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 Vuori’s expansion into tennis to Amazon’s latest foray into healthcare, here’s our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
Spruce Point takes aim at Skechers
Spruce Point Capital issued a scathing report on Skechers this week, pointing to weakening sales in China, and the potential for worsening inventory issues and profit erosion. The firm, which has a short position on Skechers, also called out the governance of the shoe company, which is controlled by the Greenberg family. Spruce Point accused leadership of “nepotism, self-enrichment [and] rampant related-party transactions.” Skechers has also faced activist investors attacking its governance structure and the Greenbergs’ influence over the company.
Vuori expands into tennis, pickleball
DTC activewear brand Vuori has expanded into tennis and pickleball. The first collection for the sports features six items in different colorways, according to Senior Vice President of Design, Sarah Carlson. Those include three different skirts, one dress, a polo and a pair of shorts, with more to come. Carlson said the brand will build out its collections for tennis and pickleball “throughout the coming seasons.”
“Tennis and pickleball have grown in popularity over the pandemic and continue to impact the fashion industry. These sports are also naturally part of the Encinitas and Southern California lifestyle,” Carlson said via email about why the brand entered the category. “We are excited to bring our consumers this new collection, combining both style and performance, on and off court.”
Tractor Supply names new chief marketing officer
Tractor Supply on Monday announced Kimberley Gardiner will be the retailer’s next chief marketing officer and senior vice president. She succeeds Christi Korzekwa, who had announced her retirement.
Gardiner, who comes with more than two decades of marketing experience, was previously the marketing chief at Volkswagen of America and has held marketing roles at Mitsubishi Motors North America, Kia Motors America, 5th Kind and Toyota Motor Sales, USA.
In her new role, Gardiner will focus on driving growth by enhancing Tractor Supply’s brand and marketing strategies.
“We are excited to welcome Kimberley to Tractor Supply. She is a creative marketer with a proven track record of success in developing and implementing growth strategies,” Hal Lawton, CEO and president of Tractor Supply, said in a statement. “Her extensive background and data-driven approach to brand development, as well as her reputation for innovation, will help evolve our marketing organization and continue to build on the strength of the Tractor Supply brand.”
Aerosoles is out for your man
Aerosoles announced that it signed a new licensing agreement to expand into men’s products. The company will introduce men’s slippers and socks, men’s and women’s flip flops, and roller skates for men, women and children. The footwear brand partnered with Orly Corporation for the endeavor, and will launch its first collections next summer. Products will be available at Nordstrom, Macy’s and other department stores. Flip flops, socks and slippers will range from $20 to $50, while roller skates will be priced from $80 to $150.
Mattel enters multi-year toy deal with SpaceX, which is founded by children’s icon Elon Musk
Toy retailer Mattel announced on Wednesday that it entered a multi-year agreement with SpaceX to create toys “that inspire children and collectors alike to tap into their inner space explorer,” per a press release.
The toys will launch under the company’s Matchbox brand next year, with astro-inspired collectibles to be released on Mattel Creations, its direct-to-consumer platform.
If your child has been eagerly awaiting toys from the fun and quirky version of NASA, here they are. The U.S. spacecraft creator and launch company is famously founded by Tesla creator Elon Musk — a bastion of hope and inspiration for young children who might want to buy Twitter in the future and then back out.
Twitter loves Kohl’s Cash
Kohl’s has been having a rough few weeks. The department store pulled out of an acquisition deal and started thinking about how to possibly monetize its real estate — something it once swore it wouldn’t do. Then this week it received a negative outlook from S&P Global Ratings.
But, while the retailer’s news is seemingly going from bad to worse, social media certainly is having a great time. Twitter can be a hard audience, but it gives credit where credit is due. And that is coming this week in the form of a deep appreciation of both the department store and Kohl’s Cash.
kohl’s cash > cryptocurrency
— jenna (@bcjennaa) July 20, 2022
the way kohl’s cash is probably worth more than the euro right now really makes you think
— jeff (@jeffreybozos) July 20, 2022
I believe Kohls cash is stronger than the American dollar.
— Ryan Cashman ???????????? (@CashmanRyan) July 20, 2022
95% of the ocean is unexplored which means there could be a Kohl’s down there
— pj (@pjayevans) July 19, 2022
What we’re still thinking about
That is the worst case Bath & Body Works has projected for its sales in the second quarter. The purveyor of soaps, candles and other nice-smelling products is bracing for a sales and profit drop this year after revising down its guidance for 2022 and following a record 2021 for sales. Management noted that traffic is falling and lower-income shoppers are skipping purchases and chasing discounts as they grapple with inflation. Like other retailers, Bath & Body works is simultaneously discounting and seeking places to raise prices, while also cutting costs where it can. But it’s still business as usual in some respects, as Bath & Body readies for the fall scent season.
The macroeconomic challenges, above all inflation, that have injected uncertainty into the second half of the year are particularly difficult for small businesses, which don’t have the scale or financial bedrock of larger chains. Retailers are particularly vulnerable: Nearly half of small business owners say they’re at risk of shutting down in the next few months, while 59% of smaller retailers said so, according to research from Alignable.
Many of those that are hanging on are reducing their hiring, and, once again, it’s tougher in retail, according to another Alignable report. Fifty-seven percent of smaller players aren’t hiring and 3% are letting employees go.
What we’re watching
Amazon puts the Prime into primary care
The e-commerce giant doesn’t garner many profits from retail — those largely come from its AWS cloud unit and services like fulfillment and advertising for its marketplace sellers, which are responsible for most the goods sold on its site. The deal with One Medical, a membership-based primary care company providing virtual and on-site medical services directly to members and corporate clients, further expands Amazon’s non-retail operations.
Healthcare “is one of the largest consumer spending buckets,” with opaque pricing and a level of fragmentation that make it ripe for disruption, according to Telsey Advisory Group analysts. “We expect Amazon to continue to gain market share across several industries by leveraging its sticky customer base (200MM+ global Prime members) and small business relationships,” they said Thursday in a note on the Medical One news. “The focus on newer businesses and initiatives — grocery, health/pharmacy, fashion, home, third-party, and Amazon Logistics — is making Amazon more valuable.”