Logo of jester cap with thought bubble with words 'Fool Transcripts' below it

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBY)
Q1 2018 Earnings Conference Call
June 27, 2018, 5:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Welcome to the Bed Bath & Beyond first quarter Fiscal 2018 earnings call. All participants will be in a listen-only mode until the Q&A portion of the call. Today's conference call is being recorded. A rebroadcast of the conference call will be available on Wednesday, June 27th, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. through 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, June 29th, 2018. To access the rebroadcast, you may dial 888-843-7419 with a passcode ID of 47122204. At this time, I'd like to turn the conference over to Janet Barth, Vice President, Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Janet Barth -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you, Adrienne, and good afternoon, everyone. Before we begin, I want to let you know that in addition to today's earnings press release dated June 27th, 2018, we have also published a slide presentation to accompany our prepared remarks as part of our continuous effort to enhance our investor communications. Both the earnings release and the slide presentation can be found in the investor relations section of our website at www.bedbathandbeyond.com and as exhibits to the form 8-K we filed just ahead of this call. Feel free to access it now if you can while I continue with our introduction.

Joining me on our call today are Steven Temares, Bed Bath & Beyond's Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors, Robyn D'Elia, our Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Gene Castagna, President and Chief Operating Officer, Sue Lattmann, our Chief Administrative Officer, and Debbie Propst, President and Chief Merchandising Officer, One Kings Lane.

Let me remind you that this conference call and the slides referred to may contain forward-looking statements, including statements about and references to our internal models and our long-term objectives. All such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from what we say during the call today. Please refer to our most recent periodic SEC filings for more detail on these risks and uncertainties. The company undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements.

Here are some highlights from our first quarter results, which reflect our ongoing transformation and our continued focus on being trusted by our customers as the expert for the home and heartfelt life events. We are on track with our modeling assumptions for Fiscal 2018, as well as our three-year financial goals that comprise our vision for 2020. Our first quarter net sales increased approximately 0.4% and comparable sales declined approximately 0.6%, including strong sales growth from our customer-facing digital channels and amid single-digit percentage decline in sales from our stores.

Net earnings per diluted share were $0.32. Retail inventories were reduced by approximately $300 million at cost compared to the end of the prior year first quarter. And we continue to grow our cash in investments. In addition, our board of directors today delivered a quarterly dividend of $0.15 per share, payable on October 16th, 2018 to shareholders of record at the close of business on September 14th, 2018.

During our call today, we will discuss some of our key initiatives, review our quarterly results, including our Fiscal 2018 modeling assumptions and then open up the call for questions. I'll now turn the call over to Steven.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Janet. Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge the recent departure of Art Stark, President and Chief Merchandising Officer. During his long and distinguished career, Mark played an instrumental leadership role in building and growing our company and we are forever grateful.

Succeeding Art in our Chief Merchandising Officer role is Todd Johnson, who joined our company in 1997, has served in several key leadership roles, including most recently as President and Chief Merchandising Officer for Christmas Tree Shops. Todd brings great passion and knowledge about us and we look forward to his perspective as we continue to refine our assortment strategy and further evolve our merchant organization.

I would also like to welcome Robyn D'Elia. As a new participant on our call today, Robyn was recently promoted to Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. We are fortunate to have experienced a seamless transition as Robyn has been an integral part of our management team and has been working closely with Sue and Gene since 1996.

We're also pleased to have recently announced the promotions of Gene to President and Chief Operating Officer and Sue to Chief Administrative Officer. Gene and Sue will be focused on our company's transformation and making sure we remain on target to achieve our long-term goals. We have a talented team of passionate leaders across our company, including longtime associates, as well as those who have joined the company more recently and we are thrilled to be able to further leverage their strengths.

As for the quarter, our performance was in line with our expectations and as Janet said, we remain on track with our modeling assumptions for Fiscal 2018 as well as our three-year financial goals that comprise our vision for 2020, which include to achieve comp sales growth beginning this year, to achieve moderating declines in our operating profit and net earnings per diluted share this year and next, and to achieve growth in our earnings per share by 2020.

During the quarter, we continue to make good progress on our strategic initiatives in connection with our transformation. Our strategy remains rooted in our customer-centric culture and commitment to customer service and consists of four broad areas of focus -- assortment, services, experience, and operational excellence.

In previous calls, we have detailed a number of initiatives under way within each of these areas, designed and prioritized to position our company to effectively pursue our mission to become the trusted expert for the home and heartfelt life events. We would like to provide an update on some of these initiatives on today's call.

For those of you that have our slide presentation up, you might want to turn to the slide entitled Accelerate Growth of Decorative Furnishings. For that, I would like to turn the call over to Debbie Probst to give an update. Debbie is leading an effort to further establishing Bed Bath & Beyond in the decorative furnishings category. Debbie is also President and Chief Merchandising Officer of One Kings Lane, an authority in home décor and design, offering a unique collection of select home goods, designer and vintage items, as well as our private label brand, One Kings Lane Collection.

As a reminder, Debbie joined us with the acquisition of One Kings Lane in 2016 and we're very glad to have her expertise and fresh perspective as we execute our strategy in the decorative furnishings category. Debbie.

