A man enters a Bed Bath & Beyond store on October 01, 2021 in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images
Bed Bath & Beyond is removing one of its private labels, Wild Sage, nearly a year after the company made an aggressive push into specialty brands, known at the time as the linchpin of its turnaround strategy.
A spokesperson for the home goods retailer confirmed that the brand is being discontinued.
The move is likely the start of major changes for Bed Bath and its business approach as it seeks to reverse declining sales, please active investors and win back buyers. The retailer has run into inventory and supply chain problems, initially missing hundreds of millions of dollars from sales due to out-of-stock items, and more recently, warehouses and store shelves overflowing with unwanted products.
Bed Bath is also looking for a new leader, when the board announced in late June that CEO Mark Tritton and chief business officer Joe Hartsig had left the company. Its chief accounts officer also left in June.
In a statement to the company, Bed Bath & Beyond said the private label — which it calls a “proprietary brand” — “has a place in our assortment.”
“Customer feedback has been positive, and we are very pleased with the strength of several proprietary brands, such as Simple Essentials, to provide that starting price point,” the company said. “At the same time, we recognize that our customers want a better balance of ownership and national brands, and are making necessary changes to the assortment to improve the customer experience and drive sales and traffic.”
Bed Bath said it will provide further updates to its strategy this month. Its spokesperson did not say whether the company was looking to phase out other private brands.
Private labels became a central part of Tritton’s vision and a major part of Bed Bath’s stores. Triton, a Target veteran, joined Bed Bath in 2019 and created a playbook similar to the one used by the cheap chic retailer. He oversaw the decline of stores and the introduction of bedding, kitchen supplies and more that couldn’t be found anywhere else.
Bed Bath launched nine private labels in the spring of 2021. One of them was Wild Sage, a brand that company as described “Stylish, eclectic, free-spirited bedding, decor, furniture, bath products and table linens made for young adults (and the young at heart).” The first collection launched in June 2021, just in time for the back-to-college season.
Yet some shoppers found the new brand names disorienting — and less appealing. Instead of seeing big displays from big-name national brands, they saw displays of bedding, furniture, and plateware under a name they didn’t recognize.
Same-store sales for the Bed Bath & Beyond banner declined 27% in the most recent quarter ended May 28.
Following the company’s most recent earnings report in late June, interim CEO and board member Sue Gove said the company’s sales results “did not meet our expectations.”
Jason Haas, a retail analyst at Bank of America Securities, said the retailer alienated its customers by moving too quickly. It also phased out its popular 20% off coupon, a move it has since reversed.
“If they rolled out those brands at a more measured pace and layered them [with national brands] And the customer became a little more familiar seeing them on the shelf, it would have been more successful,” he said.
In addition, he said, bed baths eased supply chain issues related to the pandemic. Nearly every retailer faced congested ports and a lack of trucking, but private label merchandise tends to last longer since it’s produced and shipped from overseas. Haas said national brands have merchandise they can store more quickly than US warehouses.
There are signs of the end of Wild Sage on Bed Bath’s website. Its merchandise is available at deep discounts, including tie-dye robes for $7, marked down from the original price of $35, and 16-piece terracotta dinnerware sets for $16, up from the original $80. is below. Many other Wild Sage items are out-of-stock after listing for up to 90% off.
As Bed Bath has for more national brands, however, it can run into a different kind of problem. Sellers may be reluctant to work with a retailer or request advance payment because company coffers quickly dry up.
Bed Bath reported approximately $108 million in cash and equivalents as of May 28, down from $1.1 billion a year earlier. Its net loss widened to $358 million in 2021 from a loss of $51 million in the same period.
For now, the company is able to attract its current $1 billion asset-based revolving credit facility from JPMorgan Chase, according to quarterly filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
As of May 28, Bed Bath said it owed $200 million under debt.
Still, analysts expect the home goods retailer to need more cash to season its turnaround.
Bed Bath’s chief financial officer Gustavo Arnal said in a June conference call that the company still had “substantial liquidity” with its credit facility, and that it had consulted advisors from Berkeley Research Group as well as financials to seek additional capital. Consultants were also included.
“There are avenues we are exploring to further increase our liquidity and navigate through the working capital cycle, particularly over the next two quarters, given the seasonality of our business,” he said on the call.