GameStop Chairman Ryan Cohen Wants To Revitalize Another Struggling Retailer
Ryan Cohen is a tech entrepreneur and investor who has garnered clout lately. He founded Chewy, an online pet food retailer, in 2011 and sold it for $3.4bn in 2017. Flush with cash from the sale, he turned towards investing in tech companies. Among his early bets was Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), where he disclosed having shares worth over half a billion dollars in 2020.
In September 2020, Cohen also disclosed a near 10% stake in GameStop (NYSE: GME), a struggling video game retailer, becoming its largest individual shareholder. Unlike with Apple, that investment came with Cohen pushing for major structural and business changes, ala activist investing.
Cohen successfully pushed for significant changes at GameStop, mainly to switch its focus toward e-commerce. He was appointed the company’s Chairman in 2021 to help steer its e-commerce strategy leveraging on his experience as the founder and former CEO of Chewy.
- Now, Cohen has his eyes on another struggling retailer similar to GameStop. He has disclosed a 9.8% stake in Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ: BBBY), a houseware products retail chain. He purchased the stake through his investment firm RC Ventures.
Cohen revealed his stake in a public letter addressed to Bed Bath & Beyond’s directors. In the letter, he argued that the retail chain’s growth strategy wasn’t appropriate, causing it to underperform rival retailers. He cited Bed Bath & Beyond underperforming the S&P Retail Select Industry Index by 58% into the two-and-a-half-year tenure of its latest CEO, Mark Tritton.
Cohen also called out Tritton’s compensation of $27mn since he assumed the CEO role as excessive compared to the returns Bed Bath & Beyond has delivered to shareholders during his tenure.
- Cohen is pushing for significant changes at Bed Bath & Beyond, just like with GameStop. He said the company needs to narrow its product focus and build up a proper inventory in the current supply chain-constrained environment.
- Cohen also implored Bed Bath & Beyond to consider other strategic options, such as a sale to a well-capitalized career or spinning off its buybuy Baby baby products retail chain to unlock more value for shareholders. Notably, buybuy Baby has extensive e-commerce operations along with its 100+ physical stores across the US and Canada.
In response to Cohen’s letter, Bed Bath & Beyond said it had no prior contact with RC Ventures but will “carefully review their letter and hope to engage constructively around the ideas they have put forth.”
Cohen’s investment brought fanfare from other investors, mainly on the retail side. Bed Bath and Beyond’s stock rose 34% on Monday, giving it a market capitalization of $2.1bn.
- Cohen is a patriarch of the “meme stock” investing movement. He has a massive following from retail investors, mainly from the popular forum Reddit. Such popularity helped him turn a $76mn GameStop investment into a stake worth nearly a billion dollars currently.