Debbie Propst -- President and Chief Merchandising Officer, One Kings Lane

Thank you, Steven, and hello, everyone. I'm very happy to be here today to talk about decorative furnishings. We believe decorative furnishings is an important business for Bed Bath & Beyond to be in, not only for the revenue growth opportunity, but more importantly to further establish ourselves as the trusted expert for the whole home.

To us, decorative furnishings represent the following categories -- furniture, lighting, rugs, art, mirrors, and wall décor. Our strategy focuses on four key areas -- one, to have an expansive online assortment differentiated over time that give our customers a choice of style and price point. Two, to offer quality and value to our customers, ensuring we are priced competitively against our digital competitors, three, to provide a convenient and easy shopping and delivery experience, and four, to increase awareness among our customers that we are in the furniture business.

Our efforts are supported by an agile and cross-functional team consisting of buyers, planners, data analysts, merchandise operations specialists, category site merchandisers, and dedicated marketing support. We are in the early stages, but besides that, we are beginning to see some positive results.

For example, on a year over year basis, sales of decorative furnishings within Bed Bath & Beyond and buybuy BABY in the US and Canada have experienced strong growth of approximately 21.5% in the first quarter if Fiscal 2018. Year to date through the end of the first quarter, engagement with decorative furnishings product pages on the Bed Bath & Beyond website is up about 34%.

Similarly, on the buybuy BABY website, engagement with decorative furnishings product pages has about doubled. As another example, the average order value of decorative furnishings during the same period on the Bed Bath & Beyond website, up approximately 4.4% to the same period last year and was about 49% than the overall site average order value.

For baby, the average order value for baby furnishings was up around 1.9% for the same period last year, approximately 115% higher than the overall site average overall value. These are encouraging data points that we will continue to use to track our progress.

As I mentioned, we have several initiatives under way supporting the growth strategy for decorative furnishings. As far as our assortment expansion efforts, we have added more than 78,000 decorative furnishings SKUs to the Bed Bath & Beyond website during Fiscal 2017 and year to date through the end of the first quarter, we have added about 24,000 more decorative furnishings SKUs. As we are adding SKUs, we are very focused on improving the findability of the product on the site to enhance navigation and filters and enriching the data on each product.

As much as we are focused on adding, we are also focused on editing from the assortment. Using web data and item-level profitability analysis, we are removing SKUs that clutter the site experience or negatively impact profitability. We are also excited to be developing proprietary decorative furnishings brands that we plan to introduce sometime in Fiscal 2019, including a One Kings Lane fusion brand to be sold exclusively at Bed Bath & Beyond.

As far as providing a convenient and easy shopping experience, one initiative under way is our investment in 3D technology for us to give the customer the opportunity to see the product in photo real 3D rendering. We are building out the capability to use 3D images more broadly.

As far as increasing customer awareness, we launched an in-store pilot this spring and rolled out a variety of furniture vignettes in 78 Bed Bath & Beyond stores across the Pacific Northwest, West, and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. We also conducted additional associate training in these stores and are testing the use of tablets for associates to better communicate with our customers about our decorative furnishings offerings and our design services. We also enhanced our signage in these stores to assist the customers and finding more beyond the store at bedbathandbeyond.com or to place an order with an associate so they've got beyond store our internal web-based platform.

Even though it has only been a few weeks since the vignettes were installed, we are tracking some positive results. In these pilot stores, we have seen an approximately 10.4% increase in decorative furnishings orders placed in store and shipped directly to the customer over the past four weeks, compared to a growth of about 3.6% for total stores.

We also have a customer survey under way that we hope will provide some useful insights as we begin to more fully develop the store model for an assortment of decorative furnishings. We believe we have a strategic advantage over some of our online competitors in home furnishings to use our large store base as a channel via which the customer can engage with the representation of our product and speak to our in store experts not only about the products showcased in the stores but about the assortment that we stand for within our digital assortment.

And finally, within our portfolio of concepts, One Kings Lane serves as our higher end assortment offering within furnishings. We have been actively expanding the total offering with an additional 49,000 SKUs added year over year. Our private label One Kings Lane collection has more than doubled since the beginning of 2017.

During the first quarter of this year, we also added art and paint, and in July, we'll be adding wallpaper to the existing assortment of furnishings in the collection. To complement our own collection, we continue to grow the amount of products we source from market and our focus on our presentation of elite brands, including Ralph Lauren Home, and we'll soon be launching a similar experience showcasing the world of marquee sites.

Additionally, in order to offer customers access to custom window treatments in our One Kings Lane handwriting, we launched an exclusive assortment of prints through a licensed collection available at The Shade Store. We believe we have developed a beloved brand with One Kings Lane and are pleased to now begin investing in it through our bricks and mortar expansion, including a new shop in Soho, New York, scheduled to open this fall, which will include design services.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Debbie. Next, let's move to an update on our next generation store initiative. I'd like to start by reminding you that we have nearly 400 stores across our real estate portfolio that have leases coming due over the next two years. That includes about 270 Bed Bath & Beyond stores. This provides us with tremendous flexibility to negotiate improved lease terms, relocate stores to more favorable locations and/or close stores.

In many cases, we have been successful in renegotiating more favorable leases, including their durations. Through the work that began years ago, our average remaining lease term for Bed Bath & Beyond stores is now down to 4.2 years. Having leases rolling over more frequently in this retail environment also gives us the flexibility and in some cases the leverage to reduce occupancy costs as well as to also structure the economics necessary to permit significant renovations in selected stores, primarily for the development and iteration of our next generation stores.

