Friday, August 16, 2019

Retail closures more than double openings

Retail Dive
Major retailers this year have announced 7,567 store closures as of July 31, according to the latest tracking information from Coresight Research. That is up from 5,524 closures in all of 2018, according to the report, which was emailed to Retail Dive.

Most affected are apparel specialty stores, which so far have announced 2,750 closures — 36% of the total, compared to 14% of 2018's closures. Footwear stores represent 28% of this year's announcements (8% last year) and general merchandise stores 14% (2% last year). Food retailers have announced just 23 closures.. . . more

Mall-based candy retailer files for bankruptcy; locked out of some stores

Chain Store Age
Things are not so sweet these days for Lolli & Pops.

Declining mall traffic and overexpansion have caught up with the San Francisco-based retailer, with parent company Mishti Holdings LLC filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on August 13. Prior to the filing, the company closed its 10 stores operating under the Candyopolis banner. (Lolli & Pops’s e-commerce site was shut down earlier this year.). . . more

Dillard’s Q2 loss widens; to close three stores

Chain Store Age
Department stores woes continued as Dillard’s posted a much wider second-quarter loss than expected.

The department store retailer reported a net loss of $40.7 million for the quarter ended Aug.3, compared with a loss of $2.9 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue fell to $1.427 billion from $1.468 billion in the year-ago period. Same-store sales fell 2%.. . . more

Fast-food sales grow but with fewer customers

AdAge
From McDonald’s Corp. to Wendy’s Co., America’s biggest restaurant chains are serving up exactly what Wall Street is hungry for this summer: Robust sales combined with little or no tariff exposure. But peer deeper, and the outlook isn’t so rosy.

That’s because the growth has been rooted in higher prices—not necessarily new customers. Traffic has been flat or falling across the industry as U.S. consumers cut back on eating out in favor of dining on the couch. Unless restaurants can reverse this trend, the recent gains could be fleeting.. . . more

Amazon HQ is getting a new store: Inside the tech giant’s new ‘4-star’ shop in its hometown

GeekWire
The windows outside the ground floor of Amazon’s new re:Invent tower in Seattle are carefully blocked, shielding the bustling activity inside from public view. Stepping through multiple layers of black curtains reveals a crew of roughly 30 people scrambling to put the finishing touches on the latest Amazon 4-star store.

This is the scene less than 48 hours before the tech giant will open its fourth Amazon 4-star store — the first in its hometown of Seattle — the company’s newest brick-and-mortar concept that carries a rotating inventory of highly rated items and local favorites. With the store set to open Thursday morning, GeekWire got an early tour and some insight into the concept.. . . more

Walmart Wins In Q2 With Digital Strength Carrying The Day

Forbes
Walmart had a powerful one-two punch in Q2; the strength of its digital sales combined with quick delivery boosted sales and earnings in the second quarter of 2019. Domestic comparable sales increased by a very solid 2.8%, and e-commerce revenues grew by a whopping 37%. These astonishing results confirm the consumer’s trust in the company and validate that management’s drive to serve customers more efficiently are just what’s needed.

Total global revenues in the quarter were $130.4 Billion. This is an increase of $2.3 Billion. The strength of the company is its domestic Walmart operation, which reported sales of $85.2 Billion. That is 65.3% of total sales.. . . more

PREIT’s Joe Coradino Weighs in on the State of Regional Malls

NREI
It’s extremely clear that shoppers’ preferences are changing and those retailers and malls that can’t adapt are treading water or worse.

U.S. regional malls have struggled as anchor department stores like Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s have shuttered locations. However, some landlords—including Philadelphia-based PREIT—see these closures as an opportunity to recapture spaces and backfill them with higher-performing users. . . . more

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Retail sales surge in July in a reassuring sign for the U.S. economy

MarketWatch
Sales at U.S. retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy posted the biggest increase in July in four months, a sign Americans are still confident in the economy even as headwinds pick up.

Retail sales increased 0.7% last month, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.3% increase. . . . more

Planet Fitness finds opportunity in big-box failures

NHBR.com
The increasing failure of big box retailers is contributing to the success of Planet Fitness, which is opening gyms at a record clip, but investors are worried about the fitness franchise’s long-term stamina.

