Posts Tagged 'Bed Bath & Beyond'

Can Circuit City make a comeback?

Whoever bought the Circuit City brand after the store’s demise a few years ago plans to revive it — both as an e-commerce site and as a re-engineered brick-and-mortar store. The question in front of RetailWire panelists: Does the world need a revived Circuit City? (Or, as their headline put it, “Can Circuit City come back from the dead?”) Here’s my skeptical point of view:

This reminds me of the Linens-N-Things saga, in which the brand survives as an e-commerce site but its physical stores are long gone. There simply wasn’t the need for two similar big box concepts, so Bed Bath & Beyond turned out to be the survivor. (But BBBY stock price has fallen sharply in the past five years, like many retailers, as it faces increased competition from Amazon and others.)

It’s hard to see what value Circuit City brings to the table at this point — except as a web-only play. Does a small-footprint “experiential” store offer something different from Best Buy or Apple? (Especially now that Best Buy is removing CD’s from its physical stores, it’s easy to see that they will roll out more engaging and productive uses of that space.) The Circuit City brand was already “damaged goods” because of bad decisions they made to reduce customer service and in-store expertise.

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Sports Authority: What do its problems mean for retail?

Sports Authority recently announced a chapter 11 filing as well as its plans to close or sell many of its locations. RetailWire panelists had a chance recently to dicuss what these developments mean for the broader world of retailing:

There are two issues at play here: Yes, there is an overall recognition by brick-and-mortar retailers that they have too much square footage as their own “omnichannel” business cannibalizes their physical stores. It’s an issue for all kinds of retailers, from Walmart to Kohl’s to Macy’s.

But Sports Authority’s struggles are symptomatic of the problems plaguing “niche” big box stores for several years. There has been a survivor (Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Barnes & Noble) and a failure (Circuit City, Linens & Things, Borders) in just about every niche you can think of — and even the “winners” are struggling with too much square footage.

Underlying the consolidation in the sports apparel and equipment industry? First, the impact of Amazon and other online competitors on just about every retail segment. Second, the push into activewear by every department store and apparel specialist you can name.

Target ads new online cookware brands

From a recent RetailWire discussion: Target has acquired two brands (cooking.com and Chef’s Catalog) to add to its online assortment. I see this as a smart long-term competitive move:

The home store used to be (but is no longer) a core strength of Target. In cookware especially, Target has seen share migrate to competitors like Kohl’s (with its Food Network products) and Bed Bath & Beyond. The impact on Target’s e-commerce business will be relatively small for the short term, but the opportunity to build new content and strategies for bricks-and-mortar should be significant.

Target introduces six new e-commerce brands

On today’s RetailWire discussion, panelists debated why Target is introducing six new product lines only on target.com. My sense is that something bigger is going on here:

While the six new brands will draw traffic, buzz and (hopefully) sales to the website, I wouldn’t assume that they are slated for e-commerce forever. It’s worth noting that five of the six brands are “home goods” in an area where Target has lost some cachet. (It’s also worth noting that Bed Bath & Beyond’s acquisition of World Market points toward a “multicultural” approach to this business.) It would not surprise me to see the test results of these brand introductions end up with at least one or two expansions to bricks & mortar, after Target evaluates the risks and rewards.

Bed Bath & Beyond buys Cost Plus

Bed Bath & Beyond announced its plans to acquire the Cost Plus/World Market business. While most of the RetailWire discussion centered on the opportunity to add food categories inside BB&B, I see broader areas for growth and assortment synergy:

Yes, there is an opportunity to expand the Cost Plus specialty food business into Bed Bath and Beyond — but there is an even bigger opportunity to add the “World Market” assortment of home decor, furniture and gifts. It will take a large footprint to pull this off, but the move allows BB&B to become an even more dominant home goods retailer.

Bed Bath & Beyond: The strong get stronger

Lots of ideas (at RetailWire) about why Bed Bath & Beyond is enjoying particular success right now. Here’s my point of view:
Bed Bath & Beyond has a big niche practically all to itself — much in the same way that Best Buy “owns” the specialty electronics business despite plenty of competitors in the same space. BB&B benefited greatly from the demise of Linens n’ Things but frankly it out-executed LNT to get there. And very few general merchandisers have been able to capitalize on the loss of a key competitor, with the possible exception of Kohl’s…certainly JCPenney did not have the kind of growth in its home store that observers expected last year.
Bed Bath & Beyond has stayed focused, is compellingly priced, and takes a “headquarters” position in key businesses like dorm supplies. A good lesson learned for other specialty retailers aspiring to the same kind of dominance in their market space.

Linens n’ Things: Showing a pulse in Canada?

I would echo the same comments I made a few months ago, when Brain Trust panelists talked about the web-only “play” being made to keep the Linens n’ Things name alive. By the time somebody attempts to revive the brand in the U.S., the damage has already been done to the brand because of the Chapter 11 filing and the sudden closing of hundreds of stores. Jump-starting the brand in the future assumes that desirable real estate is still available (maybe so). It also assumes that surviving competitors (from Bed Bath & Beyond to Kohl’s) haven’t absorbed all the market share (maybe not). Linens n’ Things may have enough brand equity left to “start over” in Canada but it can expect rougher sledding in the U.S. if it tries to stage a revival.


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