September Monthly News Roundup
By TRAUB On October 04, 2019
We are pleased to share with you our roundup from September 2019. This month we saw high levels of activity across the public and private markets as well as innovative new retail formats and brand concepts announced.
Consumer companies have been quite active in the public markets this year from legendary brand Levi’s to luxury rental platform The RealReal to plant-based meat substitutes Beyond Meat all going public. This month, Peloton priced their IPO at $29 per share, valuing the company at over $8 billion. While the stock fell in its first day of trading, CEO John Foley is confident this is just the beginning of the company’s long term growth. Smile Direct Club also went public this month, valuing the company near $9 billion, though its valuation currently lies at ~$5 billion. WeWork officially withdrew its S-1 filing and will delay its IPO. With the company in public scrutiny, a long list of questionable company practices were revealed, causing Founder Adam Neumann to step down as CEO. Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Group (fka WME-IMG) pulled its IPO last week, one day before pricing, discouraged by the choppy markets and Peloton’s drop in its first day of trading.
With far less press, drama and volatility, the private markets remained active this month. Some notable acquisitions this month included: Vox Media acquired NY Magazine, Richemont acquired Italian jeweler Buccellati, S.C. Johnson acquired men’s skincare startup Oars + Alps (~$20M), Blue Bunny manufacturer acquired Halo Top and Stitch Fix acquired the IP of wardrobe tech company Finery. In addition handbag company Mansur Gavriel sold a majority stake to GF Capital Management. Notable investments this month included: Capsule ($200M), Sweetgreen ($150M), Neighborhood Goods ($40M) and Bellwether Coffee ($40M). Some smaller investments included: Hawthorne, a DTC mens personal care brand ($8M), Magic Spoon, a DTC healthy cereal brand ($5.5M) and Thingtesting, product reviews on Instagram ($1.5M). In addition, CircleUp’s credit division has raised an additional $200M to offer loans vs. equity financings to consumer retail startups.
Innovation in Retail
As experiential retail is no longer new but expected among consumers, we have seen brands and retailers alike reinvest themselves. In London, Selfridges opened a permanent cinema in their Oxford Street flagship location. The cinema, set to open at the end of this November, will feature blockbuster and indie films on three separate screens, and be accessible from within the store and a separate street entrance. Sotheby’s New York opened a new exhibition featuring all Rimowa luggage, highlighting the brand's evolution of its innovative design and quality. From a more practical lens, Nordstrom is now allowing shoppers to return merchandise from other retailers to their stores. Specifically their Nordstrom Local concept stores will now accept merchandise returns from Macy’s and Kohl’s regardless of whether Nordstrom carries the same item.
The Launch of New Brands
Several new brands were launched this month as well. Walmart relaunched e-commerce site Scoop as a Walmart.com private brand for a new cost-conscious consumer. Lululemon released a new luxury streetwear label called “Lab”. This marks the company’s first new brand which they piloted a decade ago in Vancouver and now includes a full 44-piece collection now sold across their stores and website. Thakoon is re-launching his namesake brand partnering with Silas Chou and Naadam Founder Matt Scanlan. The brand will be a new concept of 12 wardrobe staples priced from $95-$225 sold direct to consumer online and through their own store in NYC later this year. Finally, Pattern Brands (aka Gin Lane) launched its first new brand - a kitchen brand called Equal Parts. Equal Parts offers five sets of cookware made from sustainable materials that come with eight weeks of access to a cooking coach that’s available via text messaging. Pattern Brands is committed to forming a family of brands that are all rooted in helping others find enjoyment and fulfillment in everyday life, typically through custom products paired with a service (read more on this here).
Sustainability Is Here To Stay
Sustainability continues to be a core consumer value and arguably an important factor whilst making a purchase. On Friday, September 18, schools nationwide encouraged students to participate in demonstrations supporting climate change action. Some retailers like Patagonia and Lush followed suit, closing their doors and e-commerce operations for the day in solidarity with the students. Kering this month also revealed a commitment to become carbon neutral throughout its entire supply chain. This would entail cutting all of Kering's Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2025. Timberland's new marketing campaign lies at the center of this issue with the tagline "Nature Needs Heroes" and its forest restoration project. This includes a pledge to plant 50 million trees around the world in the next five years. Finally, California may be one step closer to banning fur. This would make California the first US state to ban the sales and manufacturing of fur which if signed, will go into effect Jan 1, 2023.
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