The Hampton-based fitness chain opened up 53 stores in a particularly strong quarter that ended June 30 when it comes to for both revenue and profits, the company announced last week in an earnings release.. . . more

Bonchon adds execs as it ramps up for expansion

Restaurant Business
Bonchon has aggressive growth plans, with a goal to add an additional 500 U.S. units in the next seven years. The chain, which first opened in the U.S. in 2006, currently has 93 domestic stores.

Flynn Dekker, formerly Wingstop’s CMO, was appointed to lead the chain last month.. . . more

Francesca’s completes review; to go it alone

Chain Store Age
Francesca’s has completed its review of strategic alternatives and there are no big changes in store — at least for now.

Early this year, the struggling young women’s apparel and accessories retailer announced a strategic review, whose options included a possible sale. But on Tuesday, the company announced that it had completed the review and believed the interest of its shareholders were best served “at this time” by focusing on the execution of its turnaround plan. . . . more

J.C. Penney shrinks Q2 loss despite 9% sales drop as CEO Jill Soltau says 'we are rebuilding a business'

The Dallas Morning News
J.C. Penney reported a narrower-than-expected loss on Thursday, but its sales drop of 9% was bigger than forecasts as CEO Jill Soltau said the Plano-based department store made progress.

For the first time since joining Penney in October, Soltau offered guidance for the rest of the year, saying Penney will end 2019 with positive cash flow and earnings before interest and other taxes in the range of $440 million to $475 million. The decline in same-store sales is expected to be in the range of -7% to -8%. . . . more

Amazon returns helped boost Kohl's traffic a staggering 24%, data shows

Insider
Foot traffic to Kohl's stores is soaring since it started accepting Amazon returns at its stores nationwide last month, according to the location data advertising firm inMarket.

Shopper visits to Kohl's stores rose nearly 24% in the three weeks after the program launched, compared to the previous three weeks, data from inMarket showed.. . . more

Walmart beats sales expectations, boosts guidance

Yahoo Finance
Walmart beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines for its second quarter. The world’s largest retailer also boosted its fiscal 2020 adjusted EPS and same-store sales forecast. 

Walmart now predicts that U.S. same-store sales growth will be at the high end of its previously guided range between 2.5%-3%. Adjusted EPS is now expected to either increase or decrease slightly this year. Walmart was previously anticipating a low single-digit decline including the impact of its Flipkart transaction.. . . more

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Avenue to close all its stores, sources say

Retail Dive
Women's apparel retailer Avenue plans to close all of its stores in the coming weeks, employees were told Friday in a conference call.

The company has not publicly announced its plans to close, but employees were told of the liquidation during the call and instructed not to accept customer returns or sell gift cards. . . . more

Trader Joe’s leads entire retail industry in customer satisfaction

Chain Store Age
Less-than-stellar service is contributing to a decline in overall customer satisfaction across retail, but some retailers are bucking the trend.

That’s according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report, in which customer satisfaction with retail declined for the second consecutive year, with the overall sector slipping 0.9% to 77.4 on ACSI’s 100-point scale. . . . more

The four types of food halls

Chain Store Age
So you’re a longtime tenant in a mall or lifestyle center and you’re pleased to find out that the landlord is planning to install a food hall. But what kind of food hall will it be?

A new report from JLL, “So You Want to Build a Food Hall,” states that these new-age culinary attractions come in four types: . . . more

Giant is opening a two-level flagship store in Center City Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Giant Food Stores will be opening a two-level urban flagship store in downtown Philadelphia as part of the company’s growth in the city, company president Nicholas Bertram said in an interview.

The 65,000-square-foot store will open in PMC Property Group’s “River Walk” development project on the Schuylkill River’s eastern bank. This store at 60 North 23rd Street will be in Riverwalk’s Tower 1, the first of the two towers under development.. . . more

Macy's sinks as poor spring season hits profit

Reuters
Macy’s Inc. cut its full-year earnings forecast on Wednesday after missing estimates for quarterly profit for the first time in at least two years, as it discounted heavily to clear spring inventory, sending its shares down 17%.

