Amazon Suspends Non-Essential Third-Party Shipments

Want that new-release DVD or Blu-ray Disc from Amazon? If it’s coming from a third-party vendor, you might wait awhile. The e-commerce behemoth March 17 announced it would limit shipments of all non-essential products to its warehouses across the country.

Amazon is now limiting shipments to medical supplies, household staples (i.e. toilet paper) and other high-priority items until April 5, according to an internal memo to third-party sellers.

“We are temporarily prioritizing [these] products coming into our fulfillment centers so we can more quickly receive, restock and deliver these products to customers,” read the memo reported by Business Insider.

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Priority items include health and household items, beauty and personal care, grocery, industrial and scientific. DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies were not on the list.

“We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock,” read the memo.

Steve Yates with Prime Alliance, which assists Amazon sellers, said the drastic move is in response to coronavirus, which continues to spread rapidly with more than 2,000 cases reported in the United States.

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Yates told the publication that third-party sellers he’s talked to have seen their revenue plummet 40% to 60% on Amazon due to revised shipping guidelines.

“It may be difficult for some sellers to ship every item themselves, but if they want to have their products for sale on Amazon, they have no choice until April 5,” said Will Tjernlund with Goat Consulting in Minneapolis, Minn.

The shipment change could wreak havoc for eTailz.com, the Trans World Entertainment Corp. subsidiary specializing in third-party sellers on Amazon.

TWEC recently offloaded its f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) home entertainment retail chain to focus on eTailz — the latter posting a 35% drop in revenue in its most-recent fiscal period. And that was before the virus pandemic. The net loss was $1.3 million.

 

Trans World Entertainment’s Bruce Eisenberg Departs After 27 Years

Trans World Entertainment March 2 announced the departure of Bruce Eisenberg, EVP of real estate, effective immediately.

Eisenberg, who had been with the corporate parent of the f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) home entertainment retail chain for nearly 27 years, saw his position eliminated following the $10 million sale of f.y.e. to the parent of Sunrise Records in Canada and HMV Records in the United Kingdom.

Per a regulatory filing, Eisenberg is set to receive more than $300,000 in so-called “golden parachute” compensation. His annual compensation had been $425,000. CEO Mike Feurer is on tap to receive more than $1 million in compensation should his position be eliminated.

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The 200 mall-based f.y.e. locations across the country reported an operating loss of $21.5 million, with revenue down 14.7% to $40.8 million in the most-recent fiscal period. Comparable store sales declined 5.2% — the drop largely buttressed by gains in collectables revenue.

Trans World Entertainment had warned in regulatory filings that its continued operation as a company was in doubt without deleveraging some of assets.

The company is now focused on its Etailz.com e-commerce subsidiary, based in Spokane, Wash., which has been losing money. TWEC recently took out a $25 million loan to shore up the subsidiary’s finances.

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Trans World Entertainment Secures $25 Million Loan for eTailz Business

On the heels of selling its legacy home entertainment retailer, For Your Entertainment (f.y.e.), for $10 million, Trans World Entertainment Corp. has secured $25 million in funding for its eTailz.com e-commerce business.

TWEC acquired etailz for $75 million in 2016 as a means of jumpstarting an ecommerce business segment. The Spokane, Wash.-based company claims to use proprietary software and e-commerce insight to help third parties identify new distributors and wholesalers, discover emerging product trends, and optimize price positioning and inventory purchasing decisions.

The business largely (85%) does this through Amazon as a “marketplace retailer” partnering with brands to help them grow sales both domestically and internationally. Etailz also partners with companies to expand their brand on eBay, Jet and Walmart.

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TWEC said it plans to use the $25 million loan facility to better capitalize etailz’ growth goals, which include further development of software and services offerings, supporting inventory expansion, and expanding into new marketplaces and geographies.

“The sale of our FYE segment has put our stores and employees in the best position to continue forward and build upon an almost 50 year legacy,” Michael Feurer, CEO of TWEC, said in a statement.

Feurer said securing of the credit facility for etailz is a “positive and important first step” for the subsidiary, which becomes the main focus of TWEC going forward.

No small task considering etailz has been largely unprofitable since the merger — a reality that saw co-founder and CEO Josh Neblett exit the company about a year ago.

Brock Kowalchuk is the new CFO and Lisa Wideman was hired last November as senior director of human resources. Mitchell Bailey remains as chief operating officer.

New CEO Kunal Chopra contends “100%” that the unit reportedly with 166 employees will grow in 2020. It employed 288 people in 2018.

Whether that growth is an operating loss or profit remains to be seen. In its most-recent fiscal period, etailz lost $1.3 million on revenue of $28.6 million, which was down 35% from revenue of $44.2 million during the previous-year period.

Through three fiscal quarters, revenue is down almost 30% at $98 million from $138 million. Operating loss has narrowed to $3.6 million from $9.8 million.

 

Trans World Entertainment Selling f.y.e. Retail Chain

Trans World Entertainment Jan. 23  announced it is selling its flagship f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) home entertainment retail chain to Sunrise Records and Entertainment Ltd. for $10 million.

