Consumer Confidential: J. Crew purchased, Campbell Soup suffers, J&J's latest recall
-- Clothing retailer J. Crew has new owners. The company is being acquired for about $3 billion by a pair of private-equity firms: TPG Capital, a former owner of J. Crew, and Los Angeles-based Leonard Green & Partners. They'll be joined by J. Crew CEO (and former Gap boss) Millard Drexler, who will stay in the job and maintain a "significant equity investment" in the company. J. Crew has done fairly well as a purveyor of "high-end casual," which basically means costly khakis. Personally, I think their stuff is a bit too pricey, and I'm apparently not alone. The company says its third-quarter profit fell to $37.8 million from $43.9 million a year earlier.
--It's the time of year when moms everywhere say, "Drink your soup." But not enough, apparently, for our friends at Campbell Soup Co., which says quarterly sales fell 8.2% and things don't look promising for months ahead. The company says aggressive discounting in the soup aisle at supermarkets is mostly to blame for the cut in profit. Campbell says it will respond with more soup-pushing ads, as well as "brand building" campaigns intended to remind people of the fact they've been slurping the company's Chicken With Stars since, well, forever.
--Another good reason to drink your soup: It's safer. Johnson & Johnson has announced yet another recall, this time involving Children's Benadryl Allergy Fastmelt Tablets and Junior Strength Motrin Caplets. The recall involves cherry and grape flavors of the Fastmelt tablets, as well as 24-count packages of Junior Strength Motrin Caplets. The company says there's no health danger, and that consumers can continue to use the products. But it's still recalling them because a review revealed "insufficiencies in the development of the manufacturing process," whatever that means.
-- David Lazarus
Photo: A J. Crew store in New York. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press