Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Bed Bath & Beyond to Close 150 Stores, Cut Staff, Sell Shares to Raise Cash

Probably, the most poorly managed major corporation in the country right now. They're close to going out of business.

My wife worked there briefly, years ago, but quit just a few weeks into the job. My wife's got 30 years of retail sales and management experience, so if she quit that job so fast, something was totally fucked up. 

At WSJ, "Home-goods seller to lay off 20% of corporate, supply-chain workers":

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. BBBY -21.30%▼ said it would close roughly 20% of its namesake stores, cut its workforce and bring in fresh cash to stabilize the business through the holiday season as the retailer confronts plunging sales.

The home-goods seller is attempting to trim costs and raise money as it tries to correct recent operating missteps and navigate a challenging economic environment. It has been burning through its cash reserves for several quarters, and a shopper exodus has shaken investor and vendor confidence.

On Wednesday, executives and directors attempted to assuage its uneasy partners. In a business update, they said the company secured commitments for more than $500 million in financing and could potentially sell as many as 12 million shares of common stock to raise money. They also pledged to overhaul the assortment of goods in the company’s stores, focusing more on national brands after spending millions to develop private-label goods.

“While there is much work ahead, our road map is clear and we’re confident that the significant changes we’ve announced today will have a positive impact on our performance,” said Sue Gove, a board member who is serving as interim chief executive.

Bed Bath & Beyond’s stock fell 21% in Wednesday trading, as the plan to sell shares could dilute the holdings of existing shareholders. The stock, a favorite among meme investors, has lost more than half its value over the past two weeks.

As of Wednesday, the company’s market value was roughly $750 million. At its peak in June 2012, the company had a valuation of more than $17.3 billion, according to FactSet data.

Founded more than 50 years ago, the Union, N.J., company had several decades of rapid growth as it became known for its big-box stores stockpiled with merchandise and 20%-off coupons. In recent years, it has wrestled with falling sales and shifting strategies.

In 2019 activist investors ousted the chain’s founders and revamped the board, saying its leaders had failed to modernize the stores and capitalize on the rise of e-commerce. Mark Tritton, a former Target Corp. executive, joined the company in 2019 and sought to turn around the retailer by pushing deeper into private-label brands, among other initiatives. Those brands, however, weren’t well-received by shoppers and were hindered by pandemic-related supply-chain constraints.

Bed Bath & Beyond’s board ousted Mr. Tritton in June and installed Ms. Gove, a retail-restructuring consultant, as interim CEO. The company is working with search firm Russell Reynolds Associates to find a permanent CEO, and said Wednesday that the search process is continuing.

The retailer received another blow in August when billionaire activist Ryan Cohen sold his 10% stake in the company, about six months after acquiring his shares. The company’s stock, which had been rallying in previous weeks, slid after individuals followed Mr. Cohen’s selloff.

The business update came just days after the end of the company’s latest quarter, which showed the issues facing the retail chain. Comparable sales—reflecting sales at stores open at least a year—fell 26% in the quarter ended Aug. 27. The company’s operations also burned through about $325 million of its cash reserves during the period.

While the company plans to release its full second-quarter financial report on Sept. 29, preliminary results show that the money it is bringing in the door is leaving quickly. And the new financing only provides a short runway for the turnaround effort, analysts say.

The more than $500 million infusion, led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and asset manager Sixth Street Partners, includes $375 million from a new loan and the expansion of a credit line. The Wall Street Journal had previously reported the company was near a new loan deal.

The new arrangement will reduce the debt exposure of the JPMorgan credit line by more than half while Bed Bath & Beyond retains access to about $800 million in borrowing capacity. The company said it ended the latest quarter with about $200 million in cash and investments...