The running list of major retail deals in 2021

From IPOs to acquisitions, here's the latest on some of the top deals retailers have announced this year. Retail Dive Team

Adeline Kon/Retail Dive

Last year, several retailers inked deals in the form of partnerships, acquisitions and initial public offerings, among other things.

Retail Ecommerce Ventures snapped up the IPs of bankrupt retailers, including Pier 1, Modell's and Stein Mart. VF Corp — the owner of Vans, The North Face and Timberland — acquired cult-favorite streetwear label Supreme for $2.1 billion. And several companies went public, including DTC darling Casper, resale platform Poshmark and pet specialty retailer Petco.

In fact, IPOs across industries reached a two-decade high in 2020, reaching 407 — a 109% increase year over year, according to data from Trading Platforms. And while retail IPOs were off to a slow start at the beginning of the year, activity picked up in the back half, with eight companies filing for an IPO in the fourth quarter and total IPOs for the year hitting 12, according to FactSet.

But last year also saw the collapse of several deals as the pandemic rattled the industry. Private equity firm Sycamore Partners was set to acquire L Brands-owned Victoria's Secret in a $525 million deal, but following weeks of back-and-forth in court, the companies announced a "mutual termination" in May. And J. Crew and Gap Inc., which announced intents to spin off their well-performing Madewell and Old Navy banners, backed out of those plans.

Now, well into 2021, we're keeping an eye on — and tracking — the most important mergers, acquisitions, IPOs and other deals. Here's the running list of major deals thus far:

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HBC, Insight Partners spinoff of Saks Off 5th e-commerce DEAL TYPE: Spinoff DATE ANNOUNCED: June 21 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In stark contrast to rival department store company Nordstrom, which earlier this year outlined various ways it's more closely integrating its full-price, off-price, offline and online operations, HBC is drawing distinctions. Things started in March when HBC — owner of Canadian Hudson's Bay Co. and American Saks Fifth Avenue — announced that its full-price Saks digital business would spin off with the help of a $500 million private equity-backed infusion. Now HBC is doing much the same thing with Saks' off-price business, Saks Off 5th, this time with $200 million from investors, led again by private equity firm Insight Partners. In both cases (which have produced a dizzying number of brand names for the various businesses), HBC is keeping the brick-and-mortar stores and their operations. Despite the divisions, the digital and physical entities will continue to have relationships with each other, at least in part to serve customers who presumably simply want to interact with Saks.

Neiman Marcus acquisition of Stylyze DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: June 15 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Neiman Marcus, its once massive debt load much lighter following last year's bankruptcy restructuring and subsequent debt refinancing, announced the first of what it said will be a series of investments in technology over the next three years, with a budget of $500 million. The department store said it intends to acquire cloud-based software-as-a-service platform Stylyze, which offers "enterprise solutions to the home and fashion retail verticals.” Neiman Marcus Group declined to disclose the terms of any deal, which is expected to close later this year. A Neiman spokesperson said the platform’s team, led by two women interior-design professionals who founded the company, would exclusively work for Neiman Marcus from its Seattle headquarters. Stylyze would lose its other clients -- which now include Target and, among others -- the spokesperson said by email. The tech push comes amid a concerted effort by the retailer this year to expand its e-commerce capabilities. In January, Neiman Marcus replaced its chief digital officer and infused $85 million into its supply chain, saying it was "grouping technology, digital products, and advanced analytics under one leader and distorting capital to these areas."

Iconix Brands acquired by Lancer Capital DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: June 11 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: For more than a year Iconix Brand Group — owner of the Umbro, Starter, Mossimo, London Fog and numerous other brands — has been looking for ways to ease its debt burden, including a sale. In June, the brand holding company announced a deal to sell itself to private equity firm Lancer Capital, which would take the company private. Under the agreement, Lancer would put in $60 million in equity capital while Silver Point Capital would provide additional financing. Lancer would acquire Iconix's 14.5 million outstanding shares for $3.15 apiece. With net debt factored in, the deal is valued at $585 million.

