The Weekly Closeout: Target to launch ‘Bet on Black’ startup pitch competition

It’s been another week with a lot more retail information than there is time in the day. Below, we break down some things you might have missed over the week and what we’re still thinking about.

From a pet David Hasselhoff Chia to what Neiman Marcus thinks of ecommerce divisions, here is our close of the week.

What you might have missed

Target co-creates a series of competitions for black-owned startups

Target announced on Wednesday that it launch a series of contests featuring 12 black-owned startups dubbed “Bet on Black”. The retailer will provide mentorship and total funding of $ 500,000.

Participants will present their ideas to four judges, including music artist T-Pain, costume designer Zerina Akers, radio personality and record producer DJ Envy, and Melanie Gatewood-Hall, Target’s main merchandising division in clothing and accessories. Target has teamed up with media platform Revolt to co-create the series that airs on January 10.

Supported by Walmart Symbolic is preparing for an IPO via a Sponsored by SoftBank After-sales service

Last July, Walmart announced that it was extending its partnership with a robotics and automation company Symbotic in more than half of its regional distribution centers.

Then this week Symbolic announced that he is become public via an ad hoc acquisition company by merger with SVF Investment Corp. 3, which is sponsored by an affiliate of SoftBank Investment advisers. The combined company will operate under the Symbolic name and will appear on Nasdaq with the ticker “SYM.” The merger is expected to be finalized in the first half of 2022 and is expected to generate gross proceeds of $ 725 million. The deal gives the company a pro forma net worth of $ 5.5 billion.

Former J. Jill CEO called on to lead Janie and Jack

Premium children’s clothing brand Janie and Jack, acquired earlier this year by Gap Inc.’s Go Global Retail branded investment platform, has selected veteran retailer Linda Heasley as CEO, according to an emailed press release.

Heasley previously served as CEO of several leading clothing brands, including The Limited, Lane Bryant and J. Jill, as well as the Honey Baked Ham Company, and remains managing director of mobile app developer Downshift, according to the document. LinkedIn page.

Janie and Jack CEO Linda Heasley

Courtesy of Janie and Jack

Gap Inc. bought the two-decade-old brand, which offers sizes from newborn to teenage, in 2019 for $ 35 million when parent company Gymboree went bankrupt, only to sell it two years later. Janie and Jack operate 117 stores and a website. Almost all of its sales are made in the United States, with “a strong interest developing in the Middle East, the United Kingdom and Europe”, according to the press release.

The company is in the process of upgrading various aspects of its technology in its pursuit of growth, Heasley said in a statement. “We aspire to grow our unified commerce platform to deliver the best customer experiences across all engagement channels.” Heasley said.

Nike signs first varsity athlete to sign sponsorship deal

Nike announced this week that Reilyn Turner, a sophomore with the UCLA women’s football team, will be the retail giant. first university athlete sponsorship after a Supreme Court ruling this summer, and subsequent rule changes by the NCAA, allowed players to monetize their name, image and likeness. Turner was the Pac-12’s Freshman of the Year in 2020 and finished this season with 10 goals, according to Nike.

Reilyn Turner is Nike’s first student sports sponsor.

Courtesy of Nike

Nike is teaming up with Turner to work with Los Angeles-based community partners, and the retailer has said more broadly that its deals with student athletes in the United States will have an element of giving back to their local communities.

“As a black and American woman of Mexican descent, I think of those who paved the way for me and how they have used their platforms to create so much change, even beyond sport,” said Turner in a statement. “I hope to be a role model for those around me and those after me, and I’m so excited to be a part of what Nike brings to the future of women’s sport.”

Bark adds REI as final wholesale partner

Further developing his wholesale presence, Bark added REI as a retail partner. The company – which operates BarkBox and Super Chewer subscription services, as well as wellness brand Bright and meal delivery service Eats – last week started selling select products in REI stores and online. , according to Modern Retail.