These next generation stores will include a larger focus on generating traffic to help optimize store productivity. We are working to increase shopping trips, transactions, and transaction value by improving our offerings of scarcity product, such as seasonal, decorative furnishings, treasure hunt, and deep value merchandise, as well as commodity products, including food and beverage and health and beauty care.

Also, our next generation stores will reflect our effort by making our stores more efficient by better focusing our assortment and improving how we work through the information, insights, and tools that our associates have.

With regard to our merchandising initiatives, in order to free up space so we can carry these new and/or evolving categories, we've been implementing strategies to optimize the core assortment shown in our stores. To do that, we have a number of initiatives under way, including a comprehensive review of our assortment, as well as inventory initiatives that enable us to reduce our retail inventory across our core assortment, while showing the same amount of product in our stores and in some cases more, yet carrying less inventory. Robyn will tell you more about this in a few minutes.

The iteration of our next generation is under way and we are on track with the original 12 store remodels that we previously communicated. In fact, to date, we have completed four remodels and planned another 15 remodels by late fall. Again, iterating quickly for continuous improvement. We anticipate another 20 stores to be remodeled by the end of next spring. We have also created a dedicated agile, cross-functional team to work on our next generation stores and due to our early favorable results, we are moving faster than we had initially planned.

As far as the results, while still early, the number of transactions in these stores is 10 to 15 percentage points better than the rest of our Bed Bath & Beyond stores. Additionally, the number of transactions that include items from the new and/or evolving merchandise assortment, up approximately 70% and the transaction value for customers that purchase from both the core department in the new and/or evolving merchandise area is greater than the average transaction value by about 30%.

In addition, although the core department space has been reduced by nearly 10% in these stores, sales for the core departments are still outperforming the rest of our outperforming stores and outperforming their own trends prior to the stores being remodeled. While it was still early in the development of our next generation store, we remain encouraged by our early results. As I mentioned earlier, we are utilizing another dedicated agile cross-functional team to be able to iterate quickly and improve the model as we develop more stores.

Everything we're doing, of course, with our stores, including this next generation store initiative, we're doing in full awareness of the shift in traffic from bricks and mortar to digital. This project takes these factors into account as we continually move to optimize the productivity of our store experience.

Next, we'll have Robyn give a quick update on inventory optimization initiatives that I briefly touched upon. Robyn?

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Thank you, Steven, and hello, everyone. We have a slide in our presentation today that shows the progress we're making in optimizing our retail inventories. We have a number of initiatives in this area, including what we call show more, carry less, where we show an expanded breadth of our merchandise assortment, but only carry the top-selling styles in store, SKU space reduction, which looks to optimize product space accordingly to support the evolving in-store experience, SKU rationalization, where we identify and act on duplicate and unproductive products, and assisted store ordering, which uses advanced analytics to more accurately project our inventory needs.

As a result of these initiatives during Fiscal 2017, our inventory decreased by about $170 million at cost or 6% versus the prior year. And through the end of our first quarter, decreased year over year by approximately $300 million at cost or 10%. We continue to focus on these and other inventory optimization strategies and project that these initiatives should yield further inventory reductions.

There is one more initiative that we would like to cover before reviewing our quarterly results and opening up for Q&A. For that, Gene will now give an update on our marketing personalization efforts.

Gene Castagna -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Thanks, Robyn, and good afternoon, everyone. There are a couple of slides in our presentation today that cover our marketing personalization initiative. Our goal for marketing personalization is to drive incremental revenue and optimize the customer experience through personalized, relevant communications with our customers. In conjunction with this project, we created still another new agile environment for our associates to work more efficiently and effectively together.

We launched our first personalization lab back in April. This was a cross-functional team of about a dozen members working together in the same room to develop rapid testing of personalized experiences. We are quite pleased with how the agile team has come together and what they have achieved so far. We have experts from IT, analytics, digital, creative, as well as marketing, all collaborating together and in less than two months, the team has launched over 20 tests. The speed and throughput of our personalized testing capabilities have grown by ten times.

Results from these early tests are also encouraging. We have seen between a 15% to 20% boost in customer engagement across all personalized tests. We have also identified incremental revenue from this personalization initiative and we believe that by scaling the winners, we will see a higher revenue benefit.

In terms of what's next, in order to support personalization and scale, over the next 12 to 18 months, we plan to make further investment to develop our integrated technology tools, including the implementation of a personalization decision engine, identity management infrastructure, and the customer data platform, among others, to leverage our best in class data, as well as other relevant third-party data to develop and scale tailored and personalized marketing communications. I will now turn the call back over to Robyn.

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Thanks, Gene. For those of you that are following along with the slides, I will now review our first quarter results. Net sales for the quarter were approximately $2.8 billion, an increase of 40 basis points from the first quarter of last year. As a reminder, our Fiscal 2017 was a 53-week year, causing our Fiscal 2018 to start one calendar week later than Fiscal 2017. However, our comp sales metric compares the same year over year calendar weeks. For your reference, specific date ranges related to our comp sales metrics are provided on the slide entitled Q1 2018 P&L Summary.

On that basis, comp sales for the quarter decreased 60 basis points and reflected a decrease in the number of transactions in stores, partially offset by an increase in the average transaction amount. On a directional basis, comp sales from our customer-facing digital channels continue to be strong in the quarter, while comp sales from our stores declined in the mid-single-digit percentage range.

