The online flowers and gifts retailer purchased PersonalizationMall.com from home furnishings retail chain Bed Bath & Beyond for $252.0 million in cash. This is 1-800-Flowers.com's second acquisition in the last six months. Bed Bath & Beyond is selling the online retailer as part of its plan to fuel growth.

1-800-Flowers.com Inc. plans to acquire PersonalizationMall.com from Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. for $252.0 million, the companies announced Tuesday. The acquisition includes the online gifts retailer’s website, customer database and distribution facility in Bollingbrook, Illinois. PersonalizationMall.com will become a subsidiary of 1-800-Flowers.com. The deal is expected to close by June.

PersonalizationMall.com has had “steady growth” over the years and reached $150.0 million in online revenue last year, according to 1-800-Flowers.com. That would represent roughly 15% of 1-800-Flowers.com’s ecommerce sales of $998.36 million in its fiscal-year 2019 ended June 30. The acquisition creates a retailer that would have generated $1.148 billion in 2019, Digital Commerce 360 estimates.

“PersonalizationMall’s extensive product offering and industry-leading personalization capabilities will be an excellent addition to our growing family of popular gifting brands,” says Chris McCann, CEO of 1-800-Flowers.com.

PersonalizationMall.com offers customized products, including embroidery, digital printing, engraving and sandblasting. The company, founded in 1998, was acquired by Bed Bath & Beyond in 2016.

Customization of products—both to consumers and business clients—is one area of U.S. ecommerce Amazon.com Inc. has not yet infiltrated. While there are products customers can customize on Amazon.com, such as shirts or mugs, the majority of such products are sold by Amazon marketplace sellers. Customization is also not widely promoted by Amazon, as this category of products is not featured as one of its categories in the navigation on the site or the home page. Offering unique products and a distinct customer experience gives retailers not named Amazon an opportunity to grow in spite of the growing dominance of the retail giant, Digital Commerce 360 analysts say.

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1-800-Flowers.com’s acquisitions

1-800-Flowers.com, No. 79 in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, has acquired 20 companies since 1998. Its latest acquisition was in August 2019 when it acquired online gourmet food retailer Shari’s Berries from FTD Companies Inc. for $20.5 million. The deal included customer data, phone numbers, 450 domain names, copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property related to FTD’s gourmet food business.

Before acquiring Shari’s Berries and other FTD assets, 1-800-Flowers’ last acquisition was in 2014 when it acquired online retailer Harry and David, which is known for its food gift baskets. PersonalizationMall.com is 1-800-Flowers.com’s biggest purchase yet, according to data from Crunchbase.

Bed Bath & Beyond’s turnaround plan

Bed Bath & Beyond bought the customized gifts e-retailer in November 2016 for $190 million in cash. Shedding some of its retail assets, such as PersonalizationMall.com, is part of the company’s plan to fuel growth in the future.

The home furnishings retail chain, No. 68, has been struggling. The company posted declining holiday sales, including a 5.4% decline in comparable sales during December and January, driven primarily by store traffic declines, inventory management issues, increased promotional activity and markdowns, the company said on Feb. 11. Digital sales grew approximately 20% over the same period.

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“We are experiencing short-term pain in our efforts to stabilize the business, including the pressures of store traffic trends coupled with our own executional challenges,” president and CEO Mark J. Tritton says. “We are beginning to make bold and broad-based changes to modernize our business and better serve our customers. Our ability to achieve this and change the trajectory of our current results will take time, as we remaster the fundamentals of merchandising, pricing and promotion, and focus on our digital channels as part of our go-forward strategy.”

Activist investors in Bed Bath & Beyond in April 2019 published a report, which outlined the retail chain’s issues and solutions to fix some. One of the proposed solutions was to explore selling the company’s non-core retail businesses, such as Cost Plus World Market, Christmas Tree Shops and PersonalizationMall. A sale of these assets could generate about $1.4 billion, the investors said. The proposed changes were from the investors Legion Partners Asset Management, Macellum Capital Management and Ancora Advisors.

“This transaction is another important step toward simplifying our portfolio and deepening our focus on our core home, baby and beauty businesses,” Tritton says.

Retail and ecommerce acquisitions

1-800-Flower.com’s acquisition of PersonalizationMall.com marks the third retail acquisition in 2020 thus far. The others include: Procter & Gamble’s acquisition of digitally native shaving retailer Billie Inc. and  Simon Property Group, Brookfield Properties and Authentic Brands Group acquisition of fast-fashion retail chain Forever 21.

In 2019, there were 28 acquisitions of online retailers.

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