Torrid IPO DEAL TYPE: IPO DATE ANNOUNCED: June 7 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Torrid has been eyeing the public stock market for a while now. The plus apparel retailer filed for an IPO in 2017, only to take it back two years later. That may have been because apparel sales in general are ebbing, or because plus apparel retailers are contending with new competition, as more brands work toward inclusive sizing. In any case, Torrid, which caters to "the 25- to 40-year-old woman who is curvy and wears sizes 10 to 30," has a loyal following. And the retailer doesn’t really compete much with plus powerhouse Lane Bryant, which was just snapped up by its owner, private equity firm Sycamore Partners, late last year. If the company follows through this time, its ticker symbol would be CURV, per its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Even after going public, Sycamore would still "own a majority of the voting power of shares eligible to vote in the election of our directors," according to the filing.

Etsy acquisition of Depop DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: June 2 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: As secondhand apparel sales have taken off, London-based, mobile-first Depop has emerged as a global Gen Z favorite. That should have made it attractive to traditional retailers like Gap Inc. or Macy’s by now, according to Lee Peterson, executive vice president of thought leadership and marketing at WD Partners. Instead it’s Etsy that is ponying up $1.6 billion to take it over. The acquisition fits with its reputation as a differentiated marketplace of handmade and vintage finds, while allowing it to address its weakness in apparel, according to GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders. “The acquisition of Depop which has put down very deep roots in the resale market, especially among younger consumers in the UK and US, partly extends Etsy’s geographical reach and boosts its customer base,” Saunders said in emailed comments. “It also gives it a platform with a fashion resale focus through which it can tap into the surging secondhand clothing market.” As with Etsy’s 2019 acquisition of musical gear marketplace Reverb, Depop will continue to operate on its own, with its leadership in place in London, while benefiting from Etsy’s scale and expertise

Walmart’s acquisition of Zeekit DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: May 13 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Walmart is hopping on the virtual try-on trend with its plans to acquire Zeekit — a female-founded digital fitting room startup based in Israel. The retailer said the acquisition gives customers the ability to test clothing from by uploading a photo or choosing a model that best represents their body type, height and skin tone. Walmart did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. Zeekit's three founders — CEO Yael Vizel, Chief Technology Officer Alon Kristal and Vice President of Research and Development Nir Appleboim — will join Walmart as part of the deal. Virtual try-on technology may help lessen returns — a problem online retailers have had historically. The deal might also indicate Walmart’s attempts to get a better share of the e-commerce market as it continues to grow exponentially

Ralph Lauren sale of Club Monaco DEAL TYPE: Sale DATE ANNOUNCED: May 13 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Ralph Lauren bought Club Monaco 22 years ago, in a cash transaction with an equity value of about $52 million; Polo Ralph Lauren also paid down some $35 million of Club Monaco’s debt, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Since then, even more so during the pandemic, U.S. consumers have increasingly dressed down for every occasion, giving brands like Club Monaco and Banana Republic an especially hard time. Analysts weren’t surprised by the company’s decision to sell the brand to private equity firm Regent, a deal, for an undisclosed amount, expected to close in June. "Like others, Ralph Lauren has appreciated the ability to use this time to recalibrate their business model," BMO Capital Markets Managing Director Simeon Siegel said. "I think that they're focusing on just their core healthy businesses, and on growing their core healthy businesses." Ralph Lauren, which also decided to turn its low-cost Chaps brand into a license-only business, said that with the Club Monaco sale it’s done trimming its portfolio.

