The billionaire investor who revealed a 10% stake in GameStop last year, helping set into motion one of the strangest stock frenzies Wall Street has ever witnessed, is now looking to shake things again with another popular — but totally different — retailer.
Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. rose earlier this week by nearly 40% after Ryan Cohen — the 36-year-old co-founder of pet-supplies retailer Chewy and current chairman of GameStop — disclosed that he has a 9.8% stake in the houseware chain through his investment firm.
Here’s a look at the company’s stock price (BBBY) over the past month.
Cohen has taken on the role of an activist investor, which is when an individual buys a significant stake in a publicly traded company (in this case, Cohen’s investment arm RC Ventures is now reportedly a top-five shareholder in Bed Bath & Beyond) in order to influence directly how the company is run.
In a letter sent to Bed Bath & Beyond, acquired by the Wall Street Journal, Cohen outlined a number of steps for the company to consider. He was especially critical of top executives earning excessive compensation (a reported $36 million in the last fiscal year) while the company was foundering.
The retail chain that sells towels, bedding and kitchenware has been liquidating stores during the pandemic, confirming at the start of 2022 it would be closing nearly 40 more stores in 19 states. As part of its turnaround plan, the company added several private labels, like Our Table, a kitchen and dining ware brand, home brand Wild Sage, and a storage and organization line called Squared Away.
But Cohen says that Bed Bath & Beyond needs to do more and should consider selling itself to a private equity firm and spinning off its Buybuy Baby chain. In the letter, Cohen states that Bed Bath & Beyond “is struggling to reverse sustained market share losses, stem years-long share price declines and navigate supply chain volatility.”
Bed Bath & Beyond responded to the letter with its own statement: “Bed Bath & Beyond’s Board and management team maintain a consistent dialogue with our shareholders and, while we have had no prior contact with RC Ventures, we will carefully review their letter and hope to engage constructively around the ideas they have put forth.”