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There's reasons Wexner has avoided large transactions with private equity partnerships and the shenanigans seen above are one of them.

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Some more about the cancellation of the Victoria's Secret sale from the Dispatch:  

 

https://www.thisweeknews.com/business/20200504/with-sale-of-victoriarsquos-secret-called-off-whatrsquos-next-for-l-brands

 

Apparently there will be no termination or penalty fees due to the cancelled sale.  Both companies just walked away from it.  Or as the chairwoman of the L Brands board said in the article, "The L Brands board believes that time is better spent working on Victoria’s Secret than fighting with Sycamore".

 

According to the article, L Brands wants to keep Bath & Body Works (which has been a strong performer in recent years) as a stand-alone public company and that Victoria’s Secret would become a separate company.

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Big Lots recently made a big real estate transaction.  Hopefully this deal doesn't get conronavirus-scuttled like the Victoria's Secret deal was.  Here are the particulars:

 

Big Lots to sell Columbus warehouse, other facilities for $725 million

 

Big Lots Inc. is selling off four warehouses, including its Columbus facility, in a $725 million deal.  The company has entered into a purchase agreement with Chicago-based Oak Street Real Estate Capital LLC for four distribution centers around the country, including the Columbus center along with others in Durant, Oklahoma; Montgomery, Alabama; and Tremont, Pennsylvania.  The Columbus distribution center at 300-500 Phillipi Road totals 3 million square feet and is one of the largest industrial facilities in the city.

 

The deal, which will close in the second quarter of the year, is a sale-leaseback, meaning the company's operations will continue in each building under a lease.  After taxes and other expenses, the company will see net proceeds from the sale of about $550 million, which it will use to pay down debt on its revolving credit, provide more liquidity amid the coronavirus pandemic and, once economic recovery begins, to move along its growth initiatives.

 

This is the company's second big real estate deal in a few months.  In November 2019, it sold a distribution center in Rancho Cucamonga, California.  Cash consideration for that sale was $191 million, and the company reinvested $69 million of that to buy its newly built Columbus headquarters building at 4900 E. Dublin-Granville Road.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/04/09/big-lots-to-sell-columbus-warehouse-other.html

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A couple of Business First articles about how Nationwide Insurance - one of Columbus' largest employers - is managing its employees during the coronavirus pandemic.  Unfortunately, both articles are fully readable for subscribers only (unless its of their free coronavirus articles - which I can't tell since I'm a subscriber - so try the links).  But I'll give an article synopsis, if you can't view the full article:

 

img0235*1200xx3888-2187-0-203.jpg

 

Nationwide closing some offices in permanent shift to remote work

 

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, Nationwide sent a majority of its office workers home.  Now it plans to make that move permanent for some of them.

 

The $49.3 billion Fortune 100 giant plans to close some of its smaller offices by November and transition employees from those offices – about 4,000 people in total – to permanent work-from-home status.  The company had about 5,000 employees working from home prior to the pandemic, bringing the total when the move is done to about 30% of its 28,000 employees.  "I think this is the future," CEO Kirt Walker said. "We are learning as we go, but I can see us being 50% work-from-home some day."

 

The shift will not impact the company's Columbus headquarters or its large regional offices in Scottsdale, Arizona; San Antonio, Texas; and Des Moines, Iowa.  It has 14,000 employees in Central Ohio, split between its downtown headquarters and new buildings at Grandview Yard.  The Iowa campus has about 3,300 employees and the San Antonio office about 1,000.  In Arizona it has 1,700 workers but is currently building a new regional headquarters with space to grow to 3,000.

 

Some smaller offices will remain in place.  The company plans to keep 670 working in the Nationwide Pet offices in Brea and Sacramento, California; 150 in a New York City management liability and specialty office; and 120 at an annuity distribution facility in Louisville.  Closing, though, will be many smaller regional hubs, including offices in Gainesville, Florida; Harleysville, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Wausau, Wisconsin; and Richmond, Virginia.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/04/29/nationwide-closing-some-offices-in-permanent-shift.html

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A Columbus-based giant plans to keep some employees at home even after coronavirus. Will other businesses follow suit?

 

Columbus-based Nationwide is one of the first sizable companies to make its coronavirus-mandated work-from-home setup permanent, at least for some employees.  But commercial real estate experts say it's unlikely to be the last.