L Brands spinoff of Victoria’s Secret DEAL TYPE: Spinoff DATE ANNOUNCED: May 11 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: It’s been a long road for Victoria’s Secret, and in recent years a bumpy one, as the once dominant lingerie brand missed the memo of the #MeToo era. The brand, which L Brands acquired in 1982 for $1 million, long depended on other-worldly “angels” and sexualized “glamazon” marketing that fell out of favor in the 21st century. Despite clear signs that the consumer was ready for something fresh — increasingly provided by new rivals including DTC brands and American Eagle’s Aerie —Victoria’s Secret was slow to change, and sales growth tanked. Meanwhile, Bath & Body Works took up the slack, consistently outperforming its sibling quarter upon quarter, with demand stoked last year during the pandemic. L Brands solved its Victoria’s Secret problem early last year by selling off a majority stake to private equity firm Sycamore Partners for a measly $525 million; that fell through due to the pandemic. Executives remained adamant that their two brands would separate somehow, though. On May 11 they said they had entertained several offers, some topping $3 billion. None passed muster with the board, which voted unanimously to spin the brand off into its own publicly traded entity. The maneuver will be complete some time in August. The move will be good for both brands, according to GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders. "[T]he divorce gives Victoria's Secret no place to hide," he said in emailed comments. "Its numbers will no longer be flattered by the contribution of Bath & Body Works and its management team will be fully accountable to investors. Such accountability is no bad thing and will likely sharpen efforts to enact a genuine turnaround at the company." UPDATES:

  • June 21 L Brands on Monday took its final steps in separating Victoria's Secret into an independent, public company, by filing the necessary paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to an announcement sent to Retail Dive. The business will be called Victoria's Secret & Co. and will include Victoria's Secret Lingerie, Pink and Victoria's Secret Beauty. The separation is expected to be completed in August.

Paper Source acquisition by Elliott Investment Management DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: May 11 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Paper Source filed for bankruptcy early in 2021 after the financial fallout from COVID-19 caught up with it. Prior to the pandemic, the paper goods and gift retailer was undergoing a period of expansion, including by taking over leases left behind by rival Papyrus, which liquidated in early 2020. Elliott Investment Management emerged as the successful bidder for Paper Source in a Chapter 11 process set up to sell the retailer. Elliott, which acquired Barnes & Noble in 2019, said it sees the book retailer and Paper Source as "highly complementary." While the two companies will operate independently, Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt will have oversight of Paper Source, Elliott said in a presentation.

Eddie Bauer acquisition by Sparc Group DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: May 7 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: With so many specialty retailers and department stores leaving traditional malls by shrinking their footprints or heading to alternatives like strip centers, Simon Property Group has taken over -- literally. With Authentic Brands Group (with whom it shares interest in Sparc) and in a few cases with rival mall REIT Brookfield, Simon now owns a stake in Aeropostale, Forever 21, Lucky Brand, Brooks Brothers and J.C. Penney. The REITs now are lobbying to be able to own even more without sacrificing their considerable tax benefits. For Eddie Bauer, this could mean a new lease on life, after spending the last few years sharing operations with teen surfwear retailer PacSun. The current climate is favorable to outdoor gear retailers like the century-old Eddie Bauer, as consumers have embraced outside activities during the pandemic. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close June 1 if it passes muster with regulators, weren’t disclosed. UPDATES:

  • June 1 Authentic Brands and Sparc Group announced they completed the acquisition for Eddie Bauer. Post-deal, the brand's operations will merge with Sparc while its corporate team remains in Seattle under current Eddie Bauer CEO Damien Huang. Sparc CEO Marc Miller said in a press release that the acquisition brings "an outdoor and active focus to the company and expands SPARC’s technical and performance product expertise."

At Home acquisition by Hellman & Friedman DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: May 6 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: At Home Group on May 6 announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman for an all-cash offer valued at $2.8 billion. The deal — which is expected to close during the third quarter of this year, subject to customary closing conditions — would make the retailer a privately held company no longer trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Through a 40-day “go-shop” period, At Home can solicit additional acquisition proposals from other parties. At Home shareholders will receive $36 a share, a premium of approximately 17% from the May 4 closing price, according to the announcement. UPDATES:

  • June 15 At Home’s “go-shop” period to solicit other offers has ended, the company said in a press release Tuesday. The company contacted 24 third parties, but only one signed a nondisclosure agreement and none ultimately wanted to acquire or supply financing to At Home. That clears the path for At Home’s acquisition by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman.

  • May 16 CAS Investment Partners, the largest shareholder of At Home, on May 16 said in a letter to the board that it would vote against the proposed acquisition, as the deal "grossly undervalues the Company and deprives stockholders of anything resembling a fair premium." CAS suggested instead a price closer to $70 per share, citing improvements at the retailer over the past year.

