Earlier this week, Target announced a partnership with online mattress and bedding company Casper, which is backed by some notable investors including actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Under the deal, Target will begin selling Casper's mattresses, plush sheets, a lounger and pillows, among other bedding items, at its 1,807 stores on June 18.
But, as Recode revealed on Friday, Target allegedly held discussions with Casper to acquire its business for $1 billion, but the two companies couldn't hash out a deal. Instead, Target settled with a minority stake.
Target declined to comment and Casper did not respond to a query.
This isn't the first recent acquisition that allegedly has slipped through Target's fingers.
Rumors circulated recently that the company was in advanced talks to buy organic grocer Sprouts Farmers Market (SFM) last summer, but that Target eventually ditched the effort. As Target appears to be falling behind Walmart in almost every category - especially grocery - not closing deals that could improve its prospects likely isn't the best move.
In part, the inability of Target to get a deal done could reflect the cautious management style of CEO Brian Cornell.
"We look at them [acquisitions] through a filter of what's going to really enhance our current business initiatives, so I would put out of the box [ideas] on the side and really think about M&A as something that is going to compliment and strengthen our core strategy, and help us accelerate and complement the interaction we have with Target guests," Cornell explained on a conference call this week when asked by an analyst on his acquisition philosophy.
Walmart, on the other hand, has been on somewhat of a shopping spree as of late.
Since buying e-commerce startup Jet.com for $3.3 billion in August, its founder, and now head of Walmart's U.S. e-commerce division, Marc Lore, has led the charge in acquiring several notable online companies, four to be exact. Some of the top names include women's vintage-inspired retailer Modcloth.com for $150 million and outdoor recreational retailer Moosejaw for $50 million. The world's largest retailer is also reportedly in advanced talks to buy men's clothing startup Bonobos for $300 million.
Walmart's efforts, which include slashing food prices and better stocking shelves in addition to those online, look to be paying early dividends.
On Wednesday, Target reported a first-quarter same-store sales decline of 1.4%, while Walmart, the next day, posted a comparable store sales increase of 1.4%. Walmart's store traffic has been up for 10 straight quarters, whereas Target continues to battle declines.
Walmart's online sales surged 63% in the quarter, Target's clocked in with a 22% increase.
Meanwhile, a new study by investment bank Cowen shows that customer satisfaction with the total shopping experience at Target declined for a fourth-consecutive period.
In a recent research note, Cowen analyst Oliver Chen said that Target, lacking the consumer perception that it offers the same low prices as rival Walmart, is "likely losing share on everyday essentials, as customers turn to Amazon (AMZN) , Walmart and other places."
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