retail watch | Feb 23, 2024 |
Beyond Inc.’s rosy outlook belies a dismal earnings report

For anyone who thought the resurrection of the fabled Bed Bath & Beyond brand by the erstwhile Overstock was going to be a glorious affair with instant success … I have a bridge to sell you.

In reporting positively negative financial results earlier this week, Beyond Inc. (the new corporate name for Overstock) is telling anyone who will listen that the best is yet to come. It is reviving the Overstock closeout business, has appointed CEOs for each of its two brands, and is doubling down on operations to maximize efficiency so it can return to profitability and see dramatic growth going forward.

The report is a fascinating example of corporate misdirection: Don’t look at the bad numbers over there—focus your attention on the promise of better things over here. (In fact, this stunt was practiced regularly during the final dark days of the original Bed Bath & Beyond … and we know how well that worked out.)

Beyond Inc. will need more than a few magic tricks to make all of this work. Less than a year after buying the Bed Bath & Beyond brand name and intellectual assets, it seems to be in the middle of a major rebuild rather than the build-out everyone thought would be happening by now.

The man leading the effort is Marcus Lemonis, a Lebanese-born businessman who came to fame as a reality TV star. After appearances on Celebrity Apprentice and Secret Millionaire, Lemonis became the star of a series called The Profit, which saw him turning around broken small businesses—only to end up entangled in a lawsuit when some of those companies later accused him of fraud (Lemonis won the suit in arbitration).

Lemonis’s new Beyond Inc. title is executive chairman, but without a company-level CEO, he is clearly calling the shots on how Beyond will fix itself. That repair job will need to start with its balance sheet. Reporting its fourth-quarter and final fiscal-year results, Beyond said overall sales were off nearly 19 percent for the year, from $1.92 billion to $1.56 billion.

The Q4 numbers, which included the BBB revenue that wasn’t there in 2022, had a modest decline of 5 percent, but the bottom line was more depressing than the overall year, with losses increasing nearly tenfold, totaling $308 million compared to $35 million the prior year. The company did say the number of customers shopping its site went up 9 percent year-over-year, the one speck of good news amid all of the bad.

Lemonis, understandably, was not thrilled to be reporting these numbers, saying the company was “dissatisfied” and “assessing options related to the portfolio to ensure maximum return for our shareholders.” It already plans to relaunch the Overstock closeout site, with a target date toward the end of March, focusing on furniture and decorative accessories as well as jewelry and beauty, all of which were mainstays of the brand before it was shut down as part of the transition to the Bed Bath branding. BBB will now be centering itself on bedding, bath, kitchen and table, which were the core of its former business.

Beyond these measures, it’s unclear exactly what Lemonis meant by a portfolio reassessment. What was clear, however, is that he is most certainly in charge. In fact, as mentioned above, he seems to have gotten another promotion, now to executive chairman, up from his previous title of plain old chairman.

And there doesn’t seem to be much discussion of a new Beyond Inc. chief executive even as CEOs were named for Overstock (former Beyond Inc. interim chief Dave Nielsen) and Bed Bath & Beyond (Chandra Holt, late of Conn’s and before that Walmart and Target).

Lemonis, who told investors on a conference call that he is focusing now on cleaning up both companies’ lists to better target Beyond Inc.’s customers as well as its cost structure, also set a very ambitious growth plan, projecting the company would do $2 billion in fiscal 2024 and $3 billion the following year. That would represent a doubling of its current revenues, a high goal to achieve.

“I did not join this company to be a peddler of products on the internet,” he told Wall Street on the call. “I joined this company because I am 100 percent confident we can turn this company into the triple-A of the home business.”

Wall Street, in the meantime, is still taking a wait-and-see attitude. After an initial spike in its share price earlier in the week, Beyond Inc. settled back down and continued to stay essentially flat over the past month or so.

If Lemonis is indeed a prophet of profits, this is going to be some reality show.


Warren Shoulberg is the former editor in chief for several leading B2B publications. He has been a guest lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business; received honors from the International Furnishings and Design Association and the Fashion Institute of Technology; and been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other media as a leading industry expert. His Retail Watch columns offer deep industry insights on major markets and product categories.

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