The man who jumped on Friday from the 18th floor of New York City’s iconic Tribeca “Jenga” building has been identified as 52-year-old Gustavo Arnal, the chief financial officer and executive vice president of struggling Bed Bath & Beyond.
Citing police sources, the New York Post reported that Arnal “plunged from the 18th floor of 56 Leonard Street on Friday.” The building is best known for its purposely misaligned apartments stacked atop each other, prompting comparisons to the popular game “Jenga.”
The tragic news comes on the heels of an announcement that the home retail giant will be closing 150 stores and cutting its workforce by 20% in an effort to combat losses exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, NPR reported.
Net sales last week dropped approximately 26% from the same period last year, prompting the company’s drastic measures. Arnal dumped 42,513 of his shares in the company for just over $1 million, according to MarketBeat.com.
Police presence was heavy at 56 Leonard Street following calls to NYPD at around 12:30 p.m. on Friday that someone had jumped from the exclusive 57-story building.
Bed Bath & Beyond, like many retailers, suffered a decline in sales during the pandemic — a decline made worse by a misguided attempt to overhaul its supply chain, according to Wedbush Securities managing director Seth Basham.
“That led to further defection of customers from Bed Bath & Beyond and further pressure on their sales trends,” he told NPR.
Already faltering in 2019, Mark Tritton, a former Target exec, was brought in as CEO and shifted the focus of the company to private labels. While a successful move for Target, the plan was not met with enthusiasm from Bed Bath & Beyond customers, and Tritton was out in June, following a 25% plunge in sales.
Bed Bath & Beyond chain apologizes, stops selling black pumpkins after news station airs complaint https://t.co/pK1nVsxCVN
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) October 23, 2019
“At Target, there are a lot of consumables and other things [customers] went to the store for, and they came to like and enjoy the private label brands they saw,” Basham said. “You didn’t have that draw at Bed Bath & Beyond.”
Arnal, who previously served as CFO at Avon, was brought into the fold in 2020, according to the Daily Mail. Upon his hiring, a company spokesman stated they were “‘bringing in world class talent to offer new perspectives, expertise and experience as we rebuild our business.”
— New York Post (@nypost) September 4, 2022
“Gustavo exemplifies this and his experience delivering business transformation at other leading companies, his deep knowledge of the retail and consumer goods space, as well as his energy and drive will help accelerate our transformation plans,” the statement read.
Independent board director Sue Grove was tapped as an interim CEO following Tritton’s departure. In Wednesday’s announcement, Grove was optimistic in the company’s future, stating Bed Bath & Beyond was “continuing to see significant positive momentum.”
“We are embracing a straight-forward, back-to-basics philosophy that focuses on better serving our customers, driving growth, and delivering business returns,” she said in the news release. “In a short period of time, we have made significant changes and instituted enablers across our entire enterprise to regain our dominance as a preferred shopping destination for our customers’ favorite brands and exciting products. We command a special presence in the Home and Baby markets, and we intend to fulfill our opportunity to be the category retailer of choice.”
“We are working swiftly and diligently to strengthen our liquidity and secure our path for the future,” she explained. “We have taken a thorough look at our business, and today, we are announcing immediate actions aimed to increase customer engagement, drive traffic, and recapture market share. This includes changing our merchandising and inventory strategy, which will be rooted in National Brands.”
“Additionally,” she continued, “we are focused on driving digital and foot traffic, as well as optimizing our store fleet. We believe these changes will have a widespread positive impact across customer experience, inventory assortment, supply chain execution and cost structure. The customer underpins our decisions, and we are committed to delivering what they want while driving growth, profitability, and financial returns.”
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