 

"We are seeing some employers keep 100% of their people home indefinitely, and some are just bringing back 20% to 40% and investing in space to accommodate social distancing," said Drew Suszko, architect and lead strategist at Columbus' BHDP Architecture. "The structure of work is already changing. There have been big investments in technology the past month, and the companies that have them are going to keep using them."

 

Even companies that do opt to bring their staff back in force may find themselves making changes.  The trend toward open offices and collaborative spaces in recent years has emphasized people coming closer together and spending more time in close interaction, but Covid-19 is likely to move that thinking in a different direction. ... Suszko said some employers could look at the office as a "clubhouse" – a place where workers go to collaborate and meet with people, but not necessarily where they go all day to sit at a workstation. 

 

Nationwide, for instance, is shuttering smaller offices across the country as it keeps thousands of employees at home for good, but will continue to keep its Central Ohio headquarters, a trio of regional hubs and some other physical office spaces open.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/04/30/this-columbus-giant-plans-to-keep-someemployees-at.html

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Amazon buys more land for data centers in New Albany

 

Amazon.com Inc. has again added to its New Albany land holdings for a growing network of data centers.  Amazon Data Services bought 112 acres off Beech Road, slightly north of its first 68-acre New Albany campus, for $21.8 million on April 20 from the city's real estate affiliate.  The $195,000-an-acre price tops what it paid the New Albany Co. for the first purchase in 2014.  An Amazon affiliate bought 103 acres for $10.8 million last year one mile east.

 

The latest project, a 170,000-square-foot, $400 million data center, is expected to create 35 jobs.  It would bring Amazon's total investment in New Albany to $1.7 billion, according to a city fact sheet. ... New Albany's IT cluster in its business park has attracted nearly $4 billion in other private investment, including data centers for AEP Ohio, Nationwide and Discover Financial.

 

Facebook opened a $750 million facility last year and has plans for another $875M in development.  Google is building a $600 million facility and has a permit for a second.  The three tech giants could invest $4.2 billion in development over the next two years, with a projected $2 billion in Amazon construction and equipment alone.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/05/amazon-buys-more-land-for-data-centers-in-new.html

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Here's why Scotts Miracle-Gro thinks it will emerge from the pandemic a stronger company

 

Rapid changes in the past two months in response to coronavirus could permanently alter and strengthen Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. and its brands, CEO Jim Hagedorn said.

 

Consumers and cannabis companies turned their attention to plant life during widespread stay-at-home orders, resulting in spring sales to shoot up for the Marysville company.  But other changes could outlast extraordinary circumstances, such as a shift to e-commerce at a scale it wouldn't have otherwise expected for five to 10 years.

 

Sales for its busiest quarter ending in March rose 16% to $1.38 billion, and that's in comparison to a strong performance during the same period last year.  That reflects an 11% increase in its consumer gardening business and 60% growth in its horticultural supply unit.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/07/heres-why-scotts-miracle-gro-thinks-it-will-emerge.html

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Exec team behind $165M gene therapy acquisition back with another Nationwide Children's spinout

 

Nationwide Children's Hospital has licensed its biotechnology targeting antibiotic-resistant infections to the same executive team that led one of its gene therapy spinoffs to a $165 million acquisition.

 

Clarametyx Biosciences Inc. launched this week with $3 million in seed funding toward its first application: treating hospital-acquired infections, which cause 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the United States each year.

 

"We do think this could carry a billion-dollar-plus exit over time," said Bill Baumel, managing director of Ohio Innovation Fund, which co-led the round with Rev1 Ventures.  Emerald Shoals Targeted Opportunities Fund also participated.  All three are in Columbus.  Children's also holds equity.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/11/exec-team-behind-165m-gene-therapy-acquisition.html

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matt-wald-ceo-columbus-collaboratory*102

 

Columbus Collaboratory rebrands, lands more business outside Ohio

 

Columbus Collaboratory LLC has rebranded as Covail as it takes its cybersecurity and business optimization software to more clients outside its original investor circle of seven Central Ohio titans.

 

Columbus Collaboratory is selling outside of its original investor-clients – but prospects keep asking, is that a nonprofit?  Do you only do business in Columbus?  That's why it's changing its name.  Now with 20 clients outside of its original seven investors, Columbus Collaboratory is rebranding with a non-geographic name that's more about its mission to secure and improve business processes.

