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Exclusive: Kohl's says a real estate sale is on the table after scrapping deal talks – TalkOfNews.com

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Kohl's says a real estate sale is on the table after scrapping deal talks

#Kohl039s #real #estate #sale #table #scrapping #deal #talks

People walk near a Kohl’s department store entranceway on June 07, 2022 in Doral, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Kohl’s might not be selling its business after all. But it’s now looking to sell some of its real estate, reversing its prior stance.

The retailer on Friday announced it terminated deal talks with The Vitamin Shoppe owner Franchise Group, confirming CNBC’s reporting from Thursday evening. Instead, Kohl’s said, it will continue to operate as a standalone public company.

Kohl’s for months has been pressured by activist firms including Macellum Advisors to consider a sale of the company, in large part to unlock the value tied up in Kohl’s real estate.

Macellum has argued that Kohl’s should sell some of its real estate and lease it back as a way to unlock capital, particularly during tough times. Kohl’s, however, has been resistant to so-called sale leaseback transactions, at least at such a large scale.

The company did complete a small sale-leaseback deal earlier on in the Covid pandemic, according to Peter Boneparth, chair of Kohl’s board. It recognized a gain of $127 million by selling and leasing back its San Bernardino e-commerce fulfillment and distribution centers.

On Friday, though, Kohl’s explicitly noted in its press release that its board is currently reevaluating ways that the retailer can monetize its real estate. Franchise Group had been planning to finance a portion of its Kohl’s acquisition by selling a chunk of Kohl’s real estate to another party and then leasing it back. This likely gave Kohl’s an idea of what sort of value it could fetch for its owned bricks-and-mortar stores and distribution centers.

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“Now you’ve got an environment where financing has changed so much that it may in fact be more attractive to use real estate as a monetization vehicle,” Boneparth told CNBC in a phone interview.

“When you combine that with what we think the levels of the stock are, it becomes a much different exercise than it was in a previous financing environment,” he explained. “It’s no secret that Kohl’s has a very big asset on the balance sheet: Real estate.”

As of Jan. 29, Kohl’s owned 410 locations, leased another 517 and operated ground leases on 238 of its shops. All of its owned real estate was valued at a little more than $8 billion at that time, an annual filing shows.

Pros and cons

Proponents of sale-leaseback deals argue it’s a convenient way for companies to come up with funds to put toward future growth, so long as there is a buyer for the real estate. But it also leaves the seller with having to meet lease obligations since they would be renting the property they just sold.

Those leases could become much more difficult to break and rents can fluctuate across markets. Kohl’s said in its annual filing that a typical store lease has an initial term of 20 to 25 years, with four to eight five-year renewal options.

In 2020, Big Lots reached a deal with private-equity real estate firm Oak Street to raise $725 million from selling four company-owned distribution centers and leasing them back. It gave the big-box retailer additional liquidity during near the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also in 2020, Bed Bath & Beyond completed a sale-leaseback transaction with Oak Street, in which it sold about 2.1 million square feet of commercial real estate and netted $250 million in proceeds. Mark Tritton, the Bed Bath CEO at the time, touted the deal as a move to raise capital to invest back in the business. Now, though, Bed Bath is facing another cash crunch as its sales slump and Tritton was ousted from his role earlier this week.

Oak Street had been planning to offer financing to Franchise Group in a Kohl’s deal, CNBC previously reported, according to a person familiar with the discussions. A representative from Oak Street didn’t respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Kohl’s on Friday reaffirmed its plan to conduct a $500 million accelerated stock buyback later this year. It reduced its revenue guidance for the fiscal second quarter, citing a recent softening in consumer demand amid decades-high inflation.

“Clearly the the consumer is under even more pressure today,” Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass told CNBC in a phone interview. “We’re not immune to that … but Kohl’s stands for value. And at times like this it’s more important than ever to amplify that message.”

She added that Kohl’s partnerships with Amazon and Sephora remain in place and part of the company’s longer-term strategy to win over new customers.

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“The conclusion of the board process was absolutely the right answer,” she said.

