Retail

Retail Pulse: True Food Drives Menu Innovation, LVMH Agrees To Buy Tiffany & Co

True Food Kitchen

Restaurants that are driving food innovation with carefully chosen ingredients focused on health are seeking funding to help power their growth. True Food Kitchen, in one case, has created its menu around recipes that Dr. Andrew Weil inspired with anti-inflammatory ingredients and is mulling raising new private capital, Bloomberg reported.

Its sales increased 22.3 percent in the United States in 2018 to $167 million per Technomic data. That growth came out ahead of the restaurant industry as a whole, which experienced 3.6 percent sales growth last year. The firm has 41 units that are open or in development. And True Food is opening its first juice as well as cocktail bar next year in Las Vegas to be known as True Bar. The company also already counts Oprah Winfrey as a backer.

The restaurant company and majority shareholder Centerbridge Partners is talking with advisers about looking for new equity per the report, which cited unnamed sources. True Food Chief Marketing Officer Shannon Keller said in an emailed statement, according to the report, “I can confirm that we’re raising capital as we continue to grow our restaurants.” A Centerbridge spokesperson would not offer a comment per the outlet. Winfrey invested in the restaurant company last year and also has a board seat.

After visiting True Food Kitchen, Winfrey decided to seek out CEO Christine Barone to discuss further collaboration. “I love bringing people together over a good meal,” Winfrey said in a statement per past reports. “When I first dined at True Food Kitchen, I was so impressed with the team’s passion for healthy eating and, of course, the delicious food, that I knew I wanted to be part of the company’s future.” (Restaurant data firm Fishbowl also placed True Food Kitchen at No. 1 on its list of the top 10 emerging restaurant brands of 2018.)

Beyond True Food Kitchen, other restaurant innovators are seeking growth via funding. In the fast-casual world, quick-service salad restaurant sweetgreen raised $150 million in a new funding round co-led by D1 Capital Partners and Lone Pine Capital per reports in September. It has been disrupting the U.S. restaurant market with its food platform by rethinking the customer experience and addressing the pain points people face when seeking nutritious, fast meals.

From sweetgreen to True Food Kitchen, restaurant innovators are seeking growth to provide diners with meals focused on health and wellness. 

In Other Brick-and-Mortar News

LVMH has reached an arrangement to purchase Tiffany & Co. for $16.2 billion or $135 a share in cash with a move that will enable greater access to luxury consumers in the U.S. The boards of LVMH and Tiffany approved the deal, and the transaction is forecasted to close in the middle of next year, subject to approval from Tiffany’s shareholders and regulatory approvals.

LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault said per reports that the firm is looking “to develop this jewel with the same dedication and commitment that we have applied to each and every one of our Maisons.” The company noted in a statement, per reports, that “the acquisition of Tiffany will strengthen LVMH’s position in jewelry and further increase its presence in the United States.”

In other news, Best Buy Co. notched another quarter of rising sales, and management provided a more upbeat forecast for the holiday season than it did over the summer. The result came with a 15 percent rise in domestic eCommerce sales. The electronics retailer has been using its brick-and-mortar locations to fill eCommerce deliveries as well as contend with Amazon.

Its comp sales increased 1.7 percent from a year ago, which was at the top end of its revised forecast, and include results from stores open 14 months, websites and call centers. The retailer reduced its sales as well as profit targets in August, noting the impact of U.S. tariffs on goods made in China.

The United States had imposed tariffs on headphones and televisions beginning on Sept. 1, while laptops, as well as cell phones, are set to have tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15. The merchant noted that higher tariffs on items from China did not have a material impact on its results. Still, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said the merchant did increase prices of some items due to the tariff increases.

And online brands are expanding into brick-and-mortar as traditional mall merchants go under. One example is UNTUCKit, which started as an online men’s clothing store and grew into a global brand. “Opening in a mall is great for our brand because the customer gets a much stickier experience, and your long-term value grows,” Founder Chris Riccobono said per reports.

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.

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