Kohl’s Corp. shares were up 14% early this afternoon following a report that Hudson’s Bay Co. could make a play for the off-price retailer.
Axios first reported that HBC’s Hudson’s Bay Co., which owns Hudson’s Bay and Saks, is entering the race for Kohl’s in the next round of bids. The site also said that private equity firm Sycamore, which had previously been cited as a potential contender, could still be in the mix.
Without addressing specific would-be acquirers, a Kohl’s spokeswoman told FN that, as previously disclosed, the company’s board is engaging in robust and ongoing discussions with bidders. “The board will measure potential bids against a compelling standalone plan and choose the path that it believes maximizes shareholder value,” the spokeswoman said. (The company engaged Goldman Sachs last month to engage with interested parties.)
Sycamore declined to comment. HBC did not return requests for comment, but a source close to the company said it is putting in a bid.
Last month, Kohl’s rejected two takeover bids, noting that the offers “do not adequately reflect the company’s value in light of its future growth and cash flow generation.”
Sycamore expressed that it was looking to pay around $65 per share for Kohl’s, CNBC reported in February. The news came after Acacia Research reportedly offered to pay about $64 a share for the department store chain. According to reports, both groups were looking to sell Kohl’s properties to raise funds via a partnership with Oak Street Real Estate Capital.
As interest in the retailer heats up, Kohl’s is ramping up its focus on athleisure and outdoor, two categories that have continued to perform strongly for the retailer.
“Our mission is to be the active lifestyle authority for every family,” said Kohl’s chief merchandising officer Doug Howe during the company’s annual investor presentation on Monday.
According to Kohl’s, having strong relationships with key activewear leaders — including Nike, Under Armour, Adidas and Champion — is a key part of holding a strong position with consumers in a fast-growing category. In 2021, the retailer’s active business grew more than 40% compared with 2020. In Q4, active sales increased about 25% compared to 2020 and 2019, across women’s, men’s and children’s apparel and footwear, representing about $4.4 billion in sales penetration.