Bed Bath & Beyond, the beleaguered retail chain that is in the midst of an attempted turnaround, said on Wednesday that Sue Gove would officially assume the title of chief executive after four months as an interim in the role.
Ms. Gove has been an independent director for the company since May 2019. She became the interim chief after Mark Tritton stepped down and left the company following several quarters of declining sales. The company’s stock has tumbled 65 percent since the start of the year.
Now, Ms. Gove will assume the task of reviving Bed Bath & Beyond’s fortunes.
Following the announcement of a restructuring plan in August, the company is in the process of closing 150 of its big-box stores, from New Jersey to California. Roughly 70 store closures are already underway, and another wave will begin soon. It has laid off employees and, where possible, transferred workers from stores that are closing to others nearby. It is trying to ease some of its supply chain pains by adding a new regional distribution center and working with a third-party company to analyze its network.
On Tuesday, the company completed an at-the-market offering program for 12 million shares, and authorized a new $150 million at-the-market offering, in order to increase liquidity. It also has a bond exchange program that it hopes will reduce its debt. In August, the company said that it had taken out more than $500 million in new financing.
“There is a tremendous amount of work in every aspect of the business,” Ms. Gove said in an interview. “We’re truly in a turnaround mode.”
Some analysts have said the cost-saving efforts by Bed Bath & Beyond are not enough.
The company’s customer base has strayed to other retailers and now it is trying to revitalize the brand at a time when consumers may be pulling back on how much they are spending on goods. The retail chain made its mark as a go-to destination for college students decorating their dorm rooms and homeowners sprucing up their kitchens and bedrooms. But in recent years, it was slow to implement the kind of digital offerings that other retailers used to attract shoppers. In its latest quarter, sales declined 28 percent.
Before Ms. Gove assumed the interim chief executive role, she led the committee to examine the strategy for the company’s BuyBuy Baby stores. Bed Bath & Beyond decided to hold onto its baby business during the restructuring it announced in August.
With the crucial holiday season approaching, Ms. Gove must reassure vendors about Bed Bath & Beyond’s financial health, especially because the retailer’s new merchandising strategy includes stocking more national brands. She said the company was having regular conversations with vendors around payment terms.
“Without question there are challenges around credit limits and things like that, so we work very closely with suppliers to make sure that we are focused on our in-stock position,” Ms. Gove said. “That is one of the most important measures that we’re identified around — making sure that we’re in stock for the holiday season with the products that our customers will be excited about.”
The company is still without a permanent chief financial officer following the death of Gustavo Arnal last month. Laura Crossen, who has been with the company for more than 20 years and is also the chief accounting officer, has been the interim chief financial officer. The company said that it was still in the early stages of the search process and didn’t expect changes in the “immediate term.”
For now, Ms. Gove said Bed Bath & Beyond would keep working on the plan it laid out to investors in August.
“We’re going to drive for greater operating efficiency,” she said. “That’s what’s going to drive our success.”