Kohl’s shares ended Friday trading down nearly 20% and at one point touched a new 52-week low of $27.65. Shares of Franchise Group ended the day down 7.5% and also touched a new 52-week low of $31.67 during trading.

Macellum didn’t respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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Exclusive: Sweetgreen's stock plummets after salad chain lowers forecast, announces layoffs and office downsizing – TalkOfNews.com

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Sweetgreen's stock plummets after salad chain lowers forecast, announces layoffs and office downsizing

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A worker wears a Sweetgreen Inc. hat while preparing food inside the company’s restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts.

Adam Glanzman | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of Sweetgreen plunged more than 20% in extended trading Tuesday after the salad chain lowered its 2022 forecast.

The restaurant company also said it laid off 5% of its support center workforce and will downsize to a smaller office building to lower its operating expenses.

As of Tuesday’s close, Sweetgreen’s stock has fallen 37% since its initial public offering in November.

Here’s what the company reported compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Loss per share: 36 cents, in line with estimates
  • Revenue: $124.9 million vs. $130.2 million expected

Sweetgreen sales softened around Memorial Day, leading the company to revise its forecast lower, CFO Mitch Reback said in a statement.

On the company’s conference call, executives attributed the slowdown to a number of factors, including “unprecedented levels of summer travel,” a slow return to the office and another wave of new Covid-19 cases.

In the quarter, ended June 26, Sweetgreen’s net sales rose 45% to $124.9 million. Its same-store sales climbed 16%, boosted by 6% menu price hikes.

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For the year, Sweetgreen now expects annual revenue of $480 million to $500 million, down from its prior forecast of $515 million to $535 million. The chain also revised its outlook for same-store sales, predicting growth of 13% to 19%, down from the previous projection of 20% to 26%.

“We think that it’s a conservative estimate, but looking back, we’ve just been wrong on so many of these calls,” Reback said on the call.

Moreover, Sweetgreen also changed its outlook for adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to a range of $45 million to $35 million, wider than its previous range of $40 million to $33 million.

But the chain explained the steps it’s taking to achieve profitability, including layoffs and reducing its real estate footprint by moving to a smaller office. Severance packages and related benefits are expected to cost the company between $500,000 to $800,000, while the office move will cost $8.4 million to $9.9 million. The charges are expected to impact its third-quarter results.

Sweetgreen reported a second-quarter net loss of $40 million, or 36 cents per share, wider than a net loss of $26 million, or $1.55 per share, a year earlier. The company blamed an increase in stock-based compensation for its increasing losses.

Read the full earnings report here.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Sweetgreen’s previous forecast for its same-store sales growth.

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Exclusive: Egyptian startup Convertedin raises $3M, caters to e-commerce brands in MENA and Latin America – TalkOfNews.com

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Egyptian startup Convertedin raises $3M, caters to e-commerce brands in MENA and Latin America

#Egyptian #startup #Convertedin #raises #caters #ecommerce #brandsin #MENA #Latin #America

Convertedin, an Egyptian startup that operates a marketing operating system for e-commerce brands, has raised $3 million in a seed round led by Saudi Arabia-headquartered Merak Capital.

Other participating investors include 500 Global and MSAS. The company, in a statement, said it plans to utilize the funds for strategic hiring and further development of its platform.

When brands shift to e-commerce sales, they operate with vast amounts of fragmented data that need to be unified to drive informed decisions and growth. As such, platforms like Convertedin become essential because it caters to brands and businesses with one, some, or all of these objectives: drive personalized and scalable campaigns, convert customers, achieve measurable results and grow revenue.

CEO Mohamed Fergany founded the company with Mohamed Atef and Mustafa Raslan in 2019 after working with several brands in companies such as Speakol Ads and Vodafone. His time as an employee opened his eyes to the opportunity of helping offline stores retarget and retain their customers online while finding new ones to shop at their stores offline.

“If you walk into IKEA and they take your phone number down. After that, our engine works to find a similar product you might buy and we retarget you online. If you went back to IKEA for that product, we can calculate the cost of online conversion,” the chief executive said in the interview. “This was the main idea at this time as we saw a huge problem where there was no analytics platform for the offline store or a retargeting mechanism.”

