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Report: Toys R Us to close 200 stores; Nestlé in talks to end pricing dispute

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Report: Toys R Us to close 200 stores; Nestlé in talks to end pricing dispute


* Toys R Us is planning to close 200 more stores and lay off more employees as it seeks to reinvent its business and emerge from bankruptcy, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Internal documents reviewed by the Journal showed that employees were told that "there are no severance benefits being provided for the store-closing process" after sales underperformed over the holidays. Sources told CNBC that Toys R Us' performance during the holiday season may also result in the retailer's inability to satisfy the terms of a $3.1 billion loan agreement, which could force it into liquidation.

* Food manufacturer Nestlé SA is negotiating with several European retailers to end a boycott of its products due to a dispute over pricing, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the food company. The report also noted that buying group AgeCore, which represents supermarket chains Edeka and Intermarché, stopped taking orders for the Swiss food group. According to a report by RetailDetail, Belgian retailer Colruyt, also a member of AgeCore, has removed 18 Nestlé products from its stores.


* Italy's securities regulator ordered Compagnie Financière Richemont SA-owned RLG Italia to suspend its voluntary public tender offer to buy all shares of YOOX Net-A-Porter Group SpA. The Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa asked e-commerce company YNAP to provide financial data still due to be approved by its board March 6, resulting in the offer being deferred by not more than 15 days beginning Feb. 21.


* Department store operator J.C. Penney Co. Inc. will launch Obsess, a clothing collection promoted by U.S. Olympian Laurie Hernandez that caters to teenage girls, on Feb. 26. Products will be available in 500 of its outlets beginning March 2.


* Online travel company Priceline Group Inc. is changing its name to Booking Holdings, trading on Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol BKNG beginning Feb. 27. Priceline Group CEO Glenn Fogel said the rebranding aligns the company with its largest brand,, which averages over a million bookings per day and accounts for a majority of the group's operating profit.


* Household products maker Henkel AG & Co. KGaA said it expected adjusted earnings per preferred share to increase by between 5% and 8% in 2018, reflecting uncertainties in currency markets, "especially the U.S. dollar trend." In the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017, Henkel reported that adjusted earnings per preferred share rose 6.3% year over year to €1.35, up from €1.27 in 2016 and ahead of the S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate of €1.31.

* British Prime Minister Theresa May is "bracing" for Unilever Plc choosing the Netherlands over the U.K. for its unified headquarters when the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant holds its board meeting in March, the Financial Times reported. U.K. officials reportedly have held talks with Unilever, which has head offices in London and Rotterdam, and they have not "lost all hope" of losing out to the Netherlands. However, it quoted one British official as saying: "It wouldn't be a great surprise if it happened."


* Activist investor Barington Capital Group LP, which represents a group of Bloomin' Brands, Inc. shareholders, called for spinning off into a separate entity the restaurant operator's smaller brands, including Bonefish Grill and Carrabba's, and a restructuring of its management and board. In a letter to Bloomin' Brands Chairman and CEO Elizabeth Smith, the hedge fund manager expressed concerns over the dining chain's performance, recommending measures to improve long-term profitability.

* Multinational dairy cooperative Fonterra Co-op Group Ltd. will communicate with its suppliers in New Zealand to source milk products with A2 type of beta-casein protein for The a2 Milk Company Ltd, or a2MC, as part of a new partnership. Under the agreement, Fonterra will exclusively sell a2MC's products in New Zealand, while also supplying the infant formula maker with milk powder products to distribute in new markets in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.


* New York-based supermarket operator Tops Markets LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a financial restructuring strategy that it hopes will remove a substantial portion of debt from its balance sheet. Tops, which has 169 stores and about 14,000 employees across the U.S., said it received commitments for a $125 million term loan from noteholders and a $140 million loan from Bank of America NA, which are expected to support its current operations.

* Walmart Inc. will roll out "over the coming weeks" a revamped online home-products shopping portal to include new styles and personalized design ideas, which will be followed by a redesign of the big-box retailer's website later in 2018.

* Walmart Inc.'s Canadian unit teamed up with online grocery service Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery to offer food delivery to customers in Vancouver through Food-X Urban Delivery beginning in the summer of 2018.

* Marc Lore, the e-commerce head at Walmart Inc., said he is "absolutely not" stepping down following the company's weak e-commerce growth figures in the fourth quarter, CNBC reported. Lore, founder of the Walmart-owned e-commerce portal Inc., reportedly added that trust between him and CEO Douglas McMillon "is building more" and that much work remains to be done with the company's portal redesign.


* Hong Kong-based cosmetics retailer Sa Sa International Holdings Ltd. will exit from Taiwan by March-end amid "persistently weak" sales, closing all of its outlets in the country and creating about 260 redundancies. Sa Sa, which failed to break even during its six years of operation in Taiwan, plans to redirect its resources to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Malaysia, as well as strengthen its e-commerce business.