The deal, pending shareholder approval, would transfer the retail brand (operating in U.S. malls and Puerto Rico) and web properties (www.fye.com and www.secondspin.com) to the parent of Sunrise Records in Canada and HMV Records in the United Kingdom.

The move comes as TWEC struggles to sustain operations in a rapidly changing retail landscape, in addition to misfires at its eTailz.com e-commerce business.

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The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the board,  follows a process in which the board said it explored all strategic alternatives. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Until the deal is finalized, Trans World Entertainment will continue to operate its business in the ordinary course, and thereafter Sunrise anticipates keeping substantially all of the current FYE employees.

Following the closing, TWEC plans to focus on the operation of etailz, a Spokane, Wash.-based middleman for third-party sellers on the Internet.

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The f.y.e. chain, which operates more than 200 locations across the country, and has hailed itself as the last standalone packaged-media retailer, reported an operating loss of $21.5 million, with revenue down 14.7% to $40.8 million in the most-recent fiscal period. Comparable store sales declined 5.2% — the drop largely buttressed by gains in collectables revenue. And eTailz.com, the e-commerce middleman acquired in 2016 for $75 million, lost $1.4 million.

 

Trans World Entertainment Narrows Q2 Loss

Trans World Entertainment, parent of home entertainment retailer f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment), Aug. 29 announced that its second-quarter (ended Aug. 3) net loss declined 22% to $7.4 million from a net loss of $9.4 million during the previous-year period.

Revenue for the period dropped nearly 26% to $76 million, from $103 million a year ago, as both f.y.e. and the company’s online middleman business, eTailz, experience ongoing “challenges,” the retailer said.

Indeed, f.y.e. revenue dropped 17.5% as consumers increasingly skip mall-based brick-and-mortar retailers for home entertainment. The chain’s operating loss remained relatively the same at $6.6 million.

But it is Trans World’s eTailz unit that continues to underwhelm after being acquired in 2016 for $75 million. The Spokane, Wash.-based business helps third-parties sell on the Internet, notably Amazon.

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Yet, while Amazon continues to flourish, eTailz saw quarterly revenue plummet 34% to $34.2 million from $51.6 million last year.

The unit was able to narrow its operating loss to $746,000 from an operating loss of $2.7 million — largely through downsizing, including the departure of CEO and co-founder Josh Neblett.

Kunal Chopra was brought in to reverse fiscal fortunes and has apparently done just that according to Trans World CEO Mike Feurer.

“We saw the benefits of the performance improvement initiatives implemented in the fourth quarter of 2018, highlighted by improved gross margins, lower SG&A expenses and improved supply chain efficiency,” Feurer said in a statement.

“We look forward to Kunal capitalizing upon etailz’s position and opportunity as a proven leader in marketplace selling, service and expertise.”

In the meantime, Feurer said “disciplined” inventory management in the f.y.e. segment, contributed to a reduction in cash used in operations by approximately $18 million for the first twenty-six weeks of the fiscal period as compared to the first twenty-six weeks of last year.

Changes in inventory include supplanting packaged media shelf space with lifestyle merchandise, which includes T-shirts, action figures and related popular culture items.

“A 9.6% increase in our lifestyle categories demonstrates the continued positive customer response to our engaging, exclusive merchandise,” Feurer said.

Trans World Entertainment Widens Q3 Loss

Store-based home entertainment retail took another blow to the economic bottom line.

Trans World Entertainment Corp., parent of mall-based packaged media retailer f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment), Dec. 12 reported third-quarter (ended Nov. 3) net loss of $14 million – up 75% from a net loss of $8 million during the previous-year period. Revenue dipped slightly to $90.8 million from $91.8 million last year.

Albany, N.Y.-based Trans World Entertainment attributed the increased loss on the sluggish environment for mall-based retail, in addition to ongoing consumer shifts away from packaged media.

“For the f.y.e. segment, the steps we’ve taken, including changes in our merchandise assortment and presentation, to counter declining mall traffic and the ongoing declines in physical media are beginning to generate a positive response from our customers as we delivered a comparable store sales increase of 3.8% for the quarter,” CEOMike Feurersaid in a statement.

The increase was driven by sales in lifestyle (up 13.3% from the previous-year period) and electronics (up 3%). The segments represented 53% of store revenue compared to 48% last year.

Video and music comp sales declined 4% and 0.03%, respectively, with video decline offset by increases in horror movie DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales.

It was a pyrrhic victory as operating losses at f.y.e. increased nearly 21% to $9.5 million from $7.8 million last year. Revenue dropped about 8% to $47.8 million compared to $52.1 million. The company operated 227 stores in the quarter compared to 268 stores in the previous-year period.

Meanwhile, attempts to transform corporate revenue from brick-and-mortar entertainment to ecommerce remain challenged.

Trans World Entertainment acquired Etailz.com in 2016 to help it transition into ecommerce. The Spokane, Wash.-based subsidiary helps third-party businesses navigate online selling through channels such as Amazon, Walmart.com and eBay.

