retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  The Boston Globe reports that "the lead attorney in the class-action lawsuit against Whole Foods over the grocery store’s decision to discipline employees who wore Black Lives Matter face coverings is ripping the company for 'falsely attacking' one of the plaintiffs in the case."

After the suit was filed, a Whole Foods spokesperson went public with comments that "Savannah Kinzer - a former employee at the chain’s River Street location in Cambridge who was fired over the weekend after organizing protests against the policy - was fired for 'not working her assigned shifts, reporting late for work multiple times in the past nine days and choosing to leave during her scheduled shifts' … The company, which is being sued for alleged discrimination and retaliation, emphasized that no employees were fired for wearing a Black Lives Matter mask. Kinzer is the only Whole Foods employee involved in the action who has been fired."

Shannon Liss-Riordan, the labor lawyer representing Kinzer and 13 other plaintiffs in the case, tells the Globe that "their decision to retaliate against employees expressing support for this racial justice movement was bad enough, but their efforts to disparage an amazing activist and leader are beyond the pale … We look forward to making our argument in federal court."

Obviously, I have no idea if Kinzer was fired for legitimate reasons, or if this is retaliation.  But from a business point of view, this just seems both off-brand for Whole Foods, and the wrong hill to die on.  


•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "Brooks Brothers Inc. reached a deal with Sparc Group LLC - the venture created by Authentic Brands Group LLC and mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. - to sell the company for $305 million.

"Sparc’s offer will be subject to higher and better bids due by Aug. 5 and has been designated as the 'stalking horse,' setting a minimum for others to beat. The company has set a deadline of Aug. 11 to complete a sale to a buyer.  Sparc has also committed to keeping 125 of the company’s stores open."


•  Bloomberg reports that "Ascena Retail Group Inc., owner of the Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant clothing chains, will close more than half its stores and hand control to its lenders after the Covid-19 pandemic tipped the debt-laden retailer into bankruptcy.

"The court filing on Thursday is the latest among U.S. retailers that have been pushed over the edge by shutdowns tied to the outbreak. The Chapter 11 action allows Ascena to avoid a permanent shutdown, cut its borrowings and close weak stores to minimize costs."