The Current, delivered daily.
Welcome to Dealboard. In this weekly feature, The Current is providing a look at the mergers, acquisitions and venture capital deals making waves in ecommerce, CPG and retail.
This week, athletes invest in recovery footwear, and Estée Lauder backs a fragrance startup. Plus, L'Oréal will acquire Aesop, and Authentic Brands Group is adding a stable of recognizable action sports labels to its portfolio.
Here’s a look at the latest deals:
Derek Carr invested in Oofos. (Courtesy photo)
Oofos brings on athletes for investment round
Oofos, a footwear brand specializing active recovery, closed a new growth investment round.
The round was led by NFL quarterbacks Derek Carr and Alex Smith, and basketball coach Dawn Staley.
Designed to absorb impact on the ankles for athletes during recovery, Oofos is set to release a new OOmg Sport later this month.
"I have been wearing OOFOS for several years and have never had footwear maximize my recovery time while away from the field-of-play like OOFOS," said Carr, in a statement. "I'm confident in the brand and its ability to get me to the next level in my sport, especially during my newest career move to New Orleans. I'm proud to invest in the company's future for other athletes."
The amount invested in the round was not disclosed.
Estée Lauder invests in Vyrao
Vyrao, a British fragrance brand, received a minority investment from New Incubation Ventures, the early-stage venture and incubation arm of The Estée Lauder Company.
Founded by Yasmin Sewell, Vyrao has six unisex fragrances, and espouses the benefit of “energetic healing.”
The investment comes as Vyrao is aiming to ramp up marketing ahead of plans to launch a new fragrance in May. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Gen Phoenix for recycled leather
Gen Phoenix, which produces recycled leather, raised $18 million in a new funding round.
The financing was led by venture capital firm Material Impact, with participation from Dr. Martens, InMotion Ventures, the investment arm of Jaguar Land Rover, and Tapestry.. The funding round also includes existing investors ETF Partners and the Hermes GPE Environmental Innovation Fund.
With the deal, Material Impact Operating Partner Paul Deninger will become chairman of the board at Gen Phoenix.
"At Material Impact we seek out transformational technologies that can have immediate or near-term impact on large-scale problems," said Deninger. "Gen Phoenix is in a category of its own when it comes to innovation, product performance, price parity, market traction and scale, all critical components for a business that aims to drive meaningful change in the next-gen materials space."
Two Boxes raises $4.5 million for easier returns
Two Boxes, a returns processing platform, raised $4.5 million in seed funding.
Vinyl Capital led the round, with participation from Matchstick Ventures and Range Ventures.
The brand’s technology is designed for 3PLs and brands to process returns and get inventory back in stock.
“With our data-driven insights, brands can eliminate waste and increase operational efficiency across the reverse supply chain,” said Two Boxes CEO Kyle Bertin, in a statement. “Our software allows brands and their 3PLs to optimize their profit margins - ultimately turning returns into something they can benefit from, rather than a dreaded burden.”
Following the funding round, the company will grow its engineering team, release new products and expand into new markets. The company is set to enhance data analytics capabilities with an aim of increasing profitability and benefitting the environment.
Superaffiliate raises $3 million in seed funding
Superaffiliate, which creates co-branded landing pages between brands and their best customers or influencers, raised $3 million in a seed round.
The funding was led by Hawke Ventures and Vanterra Ventures, with participation from R2 Ventures, Revolution's Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Sandbox Studio Investments, Nik Sharma of Sharma Brands, Ben Zises, founder of Super Angel, and Jesse Pujji, founder of Ampush and Khahani, and Piersen Krass, founder of Lunar Solar Group.
Founded by Anders Bill and Andy Cloyd, the company said it transforms affiliate links and discount codes into personalized shopping experiences that drive sales and boost conversion. Creators, customers and ambassadors can send people to a landing page where they tell the brand story, curate products, and get paid for the sales they generate.