Office Depot spinoff of B2B business DEAL TYPE: Spinoff DATE ANNOUNCED: May 5 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: ODP Corporation plans to split itself up into two independent, publicly traded companies. One would house the Office Depot and Office Max retail units, the other the company’s distribution and B2B contracting businesses. ODP said the move would create flexibility, focus and value for shareholders. The announcement came after months of pursuit by rival Staples and its private equity owner Sycamore Partners. Sycamore has made an offer for some ODP assets already, but the latter said the offer came without a price or any acceptance of regulatory risk for getting a merger through antitrust authorities. ODP expects to complete the separation in the first half of 2022.

ModCloth acquisition by Nogin DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: May 5 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: When financial firm Go Global Retail bought quirky women's apparel brand ModCloth from Walmart in 2019, the idea was to pare back discounts and expand internationally. Walmart had snapped up the online retailer in 2017 as part of its e-commerce push and seemed to largely left it alone. But the pandemic interfered with Go Global's plans, as women, mostly working from home and with nowhere to go, stopped buying dresses. E-commerce platform Nogin came calling, and Go Global jumped at the chance to give the brand what it says will be a good home. The companies didn't reveal terms, including price.

Gap Inc. sale of Intermix DEAL TYPE: Sale DATE ANNOUNCED: May 4 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Intermix was a two-decade old New York City boutique when Gap Inc. acquired it in 2012; the upscale retailer now runs 31 stores and an e-commerce business. But, despite some consistencies of style, Intermix, which sells other name brands, never really fit neatly in Gap’s portfolio. Nor did it likely make much money, according to Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow. In fact, Intermix was "a different model and thus a distraction," according to a March client note from MKM Partners Managing Director Roxanne Meyer, who also applauded Gap Inc. executives for reviewing their options. On May 4, the company announced private equity firm Altamont Capital Partners will buy the business -- e-commerce, store operations, everything -- for an undisclosed amount. The move comes not long after Gap Inc. also dumped children’s retailer Janie and Jack, acquired just two years ago. The executive team at the conglomerate has made clear that all its brands must prove their worth -- and that includes namesake and former icon Gap itself.

South Moon Under acquisition by Ames Watson DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: May 4 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Maryland-based fashion boutique struck a deal to be acquired by Ames Watson, a long-term private investment vehicle that picked up Lids from Genesco in 2019. Ames Watson indicated that it planned to expand South Moon Under, which has 30 stores. "We see a tremendous opportunity to grow a brand with high recognition into a national store with a local approach," Lawrence Berger, co-founder and partner with Ames Watson, said in a press release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

VF Corp. sale of workwear labels DEAL TYPE: Sale DATE ANNOUNCED: April 28 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: For a few years now, VF Corp. has been shuffling its portfolio in order to focus on retail, keeping its Vans, The North Face and Timberland brands, and new acquisition Supreme, among others, while selling off its Lee and Wrangler denim brands and other businesses. An effort to unload nine occupational workwear labels began a little over a year ago, and in April the company said it found a buyer in holding company Redwood Capital Investments. The brands involved are Red Kap, VF Solutions, Bulwark, Workrite, Walls, Terra, Kodiak, Work Authority and Horace Small; the sale doesn't include Dickies or Timberland PRO. Terms of the deal, including the price, weren’t disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of fiscal 2022, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Affirm's acquisition of Returnly DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: April 21 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Buy now, pay later company Affirm in April entered into an agreement to acquire Returnly, a returns payment platform, for about $300 million. Affirm in 2019 invested in Returnly, which gives eligible consumers the ability to receive an instant merchant credit upon initiating a return. Returnly currently serves more than 1,800 merchants and has been used by over 8 million shoppers. The deal is expected to close by the end of June. UPDATES:

  • May 3 Affirm announced the completed acquisition of Returnly on May 3. "With Returnly, Affirm addresses the full shopping journey by enabling seamless return experiences that drive loyalty and satisfaction," Affirm CEO Max Levchin said in a statement.

