1) JAB expands its food and beverage empire with Pret a Manger while Nestlé sheds U.S. candy brands.

What happened

  • JAB Holding Company, which owns food and beverage brands including Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Panera Bread Co., Keurig Green Mountain and Krispy Kreme, will add Pret a Manger to its long list of acquisitions. Back in January 2018, JAB raised eyebrows with its acquisition of Dr Pepper Snapple, and has also expanded its distribution deals with Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts while breathing new life into once struggling companies like Peet’s.
  • Meanwhile, Nestlé, the biggest food company in the world, ceded approximately 20 of its U.S. candy brands—Butterfinger, Nerds and SweeTarts—to The Ferrero Group, the Italian company that owns Nutella, Ferrero Rocher and Tic Tacs. Nestlé exercises command over the coffee industry with brands like Nespresso and Nescafé, and also owns brands like KitKat, San Pellegrino and baby products.

Why it matters

  • JAB’s expansion is noteworthy for its focus on changing trends, particularly in the coffee world where ready-to-drink beverages have attracted younger consumers. Meanwhile, other food and beverage companies are struggling to keep up. With Pret, JAB eyed another opportunity: JAB can invest its understanding of the coffee sector into Pret, while also gaining more clout from a cafe that sells healthier fast food and boasts some vegetarian storefronts.
  • JAB’s growth poses threats to Nestlé, which saw exceptionally slow growth between 2016 and 2017 at only 0.4%. To maintain dominance over the sector, Nestlé decided to let go some of the candy brands that it believed were holding the company back and only amounted to 3% of sales. This is just one of Nestlé’s attempts to keep up with shifting consumer interests—it also acquired Blue Bottle Coffee and Chameleon Cold-Brew to compete with JAB in 2017. In May 2018, the company merged its two R&D sectors into one in order to accelerate product development and also reduced the amount of sugar, salt and saturated fats in its products. It recently bought the rights to distribute Starbucks products at grocery and retail stores—a deal that came with a $7 billion price tag.
  • For Ferrero, the newly acquired U.S. candy brands will win the Italian company access to a larger share of the American market. Though it’s risky to alter a well-known brand like Butterfinger, Ferrero plans to roast its own peanuts and update the packaging on the candy to improve freshness. This aligns with rising health consciousness among U.S. consumers, which is even persuading Hershey to orient itself away from its legacy as America’s chocolate company to focus more on snacks.

2) The NFL and Nike ink a ten-year licensing deal with online sports manufacturer and retailer Fanatics, taking a page out of the direct-to-consumer playbook.

What happened

  • Under the deal, Fanatics will produce and sell all Nike-brand NFL merch, save for children’s products, beginning in 2020. All items will be available online at NFLShop.com, Fanatics.com and the team websites, as well as in stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Why it matters

  • Nike and the NFL’s deal with Fanatics is a way to meet the demands of sports fans in real time—something that is much easier for digitally-native, direct-to-consumer brands to excel in thanks to their supple supply chains and smaller size. A prime example is Rep the Squad. A subscription service that rents jerseys out to its fans, Rep the Squad brings newfound instant gratification to the sports industry, shipping jerseys directly to subscribers’ doors, while also allowing customers to swap out jerseys at any time.
  • Until now, Nike and the NFL haven’t been as quick as smaller companies like Rep the Squad to meet the ever-changing whims of fans. But in sports, where players and teams can rapidly rise or fall out of favor, and fans increasingly expect to buy and receive products at record speeds. As more consumers direct their money toward experiences, the Fanatics deal will fans celebrate their team spirit as a one-stop shop for NFL merch with faster product turnaround.

3) Tiffany & Co.’s revival of the in-store experience and the jeweler’s new product lines are paying off, especially among younger demographics.

What happened

  • Since the fall of 2017, Tiffany & Co. has launched a more approachable brick-and-mortar design and inaugurated the Blue Box Café at its Fifth Avenue flagship store—an Instagrammable, Tiffany-blue eatery, where customers can attend high tea or buy croissants and coffee to go like Holly Golightly.
  • Under the direction of Reed Krakoff, a former designer at Coach credited with returning freshness and youth to the luxury brand, Tiffany’s has also sped up its product development calendar to introduce new and more varied collections to consumers. In November 2017, the company launched its Everyday Objects collection with cheaper product offerings like paper clips, mirrors and wine openers, which cater to the interests and tempo of millennial customers.

Why it matters

  • As an 181-year-old luxury jewelry brand, Tiffany is increasingly viewed as traditional and inaccessible to today’s—especially younger—consumers in both design and price point. On a quest for revitalization, the company is now working to change its product lines and services as well as its retail presence. These efforts are paying off. In Q1 2018, the company saw its stock levels rise 6.3%—their best since 2001. Sales grew 9% in the Americas (its biggest market) and 28% in the Asia-Pacific market, while same-store sales rose 7%.

4) SoulCycle makes a U-turn on its IPO, while Peloton flirts with going public.

What happened

  • SoulCycle’s withdrawal comes almost three years after its original SEC registration in 2015—which was postponed that same year—because of “market conditions.” The company stated it would use the money it raised to pay off debt and expand its studio square footage.

Why it matters

  • Though SoulCycle’s CEO said the withdrawal will not deter the company from going public in the future, its decision signals rising competition in the cycling sphere. When SoulCycle first filed, it mentioned that indoor cycling competitors could hurt profitability and revenue growth. Now Peloton, the stationary bike company that streams classes to customers’ homes, is growing in prominence and considering an IPO for itself.
  • Since the luxury gym Equinox bought a majority stake in SoulCycle in 2011 (and has since increased its stake to 97%), the high-end biking gym has expanded to 87 studios in the U.S. and Canada—its revenue grew more than three-fold between 2012 and 2014, reaching $112 million. In summer 2017, Equinox’s former VP of business development took over as operations chief at SoulCycle, marking Equinox’s continued impact on SoulCycle in the long term. The worst case scenario is that SoulCycle is a fading trend—the best case is that the withdrawal from an IPO and Equinox’s continued leadership will help SoulCycle scale responsibility as a private company, in the face of competitors.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this analysis misstated that JAB had acquired Blue Bottle Coffee and Chameleon Cold-Brew. These acquisitions were made by Nestlé in 2017.