In addition, One Kings Lane was included in our first quarter comp sales. Gross margin for the quarter was approximately 35% of net sales, as compared to approximately 36.5% in the first quarter of last year. In order of magnitude, this decrease of the percentage of net sales was primarily due to increases in coupon expense and net direct to customer shipping expense.

The increase in coupon expense was the result of an increase in the average coupon amount, partially offset by a slight decrease in the number of redemptions. SG&A for the quarter was approximately 32.1% of net sales as compared to approximately 31.1% in the prior year period. In order of magnitude, this increase in SG&A as a percentage of net sales was primarily due to increases in payroll and payroll-related expenses, including severance cost incurred during the quarter, technology-related expenses, including related deprecation, and management consulting expenses, including costs related to our merchandising improvement and marketing personalization initiatives.

Our effective tax rate in the first quarter was approximately 32.4%, which benefited from the lower rate as a result of the Tax Act, and included the net after tax cost of approximately $3.4 million due to distinct events occurring during the quarter. In the prior year period, our effective rate was approximately 42.3% and included $5.6 million of net after tax cost due to distinct events occurring in that quarter.

Considering all of this activity, net earnings per diluted share were $0.32 for the quarter, which included the following -- an unfavorable impact of approximately $0.06 from the severance cost incurred this quarter, which was not included in our Fiscal 2018 modeling assumptions, and a favorable impact of approximately $0.05 from the adoption of the new revenue recognition accounting standard, which was anticipated and included in our modeling assumptions for the full year.

Now, looking to our balance sheet, the end of the quarter was approximately $847 million in cash and investments, an increase of $281 million over the end of the Fiscal 2017 first quarter. Retail inventories of $2.6 billion at cost continue to be tailored to meet the anticipated demands of our customers and are in good condition. This represents a reduction of about 10% compared to the end of the first quarter last year. As I mentioned earlier, we have begun and remain focused on inventory optimization strategies.

Capital expenditures for the quarter were approximately $98 million, with about 80% related to technology projects, including investments in our digital capabilities and development and deployment of new systems and equipment in our stores. The remaining CapEx was primarily related to investments in our stores. We opened seven stores during the quarter and closed two stores.

Share repurchases under our current $2.5 billion share repurchase program were approximately $22 million in the quarter, representing about 1.2 million shares and had the remaining balance of approximately $1.5 billion at the end of the quarter. In addition, our Board of Directors today declared a quarterly dividend of $0.16 per share to be paid on October 16th, 2018 to shareholders of record on September 14th, 2018.

Turning to our planning assumptions, as Steve Said earlier, we remain on track with our Fiscal 2018 modeling assumptions and three-year financial goals. Our planning assumptions for 2018 include consolidated net sales to be relatively flat to slightly positive compared to 2017, which had 23 weeks, comparable sales growth in the low single-digit percentage range, including continued strong growth in our customer-facing digital channels, gross margin deleverage, primarily due to our continued investment in our customer value proposition and the ongoing shift to our digital channels.

SG&A deleverage, primarily due to the investments we are making to transform the company, operating margin deleverage to be less than we experienced in 2017, depreciation expense in the range of approximately $315 million to $325 million, and estimated full-year tax rate in the 26% to 27% range, capital expenditures in the range of approximately $375 million to $425 million, subject to the timing and composition of projects, the opening of approximately 20 new stores, with the majority being byebye BABY and Cost Plus World Market stores, the closing of approximately 40 stores unless we are able to negotiate more favorable lease terms with our landlords.

Continued growth of our cash investments, even after funding our operations and capital expenditures, as well as our quarterly dividends and share repurchases. As a reminder, our share repurchase program may be influenced by several factors, including business and market conditions. Based on these and other planning assumptions, we are continuing to model net earnings per diluted share to be in the low to mid $2.00 range.

For modeling purposes, when comparing to the prior year, our estimated 2018 quarterly EPS as a percent to the total year is anticipated to be lighter in the second and third quarters and stronger in the fourth quarter. This is despite the shift of one holiday week out of the fourth quarter and the loss of the 53rd week.

Again, the main takeaway today is that we remain on track with our modeling assumptions for Fiscal 2018 as well as our three-year financial goals that comprise our vision for 2020. Before opening the call to questions, please note that our next quarterly conference call will take place on Wednesday, September 26th. At that time, we will review our second quarter results and provide an update on the remainder of Fiscal 2018. We can now open the call to questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. We'll now begin the question and answer session. If you have a question, please press * and 1 on your touchstone phone. If you wish to be removed from the queue, please press the # sign or the hash key. If you're using a speakerphone, you may need to pick up the handset first before pressing the numbers. Once again, if you have a question, please press * then 1 on your touchstone phone.

And our first question comes from Mike Baker from Deutsche Bank. Please go ahead.

Mike Baker -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Hi. Thanks. Did I hear correctly -- maybe I didn't, so correct me if I'm wrong -- did you say that we had more couponing but it was a result of the increased dollars on the coupon but actually fewer redemptions than a year ago? If that is the case, I think it's been at least a couple years since we heard that, if not longer. If that is a change in trend, in other words, having fewer coupon redemptions year over year?