Honest Co. IPO DEAL TYPE: IPO DATE ANNOUNCED: April 9 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: With the pandemic fueling a surge in health and wellness products, The Honest Co. filed for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission in early April, with a placeholder IPO target of $100 million. While revenue in 2020 rose 27.6% year over year, reaching $300.5 million, the company noted that it has yet to reach profitability. Net loss in 2020, however, narrowed by 53.5% to $14.5 million. Growth plans include expanding in Canada, Europe and Asia, and working with both retailers and third-party e-commerce platforms. In 2020, more than half of the company’s revenue came from just three retailers: Target, Amazon and Costco. UPDATES:

  • May 6 The Honest Co. debuted on the stock market Wednesday, selling 25.8 million shares for $16 each, close to the high-end of its initial price range. The DTC brand raised $413 million from the IPO, and was valued at $1.45 billion at the time of the IPO. On the first day of trading, shares of the company closed at $23.

  • April 26 A couple of weeks after filing for an IPO, the Honest Co. has added more details about its bid to go public. The company, together with its selling stockholders, will offer 25.8 million shares and the option to purchase an additional 3.9 million, with an initial price of between $14 and $17 per share, according to a filing with the SEC. The IPO is expected to raise $504 million at the high-end of the range, assuming the additional 3.9 million shares are purchased, but Honest Co. will pocket about $110 million of that since it is only offering 6.5 million of the shares. The deal values the Honest Co. at up to $1.5 billion.

Signet Jewelers' acquisition of Rocksbox DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: April 6 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Signet Jewelers acquired Rocksbox, a jewelry rental subscription platform, for an undisclosed amount, making inroads on its recently announced "Inspiring Brilliance growth strategy." Rocksbox, founded in 2012, is an online retail and rental service, as subscribers can return merchandise after a time, with shipping free both ways, or opt to buy it. Rocksbox CEO and founder Meaghan Rose, a former business consultant, will remain with the company. The move fits with Signet's goals of boosting e-commerce, expanding its existing services (including repair, warranty services and piercings) and introducing new services. At the moment, the retailer runs a largely mall-based fleet of 2,800 stores, which operate under the banners Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared, H.Samuel, Ernest Jones, Peoples, Piercing Pagoda and James Allen.

HBC, Insight Partners spinoff of Saks e-commerce DEAL TYPE: Spinoff DATE ANNOUNCED: March 5 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In a move meant to capitalize on the Saks Fifth Avenue brand and partake of rising online sales of luxury goods, private equity firm Insight Partners invested $500 million to help owner HBC spin off the department store's e-commerce business into a separate entity dubbed "Saks." HBC will retain full control of the brick-and-mortar business, whose 40 stores will operate separately as "SFA." The move appears to be largely financially motivated, as HBC said the deal (valued at $2 billion with Insight taking a minority stake) allows it "to unlock significant value within our company's assets." Customers will experience both as a single brand, "Saks Fifth Avenue," but it's unclear how the bifurcation could affect operations and customer experience. Plans are for Saks to develop a marketplace, a thorny issue for a luxury player, given the proliferation of fakes on such platforms.

Michaels' acquisition by Apollo Global Management DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: March 3 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Private equity firm Apollo Global Management plans to secure long-term debt to finance its proposed takeover of Michaels, which has seen sales of crafts materials, puzzles and games surge with people stuck at home during the pandemic. The retailer's board has unanimously endorsed the $5 billion offer and has 25 days to find a better one. But competition is stiff in this space, and Michaels requires further improvements to its operations, including its stores, making the debt a potential burden, according to GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders. High levels of debt and steep management fees under private equity ownership have previously interfered with many retail turnovers, leading several to the bankruptcy court. UPDATES:

  • April 15 Apollo Global Management completed its $5 billion acquisition of Michaels on Thursday, according to a company press release, officially making Michaels a privately-held subsidiary of Apollo. Michaels’ stock will cease to trade on the stock exchange as a result.