The department store chain, whose flagship building in Manhattan is a major attraction for tourists, blamed a bigger-than-expected decline in tourist spending for the shortfall along with weak demand for its own-brand women’s sportswear.. . . more

The Rise of the Virtual Restaurant

New York Times
Food delivery apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub are starting to reshape the $863 billion American restaurant industry. As more people order food to eat at home, and as delivery becomes faster and more convenient, the apps are changing the very essence of what it means to operate a restaurant.

No longer must restaurateurs rent space for a dining room. All they need is a kitchen — or even just part of one. Then they can hang a shingle inside a meal-delivery app and market their food to the app’s customers, without the hassle and expense of hiring waiters or paying for furniture and tablecloths. Diners who order from the apps may have no idea that the restaurant doesn’t physically exist.. . . more

The 2019 sales tax holiday is this weekend. Here's how much it cost the state in 2018

Boston Business Journal
Businesses and consumers in Massachusetts are gearing up for the annual sales tax holiday that arrives this weekend, when the state will forego millions of dollars in revenue in an effort to drive economic activity.

The two-day tax suspension, set for Aug. 17 and 18, will allow shoppers to avoid paying the 6.25 percent sales tax on most retail items — excluding food and drink at restaurants — less than $2,500.. . . more

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Rite Aid names new CEO

Retail Dive
Rite Aid Corp. on Monday announced that Heyward Donigan has been appointed chief executive officer and a member of the board, effective immediately. John Standley will step down from the CEO role, according to a company press release.

Donigan has 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry, most recently as president and CEO of Sapphire Digital (formerly Vitals), which develops platforms to help consumers choose healthcare providers, the company said.

With this move, Rite Aid joins rivals CVS and Walgreens in emphasizing its healthcare offer over its retail.. . . more

Amazon is looking to open a brick-and-mortar liquor store in San Francisco

Business Insider
Amazon has applied for a license to open a liquor store in San Francisco selling beer, wine, and spirits.

The storefront would allow consumers to buy alcohol directly from the business, and also give the company a location from which they could deliver alcohol to Prime Now customers in San Francisco. Applications for the liquor license and for approval to open a brick-and-mortar business are still pending with the city and the state of California.. . . more

Analysts expect a less-than-merry holiday season for department stores

NREI
Christmas is more than four months away, but analysts at Credit Suisse already have a warning for investors in department stores: don’t be surprised if they start trimming their outlooks next week.

There’s “mounting evidence” that stores have “significantly lowered their inventory receipt plans ahead of holiday 2019,” analysts led by Michael Binetti wrote in an Aug. 8 note. “Expect a wave of lowered guidance” next week as companies including Macy’s Inc., Dillard’s Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. report results.. . . more

Empty Storefronts Jolt NYC Council into Action on Small Business

NREI
In New York City, big businesses like Amazon and Google are adding space. It’s the small ones local politicians are worried about, with vacant storefronts taking up as much as 20% of some retail areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn.The City Council passed a law last month requiring landlords to register the status of their retail space, with updates when businesses come and go. The council said it enacted the law after having seen “a slew of beloved local establishments across the city closed amid skyrocketing costs.”. . . more

Why do we Chinese love coming to America? Shhh! It's the shopping.

USA Today
Shopping may be the No 1. reason Chinese visitors like myself love America.

Sure, there's the culture, the sightseeing and, in my case, the work I'm doing. But deep down, we also relish the opportunity to get great deals on products that would be unavailable, too expensive or less reliable in China. Coming to the Washington, D.C., area – and to New York City for 10 days – from Tianjin has been like entering a shopper's paradise.. . . more

Dick’s Sporting Goods now a clothing clearance outlet

The Journal Times
Walk into Dick’s Sporting Goods these days and you may notice something missing: sporting goods.

A former Dick’s near Racine, WI recently changed to Dick’s Sporting Goods Clearance Outlet, selling only clothing and footwear. A store associate said by phone that the changeover began in May, and this is one of three such clearance outlets in the company.. . . more

Can a British bookseller save Barnes & Noble?