As the pandemic hit and offline stores were forced to close their doors, many of these brands turned to e-commerce, and as a result, Convertedin took its business online too.

Fergany argues that though online brands use CRM software to gather data, they do not utilize most of it. So Convertedin offers a solution where they can use their data best. It plugs into more than 10 major e-commerce platforms and ad networks — and brands, once connected, can place customers into different segments such as high- and low-value and categories like those looking for specific products and use these insights to create personalized multi-channel marketing and drive various campaigns on social media, SMS, email, search and other channels while having the ability to track and attribute revenue conversion.

Convertedin says SMB e-commerce marketers that use its platform increase their return on ad spend (ROAS) by 2x and reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC) by 40%. So far, the company partners with media buying and advertising agencies and works with over 100 local and multinational brands across Africa, the Middle East and South America in the automotive, healthcare and technology industries. Convertedin’s revenues from these businesses have been growing in “double-digits” month-over-month, Fergany said.

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The three-year-old Egypt-headquartered company also has offices in Saudi Arabia and Brazil; it just recently opened one in the latter. The South American market is enormous, with e-commerce revenues reaching $160 billion by 2025 from over 200 million users. As a result, Convertedin plans to make its services available in Portuguese — in addition to English and Arabic — for brands in Brazil and also Mexico, another South American market. Fergany also said Convertedin is eyeing South Africa and India too.

“We focus on emerging markets and if you look at it from healthy unit economics, we can sell easily in those countries because there is low competition there,” said the CEO on the expansion to five new markets, including Saudi Arabia. “And customer acquisition cost is low compared to the U.S. or Europe markets.” The new investment will help Convertedin with this expansion in addition to R&D and hiring.

In a statement, Ahmed Aljibreen, partner at lead investor Merak Capital, addressing his firm’s investment, said the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing platforms adds a new layer of challenges for e-commerce companies — and that Convertedin solves that. Hence, the reason why Merak Capital backed the firm. “We are excited to back Convertedin, a martech company that has built a state-of-the-art platform to simplify digital marketing, improve customer acquisition and drive growth for its clients. Convertedin is led by a world-class team in which we have tremendous confidence as the company embarks on its next stage of growth in MENA and Latin America.”

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Exclusive: Serena Williams announces her retirement from tennis – TalkOfNews.com

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Serena Williams announces her retirement from tennis

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Tennis legend Serena Williams announced her retirement in a Vogue article published Tuesday.

“I have never liked the word ‘retirement,’” Williams wrote. “Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is ‘evolution.’ I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”

Williams, who turns 41 next month, has 73 career singles titles, 23 career doubles titles and over $94 million in career winnings.

Williams is widely hailed as one of the greatest athletes of all time. In her Vogue piece, she noted that some of her detractors point out that she hasn’t won the most Grand Slam titles in women’s tennis history, however. 

“There are people who say I’m not the GOAT because I didn’t pass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the ‘open era’ that began in 1968,” Williams wrote. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record.”

She said she will retire after the U.S. Open, which will run from late August into September. A victory there would tie her with Court’s Grand Slam record.

“I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try,” Williams wrote about the tournament, which is played in Queens.

She has counted sponsorships from companies including Nike, Audemars Piguet, Away, Beats, Bumble, Gatorade, Gucci, Lincoln, Michelob, Nintendo, Wilson Sporting Goods, and Procter and Gamble.

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“I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” Williams wrote. “If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family.”

Williams focused on her family in the announcement, writing that her nearly five-year-old daughter wants to be an older sister. Williams is married to Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian.

“I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks,” Williams wrote in an Instagram post Tuesday.

Professionally, she looks to expand Serena Ventures, a small investment firm of six people that was one of the first investors in MasterClass. Her firm raised $111 million in outside financing this year.

Williams wrote that only 2% of venture capital goes to women and that “in order for us to change that, more people who look like me need to be in that position, giving money back to themselves.”

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