ThredUp IPO DEAL TYPE: IPO DATE ANNOUNCED: March 3 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Secondhand apparel platform ThredUp announced it filed an S-1 with the SEC and listed the size of the offering as $100 million. The company applied to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol TDUP, and underwriters include Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. According to a company-issued report in 2020, the resale market is forecast to reach $44 billion by 2029, with 52% of consumers expected to spend more on secondhand fashion. ThredUp, which was founded in 2009, had 1.24 million active buyers and 428,000 active sellers at the time of its filing. UPDATES:

  • March 29 On March 26, ThredUp started trading at above $18, higher than its IPO price of $14, which was already at the high end of its range. Shares rose nearly 43% to $20 by the close of trading. The company sold 12 million shares to raise $168 million.

  • March 18 On March 18 the company announced in a press release that it will offer 12 million shares of Class A common stock. The initial public offering price is expected to be between $12 to $14 per share.

Estée Lauder's increased stake in Deciem DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: Feb. 23 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Estée Lauder announced it would pay $1 billion for a controlling stake in beauty company Deciem in February, upping its ownership from 29% to 76%. Estée Lauder said it would purchase the remaining interest in Deciem after three years, with the price determined by Deciem's financial performance. The deal values Deciem at $2.2 billion, according to the companies. Estée Lauder first invested in the company, known for its skincare brand, The Ordinary, in 2017. For the past year, Deciem's six brands recorded total net sales of $460 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of June. UPDATES:

  • May 18 Estée Lauder announced on May 18 it completed its deal to take a majority stake in Deciem. The beauty conglomerate now owns 76% of Deciem, and will purchase the remaining interests after a three-year period for a price to be determined by Deciem’s performance.

Joann IPO DEAL TYPE: IPO DATE ANNOUNCED: Feb. 16 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Joann's $100 million initial public offering could ultimately end up much larger than that. It comes as the crafting retailer and its private equity owners look to cash in on increased interest in sewing and crafts during the pandemic (not to mention a robust stock market). Bloomberg and Morning Consult data cited by Joann in its IPO papers shows 30% of Americans were sewing or repairing clothes during the pandemic. Joann estimates it has about a third of the sewing market, making it a leader in the category. After the deal, Joann would still be majority-owned by Leonard Green & Partners and remain heavily indebted.

Walmart's acquisition of Thunder's intellectual property DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: Feb. 4 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Walmart acquired the technology and intellectual property behind Thunder — an ad-tech solution focused on creative automation. The tech is part of a new self-serve display advertising platform the retailer plans to roll out later in 2021. The acquisition followed a revamp of Walmart's media network, including a name change from Walmart Media Group to Walmart Connect. The retailer is strategizing to become a "top ten advertising platform."

Staples' acquisition offer to Office Depot DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: Jan. 11 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: This deal, a reprise of two previously failed attempts by these two office supplies retailers to merge, remains in flux, as Office Depot has rebuffed the $2.1 billion takeover offer from Sycamore Partners-owned Staples. Office Depot cited concerns that the Federal Trade Commission could once again frown upon them combining, though the company outlined ways things could go forward, including a joint venture or an acquisition limited to Office Depot's consumer-facing operations. UPDATES:

  • June 4 The parent of Staples has made a $1 billion proposal to buy the consumer business of ODP Corporation that would include the Office Depot and OfficeMax retail business, according to a press release. ODP acknowledged that it has received Staples' new offer and is "carefully reviewing" it. In its letter to ODP, Staples signaled that it was prepared to bypass ODP's board with an offer to stockholders "unless our negotiations for a consensual alternative transaction as proposed herein are successful."

  • March 31 Staples said in a press release it is exploring “all alternatives” to buy all or select ODP assets. Potential assets include ODP’s retail and consumer-facing business, its business operations in Canada “and certain other assets.” Staples will no longer launch a tender offer for ODP’s common shares this month, but the retailer is still working with the Federal Trade Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau to get clearance for a transaction, and hinted it may resort to a tender offer again in the future.

Amazon's acquisition of startup Selz DEAL TYPE: Acquisition DATE ANNOUNCED: January WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: After leaving this space five years ago and allowing firms like Shopify to dominate it, Amazon is now backtracking. Selz is a small Australian startup that, like Shopify, provides digital turnkey tools for smaller retailers to easily get into e-commerce. With so many consumers leery of shopping indoors, that became a must even for small and local shops during the pandemic, and all signs indicate that many customers will continue to expect to be able to order online even from mom and pops.

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