Gymboree to close Crazy 8 stores and cut back namesake stores; names CEO
Just 14 months after it emerged from bankruptcy, Gymboree Group announced a “strategic review” and a major downsizing of its store fleet. It also named a new chief executive.
The children’s clothing retailer said it has initiated a comprehensive review of strategic options which could include a sale or other transactions for its Gymboree, Janie and Jack and Crazy 8 brands. The company also said it plans to close its value-oriented Crazy 8 stores and “significantly” reduce the number of Gymboree store locations in 2019.
Gymboree filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2017, and emerged later that year, in September, with about 350 less stores (giving it a total of about 380 locations) and new owners. It also cut its debt by some $1 billion.
In its statement announcing the restructuring, the company also revealed that, on November 18, Shaz Kahng, a member of the board since September 2017, was appointed CEO of Gymboree Group. She brings 30 years of retail leadership experience, and was instrumental in leading turnarounds of Lucy Activewear and various Nike business segments, according to Gymboree.
“The process we announced today is designed to reposition the company for success by establishing a brand portfolio and store footprint that is optimized for the current retail environment,” said Shaz Kahng, Gymboree Group CEO. ‘These strategic initiatives are an important next step as we continue to look for ways to unlock additional value in our brands. We are optimistic about our future as a more streamlined organization that can deliver enhanced, long-term value to its stakeholders.”
The retailer has been under heavy competition from Target and Walmart, both of whom have expanded their kids’ clothing offerings, and a reenergized The Children’s Place. In July, Gymboree announced it was rebooting its brand with new in-store and digital experiences. The re-boot also included a merchandise update.
Gymboree said that all its stores, including Crazy 8 stores will be open and fully stocked throughout the holiday season.
First Look: Walgreens-Kroger pilot store
Kroger Co. is setting up shop in Walgreens.
Walgreens and Kroger are partnering on a pilot that will bring a curated assortment of some 2,300 grocery products from Kroger into 13 Walgreens stores in northern Kentucky. The new “Kroger Express” branded department has launched in one location to date, in Florence, Ky., (photos above), with the remaining 12 pilot stores to come on board early next year.
The Kroger Express assortment runs the gamut from national brands to Kroger’s Our Brands private-label products to Home Chef meal kits. It also includes a selection of fresh produce and fruit, as well as dairy, meat and frozen items.
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Walgreens delves deeper into groceries with ‘Kroger Express’ in-store shops
Walgreens and Kroger Co. are expanding their fledgling partnership.
In October, the two retailers announced a partnership to sell grocery items from Kroger private-label line Our Brands at 13 Walgreens test stores in Northern Kentucky, near Kroger’s Cincinatti headquarters, and for customers to order Kroger grocery items online and pick up the goods at the test stores. The pilot is now being extended to include an initiative called “Kroger Express,” a branded section that will offer a curated assortment of 2,300 grocery products in the 13 Walgreens test stores.
The assortment will include Home Chef meal kits, national products and Kroger’s Our Brands private label line. The products, which range from dairy and meat to produce and frozen items, will be selected using customer data and insights provided by Kroger subsidiary 84.51. The first store to feature the Kroger Express concept is open in Florence, Kentucky, with the remaining 12 pilot stores to come on board early next year.
“We are excited to enter the next phase of the pilot,” said Robert Clark, Kroger senior VP of merchandising. “The Kroger Express concept creates easy access to our most popular Our Brands products through a fill-in grocery shopping experience for Walgreens customers, and our Home Chef Express meal kits provide customers with an on-demand solution for tonight’s dinner.”
In addition, the two retailers announced that Walgreens has made Home Chef Express meal kits available in 65 Walgreens locations in the Chicago area. During the pilot, Walgreens will offer three unique Home Chef Express meal kit options, with recipes rotating bi-weekly. (Kroger purchased Home Chef in spring 2018.)
“Customers have responded favorably to the retail meal kits at our Mariano’s stores in the market and other Kroger Family of Stores located in different cities,” Clark said. “The Walgreens expansion provides more Chicagoans convenient access to a quick, simple meal.”