rail workers could jam up the country’s freight system at the height of the holiday season.
National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay echoed the praise of Congress, saying in a statement that a “nationwide rail strike at this juncture would have had devastating consequences for our economy, and exacerbated inflation for American families.”
The bill passed by both houses of Congress would force workers and rail companies into a compromise labor contract mediated by the Biden Administration that was rejected by some labor unions involved in negotiations. One of the major disputes was over sick time for workers.
President Biden on Friday morning signed the bill into law.