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

So, you did hear it correctly that our average value of our coupon was up and the redemptions were down. We did provide some different coupon offers throughout the quarter. We're making sure that we have the right customer value proposition out there. One variation that we offered was $20.00 off a $75.00 purchase. Then we also had increased enrollment in Beyond+. So, that contributed as well.

Mike Baker -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

So, in other words, increased enrollment in Beyond+ means that those people wouldn't be using coupons anymore and that leads to a reduction in the use of coupons? Is that what you're trying to say?

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Definitely Beyond+ members would not use coupons any longer, so yes.

Mike Baker -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay. Interesting. Is there any way to directionally put that all together? So, couponing is still hurting your margins for quite some time, but is it hurting your margins more or less than in recent quarters?

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

I don't know more or less, it's just the net math of it. It had a higher average value. So, it was net higher percentage of sales, but it was just a combination of the lower coupons and the higher amount out to a higher amount as a percentage.

Mike Baker -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Understood, but couponing is dragging down your margins as it has for a lot of quarters. So, I guess the question is is it dragging down your margins more or less than it has been the last, let's say, four quarters.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Has it changed quarter over quarter?

Mike Baker -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Correct.

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

It's continuing to have a significant impact and when we discuss the changes in the margin, we put them in magnitude order, so it's still the highest driver.

Mike Baker -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks for that. One more much more mundane question -- on the tax rate, you're still guiding to 26% to 27% for the year. It was higher than that this quarter, which would just mathematically imply that it would be lower than that, 26% to 27% at some point later in the year. Is that the right expectation?

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Yes, that's the right expectation.

Mike Baker -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you very much.

Operator

Our next question comes from Matt McClintock from Barclays. Please go ahead.

Matt McClintock -- Barclays -- Analyst

Hi, yes. Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for the slides. They're helpful. I was wondering if we could focus on the furniture business. The comment that was made was you're in the furniture business. I'm trying to conceptualize this now because I want to get your thoughts on the technological arms race that's going on in that business today.

You have one of the more established companies just made a $100+ billion acquisition to do augmented reality. You have an online competitor that has, I don't know, 1,000+ engineers focused just on that category from a technological perspective. So, how do you think about longer term the technological costs to remain relevant in that business and to become increasingly relevant in that business. Thank you.

Debbie Propst -- President and Chief Merchandising Officer, One Kings Lane

Thank you for the question. This is Debbie Propst. We obviously believe an investment in technology is critical in order to make it easier for the customer to transact on a high-value product in a digital environment. One of the key opportunities we have there is actually the investment in our stores and the ability to display that product in our stores and grow our credibility through that channel.

One of the things we're currently investing in is 3D. One benefit of our Decorist acquisition is that the team that joined us as a result brings strong expertise in 3D technology to our organization. We're currently using it in a variety of applications, such as photo real lifestyle imagery. For example, the image we used on page nine of purpose investor slide presentation is a 3D rendering and can provide color extensions for key products without making photography samples or to present design projects to One Kings Lane VIP design clients in 3D rendering format. We're looking to scale a 3D rendering capable in a profitable manner.

Operator

And your next question comes from John Porter from MoffettNathanson. Please go ahead.

John Porter -- MoffettNathanson -- Analyst

Hi, guys. This is John on for Greg here. Thanks for taking the question. If you could walk us through a little bit of the process of closing the stores -- just as a follow-up, it looks like you're closing 40 of the stores of 400 this year and what does that mean for next year?

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure, John. Thanks. It's Steve. First of all, it hasn't been determined the exact number of stores that we will be closing because we're involved in negotiations with landlords. What we've done over the years is that we've tried to create a situation where we get to this point on the decision tree where we have the option of closing stores. So, in markets where we have coverage that we would have spillover or significant spillover, obviously, those are places that are great candidates.

But ultimately, we look at all the ingredients that the store has to offer, including the visibility and what it means to our digital sales, the fact that people can come in and reserve online and pick up in store, that they can come in and make an appointment schedule for a registry and create a registry and other people buy online, the fact that the spend structure in the digital world is a lot less because the name recognition in the market, the fact that when you look at our store sales numbers, that affects the things that are bought online that are returned to the stores.

So, all of those are component pieces in understanding the value of the store. Today is just even the overall profitability of the store. But we've positioned ourselves so that we can take advantage of the leverage we have in the marketplace and the ability to close stores because they're at end of term. So, it remains to be seen. We've been very -- I think the landlord community has been responsive to us. I think we're a meaningful tenant for them. We draw a sophisticated female customer who's the consummate customer for their centers and we're important for co-tenancy.

So, we've had good success in renegotiating the deals and renegotiating option terms. So, again, it remains to be seen. But we look out over the remaining term that we would stay and we look at assuming what's going to happen to foot traffic, what's going to happen to payroll. We do demand full well profitability out of our stores over that time when we look at these things.

But again, we started this exercise years ago, so we're well-positioned. Again, going back to where we started, it remains to be seen how many exactly we close, but right now, that's the current thinking.

John Porter -- MoffettNathanson -- Analyst

Hey, thank you.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, John.

Operator

And your next question comes from Simeon Gutman from Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.

Joshua Siber -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Hi, it's Joshua Siber on for Simeon. I just had a question on the Fiscal 20 EPS growth outlook. Can you talk about the margin assumptions within that forecast and whether you're assuming operating income growth?