"With the rise of the creator economy and proliferation of short-form video, the way people discover products and shop has transformed entirely in the last five years, but the technology at a brand's disposal has not evolved in step,” Cloyd said. “We're building a platform native to new ecommerce paradigms that empower creators and help brands consolidate disparate tools into one easy-to-use app that is consistent with the brand aesthetic that merchants spend years crafting."
L'Oréal acquires Aesop
L'Oréal will acquire the beauty brand Aesop from Natura &Co. for $2.5 billion.
Founded in 1987, Aesop is a luxury beauty brand with products across hair, body, skin, home and fragrance.
Natura &Co. owned Aesop for 10 years. In that time, gross sales increased from $28 million to S$537 million, stores where the brand's products were available increased from 52 to 395 and the brand's geographic footprint grew from 8 markets to 29.
Aesop is the epitome of avant-garde beauty, whose products are not only made with great care and exceptional attention to detail; they are a superb combination of urbanity, hedonism and undeniable luxury," said Nicolas Hieronimus, CEO of L'Oréal, in a statement. "Aesop taps into all of today's ascending currents and L'Oréal will contribute to unleash its massive growth potential, notably in China and travel retail."
With the divestment, Natura &Co. said it will free up resources to focus on growth of other portfolio businesses such as Avon International and The Body Shop.
The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2023.
Authentic Brands Group acquires Quiksilver, Billabong owner
Boardriders, the parent of action sports brands such as Quiksilver, Billabong and Roxy, will be acquired by Authentic Brands Group from Oaktree Capital Management.
With the move, Boardriders will join a portfolio that includes Reebok, Airwalk, Volcom, Lucky Brand and Forever 21. The Boardriders brands generate a collective $2.9 billion in retail sales annually. It has a network of more than 500 owned retail stores, 7,000 wholesale accounts and ecommerce in 35 countries.
Ecommerce is a significant factor behind the deal.
“Along with the great brands and impressive global reach that will come with this acquisition, we see Boardriders’ potential as a thriving online marketplace under Authentic’s ownership,” said Jamie Salter, CEO of Authentic, in a statement. “With Boardriders’ proven retail playbook, we also see tremendous opportunities to accelerate the expansion of its shop-in-shops, branded retail stores, wholesale and e-commerce worldwide.”
Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter, were not disclosed.
Forma Brands acquired by lenders
Morphe owner Forma Brands was acquired by lenders to the company for $690 million following a bankruptcy filing earlier this year.
Jefferies Finance and Cerberus Capital Management acquired the company for the sum, which amounted to debt relief. The move comes after Forma closed all of Morphe’s U.S. stores and sold the assets of r.e.m. beauty to the singer and entrepreneur Ariana Grande.
SourceKnowledge acquired by mrge
SourceKnowledge, a CPC ad network for publishers, was acquired by commerce advertising platform mrge.
The deal will expand mrge’s reach into North America. SourceKnowledge uses SmartBidder technology to detect and reward converting traffic in real time. This allows web publishers to be compensated for audience and content curation, while providing brands and retailers a way to reach customers on the open web.
“Backed by Waterland Private Equity we focus on a buy and build strategy with the goal of achieving market leadership through strategic acquisitions and accelerating organic growth through synergies,” said Michael von Stern, CFO of mrge, in a statement. “SourceKnowledge is a natural fit as it offers a unique product suite and commitment to maximizing the open web – earning it a strong-hold on the North American market. Given SourceKnowledge’s publisher-first mindset and goal-based offerings for advertisers, there are clear synergies with our other entities and goals for global expansion.”
Trending in Economy
On the Move has the latest from Amazon, Lovesac and more.
This week, leadership is changing at GameStop, Sorel and Beautycounter. Meanwhile, key executives are departing at Amazon, Wayfair and Lovesac.
Here’s a look at the latest shuffles:
GameStop CEO fired
GameStop announced the termination of Matthew Furlong as CEO on Wednesday. A brief statement did not provide a reason for the firing.
With the move, Chewy founder and activist investor Ryan Cohen was named executive chairman of the video game retailer. Cohen will be responsible for capital allocation and overseeing management.
