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Bed, Bath & Beyond sinks on the stock market after the suicide of its financial director | Economy

The bad news is piling up for Bed, Bath & Beyond. The American retail firm for the sale of home and decoration products is going through a crisis in which the last and tragic chapter has been the suicide of its financial director, Gustavo Arnal, by throwing himself from the skyscraper where he lived in New York. The suicide occurred on Friday and the company confirmed it this Sunday, but the shares had not returned to trading until today. They have done so with a decline of 15% at the opening of the session.

With Arnal’s death, Bed, Bath & Beyond (BB&B) is left without the executive who was trying to solve the company’s financial problems, shaken by a sharp drop in sales caused by inflation and changes in consumer habits. American consumption. To this have been added errors of strategy and execution of the company itself.

Arnal was signed in 2020 from Avon, where he had been involved in a successful restructuring of the company. He had led negotiations to refinance BB&B’s debt and in designing a cutback plan that involved closing 150 stores and laying off 20% of the workforce. The plan also contemplates a possible capital increase, the announcement of which caused sharp falls in the share. Arnal had sold a portion of his shares in the company prior to that announcement, prompting a lawsuit by investors who accused him of insider trading.

The loss of the director is even more serious for BB&B because the company is also looking for a new CEO. The company fired Mark Tritton in June and since then the position has been filled on an interim basis by an independent director, Sue Gove, who is not even full-time and who relied heavily on Arnal, who was number two on the company.

The 52-year-old Venezuelan-born executive died last Friday when he fell from his apartment in the iconic 50-story luxury skyscraper at 56 Leonard Street in Tribeca (Manhattan, New York). The building is known for its peculiar structure as the Jenga tower, in reference to the block game in which you have to remove pieces without the tower collapsing. Arnal fell from his apartment on the 18th floor. The executive did not leave any note or say anything to his wife, who was in the apartment at the time. However, from the beginning the police worked with the hypothesis of a suicide and the New York coroner’s office has finally certified it as such.

interim substitute

The company has tasked chief accounting officer Laura Crossen to temporarily take over the duties of the deceased chief financial officer. In this way, both the first executive and the financial director occupy their positions on an interim basis. Crossen had been in her position as accounting director, in which she reported to Arnal, for only two months, since the previous manager resigned.

Bed Bath & Beyond has been bordering on suspension of payments due to its financial problems, caused first by the pandemic and then by changes in consumption habits due to high inflation. The news about changes in the shareholders and about advances and setbacks in the negotiations to refinance the debt have provoked violent fluctuations in the price of its titles, which have entered the category of meme Actions, with prices based more on fashions, buying fevers and feelings than on the company’s accounts. The company’s business still hasn’t picked up and in the last quarter it has suffered a 26% drop in sales.

The company’s stock market value stood at $690 million on Friday (a slightly lower figure in euros). The company has lost two-thirds of its value in the last 12 months and much more in the last decade, as it was worth more than 15,000 million dollars 10 years ago. In 2019, activist investors took control of the company to the detriment of its founders, whom they accused of not having modernized the stores and of having lost the business opportunities associated with e-commerce.

Mark Tritton, an executive from the competitor Target, then took over the company, opted for his own brand, something that did not convince customers, and also suffered from the pandemic and bottlenecks in the supply chain. The council decided to dispense with his services last June. Some more executives came out with him.

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