December 2019 Monthly News Roundup

We are pleased to share with you our roundup from December 2019. There continued to be high activity in the M&A market, specifically in the food, beverage, and nutrition sectors. We also continued to see interesting new customer acquisition formats, exciting collaborations and partnerships, and continued sustainability efforts via repurposing and recycling methods.


In December we continued to see limited activity in the public markets, but the M&A market remained strong. In particular, the food and beverage and consumer products sector led the pack with IFF’s acquisition of DuPont’s nutrition business for $26.5B. Other notable acquisitions included: Froneri’s acquisition of Nestlé's ice cream business ($4B), E. & J. Gallo’s acquisition of Constellation Wine Brands ($1.1B), Hostess’ acquisition of cookie maker Voortman ($320M), Helen of Troy’s acquisition of Drybar products ($255M), and PepsiCo’s acquisition of BFY Brands, the maker of PopCorners snacks.

Notable raises this month included: Vinted, a secondhand apparel platform ($141M), Flying Embers, a hard kombucha company setting sights on disrupting the beer industry ($25M), swimsuit company Summersault for a new direct-to-consumer travel clothing line ($17.3M), and Nutriati, a plant-based ingredients company ($12.7M). 


In the public markets, legacy retailers looked to different strategies in the face of struggling stock prices. Hudson's Bay Company proposed a deal to take the company private in hopes that more could be done away from the glare of public markets. Richard Baker along with a group of shareholders agreed to buy out the company's minority stockholders for $11 Canadian a share, giving its parent company, Saks Fifth Avenue, a valuation of $2 billion. Similarly, Ascena Retail Group battled falling stock and low sales with a reverse stock split to avoid being delisted. Its board approved a 1-to-20 ratio reverse stock split, causing shares to be priced at $7.77 as of January 6th. 


On the other hand, luxury giants LVMH and Kering have been at the center of many M&A rumors. The year 2019 closed with an indefinite answer on whether Kering will buy Moncler, a move that will surely be seen as a response to LVMH's record breaking $16.2B acquisition of Tiffany &Co. 


New Formats to Acquire Customers 

Companies continue to use new and unexpected distribution channels to acquire customers. This month, Glossier, known for its go-it-alone strategy, embraced wholesale for the first time in a partnership with Nordstrom. Glossier plans to enter the main beauty floors of seven Nordstrom stores, including New York, Chicago, and Seattle, with a space dedicated to the Glossier You fragrance. Dating app Bumble debuted a reformatted version of its annual gift guide by offering Bumble users a daily, weekly, and monthly giveaway option from beauty, lifestyle, and fashion brands. So far, six beauty brands have participated in the program, including Becca, Erno Lazslo, True Botanicals, Love Wellness, Quai and Ipsy. Rent the Runway also had a big month with the introduction of ski apparel and athleisure to its site along with the introduction of RTR closet Concierge, a service which delivers curated travel wardrobes to guests at W Hotels in Aspen, South beach, Washington, D.C, and Hollywood. In addition, Canada Goose opened a new store focused on experience. The store, which the company has dubbed “The Journey” carries no inventory and allows customers to try on parkas while moving through the store’s wintery experience. Similarly, Condé Nast Italy unveiled its first retail space called Frame - an "experience store"  - which includes limited-edition pieces, Condé Nast labels, and a cafeteria.


Exciting Collaborations and Partnerships 

This month we saw some interesting collaborations that introduced brands to new channels. The delivery courier app, Postmates, announced partnerships with Old Navy and other retailers throughout the holiday season which allowed customers the option to buy online and have a Postmates courier deliver the order within a day. This exclusive partnership shows the delivery courier app trying to differentiate itself from the competition in a new way, moving beyond its roots as a food delivery service. Another brand trying to differentiate itself is mattress brand, Serta, which announced its first foray into the sneaker world with its partnership with hip-hop artist, DJ Clark Kent. Together, Serta and DJ Clark Kent released  iC1, a limited-edition sneaker featuring Serta’s iComfort UltraCold System. Additionally, almost two years after announcing an exclusive long-term partnership, Chanel and Farfetch unveiled the early results of their “boutique of tomorrow” with their digital innovation project. As part of this initiative, Chanel introduced a client application which allows clients to create a wish list before going to the store, access content via 30 pads dotted around the store, and take a virtual reality tour of Chanel's private apartment. Another major brand, Adidas also announced that its collaboration with Beyonce will start up again on January 18th with a new gender-neutral Ivy Park collection.



Hone in on Sustainability Efforts with Repurposing and Recycling Initiatives 

Retailers continue to hone in on sustainability efforts to maximize the life span of their products. Reebok announced an upcoming plant-based performance shoe called the Forever Floatride GLOW, which replaces traditional materials with natural alternatives including castor bean oil, eucalyptus tree, algae, and natural rubber. Similarly, Rebecca Taylor launched ReCollect, a new program that repurposes, recycles, and resells pre-loved Rebecca Taylor items. This new program not only allows the brand to connect with its consumers in a new way, but also provides an opportunity for the brand and its consumers to participate in the circular economy. With each Rebecca Taylor item traded-in, consumers earn a $15 credit that can be redeemed at any Rebecca Taylor store or online.


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