It came as the company reported a 10% year-over-year decline in net sales for the first quarter. Meanwhile, the company’s net loss improved by 62%.
In an SEC filing, GameStop further added this “We believe the combination of these efforts to stabilize and optimize our core business and achieve sustained profitability while also focusing on capital allocation under Mr. Cohen’s leadership will further unlock long-term value creation for our stockholders.”
Cohen was revealed as GameStop's largest shareholder when he disclosed a 10% stake in the retailer in 2020. GameStop went on to become a leading name in the meme stock rise of 2021.
Sorel president steps down
Mark Nenow is stepping down as president of the Sorel brand in order to focus on his health.
After rising to the role in 2015, Nenow spearheaded a transformation of Columbia Sportswear-owned Sorel from a men’s workwear brand to a fashion-focused brand that led with a women’s offering of boots, sandals and sneakers.
“Mark led the brand to sales of $347 million in net sales in 2022,” said Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, in a statement. “His leadership has been invaluable to this company, and we wish him the very best.”
Columbia will conduct a search for Nenow’s replacement. Craig Zanon, the company’s SVP of emerging brands, will lead Sorel in the interim.
Beautycounter appoints interim CEO
Beautycounter appointed board member Mindy Mackenzie as interim CEO, succeeding Marc Rey. According to the brand, Rey and the board “mutually decided to transition to a new phase of leadership for Beautycounter.”
McKenzie, a former executive at Carlyle, McKinsey and Jim Beam, will lead the company as it conducts a search for a permanent CEO. Additionally, former Natura & Co CEO Roberto Marques will join Beautycounter’s board as chair.
As part of the transition, Nicole Malozi is also joining the company as chief financial officer. She brings experience from Tatcha, Nike, and DFS Group Limited.
Amazon’s North America fulfillment chief departs
Melissa Nick, a VP of customer fulfillment for North America at Amazon, will leave the company, effective June 16, CNBC reported. Nick joined the company in 2014, and oversaw a region that included nearly 300 fulfillment centers. After doubling its supply chain footprint during the pandemic, Amazon recently reorganized its fulfillment operations to take a regional approach, as opposed to a national model that often resulted in items shipping across the country.
Wayfair’s chief commercial officer to retire
Jon Blotner (Courtesy photo)
Steve Oblak will retire from the role of chief commercial officer at home goods marketplace Wayfair. With the move, Jon Blotner will be promoted to chief commercial officer.
"Steve has served as a critical part of our leadership team and played a pivotal role in Wayfair's growth, helping us grow from a $250 million business when he joined to $12 billion in net revenue today,” said Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah, in a statement. “He oversaw countless milestones, from helping to launch the Wayfair brand as we brought together hundreds of sites into a single platform, to launching new categories, business lines, and geographies while overseeing our North American and European businesses, to leading our debut into physical retail.”
Blotner previously oversaw exclusive and specialty retail brands, as well as digital media at Wayfair. Before joining the company, he served as president of Gemvara.com prior to its 2016 acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway.
Lovesac announces CFO transition
Furniture retailer Lovesac said Donna Dellomo will retire as EVP and CFO, and move to an advisory role, effective June 30. Dellomo was with Lovesac for six years.
Keith Siegner was appointed as the next EVP and CFO. He brings experience as CFO of esports company Vindex, as well as executive roles at Yum! Brands, UBS Securities and Credit Suisse.
Additionally, Jack Krause will retire from the role of chief strategy officer, effective June 30. His responsibilities will be divided between CEO Shawn Nelson and president Mary Fox.
“Since joining Lovesac, Jack has played an instrumental role in transforming the Company into a true omni channel retailer by helping expand our physical touchpoints and digital platform as we continue to disrupt the industry,” said Nelson, in a statement.
NRF adds board members
The National Retail Federation announced the addition of five new board members. They include:
- Marguerite Adzick, founder and CEO, Addison Bay
- Harley Finkelstein, president, Shopify
- Ian Kahn, partner, PwC
- Sharon Leite, CEO, Ideal Image
- Carrie Tharp, VP, strategic industries, Google Cloud