American Eagle Outfitters offers insight into Jacksonville warehouse closure

The facility is shutting despite logistics expansion plans.

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  • | 12:20 a.m. January 19, 2023
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Quiet Platforms, which is part of American Eagle Outfitters, is vacating its warehouse space inside Building B at Park 295 Industrial Park. The company previously was called Quiet Logistics and Quiet 3PF.
Quiet Platforms, which is part of American Eagle Outfitters, is vacating its warehouse space inside Building B at Park 295 Industrial Park. The company previously was called Quiet Logistics and Quiet 3PF.
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American Eagle Outfitters Inc. had big ambitions for its logistics business after its $361 million acquisition of Quiet Logistics Inc. in December 2021.

The Pittsburgh-based retailer bought the logistics company a little more than a year after Quiet opened a Jacksonville warehouse, one of six U.S. distribution centers for the company.

However, despite its growth strategy, the company disclosed in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed with the state that it is closing the Northwest Jacksonville facility, putting 74 people out of work.

“Quiet Platforms has made the decision to accelerate the closing of the Jacksonville facility to better serve its customers from other strategically placed facilities in its network,” American Eagle said in an emailed statement Jan. 13.

“This move will enable Quiet Platforms to provide enhanced delivery speeds, better total supply chain costs, and increased quality of service,” it said.

Quiet Platforms is the name of American Eagle’s distribution subsidiary that includes Quiet Logistics and another company acquired in 2021, AirTerra Inc.

Quiet Logistics operates a network of distribution centers and AirTerra is described in Securities and Exchange Commission filings as a “middle-mile freight consolidator” that provides shipping solutions.

The logistics unit provides services for clothing, accessories and personal care products sold by American Eagle and its other brand, Aerie.

But the company sees opportunities to grow Quiet Platforms with services to other retailers.

“We believe Quiet is a very exciting business that’s early in its growth curve and has the potential to transform our industry,” Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Michael Rempell said in American Eagle’s third-quarter conference call.

“Interest from prospective customers remains strong, as awareness of the business continues to grow,” he said.

“We are also signing new transportation, fulfillment and technology partners onto the platform, which is further expanding our capabilities.”

American Eagle has not reported specific financial data for its logistics operations but it said Jan. 9 the subsidiary is expected to add 2% to fourth-quarter revenue growth, the same as in the third quarter of 2022.

Besides its Jacksonville warehouse in Building B at Park 295 Industrial Park at Interstate 295 and Duval Road, Quiet Platforms has additional distribution facilities in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and St. Louis.

Quiet Platforms announced a deal in December with real estate services firm JLL to open new fulfillment centers in 2023.

However, the Jacksonville center is no longer in its plans.

Quiet opened the facility in September 2020 and in early 2021, it said it would employ 200 people year-round and double that during peak seasons.

The Jacksonville facility will close in March, according to the WARN notice.

Quiet Platforms said in its statement that the leadership team in Jacksonville will be given the opportunity to apply for other jobs in the organization.

Sen. Warren opposes Tegna deal

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is asking the Federal Communications Commission to block a proposed buyout of television station operator Tegna Inc., saying the deal does not serve the public interest.

The Massachusetts Democrat sent a letter to the FCC on Jan. 11 after hedge fund Standard General L.P. offered concessions in a late December letter to the agency to gain approval to buy Tegna.

“By offering ‘a series of formal commitments’ that might address the FCC’s potential concerns about higher prices, worker layoffs, and collusion, the parties themselves have acknowledged that this deal is likely to produce anticompetitive effects,” Warren’s letter said.

“However, behavioral remedies like those offered by the parties are historically ineffective and should provide no comfort that these Wall Street firms will not engage in anticompetitive practices after the deal is completed,” she said.

One concern raised by a number of parties, which Warren brought up in her letter, is the deal’s potential impact on the Jacksonville television market because of Apollo Global Management’s involvement.

Tegna operates 64 stations, including Jacksonville NBC network affiliate WTLV TV-12 and ABC affiliate WJXX TV-25.

Funds managed by Apollo own a majority of Cox Media Group, which operates Fox affiliate WFOX TV-30 and CBS affiliate WJAX TV-47 and eight other stations.

Warren’s letter said Tegna and Cox stations also overlap in the Atlanta, Charlotte and Seattle markets.

Apollo is providing funding to Standard General for the Tegna buyout but Standard General says Apollo will have no ownership in the Tegna stations.

Warren’s letter was sent a day after Standard General issued a news release listing numerous civil rights organizations, legislators and labor and minority media groups that support the buyout after the firm’s past investments in television.