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Are you talking about 2020 or are you just talking about our plans? Our plan for '18 that we provided --

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Joshua, I'm not sure if you were talking about 2020 or 2018, but those details for 2020 we haven't shared and we wouldn't share yet. It's premature. Was the question for this year?

Joshua Siber -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

It was a 2020 forecast that calls for EPS growth. I was just wondering if that embeds margin improvement?

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Again, as Steve just mentioned, we haven't shared the details of the 2020 plan at this point.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Again, to the extent that we have is to the extent of moderating to clients in the operating profits. So, we haven't given details beyond that.

Joshua Siber -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Than my follow-up on the comp forecast calling for plus low single-digits. Can you talk about what's driving the forecast for positive comp growth?

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Sure. So, what we've considered in our plans for Fiscal 18 is opportunity certainly in the byebye BABY business with Babies"R"Us closing their doors, and then we also have plans of continued strong growth in our customer-facing digital channels. We've experienced that for many quarters now and we see that trend continuing. And then we also touched on some of the initiatives that we have ongoing today that would contribute to sales, although maybe to a lesser extent we have decorative furnishings, next generation store, and marketing per store location.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

And as Robyn was saying, some of those things, everything is a contributor, but dec furnishings or the next generation store, again, those will be having bigger impacts or larger impacts in following years, but even things like front-end optimization that we're working on, the things we're doing storewide in terms of driving value optimization is in opportunity to drive sales as well. But as Robyn said, the closing of Babies"R"Us, the continued strong growth of the digital business would be two larger contributors more short-term.

Operator

And our next question comes from Kate McShane from Citigroup.

Kate McShane -- Citigroup -- Managing Director

Hi, thanks for taking my question. My question is also centered around gross margin. I think when you've listed the drags on gross margin in the past, you've also listed mix. I don't think I've heard that. I just wondered if you could maybe talk the mix of what's being sold and what was sold in Q1. And as you focus on some of the new generation stores, I think you also mentioned value items. I just wondered how that came into play with regards to the gross margin mix.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

I'll start with the second part of it, Robyn, and see if somebody wants to address the first part. But the next generation store is that it's a work in progress. So, when we talk about those areas that are growing, the scarcity product and also the desire to show newness and freshness and the markdown cadence for it, the value items, the deeper value, all those things, how they marry up to also the reduction in the inventory carry for the core assortment, all those things remain to be seen. That's why the quick iteration of these stores is necessary because we'll learn as we go.

In addition, as we mentioned, there is a concept strategy that's being undertaken here to really challenge the entire assortment and the role of every category and assortment and the role of every item in the category. So, all of that will marry as we move forward to the next generation store. It's premature to tell you that we're locked and loaded to know what that is. We know that we'll be working toward finding and optimizing that, but it's a work in progress.

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Just to address your question regarding mix, in describing the components of gross margin that contributed the most to the gross margin, mix just did not rise to the level this quarter. It was more attributable to coupons and customer shipping.

Kate McShane -- Citigroup -- Managing Director

Great. Thank you. If I could just sneak in one more question because it was brought up with regards to Toys"R"Us, Babies"R"Us, I just wondered if there was anything being done differently in byebye BABY to take advantage of some of those sales being diverted from the bankruptcy of Babies"R"Us. Are there any categories where maybe you were under-penetrated where now you're investing or anything that you're pivoting toward in order to take advantage of getting those customers?

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. We've looked at the assortment and we are looking to adjust any area where the Babies"R"Us customer may have been accustomed to shopping at Babies"R"Us, but maybe not as available within byebye BABY. Our goal is to be a destination for every single parent who wants to shop for their child. We'll be really the only baby superstore nationwide. So, we are looking at every aspect to make sure that we're welcoming every customer from Babies"R"Us to make sure that they can know that byebye BABY is their store also.

Debbie Propst -- President and Chief Merchandising Officer, One Kings Lane

We're additionally committed to supporting the vendor community that's struggling as a result of this exit from our marketplace and also the customers that are walking through our doors looking to purchase products that we haven't necessarily carried in the past, such as an opening [inaudible] crib.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

And at the same time, I would just say to reiterate that selling quality product is critically important to us. So, while we recognize the opportunity, we want to be who we want to be and we want to make sure we're communicating to the customer through our product offering, the quality products.

Operator

And our next question comes from Michael Lasser from UBS. Please go ahead.

Michael Lasser -- UBS -- Analyst

Good evening. Thanks for taking my question. I know you haven't provided this in the past, but can you give a sense for how the various comp concepts, how much did byebye BABY count this quarter? Presumably, it started to already see some share gain from both Babies"R"Us going away and if that's the case, it was just the rest of the business decelerated or comps worse from the first quarter to the first quarter.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Michael. Again, like we said, we don't break it out by concepts. But baby is a small piece of the overall business, just so you recognize that. We do think the baby business will get stronger as the year goes on because of the closing of the baby stores at the end of this month. We did benefit to date because of their bankruptcy and the announcing of the closing of the stores, but we do think there will be a greater opportunity going forward.

Overall, in the significant mix, if you look at the $12 billion business of whatever the number is of Bed Bath business, that's the business that's driving the negative store impact and directionally it remains consistent that that mid-single-digit, what we're experiencing in Bed Bath stores offset by a strong digital sales growth continues to be the trend.

