Retail & Consumer Products
The 2014 Holiday Retail Forecast: More MediocreRead More
Fragile global economic conditions will continue to exert unpredictable changes on the business of consumer retailing. Particularly in the U.S., retailing is experiencing profound transformation. In order to prosper, retailers must be ever creative and find new ways to improve store-based productivity to compete successfully with niche players and the online channel, and to differentiate themselves among a field of competitors more crowded than ever.
FTI Consulting is uniquely qualified to help clients meet such challenges. Our team includes former industry executives, bankers, lawyers, economists, policymakers, communications professionals and researchers. Together, we provide a full range of corporate finance and turnaround expertise for retailers worldwide, across all sectors, including helping manage communications with investors, analysts, consumers and the press. We apply our highly developed analytics and expertise to move decisively, and our network of relationships with key industry players keeps us on the cutting edge of industry trends and provides us with unmatched capabilities.
Management, boards of directors and other professionals acknowledge that FTI Consulting Retail Solutions practice is one of the most experienced, most respected, and most qualified sources of retail industry expertise.
Business Plan Reviews
FTI Consulting professionals draw upon extensive experience in consumer retailing to develop and review strategic business plans. External and internal factors are evaluated, including market dynamics, competitive landscape, operating trends, financial projections, inventory vs. sales projections, and liquidity requirements for plan success. Our recommendations include strategies for making plan improvements and, when needed, we partner with clients to help implement those improvements.
The typical components of a business plan review include:
- Determining reasonableness of financial projections based on current operating trends
- Evaluating market dynamics and impact of competition
- Analyzing performance by channel and evaluating dynamics for individual business segments
- Ensuring that projections reflect appropriate reinvestment in store configuration and return on capital
- Evaluating appropriate levels of inventory to meet sales projections
- Assessing necessary credit support required from vendors to implement plans
- Identifying an optimal capital structure and determining whether the company has sufficient liquidity to execute its plan
- Performing functional assessments to determine whether the retailer has the operational capability to implement its plan. Areas to review can include: merchandising, store operations, real estate, supply chain, distribution, vendor management, human resources and information technology.
Process & Performance Improvement
FTI Consulting professionals have substantial experience in developing strategies for underperforming retailers that assess processes, drive performance improvement, reduce overhead expenses, and improve profitability. In many cases, our retail clients request that we also assist in implementing the plan. FTI Consulting maintains a proprietary database of retail industry information for benchmarking and comparing performance.
A typical retail performance improvement assignment will include an assessment of performance, including benchmarking and development of an implementation plan in one of or a combination of the following areas:
- Selling, general and administrative costs
- Store and field operation expenses
- Logistics and distribution costs
- Sourcing/supply chain
- Effectiveness of company’s IT platform
- Sales, margin and inventory productivity by category and SKU rationalization
- Channel/product line performance
- Price sensitivity and gross margin dollar impact
Better cash management tools help retailers improve liquidity and optimize working capital. FTI Consulting professionals have helped many large retailers establish or improve liquidity management programs and generate more funds for turnaround efforts and growth plans. We customize cash flow forecasting, modeling and monitoring processes for our clients, including working capital management.
We assist in:
- Developing detailed weekly or daily cash models to assess liquidity requirements and help the business to maximize cash flow
- Instilling a “cash culture” through meetings with personnel in purchasing, store operations, merchandising, distribution and others across the enterprise
- Creating dashboards that provide critical insight to key managers
- Negotiating beneficial terms with vendors and other creditors
- Communicating with lenders to create additional availability under existing loan agreements
- Reviewing the working capital cycle to find ways to generate liquidity through managing inventory, accounts receivable and accounts payable
Real Estate Optimization
Store-level profitability is the foundation of a retailer’s survival and success. FTI Consulting proprietary methodologies evaluate store performance and identify attributes contributing to success and underperformance. In addition, we are experienced in assessing the liquidity impact of potential closings and, if necessary, help the client with the store closing process.
Our nationally recognized retail professionals have been involved in some of the most significant public retail assignments over the past few years. We have deep experience in assessing store-by-store performance, reducing store footprints and analyzing distribution and administrative cost structures post-closing.
Our approach to real estate rationalization includes:
- Determining which attributes produce best financial performance and apply that knowledge to entire store portfolio
- Reviewing lease costs and identifying opportunities to negotiate landlord concessions
- Assessing market value of leases on a store-by-store basis
- Analyzing optimum store footprint
- Reviewing new store openings and net present value projections
- Reviewing fixed/variable nature of non-four-wall costs
- Providing the company with a menu of solutions and timelines for exiting unprofitable real estate out-of-court
FTI Consulting helps retailing clients in difficult situations to spearhead immediate change, to drive long-term positive change and to secure viability by fulfilling CEO, CFO, COO, CIO and CRO positions on an interim basis. These interim executives have extensive experience managing all retailing constituencies and can effectively broker consensus on a plan of action. We restore credibility to an organization while protecting and enhancing enterprise value for stakeholders.
Strategic Alternatives Assessment
FTI Consulting is the market leader in retail restructuring assignments and has advised many high-profile retailing clients in complex situations. We represent companies, private equity firms, secured and unsecured creditors, and other stakeholders in both in-court and out-of-court restructurings and turnarounds. When a client determines that Chapter 11 is the best course of action, we can move decisively to evaluate various restructuring alternatives, to maximize value and to meet the tight time frames required under bankruptcy law. Also, we lead discussions with major constituents including capital providers to ensure sufficient liquidity to execute the plan.
We assist in:
- Developing detailed liquidity forecasts to assess various strategic options
- Creating and assessing strategic alternatives, then building consensus with key constituencies
- Creating and negotiating reorganization plans
- Evaluating capital structure
- Sourcing and negotiating debt financing
- Creating vendor management programs
- Developing both internal and external communications programs
- Assisting with operational readiness for a potential Chapter 11 filing
- Managing disposition of unprofitable locations and mitigation of associated liabilities
- Providing support during the Chapter 11 process, including: serving as expert witness, managing data requests from creditors, reconciling claims, etc.
FTI Consulting can provide customized market research reports, customer surveys or white papers on companies or sectors within the North American retail industry. For more than a decade, we have published our annual "Retail Report" and accompanying holiday season forecast, covering a broad array of topics that impact the U.S. retail sector. We regularly monitor the operating performance of more than 200 large U.S. retailers, and our retail experts frequently are quoted in the business media.
FTI Consulting provides expert communications counsel for effectively reaching key retail audiences, including investors, analysts, consumers and the press. With our global network of retail and consumer clients, we are uniquely positioned to advise companies of all sizes in every imaginable corporate situation. We take a multidisciplinary approach to provide key analyses that help retail and consumer clients navigate a changing and often volatile environment.
Our comprehensive suite of integrated communications services includes:
We often use our extensive knowledge and experience to assist retail companies’ lenders and creditors. Because we clearly understand the fundamental underpinnings of the industry, we provide critical counsel to lenders with troubled or distressed retail credits. They rely on our competencies to complete successful restructurings and to maximize recoveries.
Our services for retailing lenders and creditors include:
- Understanding short and long-term cash needs
- Evaluating operations and assessing turnaround plans
- Facilitating the timely flow of financial information and reviewing it
- Aligning constituency expectations with economic reality
- Analyzing and developing capital structures
- Negotiating executable restructuring programs