- Just over two and half years after taking the helm, Bed Bath & Beyond on Wednesday announced Mark Tritton has stepped down as CEO, president and board member.
- Sue Gove, an independent director of the retailer’s board since 2019 and chair of the board’s strategy committee, is replacing Tritton as chief executive on an interim basis. Gove has more than 30 years of experience in the retail industry, including as CEO of Golfsmith International and COO of Zale Corporation, according to a company press release.
- Bed Bath & Beyond also announced Joe Hartsig stepped down as chief merchandising officer. Mara Sirhal, who was most recently the retailer’s senior vice president and general manager for Harmon and the general merchandise manager of health, beauty and consumables, will take on the role. Sirhal has more than 20 years of retail experience, including at Macy’s.
Mark Tritton was tapped in late 2019 to lead a turnaround of Bed Bath & Beyond as the retailer faced declines to sales and foot traffic.
Tritton arrived with experience in retail turnarounds. Before coming to Bed Bath & Beyond, he served as Target’s chief merchandising officer where he helped reenvision the retailer’s private label strategy. Prior to that, Tritton spent seven years at Nordstrom Product Group managing more than 50 owned brands across physical and digital channels.
Revamping Bed Bath & Beyond’s own private label assortment became a key focus area in Tritton’s transformation plan for Bed Bath & Beyond, which also included remodeling stores and building on its omnichannel capabilities.
While the retailer has launched around 10 private labels since announcing its plans back in 2020, the brands were criticized for not being compelling, with GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders describing them as “mediocre.” The overall turnaround strategy, he added, “was a cosmetic reinvention – copied from Target – with very little substance behind it. It is little wonder that it has quickly fallen apart.”
To further exacerbate its turnaround efforts, Bed Bath & Beyond has faced industry-wide supply chain challenges and waning demand for home goods.
The company on Wednesday reported first quarter net sales fell 25% year over year to $1.5 billion, while comparable sales were down 23%. Operating loss grew by over $265 million and net loss widened by more than $300 million.
“We must deliver improved results. Our shareholders, Associates, customers, and partners all expect more,” Gove said in a statement. “We are committed to providing customers with a one-stop destination to meet their needs through our assortment, experience, and services, whether online or in stores. Top-tier execution, careful management of costs, greater supply chain reliability, prudent capital spending, a stronger balance sheet, and robust digital capabilities will all be important to our success.”
The C-suite changes, which Saunders says does “very little to inspire confidence in the company’s trajectory,” comes just months after Chewy founder and activist investor Ryan Cohen criticized Bed Bath & Beyond’s strategy, calling it “highly-publicized and scattershot.”
Cohen, who became chairman of the board of GameStop after undertaking an activist campaign at that retailer, in March pushed Bed Bath & Beyond to pursue a sale of its BuyBuy Baby banner or possibly a full sale of the entire company. Later that month, Bed Bath & Beyond entered into a cooperation agreement with Ryan Cohen and his activist fund, RC Ventures. As part of the deal, the retailer agreed to add three directors of RC Ventures’ choosing, two of which joined a group focused on “exploring alternatives to unlock greater value” from the BuyBuy Baby business.
On Wednesday, Bed Bath & Beyond said it is continuing to evaluate options for that banner saying its “analysis to-date has confirmed the potential of BuyBuy Baby and has identified several strategies to further increase the synergies and compelling growth potential to be unlocked within Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc.”