The collaboration builds on Bark’s growing list of business partners, including Amazon and Target. Entering physical retail to some extent, whether through pop-ups, permanent stores or with wholesale partners, has become essential for many DTC brands as the marketing costs associated with acquiring customers exclusively online become prohibitive.

In his last trimester, Bark reported net sales increased by 39.1% to $ 120.2 million, while its advertising and marketing expenses increased 31.8% to $ 17.1 million.

2021 has been a busy year for Bark. The company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in June. following a merger with special purpose acquisition company Northern Star Acquisition Corp.

But Bark also saw a reshuffle of his C-suite: CFO John Toth announced in September that he would be resign from his role. The company also named Anil Nair, who most recently served as Amazon’s director of global logistics, to the supply chain manager; Michael Novotny, who was the COO of Bark, to President of Bark Eats; and Olly Downs, from Zulily, as vice president of data, analytics and machine learning.

Retail therapy

Don’t Hassel the Hoff with your chia problems

Courtesy of Chia Pet

Do you want to be the talking point of your white elephant holiday party? Then you absolutely must get a David Hasselhoff Chia Pet.

The company freshly published The Hoff Chia Pet, and also advertises a lovely character set that includes WILLIE FREAKIN NELSON and a kid from a little-known TV show called “The Mandalorian”.

You know the exercise: it is a terracotta planter. You put seeds in it. And in less than two weeks, you’ve made your way to a home or office centerpiece. You can find Chia Pets at many major retailers like Walgreens, Walmart, Target, and Amazon.

Here’s a Chia Pets commercial from the 90s because I know you’ll want to sing the song.

Oh, dip. They also have Pennywise the Clown. I just watched this in the middle of the report and am amazed. They also have Elvira, RuPaul and Richard Simmons. What a time to live.

What we still think about


How much is it November retail sales has grown year on year among the Core Group Retail Dive tracks. Compared to 2019, sales are up 26.7%.

All sectors tracked recorded gains compared to a year ago: clothing up 42.3%, sporting goods (25%), household goods (23.8%), general merchandise (15, 1%), e-commerce (10.8%) and electronics (9.4%).


It’s the decline in seasonal hires across the retail industry this holiday season compared to last year, according to figures from Challenger, Gray & Christmas. In total, the company forecast that retailers would hire 700,000 workers this holiday season, up from 736,000 in 2020.

The drop in hiring comes as sales are expected to increase considerably compared to last year. The industry as a whole has flagged labor shortages as a constraint on operations. Among the unemployed, the main reasons given to explain their unemployment were physical health problems (30%), mental health (15%) and the need to take care of one’s family (12%), according to one. recent McKinsey poll.

What we watch

Neiman Marcus CEO dismisses idea of ​​e-commerce spin-off

If Neiman Marcus ends up considering a split in its e-commerce and brick-and-mortar business, that would apparently be against the wishes of its CEO.

CEO Geoffroy Van Raemdonck drew a line in the sand on Wednesday, contrasting his strategy of integrating his online and offline activities with the approach of rival luxury department store Saks Fifth Avenue. This company, along with HBC siblings Saks Off 5th and Hudson’s Bay Co., split their operations online and offline earlier this year. “It’s not … for us”, Van Raemdonck said in comments emailed to the press.

If the retailer is under any pressure to take such a step, Van Raemdonck did not imply it. But that wouldn’t be a surprise, given that the financial-friendly maneuver is being launched by investors from other department stores, including Macy’s and Kohl’s. After what many observers saw as a setback at Macy’s, the department store said last month it hired the same company Saks hired to organize its split to explore alternatives for growth.

However, growth won’t necessarily be the result, according to several industry watchers.

“For the brand, divestiture is problematic,” retail consultant Brian Kelly said via email, noting the difficulties in maintaining consistency in assortment and pricing or managing core needs like returns. “For the buyer, this may be questionable. For the shareholder, the divestiture may be the best approach to achieve acceptable rates of return on investment. Net, net, it’s a nuisance, but in itself, activist shareholders should not distract the brand direction too much. “

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