 

The company was incorporated in early 2014 with a $33 million, four-year budget from a $5 million Ohio Third Frontier grant and $4 million each from the seven owners: American Electric Power Company Inc., Battelle, Cardinal Health Inc., Huntington Bancshares Inc., L Brands Inc., Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. and OhioHealth Corp.  The corporations re-upped with a combined $14 million in 2018.

 

Covail does not anticipate the need for additional outside capital, CEO Matt Wald said.  It has grown to 38 employees, working remotely now instead of its Perry Street office on the Battelle campus.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/07/columbus-collaboratory-rebrands-lands-more.html

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Over in the Easton development thread, an interesting work-from-home discussion started.  It really doesn't belong in a construction thread - so I copied it and posted it over in this general business thread for Columbus:

 

5 hours ago, DTCL11 said:

Companies are already taking the WFH experiment and making them permanent.

 

4 hours ago, cbussoccer said:

This should probably be in a different thread...but whatever. I think there will be a surge in WFH over the next year, but I don't think it will last. A WFH set up is definitely not for everyone, even though most people think it sounds nice. I think over the next five years we will slowly move to back to where we were before this whole situation started. We may never quite get back to where we started, but I think we will get close. 

 

FWIW - my impression about WFH is that it might work well for some home situations.  But that for many others, they might learn that the best aspect of an office is that you aren't getting bothered or interrupted by your spouse, kids, pets or friends(!)  Even those in the gig economy who worked-from-home before the coronavirus still sought a professional office environment in the booming co-working office space.

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23 minutes ago, Columbo said:

matt-wald-ceo-columbus-collaboratory*102

 

Columbus Collaboratory rebrands, lands more business outside Ohio

 

Columbus Collaboratory LLC has rebranded as Covail as it takes its cybersecurity and business optimization software to more clients outside its original investor circle of seven Central Ohio titans.

 

Columbus Collaboratory is selling outside of its original investor-clients – but prospects keep asking, is that a nonprofit?  Do you only do business in Columbus?  That's why it's changing its name.  Now with 20 clients outside of its original seven investors, Columbus Collaboratory is rebranding with a non-geographic name that's more about its mission to secure and improve business processes.

 

The company was incorporated in early 2014 with a $33 million, four-year budget from a $5 million Ohio Third Frontier grant and $4 million each from the seven owners: American Electric Power Company Inc., Battelle, Cardinal Health Inc., Huntington Bancshares Inc., L Brands Inc., Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. and OhioHealth Corp.  The corporations re-upped with a combined $14 million in 2018.

 

Covail does not anticipate the need for additional outside capital, CEO Matt Wald said.  It has grown to 38 employees, working remotely now instead of its Perry Street office on the Battelle campus.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/07/columbus-collaboratory-rebrands-lands-more.html

COV and AIL ? Really? I would not go with that name given what has been happening.

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4 minutes ago, Toddguy said:

COV and AIL ? Really? I would not go with that name given what has been happening.

 

Yeah. They probably came up with and trademarked that name pre-coronavirus(!)

 

FWIW - the article said, "Covail, a registered trade name under the original entity, combines "collaborative" and "prevail."

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2 hours ago, Columbo said:

FWIW - my impression about WFH is that it might work well for some home situations.  But that for many others, they might learn that the best aspect of an office is that you aren't getting bothered or interrupted by your spouse, kids, pets or friends(!)  Even those in the gig economy who worked-from-home before the coronavirus still sought a professional office environment in the booming co-working office space.


I agree. Driving in to the office every day is definitely a drag, but there are also many downsides to WFH 100%. 
 

I would expect to see greater flexibility with WFH as opposed to companies shifting large numbers of employees to 100% WFH. Some people might only need to be in the office Tuesday through Thursday. Some people might have the flexibility to chose when they are in the office and when they are at home. Some people might have every Friday as a WFH.
 

I just don’t think, when it comes down to it, companies are going to want most of their employees WFH 100% and I don’t think most people would want to WFH 100%. I don’t really mind WFH myself, but I’m already sick of Microsoft Teams meetings and it can be very difficult to get ahold of people or get things from people in a WFH setting whereas in the office you can just stop by their desk really quick and get it taken care of. 

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I agree, I think we'll see a hybrid model moving forward where you maybe WFH 2 or 3 days and are in the office 2 or 3 days a week. Maybe with a shared workspace, instead of a dedicated desk. I think this has given people a taste and proven to companies that they can work effectively remotely, so why not sell it as a benefit and reduce your office costs. It doesn't work great for everyone, but I haven't missed my commute (although I'm getting real sick of 5+ hours of Google Meet a day) 

 

I know anecdotely that both my wife and I's company's have sent survey's out asking for feedback on possible permanent WFH scenarios, I've heard the same from many friends. I think this will be one of the lingering structural changes that we see resulting from COVID-19. Probably hurts the commercial real-estate market, but could boost some of the smaller towns around the state that have cheap housing, but few jobs. 

