Walmart is getting rid of another digitally native brand in a steady about-face that seems to be dismantling the high-profile e-commerce-first strategy of Jet.com founder and former CEO of its U.S. e-commerce business, Marc Lore.
America’s biggest retailer inked a deal with FullBeauty Brands on Friday that will give the size-inclusive company control of Eloquii, the 14-year-old plus-size fashion brand it paid a reported $100 million to acquire in 2018. The move expands FullBeauty’s foothold in the $81 billon U.S. women’s plus-size market, where growth is triple the pace of broader women’s apparel category. More than half of women ages 18 to 65 in the U.S. wear size 14 or higher, according to FullBeauty.
The sale marks the third so far this year for Walmart after it offloaded Moosejaw to Dick’s Sporting Goods in February and Bonobos to WHP Global and Express Inc. earlier this month.
FullBeauty CEO James Fogarty said the company, which also owns WomanWithin, Roaman’s, Catherines, Jessica London, Ellos, KingSize, Brylane Home and One Stop Plus, will use Eloquii to anchor a new FullBeauty digital mall alongside SwimSuitsForAll and June+Vie at launch.
Cross-marketing will expose Eloquii to people shopping FullBeauty’s other brands, using data to suggest products that might resonate based on customer profiles. At some point down the road Eloquii product detail pages could offer styling tips pairing the featured product with items from sister brands.
For Fogerty, Eloquii’s younger audience complements FullBeauty’s largely Gen X and boomer base. “These guys skew towards Gen X and millenials, so there’s a bit more Instagram and TikTok. They’ll bring us into the younger parts of social media marketing,” he told Sourcing Journal in a telephone interview Friday.
That means branching out beyond Facebook, Google listing ads, text messaging and email. Learning from Eloquii’s cadence of successful influencer collaborations is also of interest to FullBeauty.
“They’re quite good at putting collaborations together that really resonate with their customer,” Fogarty said.
That’s just one of the many things the company hopes to glean from what should soon be the newest addition to its fold when deal, expected to close around the middle of the next month, is buttoned up.
“When Catherines came in, we were not doing text marketing and we picked up that move,” Fogarty said. “We weren’t very good at woven tops, and we were able to get smarter on that. And then we were making Catherines smarter about things too. Eloquii does a certain amount of business through apps, and we don’t do the app business today.”
Eloquii, he continued, is also “very quick to market,” and has “interesting factory relationships where they can basically call up the product from the factory on a sketch.” Fogarty believes that speed could be a useful for some of FullBeauty’s newer fashion products.
Fogarty said Walmart and FullBeauty agree not to disclose how much the Eloquii deal is worth.
Julie Carnevale, Eloquii’s co-founder and brand leader, will continue to run the business under FullBeauty’s ownership along with her existing team.
“With FullBeauty’s scale and platform, more customers will learn about Eloquii as we continue to provide our existing customers with the great products and exceptional service they’ve come to expect from us,” she said.
Walmart has recently switched up its apparel strategy to prioritize its own private-labels instead of the onetime growth-by-acquisition spree that saw it snap up several buzzy brands and invest in startups like Jet, the text message-based concierge service it shut down early in the pandemic after much initial fanfare. The retailer installed notable designer and “Project Runway” judge Brandon Maxwell as creative director for its in-house Scoop and Free Assembly labels to drum up some buzz and fashion cred.