Boston Business Journal
James Daunt, the man who will soon try to revive Barnes & Noble, once spent weeks in a noisy, arm-waving debate about the ideal angle of tilt for bookstore shelving. His opponent was an Italian showroom designer who argued, in a series of otherwise congenial meals in some of London’s best restaurants, that the shelf should be tilted 4 degrees.

Wrong, countered Daunt. The right answer is 3 degrees. Yes, the cover of a book catches a bit more light, and attention, if tilted at 4 degrees, especially on shelves below eye level. But the spine of a book starts to bend, ever so slightly.. . . more

Monday, August 12, 2019

KeyPoint Partners releases Southern New Hampshire report

Boston Real Estate Times
KeyPoint Partners, LLC has released The KeyPoint Report for Southern New Hampshire 2019, Bob Sheehan, Vice President of Research, announced. This comprehensive retail real estate Report examines supply, occupancy, absorption, and retailer expansion and contraction for virtually every retail property in the region.. . . more

Bloomingdale’s becomes first department store to….

CSA
A new player is jumping into the subscription apparel rental market.

Upscale department store retailer Bloomingdale’s, a division of Macy’s Inc., will enter the fray in mid-September with the launch of “My List at Bloomingdale’s,” reported Women’s Wear Daily. The service will kick-off in mid-September with an assortment that includes hundreds of women’s apparel items — from dresses and denim to sweaters and outerwear — from more than 60 brands, with more than 100 exclusive pieces.. . . more

Rite Aid names CEO

CSA
Rite Aid Corp. has appointed a healthcare veteran as its CEO. She is the second female CEO in the chain’s history.

Rite Aid named Heyward Donigan as CEO and a member of the board, effective immediately. As planned, John Standley will step down from his role as chief executive in connection with her appointment. (Mary Sammon served as CEO of Rite Aid from 2003-2010.). . . more

Foot Locker is opening more massive ‘Power’ stores across US—and it’s teaming with Nike to do it

CNBC
Foot Locker is teaming with Nike as it rolls out bigger, more interactive stores.

These so-called Power stores are four times as big as a typical Foot Locker store in malls. The newest will open Saturday in New York — in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The retailer plans to open upwards of 50 Power stores over the next three years. It has three in the U.S. today: one in Detroit and two in Philadelphia. . . . more

Nantucket opens its first pot shop

Boston.com
Nantucket’s first pot shop is up and running.

The Green Lady Dispensary opened Sunday on an appointment-only basis on the Massachusetts island after receiving approval to operate from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. . . . more

Friday, August 9, 2019

J.C. Penney at risk of delisting

CSA
J.C. Penney has received notice from The New York Stock Exchange.

The struggling department store retailer announced it received notice on August 6 that it is no longer in compliance with the NYSE’s listing criteria. The criteria requires listed companies to maintain an average closing share price of at least $1.00 over a consecutive 30 trading-day period. Penney, which last closed at $1.00 on June 6, has six months from receiving the notice to regain compliance with the requirement . . . more

Gap Inc. in big renewable energy deal

CSA
Gap Inc. has entered into one of the largest offsite renewable energy contracts by an apparel retailer to date — one that addresses the specific needs of its leased sites. . . . more

Under Armour Q2 mixed as sales continue to fall at home

CSA
Under Armour reported mixed second-quarter results amid a year-long sales decline in North America that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

The athletic apparel company had a net loss of $17.3 million, or 4 cents per share, in the quarter ended June 30, compared to a loss of $95.5 million, or 21 cents per share, last year. Analysts has expected a loss of 5 cents per share. . . . more

Barneys’ Last Stand: Foreign Students, ‘Value’ Rents Make Boston A Safe Bet For Luxury Retail

Bisnow
The luxury retailer plans to close 15 stores in some of the country's strongest markets, like Chicago, Las Vegas and Seattle, as part of its restructuring. But Barneys in Boston's Copley Place mall is going the other route and beefing up its presence with the luxury chain’s high-end restaurant, Freds, also found in its stores in Beverly Hills, Manhattan and San Francisco. . . more

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Vitamin Shoppe to be acquired