 

Total side bar, I also hope that all this secures high-speed internet as an essential service and sees it classified as a utility. 

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Saw this NY Times article this morning that supports what I was thinking above. 

 

http://The New York Times: Manhattan Faces a Reckoning if Working From Home Becomes the Norm. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/nyregion/coronavirus-work-from-home.html

 

One excerpt:

 

David Kenny, the chief executive at Nielsen, said the company plans to convert its New York offices to team meeting spaces where workers gather maybe once or twice a week.

 

“If you are coming and working at your desk, you certainly could do that from home,” Mr. Kenny said. “We have leases that are coming due, and it’s absolutely driving those kinds of decisions.’’

“I have done an about-face on this,” he added.

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Les Wexner era comes to an end as L Brands founder steps down

 

Les Wexner, the entrepreneur who built one of the world's most-successful retail companies and became Ohio's richest man in the process, has officially retired.

 

The fashion industry mogul's six decades of leadership over what became L Brands Inc. came to an end Thursday with his retirement at the company's 2020 annual meeting.

 

The transition comes at a tumultuous time for the retail giant.  Wexner's retirement was supposed to coincide with the sale of its iconic Victoria's Secret lingerie business to Sycamore Partners LLC, but the New York private equity firm backed out of the deal amid the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

L Brands intends to go ahead with the plan to split its two principal brands, retaining Bath & Body Works as a public company while taking Victoria's Secret private.  It said it will provide further details of the plan later this month – without Wexner at the helm.

 

Wexner remains chairman emeritus, but Thursday's annual meeting marked the end of his tenure as the longest-serving Fortune 500 CEO in U.S. history.  He's being replaced as CEO by Andrew Meslow and as chairman of the board by Sarah Nash.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/14/the-les-wexner-era-comes-to-an-end.html

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Victoria's Secret to close 250 stores as L Brands starts its big breakup

 

Victoria's Secret will close 250 stores this year as L Brands Inc. prepares to break up its two capstone brands.  The retailer's closures will take place over the course of the year across its North American footprint.  It plans a "meaningful number" of store closures in 2021 and likely beyond as well, interim Victoria's Secret CEO Stuart Burgdoerfer said in a call with analysts Thursday. ... The closures will wipe 22% of the company's 1,091 stores and 1.26 million square feet of real estate off its balance sheet.

 

In the first quarter, net sales dropped 37% for L Brands as the Covid-19 pandemic closed almost all of its stores in March.  But Bath & Body Works saw comparable sales surge 20% to $713 million on the back of strong soap and sanitizer sales, while Victoria's Secret plunged 15% to $822 million.

 

Although the company isn't immediately looking for a different buyer for Victoria's Secret, spinning it out is still on the agenda as well.  In fact, the pandemic has encouraged the company to adopt an accelerated approach to separating the company, with much of that work set to take place over the next quarter.

 

The companies share some vendors and transportation arrangements but have separate warehouses and many of their goods originate from different suppliers.  Other things like technology will be slowly split over two or three years.  Importantly, the two brands' e-commerce operations are separate, which will allow Victoria's Secret to focus on its digital platform. ... Burgdoerfer said he sees the lingerie retailer long-term as a $5.5 to $6 billion-a-year private company, albeit one with a much more robust online component and lighter on the physical store spread.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/21/victorias-secret-to-close-250-stores.html

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Bath & Body Works says soap and sanitizer sales could triple in the Covid-19 era

 

Bath & Body Works saw so much demand for soap and sanitizer as the Covid-19 pandemic hit that it was routinely out of stock several days a week.  The company sold about $100 million in soaps and sanitizers last year, and it expects that business could double or even triple in the coronavirus pandemic, said Andrew Meslow, CEO of parent L Brands Inc.

( . . . )

In the first quarter, net sales dropped 37% for L Brands as the Covid-19 pandemic closed almost all of its stores in March.  But Bath & Body Works saw comparable sales surge 20% to $713 million on the back of strong soap and sanitizer sales, while Victoria’s Secret plunged 15% to $822 million.

