Is Joann’s IPO success all sewn up thanks to the pandemic?
Jo-Ann Stores went private in 2011 and by 2018 the chain was floundering in the hands of a private equity firm. When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit, however, the crafting retailer, which has been operating under a mountain of debt, experienced an unexpected boom and the retailer (that now goes by Joann) was suddenly doing solid business again. Coming off of a strong 2020, the chain is now pursuing an initial public offering.
Leonard Green & Partners, the private equity firm that owns the retailer, filed a prospectus for the chain’s IPO on Tuesday, Fortune reported. The chain experienced a 24.3 percent increase in sales during the nine months ending October 31, 2020.
Other crafting-related companies have enjoyed similar pandemic-driven prosperity. Publicly-traded DIY craft marketplace Etsy, for instance, experienced a massive influx of business and a huge stock spike, CNBC reported in June. After initial fears that small crafters and the marketplace that catered to them would be swept away amid the nearly unprecedented economic uncertainty, the nationwide need for cloth facemasks turned Etsy into a customer destination.
“Fundamentally there has been a shift for people who want to do more do-it-yourself projects,” Wade Miquelon, Joann’s CEO, told Fortune. He added that the people selling their crafts on marketplaces like Etsy have also benefited Joann as it is a source of supply.
At least some of the success that Joann has had can be attributed to changes the retailer made prior to the pandemic to improve its store experience and services. These were in the works even before Moody’s put the chain on a default watchlist in 2019.
Joan launched an experiential store concept in 2018 meant to bring in customers for longer trips and promote collaboration. The prototype store featured an in-store coffee shop, a “Creator’s Studio” section for classes and events, rentable crafting tools, expert personal shoppers and tech enhancements.
Joann is not the only retailer to pursue a high-profile IPO during the pandemic.
In June of 2020, Albertsons finally went public after years of announcements and false starts. At the time of this story’s writing the share price sits at around $16.32, slightly up from the $16 per share price at the time of the IPO.
- Debt-laden sewing retailer Joann, a surprise winner in the pandemic, files for an IPO – Fortune
- Stitch Pitch: Fabric And Crafts Retailer JOANN Files For IPO – Forbes
- Is now finally the time for Albertson’s IPO? – RetailWire
- Etsy’s stock jumps to record, tripling in three months on surge in face mask sales – CNBC
- Joann Fabrics’ new concept is all about the experience – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Have the upgrades that Joann made in recent years set the company up for success as a publicly-traded company? What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks for Jo-Ann going forward?