Very interesting write-up, Bobby. While I had not heard of Spirit before reading your analysis, I’ve been in similar halloween pop-up stores in New York City run by a company called “Ricky’s.” I was wondering how far in advance Spirit needs to order its merchandise. While there are certainly “traditional” costumes that can be sold year in and year out, it must be difficult for the company to forecast demand for costumes closely tied to popular movies or current events. Additionally, due to the tight time frame, I imagine there is little flexibility to change product offerings during the season. It would be interesting to see what percentage of merchandise goes back into storage to be sold the following year and what percentage is scrapped.
First of all – very interesting post.
If my wife had not painted me into a corner by strongly suggesting I use her favorite jeweler, I would have used Blue Nile. In fact, before walking into the jewelery store to purchase her engagement ring, I used Blue Nile’s online tutorial to educate myself about the 4 C’s (clarity, cut, carat, color). The company does a great job of increasing transparency around such a large, once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully!) purchase. To address some of the trust issues mentioned in the comments above, every Blue Nile diamond comes with an independent, third party certification from GIA or AGSL. These certifications are quite detailed, providing information on imperfections imperceptible to the naked eye.
The company’s negative working capital is impressive. Earlier this semester in FIN1, we saw that Dell’s market power allowed it to pressure its suppliers for aggressive payment terms, resulting in a negative cash conversion cycle as well. It will be interesting to see if suppliers push back on Blue Nile’s terms when contracts are up for renegotiation.
Great write-up Vicky!
I share similar concerns to those expressed above regarding the decentralization of operations and lack of standardization in stores. Earlier this year, that lack of standardization resulted in reputational damage after a store was found to be selling $6 “asparagus water,” which was nothing more than a bottle of water with two sticks of asparagus inside (http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/foods-asparagus-water-gate-people-arms/story?id=32897972). Any reasonable consumer would call into the question the value of such a product and the values espoused by a firm selling such a product. While this was certainly an isolated incident, it does highlight the struggle firms like Whole Foods face when deciding how much control of operations to cede to individual stores.