Bed, Bath & Beyond Asserts Priorities At Annual Meeting

At its annual meeting today, Bed, Bath & Beyond addressed observer and investor concerns about softer earnings in the most recently completed fiscal year, saying that the company has been making critical investments in infrastructure, especially as regards the company’s online capabilities. “There has never been a better time in our company’s history than right now,” Len Feinstein, the retailer’s co-founder and co-owner told annual meeting participants.

Among the investments Bed, Bath & Beyond executives cited were relaunches of the namesake and buybuy Baby websites and the addition of a selling function to the Christmas Tree Shop website, as well as a new distribution center designed to fulfill online orders and serve stores.

CEO Steven Temares said that the digital world is a critical growth dimension for Bed, Bath & Beyond given the increasing consumer, and especially younger consumer, enthusiasm for shopping online. He noted, however, that bolstering digital is only one element that makes the company a more potent force today. He said the company has the best people working for it in Bed, Bath & Beyond history and is gaining from the efforts of working groups such as an analytic team that has been helping the retailer determine more about what customers want from its stores and websites. He also noted that the development of multiple businesses and formats has given Bed, Bath & Beyond the ability to develop approaches to product assortment and merchandising that it has been able to translate from one banner and channel to another where those innovations may carry over effectively.

Temares particularly emphasized that, although the company employs short-term tactics, developing and executing against a long-term strategy is the main focus of the Bed, Bath & Beyond organization. So, even if it has to make some near-term sacrifices, Bed, Bath & Beyond will satisfy critics and fans at the strategic horizon.

“People will love us if we produce long term,” he said.

For the 52-week fiscal year ended March 1, Bed, Bath & Beyond posted net earnings of $1.02 billion, or $4.79 per diluted share, versus $1.04 billion, or $4.56 per diluted share, for the 53-week fiscal year earlier. Net sales reached $11.5 billion, up 5.4% year over year, and comparable store sales advanced 2.4%, the company stated.