Michael Lasser -- UBS -- Analyst

So, Steve, to summarize what you're saying, do you think you captured some of the Babies"R"Us business, but at least thus far, it hasn't been enough to move the needle, but you're expecting it to move the needle more so as you move throughout the year? Is that fair?

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

I think that the baby overall business as a component of the total business is relatively small. Yes to what you said in the sense that we expect the pickups that we're going to see in the baby business will be greater as the year goes on.

Michael Lasser -- UBS -- Analyst

And then separately, presumably, you're excited about what you're seeing from Beyond+ and the net benefits that your P&L experiences is worth the cost of it. But can you give us some sense for how it is affecting the P&L, particularly on a gross margin? If the membership in that program continues to grow, over time, that should be a more meaningful impact for your profitability.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

So, again, a couple of things -- I'm going to let Robyn or Sue answer also -- but from an accounting perspective, it's important to note that the fees don't get all booked in the quarter. They get booked over the course of the year. It's not in our comp. You should recognize that. The second thing is the impact on the couponing is interesting because it's not a coupon. The impact on our margins is because they're getting 20% off depending upon there might be an item or two excluded so it approaches 20%.

From an accounting perspective, those are all important ingredients. And also, the benefit of someone signing up really is a lifetime benefit. It's the next purchase. It's them coming back more often. It's buying more over time. It's being top of mind. So, as we build the program, the lifetime value of the customer is where great benefit will be derived.

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Just to clarify one point, for Beyond+, it is counted as a coupon, but it's a single coupon, versus customers in the past may have used multiple coupons.

Michael Lasser -- UBS -- Analyst

Gotcha.

Operator

Our next question comes from Peter Benedict from Baird. Please go ahead.

Peter Benedict -- Robert W. Baird -- Managing Director

Hey, guys. Thanks. Back to the gross margin, I'm just trying to think how you're thinking about it over the balance of the year. Are you expecting the declines to kind of moderate from that roughly 140 basis points and so on the first quarter? We know the comparisons start to get easier in the back half of the year. My first question is kind of your view on gross margin as you look over the back half of the year.

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

What we indicated in the model is that we do plan to have continued deleverage and gross margin for the full year but that our operating margin will deleverage at a lower rate than what we saw in 2017.

Peter Benedict -- Robert W. Baird -- Managing Director

Okay. Then switching over to SG&A maybe, the growth rate and SG&A has been tighter the last couple quarters, 4Q and 1Q. When you x-out some of the items like severance, I think it grew maybe 2% this quarter. That's been growing a lot faster than that over the past several years. I know you've got a lot of initiatives you've got in place. I'm just trying to understand if that's a sustainable growth rate in SG&A as we look forward the balance of this year and longer-term. Thank you.

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Well, we are planning for the full year to continue to still have deleverage in SG&A due to our ongoing investments in IT and we also had management consulting that we called out this quarter. As we continue to work through those items, we expect the cost to continue throughout the remainder of the year.

Operator

And our next question comes from Matt Fassler from Goldman Sachs.

Matt Fassler -- Goldman Sachs -- Managing Director

Thank you so much. Good afternoon. I've got two financial questions. I'll ask them one at a time. It first relates to inventory. Your inventory is down substantially year on year. It doesn't seem to be directly impacting your rate of sales which is holding relatively steady. Can you talk particularly as the migrates more online, logistically and otherwise how you're pulling that inventory and driving productivity of working capital?

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. We have several initiatives surrounding the inventory reduction. It affects both in store and online and warehouse inventory. They are designed not to affect sales. We're really trying to find ways where we can optimize and continue to provide the customer with all the choices they need in the store. Meanwhile, we're looking to make sure that we're not carrying tertiary SKUs that aren't needed in the assortment or weeks of supply that aren't warranted based on the rate of sale. So, it's a series of initiatives that we've been able to execute and we've been successful so far.

Matt Fassler -- Goldman Sachs -- Managing Director

And then the second question relates to the accounting change. We've seen lots of companies report quarter to date. You said that there are several sets of benefits that were contemplated in the guidance. Can you just give a sense as to where those showed up on the P&L? Was it the changing and the timing of recognition of revenue or were there other line items that moved in and will there be any impact to the numbers versus the prior year in subsequent earnings reports?

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Sure. The significant impact for us related to revenue recognition is the timing of when we recognize advertising expenses. So, the benefit that we called out within SG&A was related to advertising cost. For the subsequent quarters, there will be a pronounced shift in the advertising cost moving into third quarter and out of fourth quarter and the way it works is that you now need to record those expenses on a direct mail piece mailed versus when you get the benefit over the period of the sale.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

For example, one of the changes would be that if we sent out a piece at the end of third quarter in November and it was good until after Christmas, before the cost would be spread over those six weeks, the several weeks from November into December. Now, we have all the expense in November when the piece was mailed. That's the shift.

Operator

And our next question comes from Curtis Nagle from Bank of America.

Curtis Nagle -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Thank you very much. Just a quick one piggybacking on Matt's question -- in the accounting changes, was there any impact to the gross margin rate in the quarter?

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

No, nothing that we called out, but there will be detailed information in our 10-Q that we're planning to file next week.

Curtis Nagle -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Got it. Then just moving on to the store base. It didn't look like you closed any Bed Bath stores in 1Q. I guess how should we think about the cadence going through the rest of the year for closures?