Etailz generated 48% of Trans World Entertainment’s Q3 revenue, up from 44% last year. It also increased segment operating losses exponentially to $4.2 million from $253,000 last year. Revenue increased 8% to $44.1 million from $40.8 million. Primary cost driver included sales, general and administrative costs that totaled $11.4 million, up 37% from $8.3 million.

Regardless, Feurer remains upbeat heading into the winter retail period — despite Wall Street’s growing lack of confidence. The company’s stock is trading below Nasdaq’s $1 minimum and in danger of being delisted.

“Although meaningful headwinds will continue, we have made real progress in our efforts to differentiate our position in this challenging retail environment,” he said.

 

 

Trans World Entertainment CFO John Anderson Dies

Trans World Entertainment Corp., parent of home entertainment retailer f.y.e. and ecommerce platform Etailz.com, Oct. 15 announced the unexpected Oct. 10 passing of CFO John Anderson. He was 49. Cause of death was not disclosed.

During a 23-year career at TWEC, Anderson served as CFO for the past six years.

“The entire team at Trans World and I are deeply saddened and shocked by the passing of John Anderson,” CEO Mike Feurer said in a statement. “John was greatly admired and respected by those fortunate enough to have worked closely with him. His life touched and had a very positive impact on everyone who knew him.”

Anderson is survived by his wife, Denise (Coffin) Anderson, two children, his parents and siblings, among others.

F.Y.E. Q2 Fiscal Performance Undermined by Fidget Spinners

Trans World Entertainment Corp. Aug. 30 said its f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) entertainment retail chain posted a second-quarter (ended Aug. 4) operating loss of $6.6 million, which was up 22% from an operating loss of $5.4 million during the previous-year period.

Revenue for one of the last nationwide chains primarily selling packaged media topped $50.5 million – down almost 15% from $58.9 million last year.

For the fiscal year through Aug.4, f.y.e. has upped its operating loss 22% to $12 million compared to an operating loss of $9.8 million last year. Revenue is down 15% to $104.6 million from $123.9 million.

Trans World attributed the Q2 decline in part to a 10.4% decline in total stores in operation (241 vs. 269) and a 6.7% decline in comparable store sales compared to the same quarter last year.

CEO Mike Feurer had another culprit for the revenue decline: fidget spinners. Toy gadgets comprised of a ball bearing in the center of a multi-lobed (typically two or three) flat structure made from metal or plastic designed to spin along its axis with little effort. Fidget spinners became popular in April 2017.

“Our sales results were impacted by tough comparisons due to the performance of fidget spinners, which represented 4% of sales in the second quarter of last year,” Feurer said in a statement.

Regardless, Feurer said efforts to change f.y.e.’s merchandise “point of view” from DVD, Blu-ray Disc movies, TV shows, video games and music CDs to “unique, relevant, collaborative and exclusive merchandise” has begun to yield results as sales improved Q2 throughout the quarter with July comp sales down just 0.7%.

Meanwhile, eTailz.com, the e-commerce platform Trans World Entertainment acquired in 2016 for $75 million, posted an operating loss of $2.7 million, compared to operating income of $98,000 last year. Revenue increased 18.6% to $51.6 million from $43.5 million.

 

 

Trans World Entertainment Ups Q4 Loss

Trans World Entertainment Corp. March 22 reported a fourth-quarter (ended Feb. 3) loss of $32.3 million compared to net income of $8.9 million during the previous-year period. Revenue dipped slightly to $145.4 million from almost $147 million.

The increased loss was primarily due to a one-time non-cash $29.1 million impairment charge for certain long-lived fye assets.

New York-based TWEC operates mall-based “fye” (For Your Entertainment) retail stores and etailz.com, an online retailer primarily selling through Amazon.

Retail stores, which sell packaged media, consumer electronics, video games and trend, saw same-store sales fall 10%, with revenue dropping 16.4% to $92.4 million from $110.5 million last year. The company operated 260 stores at the end of 2017 compared to 284 stores at the end of 2016.

CEO Mike Feurer said the fye continues to reduce “slow-moving” merchandise while upping “newer assortments” product categories. He said retail stores continue to be negatively impacted by declining foot traffic in malls and declining physical media sales. He said the company is the process of “re-inventing” the fye brand.

Specifically, lifestyle (trend) same-store sales declined 3%, representing 41% ($37.4 million) of sales compared to 38% last year. Electronics dipped 3%, representing 16% ($14.7 million) of revenue compared to 12% the previous year. Media sales (video and music) fell 17%, representing 43% ($39.6 million) of revenue compared to 50% last year. Music sales dropped 18% and video sales fell 16%.

“As we work through the assortment changes needed to stabilize the fye business, we have maintained focus on the balance sheet, ending the year in a favorable cash position to last year, with $31 million on hand and no debt,” Feurer said in a statement.

Meanwhile, etailz.com, the ecommerce unit acquired in 2016 for $75 million, reported a net loss of $675,000 compared to income of $788,000 a year ago. Revenue increased 45% to $53 million from $36.4 million.

Nonetheless, Feuer said etailz continues to capitalize on the “rapid growth” of marketplace sales, affording TWEC with the opportunity to benefit from “explosive” long-term trends underway in retail.