Bed Bath & Beyond, the beleaguered Big Box home furnishings chain, will open five to ten test stores next month that will showcase its new merchandising strategy to board members, investors and customers.
That’s according to a number of vendors of home products who say they have been asked to supply product for the stores, which will be retrofitted versions of existing outlets, not new locations. Bed Bath has not announced the test and the company did not respond to a request for comment or confirmation on this report.
Details on these test stores are sketchy at best right now. Presumably they will include a much heavier preponderance of national brands and well-known merchandise as opposed to the store brands BBB had been focused on under the leadership of former CEO Mark Tritton. Interim CEO Sue Gove has said the retailer will be scaling back those owned brands in favor of more branded merchandise going forward.
Vendors said they were asked to supply products for delivery to anywhere between five and ten stores – it varied by supplier – by November. Several specifically said these stores would be used to show board members the direction the retailer intends to proceed in, seeking a vote of confidence. Several of the board members were supported by activist investors who were responsible for wholesale changes in management three years ago that led to the ouster of its previous CEO, founders and eventually virtually the entire C-suite of the company. When Tritton’s new strategy failed, compounded by massive supply chain problems and a downturn in the entire home business in the post-Covid-shutdown period starting earlier this year, many of those new management hires also left the company.
It is unknown where these test stores will be located although one can assume at least some will most likely be near company headquarters in North Central New Jersey. The retailer has previously tested new concepts at stores in that region, including in Watchung, about 45 minutes west of Manhattan. Nor is it known how these stores will be promoted to consumers or if in fact they will be acknowledged at all outside the company.
Many retailing companies will test new formats on an ongoing basis, but the challenge for Bed Bath will be that it is operating with severely diminished cash reserves and efforts to roll out any successes of these stores will face serious funding issues. Gove has said initial efforts to remake the store’s merchandising make-up have met with good receptions, even limited positive comp-store sales.
For BBB, the challenge will be to take whatever it can from these test stores and spread them to as many additional locations as possible before its cash runs out. It is a very big challenge.