CSA
The Vitamin Shoppe is being acquired by a company that is undergoing a strategic transformation. Liberty Tax will acquire The Vitamin Shoppe, which operates 750 stores, in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $208 million. Under the terms of the deal, Vitamin Shoppe shareholders will receive $6.50 per share, which represents a premium of 43% to its closing share price of $4.54 on August 7, 2019. . . . more

The Village at Burlington Mall Announces Next Round of Personal Services, Retail and Restaurant Concepts

Boston Real Estate Times
Simon, a global leader in premier shopping, dining, entertainment and mixed-used destinations, announced that The Village at Burlington Mall will welcome the next round of personal services, retail and restaurants in the coming months as part of Burlington Mall’s redevelopment of the property.. . . more

NOODLES & CO. PREPS FOR ‘MEANINGFUL UNIT GROWTH’

Restaurant Business
Noodles & Co., which has maintained a steady number of units for the past couple of years, is ready to explore “meaningful unit growth,” with plans to add a significant number of stores beginning in 2021, company executives said Tuesday. . . more

A'gaci files Ch. 11

Retail Dive
Women's fashion retailer A'Gaci on Wednesday filed under Chapter 11 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas San Antonio Division, with the intention to "close and wind down all of its brick and mortar store locations." As of Wednesday, the retailer operated 54 retail stores, according to court documents. . . . more

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Barneys files for bankruptcy; will close most stores

CSA
Barneys New York filed for bankruptcy protection with a plan to shrink its store footprint as it looks to find a buyer to breath new life into its struggling operations.

As part of the plan, the 96-year-old fashion-forward luxury retailer will shutter its stores in Chicago, Seattle and Las Vegas and Seattle, along with five smaller format stores and seven Barneys Warehouse locations. . . . more

Perkins & Marie Callender’s close 29 restaurants amid bankruptcy filing

NRN
Perkins & Marie Callender’s Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection and closed 29 Perkins Restaurant & Bakery and Marie Callender’s restaurants, the company said in a statement released Monday.. . . more

Anytime Fitness Targets Growth In Rochester and Buffalo, NY

SGBMedia
Anytime Fitness recently announced plans to introduce more than 25 new gyms in targeted areas throughout New York with a specific focus on the markets of Rochester and Buffalo.

The community-focused brand will ramp up growth through strategic franchise partnerships and aims to open the new locations within the next three years.

Currently, there are 34 Anytime Fitness locations open throughout the state. Three additional Anytime Fitness gyms are slated to open soon: Ossining (September 2019), Saratoga Springs (November/December 2019) and New Rochelle (date TBD). . . . more

Steak n Shake Closures: Burger Chain Closes 106 Restaurants

IBT
Indianapolis burger chain, Steak n Shake, has announced that it has closed 106 restaurant locations since the beginning of 2019 with 67 of these closures occurring in the second quarter. The announcement was made during Biglari Holdings Inc.’s (BH), the parent company of Steak n Shake, Q2 earnings call.

The decision to close the restaurant was made as Steak n Shake faces reducing customer traffic at its locations, which have fallen to 307 locations by the second quarter of the year, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported. The company said that 103 of the closures are “temporary” as the restaurant chain has plans to reopen the locations under a new “franchise partnership” program, according to the news outlet. . . . more

Sprouts opening new locations, stores sales still stagnant

Meat + Poultry
Efforts by Sprouts Farmers Market to expand its footprint in new markets yielded positive results. The retailer opened six stores with the addition of two new states during the second quarter. New stores in both new and existing markets performed better than the company expected, said Lawrence P. Molloy, interim chief financial officer and director at Sprouts Farmers Market, during an Aug. 1 conference call with analysts.. . . more

Walgreens to close 200 U.S. stores

CSA
Walgreens Boots Alliance is reducing its footprint in the United States by about 3%.