 

Online sales, which prioritized sanitizers and soaps, surged 85% in the quarter, and net sales of online products are up 60% in March and 150% in April.  Soaps and sanitizers alone had an over 300% comp. ... A few dozen Bath & Body Works stores are open now with plans for most of them to be reopened by the end of July.  L Brands is requiring masks on workers and has implemented a rigorous cleaning schedule, Meslow said.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/22/bath-body-works-soap-and-sanitizer-biz-could-do.html

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Donatos opens new locations as pizza sales stay steady amid pandemic

 

Restaurant sales have been decimated by Covid-19, but pizza has proven to be a sturdy and reliable part of the business.  Several chains have reported steady, if not growing sales, and stepped up hiring accordingly.

 

Columbus-based Donatos Pizza has more than 160 restaurants in 10 states and is seeing a mix of performance.  Some units are up, while some have struggled.  An OSU location, for example, is typically one of the best performers in the chain - but with no students, its sales are off.

 

Still, Donatos has opened two new locations in recent weeks.  Viking Group Inc., a 25-year franchisee for the brand, opened a new Dayton unit on April 28, while Space Cowboys Restaurant Group LLC opened its second franchise in Kentucky this week.  A third new Donatos will open next month in Jacksonville Beach, Florida - notable in that it’s a return to Florida for the brand which had restaurants in the Sunshine State years ago when it was part of McDonald’s Corp.  Two other franchise groups in Florida are scheduled to open in the third quarter as well.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/21/donatos-pizza-expands-as-sales-stay-steady.html

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Crisis Management: Why Drive Capital's Mark Kvamme changed his mind about working from home

 

Paradoxically, many technology companies have been historically wary of running their business in the cloud, connecting only through technology instead of face-to-face.  Working from home was seen as a temporary or emergency fallback, say when a child was home sick.  Then the coronavirus pandemic sent pretty much every office worker home, and entrepreneurs were pleasantly surprised to find out how effective that arrangement can be.

 

"(Remote work) was never seen as a viable option on a regular basis," said Mark Kvamme, partner at Drive Capital LLC. "What this has shown us is, for us at least, is it’s a viable option."  Now he and Chris Olsen, his partner in the venture capital firm they left Silicon Valley to start in Columbus seven years ago, are even re-thinking the need to travel for in-person meetings with every new investment.  During this period, Drive came close to offering a term sheet after meeting only by video conference – it was the startup that backed out.

 

In the latest episode of our Crisis Management podcast, Kvamme talks about this evolving conception of the workplace, the pandemic's varying effects on different companies in Drive's portfolio, and why he thinks Ohio can seize the opportunity in this economic crisis to build tomorrow's billion-dollar companies.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/24/crisis-management-drive-capital.html

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An update to Nationwide's employment situation - previously posted at https://forum.urbanohio.com/topic/488-columbus-general-business-amp-economic-news/page/20/?tab=comments#comment-958798 in this thread.  Nationwide has had all of its employees working from home since the COVID-19 shutdown in March.  Now as the rest of the economy starts to reopen, Nationwide is doing the same.  Although many of its employees will transition to permanent WFH status, there will also be some overall workforce reductions - 570 of the 30,000 company-wide employees - with 100 located in Central Ohio:

 


Nationwide announces furloughs and layoffs

 

Citing a slowdown in business activities driven by the coronavirus pandemic, Nationwide is cutting 570 positions, some via temporary furloughs and others permanently.  The company is making 250 permanent job cuts in its property and casualty claims, service and operations business.  Affected jobs include 35 in Central Ohio.  Another 320 property and casualty claims and operations employees will be furloughed June 8, including 65 in Central Ohio.

 

The laid off employees will receive 60 days of paid notice, a severance package and outplacement assistance.  Many will be eligible to apply for other jobs around the company, the company said.  The furloughed employees will be asked to use the 20 days of paid pandemic time Nationwide has set aside for staff.  Following that, they will be placed on an up to 90-day furlough.  They'll still have access to benefits and be able to apply for unemployment at the time.

 

Nationwide sent all 30,000 employees home in March and later announced plans to permanently shutter many of its smaller offices, upping its remote workforce substantially.  The company has since begun to plan for a reopening of some offices, with the first phase, set to begin next week, involving volunteers in essential businesses.  But the company says it's in no rush to bring people back.

 

MORE:  https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2020/05/28/nationwide-announces-570-furloughs-and-layoffs.html

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