Bed Bath & Beyond (BBB) has everything you need to play "house" for real. It's the nation's #1 superstore domestics retailer with about 1,000 BBB stores throughout the US, Puerto Rico, and Canada. The stores' floor-to-ceiling shelves stock better-quality (brand-name and private-label) goods in two main categories: domestics (bed linens, bathroom and kitchen items) and home furnishings (cookware and cutlery, small household appliances, picture frames, and more). BBB also operates three smaller specialty chains: about 70 Christmas Tree Shops; 65 buybuy BABY stores; and 45 Harmon discount health and beauty shops. The home goods retailer bought its smaller rival Cost Plus for $495 million in cash in 2012.
Beyond the US, the domestics retailer is growing in Canada and Mexico. BBB opened its first international store in Richmond Hill, Ontario, in 2007 and now has more than 25 stores in several Canadian provinces. It also has a joint venture with Mexican retailer Home & More. BBB anticipates the joint venture will be a springboard for future growth in Mexico.
Sales & Marketing
The company relies primarily on word-of-mouth to boost sales and the mailing of advertising pieces. In fiscal 2012 (ends February) BBB reported a relative decrease in advertising expenses ($192.5 million in 2012 vs. more than $198 million in 2011) resulting from a reduction in the distribution of advertising pieces.
Beyond its main BBB chain of 1,000 stores, the company operates 258 stores under the names World Market, Cost Plus World Market, and World Market Stores banners. It also operates 70-plus Christmas Tree Shops, about 70 buybuy BABY shops, and more than 45 stores under the names Harmon and Harmon Face Values.
In fiscal 2012 (ends February) sales increased more than 8% vs. the prior year, after growing more than 12% in the previous annual comparison. Same-store sales (generally considered the best indicator of a retailer's health) increased by 6% in fiscal 2012, compared with an increase of nearly 8% in fiscal 2011. Net income increased by 25% and 31% in fiscal 2012 and 2011, respectively. Indeed, the company has no long-term debt and is looking to make strategic acquisitions.
The retailer's decentralized structure allows store managers to have more control than their peers at other retailers (and the company has less manager turnover). BBB cuts costs by locating its stores in strip shopping centers, freestanding buildings, and off-price malls, rather than in pricier regional malls. To cut costs further, its vendors ship merchandise directly to the stores, eliminating the expense of a central distribution center and reducing warehousing costs. The chain relies exclusively on circulars, mailings, and word-of-mouth for advertising.
BBB is reaping the benefits from its former archrival Linens 'n Things' demise and the sustained strong rebound in demand for home goods following the recent deep recession. To capitalize, BBB is growing organically and through acquisitions. In 2012 it bought Cost Plus, which operates nearly 260 stores in 30 states under the World Market, Cost Plus World Market, and Cost Plus Imports banners. The acquisition followed an 18-month partnership between the two chains, during which specialty food departments were added to some BBB stores. BBB is looking to boost foot traffic and fend off online and discount retail competitors, by adding food and drink to its merchandise menu. (About 40% of Cost Plus sales come from food and drink.) The tender offer for the shares of Cost Plus was completed in late June. Also in June, the retailer acquired New Jersey-based Linen Holdings, a privately-held distributor of bath, bed, and table linens, for about $105 million. Linen Holdings' customers include hotels, cruise lines, food service establishments, and health care operators.
The investment firms Davis Selected Advisers and FMR LLC both own about 10% of BBB's stock.