In an SEC filing, the drug store operator said it plans to close about 200 U.S. stores, for which it expects to record related pre-tax charges of between $1.9 billion and $2.4 billion. Earlier this summer, the company announced it planned to close 200 Boots stores in the U.K. and that it was also reviewing its portfolio in the U.S., where it operates approximately 10,000 stores. . . . more

Shake Shack is coming to Boston's Downtown Crossing this fall

BBJ
This is the third Boston location for the popular hamburger joint. . . . more

DINNER-AND-A-MOVIE CHAIN FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION

Restaurant Business
The iPic Entertainment movie theater-restaurant chain said it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid negotiations to reduce its debt burden through a sale or restructuring. . . . more

Target embraces smaller-format stores

CSA
Nearly all Target openings in 2019 are small-format. That’s according to Novak Construction, which as 2020 nears, is preparing to construct two additional small-format Target locations, in Champaign, Ill., and Mayfair (Chicago). Averaging 17,000 sq. ft. each, the stores are 15% the size of a traditional Target. . . . more

Bankruptcies pushing up job cuts — especially in retail

CSA
Job cuts announced due to bankruptcy have hit the highest level since 2009. That’s according to a new analysis of monthly job cut announcements from global outplacement and executive and business coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.. . . more

Patriot Place Is Getting an Indoor Skydiving Facility

Boston Magazine
Freedom Wind Tunnel Indoor Skydiving recently announced plans to open at Patriot Place in fall of 2020. Next fall, you’ll have more than one really good reason to visit Patriot Place in Foxborough. And it has virtually nothing to do with Tom Brady or the Patriots. Coming fall 2020 to the shopping, dining, and entertainment complex adjacent to Gillette Stadium is a brand new indoor skydiving facility, located between CBS Sporting Club and Showcase Live. . . . more

Thursday, August 1, 2019

EG Group Reaches Deal to Acquire Cumberland Farms

Convenience Store News
EG Group is establishing a strong presence in the U.S. Northeast. The U.K.-based retailer, parent company of EG America, entered into an agreement to acquire Cumberland Farms.

Westborough, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms operates approximately 600 convenience stores in seven Northeast states and Florida. The c-store chain began exploring a sale this spring, as Convenience Store News previously reported.. . . more

Capriotti’s Signed 48 Franchise Deals in First Six Months of Year

QSR
Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, known for its award-winning, hand-crafted sandwiches, is continuing its nationwide expansion. Rounding out the first half of 2019 on a high note, the brand has signed 48 franchise development deals within the first six months of the year. This number is only expected to grow as the year continues, with the Capriotti’s team anticipating even more momentum in the second half of 2019.

This announcement comes on the heels of earlier signed agreements this year which expanded the brand into new states including Rhode Island. . . . more

Target launches 'archives' collection highlighting design partnerships

Retail Dive
Target is launching a throwback collection featuring products made in its two decades of design partnerships, according to a press release.

The archive collection includes nearly 300 items from 20 of its past partnerships, which started with architect Michael Graves in 1999. Also on the list are Proenza Schouler, Thakoon, Rodarte, Zac Posen, Jason Wu and Phillip Lim, among others. The limited collection is for sale Sept. 14 at stores and online, while supplies last, with prices ranging from $7 to $160.. . . more

Container Store debuts new Custom Closets concept in L.A., with Dallas store soon to follow

The Dallas Morning News
The Container Store has been giving us closet envy for years, and that's about to escalate.

The Coppell-based organization and storage retailer has opened its first Custom Closets store in Los Angeles. The retailer confirmed earlier this month that the second one will open in North Dallas when it relocates its Galleria North store. The new store, scheduled to open by early October, will be around the corner in the old Toys R Us space facing the Dallas North Tollway. . . . more

Once a retail shrine , flagship stores lose their shine

Associated Press
It used to be considered the retailer’s crown jewel — a large format store on a swank corridor that showed off the best of what a brand had to offer.

But now the so-called flagship store is disappearing from high-profile shopping thoroughfares like Manhattan’s Madison Avenue and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile because of skyrocketing rents and the shift to online shopping. . . . more

Nordstrom family may try again to gain control of troubled retailer

Seattle Times
Fifteen months after a failed bid to buy all of their namesake company, the Nordstrom family may try again to gain majority control of the retailer.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that members of the Nordstrom family, which now holds 31.3% of the Seattle-based company’s publicly traded shares, are “in the early stages of discussing a proposal” to increase that stake more than 50%.. . . more