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Generally speaking, the leases expire I think the -- it's after Christmas they're set up to expire. I think it's the end of January, if I recall correctly, that's the lion's share of them. So, they would be late in our fiscal year. In some cases, there might be a reason why we would do it before the Christmas holiday to move sales within a market to let people know that it's being moved within a market, but generally speaking, it would be late in the calendar year or fiscal year, rather.

Operator

And our next question comes from Anthony Chukumba from Loop Capital Markets.

Anthony Chukumba -- Loop Capital Markets -- Analyst

Good afternoon and thanks for taking my question. I just wanted to circle back in terms of the questions on byebye BABY vis-à-vis the Babies"R"Us liquidation. Is there any plan to potentially accelerate byebye BABY store openings given the fact that there is obviously this void in the marketplace and you guys are the last remaining national baby retailer?

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

The decision to open a store is based upon our anticipated economics in the market. So, the lack of a bricks and mortar competitor would impact how much volume we would anticipate doing out of a store, so it could accelerate or change the decision in some markets, but I don't think it's -- I think when they looked at the markets, they had 250 or so stores or whatever the number was.

Gene Castagna -- President and Chief Operating Officer

I think they had combos also.

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

We had stores in many of the same markets -- their market down in San Antonio, there's markets that we didn't have a presence that they did have a presence. But there was a significant overlap and it's not as if there were 1,000 stores to be done. As we move forward, there's the possibility of smaller stores and boutiques, there might be an opportunity to change those numbers, but it's not a dramatic difference that it's going to make and the numbers or the rate that we're opening up stores.

Gene Castagna -- President and Chief Operating Officer

But we have done the analysis and we have prioritized the areas where we do take those opportunities.

Anthony Chukumba -- Loop Capital Markets -- Analyst

That's helpful. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Seth Basham from Wedbush Securities. Please go ahead.

Seth Basham -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Thanks a lot and good afternoon. My question is on the decorative furniture business that you guys are more aggressively pursuing. Can you provide a little bit more color? You gave some great numbers today, but how do we think about that from a margin standpoint and an ROI standpoint?

Debbie Propst -- President and Chief Merchandising Officer, One Kings Lane

So, decorative furnishings is an important category in the context of our overall value propositions. It heightens our ability to be a resource of being whole home. So, we do believe for the transactions in this category, we can increase the lifetime value of a customer. We obviously all know furnishings can be a hard business to drive significant profitability, but we believe we can make progress through our focus on supply chain optimization and proprietary product development such as the growth of those categories that pertain to our total mix won't negatively damage our margin.

Seth Basham -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

That's helpful perspective. And are you planning on acquiring a lot of inventory to grow this business or is it almost all going to be direct ship for the stuff you're selling online?

Debbie Propst -- President and Chief Merchandising Officer, One Kings Lane

We have opportunities to grow our imports -- so, acquire a small amount of inventory in order to offer our customers priority brands, but we will also build those proprietary brands through partnership with our domestic supply chain.

Operator

And our next question comes from Tami Zakaria from J.P. Morgan. Please go ahead.

Tami Zakaria -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Hi. Thanks for taking my question. Could you comment on the timing of the private brands you're expecting to launch in 2019? Is it going to be in the beginning versus later in the year and what specific categories are you looking to start with? Where are you going to source those products from? Any color around that would be really helpful. Thank you.

Debbie Propst -- President and Chief Merchandising Officer, One Kings Lane

The private brands we're referencing are within the decorative furnishings strategy. So, we're currently working on a One Kings Lane diffusion line plus an additional four brands. We're in the early stages of development. Again, there are five brands in total. So, not all of them can come to fruition, but we're looking to pull those into our assortment for 2019.

Operator

And as a reminder, to ask a question, please press * then 1 on your touchstone phone. To be removed from the queue, please press the # sign or hash key. Standing by for more questions.

I will now turn the call back over to Janet Barth for closing remarks.

Janet Barth -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you and thank you all for joining us today. We look forward to speaking with you again on September 26th when we report our Fiscal 2018 second quarter results. Have a good night.

Operator

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, this includes today's conference. Thank you for your participation and you may now disconnect.

Duration: 61 minutes

Call participants:

Janet Barth -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Steven Temares -- Chief Executive Officer

Robyn D'Elia -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Gene Castagna -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Debbie Propst -- President and Chief Merchandising Officer, One Kings Lane

Mike Baker -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Matt McClintock -- Barclays -- Analyst

John Porter -- MoffettNathanson -- Analyst

Joshua Siber -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Kate McShane -- Citigroup -- Managing Director

Michael Lasser -- UBS -- Analyst

Peter Benedict -- Robert W. Baird -- Managing Director

Matt Fassler -- Goldman Sachs -- Managing Director

Curtis Nagle -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Anthony Chukumba -- Loop Capital Markets -- Analyst

Seth Basham -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Tami Zakaria -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

More BBBY analysis

This article is a transcript of this conference call produced for The Motley Fool. While we strive for our Foolish Best, there may be errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in this transcript. As with all our articles, The Motley Fool does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company's SEC filings. Please see our Terms and Conditions for additional details, including our Obligatory Capitalized Disclaimers of Liability.

10 stocks we like better than Bed Bath & Beyond
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has quadrupled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Bed Bath & Beyond wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of June 4, 2018

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.