retail watch | Jun 22, 2023 |
Overstock takes over Bed Bath & Beyond

In the end—and this is the end—Bed Bath & Beyond, the business, proved to be far less popular than Bed Bath & Beyond, the place to shop for home products.

Court papers filed Thursday morning confirm that Overstock, the online-only retailer that has moved to a home-centric strategy over the past two years, is purchasing Bed Bath & Beyond’s intellectual property. That includes the brand name, the website and assorted other digital bits and pieces, including, presumably, the architecture behind all of those once-ubiquitous blue coupons that turned up in American households on a regular cadence.

While there had been speculation about other potential buyers—from branding companies to financial lenders to private equity firms—Overstock’s initial offer of $21.5 million ended up being the lone bid. (Some other companies were named as backup bidders for specific components of Bed Bath & Beyond’s business: South Korean apparel brand Jowa is the backup for Wamsutta sheets and towels; travel and hospitality software brand Ten Twenty Four is the backup for the website.)

Although Overstock is currently in the process of acquiring most of Bed Bath & Beyond’s IP, what it’s not buying is just as important. It will not take any of Bed Bath & Beyond’s 360 remaining stores, which are running going-out-of-business sales under the aegis of third-party closeout specialist Hilco Global and will presumably actually go out of business perhaps as soon as next week, but likely by July at the latest.

The sale also does not include the BuyBuy Baby division, for which there will be a separate auction on June 28. It has been reported that several parties are interested in this unit, including at least one that plans to keep all or some of its stores open.

CNBC has called BuyBuy Baby the “crown jewel” of the once-mighty retailer, which, at its peak in 2017, had some 1,500 stores across multiple nameplates with annual revenues over $12 billion. Its market cap was once more than $17 billion, a far cry from the (relatively) tiny figure of $137 million it reached this week.

There is a certain irony in Overstock becoming the owner of Bed Bath & Beyond’s brand name, since the retailer was known for its massively overstocked stores, crammed with thousands of products stacked floor to ceiling. Overstock has never operated stores, and while it originally positioned itself as a place where shoppers could find manufacturer overruns and excess goods, like most off-pricers, it has moved away from that merchandising strategy.

Whether Overstock will operate Bed Bath & Beyond as a separate business or only as a landing page redirecting shoppers to its own site remains to be seen. As with most final days for many once-great and much-loved retailers, the Bed Bath & Beyond and BuyBuy Baby conclusions are sad codas to stories that didn’t have to end this way.

Homepage image: ©JHVEPhoto/Adobe Stock


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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