Commentary

Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Tritton Talks About Plans For Streamlining

After ousting a half-dozen top level executives in December and promising a quick course-correction when announcing disappointing Q3 2019 results in January, new Bed, Bath & Beyond president and CEO Mark Tritton reached out to several media outlets yesterday to talk about his plans for revival. 

“Decluttering stores is high on his list,” writes Suzanne Kapner for The Wall Street Journal.

“The former Target Corp. executive has spent the first 100 days on the job thinking about how many different types of can openers the retailer should stock. After the chain cut the number of options from more than a dozen to about three, sales rose.

“The big takeaway: Selling too many items in stores that are overcrowded leads to ‘purchase paralysis,’ Mr. Tritton said Tuesday in an interview,” Kapner continues.

Reading that lede, Tom Gara, the opinion editor for BuzzFeed Newstweeted: “This basically tracks with my experience of Bed Bath & Beyond: just standing, slack jawed at the number of trash cans, terrified of getting the one that is too cheap or the one that is way too expensive.”

“I don't know how common this sentiment is among foreigners, but for me, Bed Bath & Beyond is by far the most AMERICAN of all the big chain stores, just in terms of the full realization of consumerism in its totality,” Gara added.

Besides offering too many choices, the company also has a “track record” of spending money and not reaping any returns, CEO Mark Tritton tells  CNBC’s Lauren Thomas. 

“But he said he is trying to change that. Top of mind for Tritton, who just took the reins in November after a successful stint as chief merchandising officer at Target, is fixing Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores. It has roughly 1,500, including under its other banners, such as Christmas Tree Shops, World Market and buybuy Baby.

“The company is currently testing, with a small batch of three Bed Bath & Beyond locations, various remodeling strategies that consist of slashing inventory by as much as 20% and adding more marketing signage. Tritton said same-store sales at those locations are up 2% to 4% compared with Bed Bath & Beyond’s entire fleet.

“I want to strike … once I get those plans finalized,” he said about a broader store remodel rollout. Currently, Bed Bath & beyond is planning to remodel about 25 locations this fiscal year. And there could be more to come in 2021.”

That’s a lot on the plate -- in its admittedly all-too-many varieties, leading Yahoo News’ Brian Sozzi to ruminate: “We imagine new Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Mark Tritton hasn’t gotten much sleep since he assumed the top spot at the struggling home furnishings retailer about 100 days ago.”

Not so.

“I am actually sleeping, and I am prioritizing that to make sure I am fresh and focused. It’s really important to build your resilience in these times, especially when I am drinking from a firehose and laying the foundation and making some big critical decisions about how we stabilize and grow our business,” Tritton tells Sozzi. “I am staying resilient and focused, and using every tool in my toolkit.”

Divesting is one of those tools. Bed Bath & Beyond also announced yesterday that it is selling its ecommerce flower and gifts business, Personalization.com, to 1-800-Flowers.com, for $252 million.

“This transaction is another important step towards simplifying our portfolio and deepening our focus on our core home, baby and beauty businesses,” Tritton states in the news release disclosing the deal. “By unlocking valuable capital from within our business, we can accelerate the company’s ongoing business transformation and our efforts to re-establish Bed Bath & Beyond’s authority in the home space.”

“The deal includes Personalization.com's website and 360,000-square-foot distribution facility in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Its revenues were more than $150 million in its most recent year,” Paul Conner reports for FoxBusiness.

The Union, N.J.-based retailers’ “stock plunged in January after the company reported fiscal third-quarter results, and its preliminary fourth-quarter results, which include the holiday season, aren’t painting a better picture,” NJ Advance Media’s Nicolette Accardi writes on NJ Advance Media for N.J.com. “The company announced last year it planned to close 40 underperforming stores nationwide, along with 20 of its other concept stores,” Accardi adds.

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