“Many have pointed to our proven track record of enhancing stations’ service to their local communities, increasing local news content, and investing in the resources stations need to compete successfully,” Standard General founding partner Soo Kim said in the release.

Several television industry news services reported Kim is seeking a meeting with Warren to address her concerns.

Report: Jaguars lead in sponsorship deals

As the Jacksonville Jaguars continue to advance in the NFL playoffs, one organization said the team already leads the league in one area: sponsorship deals.

SponsorUnited, a sports and entertainment intelligence organization, said in a Jan. 10 report the Jaguars had 170-plus sponsorship deals in 2022, more than any other team. The second-most was the Dallas Cowboys with at least 140 deals.

The report did not say the dollar value of the individual team deals.

SponsorUnited estimated the total revenue from sponsorship deals for NFL teams was $2.05 billion and combined with leaguewide deals, the total was $2.7 billion.

It said alcohol was the top category for NFL sponsorships.

Foley acquires interest in French soccer team

After completing its acquisition of a British soccer team in December, an investment group led by Fidelity National Financial Inc. Chairman Bill Foley has acquired an interest in a French team.

Cannae Holdings Inc., the investment company spun off from Jacksonville-based Fidelity, announced Dec. 13 the partnership called Black Knight Football and Entertainment LP agreed to acquire a significant minority ownership interest in FC Lorient, a French Ligue 1 soccer team.

It said Black Knight Football has an opportunity to invest additional capital in FC Lorient after this season.

Foley’s partnership in December acquired English Premier League team A.F.C. Bournemouth.

The partnership has said it is seeking to build a global network of soccer team holdings.

Cannae is an investor in Black Knight Football. 

Foley is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, whose sports teams are nicknamed the Black Knights. Foley also used that name for Jacksonville-based mortgage technology company Black Knight Inc., which was spun off from Fidelity.

Foley is chairman emeritus of Black Knight Inc. but the company has no other relationship to Black Knight Football.

Analyst upgrades Landstar, less optimistic on CSX

 Morgan Stanley transportation analyst Ravi Shanker upgraded his rating on Landstar System Inc. on a more optimistic view for trucking, but maintained an “underweight” rating on railroad company CSX Corp.

In a Jan. 9 report on the outlook for freight stocks, Shanker upgraded Jacksonville-based Landstar from “underweight” to “equal-weight.”

“After a 12-15 month de-stocking driven downcycle, we see signs of bottoming that can potentially lead to inventory normalization by mid-2023 and perhaps drive an upcycle in the second half of 2023,” he said.

“We continue to believe that trucking is the best place to be in transports in 2023.”

However, Shanker thinks the railroad industry faces risks to earnings including cost inflation from new labor deals and service and volume pressure.

Jacksonville-based CSX faces additional pressure under new CEO Joe Hinrichs, who took over in September.

“2023 is a new chapter for CSX with a new CEO who will be hoping that the pivot to growth which CSX has been trying to achieve for the last 2 years finally comes through,” Shanker said.

“However, like other U.S. Rail peers, tough comps on coal, truck competition, muted auto growth as well as headwinds on accessorials (freight surcharges) and cost inflation put the operating ratio at risk in 2023,” he said.

Shanker has a $23 price target on CSX’s stock, which was trading in the low $30s in the first two weeks of this year.

He raised the price target on Landstar from $120 to $140, but that’s still below Landstar’s market price in the $160s before his report.

Alhambra Theatre owners buy St. Johns Food Service

St. Augustine-based St. Johns Food Service was acquired by an investor group led by the owners of Alhambra Theatre & Dining, according to a Jan. 5 announcement by St. Johns’ financial adviser Heritage Capital Group Inc.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

St. Johns Food Service provides restaurant food and paper products to about 500 customers within a 75-mile radius of St. Augustine.

The company was founded in 1949 by veterinarian Ronald Jackson. Melvin McQuaig, who started working for the company in 1963, worked his way up through the company, becoming a partner and eventually buying the business from Jackson in 1994, according to the company’s website.

“As a locally-owned company serving the St. Augustine area for over 70 years, it was important to me to find the right buyer to continue to serve our customers and employees,” McQuaig said in the announcement from Heritage.

Shoreline Equity raises $450 million for second fund

Shoreline Equity Partners LLC said Jan. 10 it raised $450 million from investors for its second private equity fund.

The Neptune Beach-based company launched four years ago now has more than $750 million of committed capital under management, it said.

Shoreline targets businesses with enterprise values between $50 million and $340 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $5 million to $25 million.



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