Birchbox assets sold; Tempur Sealy acquires Mattress Firm for $4B
Dealboard has details on investment and M&A from eBay, Lolë and 8fig.
Photo by Haley Owens on Unsplash
Dealboard has details on investment and M&A from eBay, Lolë and 8fig.
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, eBay invests in a fashion rental marketplace, Tempur Sealy makes a vertical move with the acquisition of Mattress Firm and the assets of Birchbox are scooped up by a subscription specialist. Plus, there’s new funding for an ecommerce finance platform and sustainable fibers.
Check out the latest deals:
8fig, which provides AI-powered CFO technology to ecommerce sellers, raised $140 million in a Series B round.
The financing was led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT), with participation from existing investors Battery Ventures, Localglobe, Hetz Ventures, the Jesselson family, and Silicon Valley Bank, now operating as a division of First Citizens Bank.
In a blog post, 8fig said it will use the funding to invest in small and medium-sized ecommerce businesses, and add new features to its platform. The company’s technology provides funding, as well as financial tools for supply chain management, financial planning and logistics.
“The global macroeconomic challenges we are experiencing make it difficult for ecommerce business owners to access the resources they need to succeed,” said Yaron Shapira, CEO of 8fig, in a statement. “8fig is providing these online sellers with the financial support and tools necessary to thrive in any economic climate.”
To date, 8fig has provided ecommerce sellers with over $500 million, and increased annual revenue in 2022 by 800%.
Australia-based dress sharing platform The Volte closed a Series A financing round led by eBay Ventures, the VC arm of ecommerce marketplace eBay. The round closed at approximately $4 million AUD, according to the companies.
The Volte offers a designer fashion marketplace that allows users to rent items from their own wardrobes. It now has 70,000 dresses listed, and 300,000 monthly active users. Through an integration introduced last year, The Volte offers users a way to instantly list newly-purchased items for rental. In turn, designers can earn royalties when their items are rented.
Alongside the investment, eBay is entering a commercial partnership with The Volte that will make the items available through the marketplace.
Werewool, a brand that makes sustainable performance fibers, raised $3.7 million in seed funding.
The round was led by Material Impact and Sofinnova Partners.
The company will use the funding to develop its first product, which are protein fibers that can be spun into yarns.
Taking aim at microplastic pollution in the textile industry, Werewool is setting out to create fibers that can replace the need for petroleum-based raw materials, synthetic dyes and toxic finishing processes. The technology is co-patented between the Fashion Institute of Technology and Columbia University.
Werewool will also be expanding manufacturing capabilities, and growing the team.
The assets of beauty subscription service Birchbox were sold by FemTec Health, Inc. to Retention Brands.
Birchbox was acquired by FemTec Health in 2021 for about $45 million. At the time, FemTec signaled that it wanted to shift the business toward personalized health and wellness.
But earlier this year, FemTec said it engaged a consulting firm as it sought to sell “some of its non-core and underperforming assets.” Retention Brands, which acquires and invests in ecommerce businesses including subscription services, emerged as the winner of an open bidding process for the Birchbox assets.
This came after the Birchbox website was disabled, and customers complained of unfilled orders, Retail Dive reported in March.
Remaining assets of FemTec Health were acquired by Awesome Health. These include Mira AI, Liquid Grids, Nutrimedy, Awesome Woman and AvaScience-FMTC GmbH.
Bedding brand Tempur Sealy acquired mattress retailer Mattress Firm for $4 billion, the companies announced.
The vertical deal will give Tempur Sealy a network that now includes 3,000 retail stores, 30 ecommerce platforms, about 70 manufacturing facilities and four R&D facilities. Mattress Firm has 2,300 brick-and-mortar locations, as well as 6,200 retail sales associates.
Along with growing customer touchpoints, the deal will also expand Tempur Sealy’s U.S. omnichannel strategy, and bring more efficiency to both the customer purchase journey and supply chain.
The acquisition comes at a time when direct-to-consumer mattress brands such as Purple and Casper are making moves to expand in brick-and-mortar retail, both through wholesale and owned stores. Meanwhile, the home market is seeing more competition from specialty ecommerce marketplaces such as Wayfair, and category growth from mass retailers like Walmart, Target and Costco.
“Consistent with our M&A strategy, this acquisition will make Tempur Sealy more competitive by bringing us closer to consumers and facilitating continued innovation,” said Tempur Sealy CEO Scott Thompson, in a statement.
Apparel brand Lolë acquired époque évolution, a female-founded womenswear brand specializing in everyday essentials.
With the deal, époque évolution will join the Lolë family of products, which also includes athleisure, activewear and outerwear. The brands share a commitment to sustainability, as well as creating chic-yet-versatile designs.
Going forward, époque évolution products will be available at Lolë retail locations. The brands have plans to expand across North America and Europe through ecommerce and boutique retailers.
A key indicator of consumer demand is still running hot.
The U.S. economy continued to post job gains in May, even as the unemployment rate ticked up.
Data released for May 2023 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the following:
Employers added 339,000 new jobs this month. The gains crossed the 300,000-mark for the first time since January. That’s in line with the average of 341,000 jobs added over the last 12 months.
Retail employment remained relatively unchanged for the month.
The unemployment rate ticked up by 0.3 percentage points to 3.7%. It remains within the historically low range of 3.4%-3.7% seen since March.
Average hourly earnings rose by 11 cents, or 0.3%, to $33.44. Over the last 12 months, earnings have increased by 4.3%.
What it means for brands and retailers: The job market is a key indicator of consumer demand. If people have job stability, it means they are likely to feel more confident about spending. In the prior three months, there were signs that job gains were beginning to decelerate after months of growth over the last two years. But this report shows that the robust labor market remains intact. Even though unemployment ticked up to its highest point since October 2022, it is still historically low. When it comes to jobs, this was a bounceback month to the roaring upward trendline.
What it means for the Fed: As it has raised interest rates repeatedly over the last year in an effort to contain inflation, the Fed has focused on rebalancing the booming labor market as a key priority. This report doesn’t deliver the data that would show progress on that front, creating an environment where it could choose to raise interest rates that have the side effect of curtailing demand. Still, the Fed has maintained that it may pause the rate hikes when it meets later this month, and that option will remain on the table. The central bank has slowed down interest rate hikes in recent months, even as the labor market continued to show strength. The decision will likely be down to the wire, as key inflation data in the Consumer Price Index will arrive just as Federal Open Markets Committee members are gathering for their meeting on June 13.