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Barnes & Noble Education, inc (NYSE:BNED)
Q2 2022 Earnings Call
Nov 30, 2021, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Barnes & Noble Education Fiscal 2022 Second Quarter Earnings Conference Call. My name is Bethany, and I'll be your cooperator today.

I would now like to hand the call over to your host, Andy Milevoj, Vice President of Investor Relations. Andy. Please go ahead.

Andy Milevoj -- Vice President Corporate Finance and Investor Relations

Good morning, and welcome to our fiscal 2022 second quarter earnings call. Joining us today are Mike Huseby, CEO and Chairman; Tom Donohue, CFO; Jonathan Shar, Executive Vice President, BNED retail; David Henderson, President of MBS; and David Nenke, President of DSS. Before we begin the call, I'd like to remind you that the statements we make on today's call are covered by the Safe Harbor disclaimer contained in our press release and public documents. The contents of this call are the property of Barnes Noble Education and are not for rebroadcast or use by any other party without prior written consent of Barnes Noble Education.

During this call, we will make forward-looking statements with predictions, projections and other statements about future events. These statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties, including those contained in our press release and public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements that may be made or discussed during this call.

And now, I'll turn the call over to Mike Huseby.

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Andy, and thank you all for joining us this morning. We were thrilled to welcome students back to campus this fall. Our second quarter results reflected their eagerness to return to an on-campus, in-person learning environment with a significantly increased resumption of on-campus events and sporting activities. This was further corroborated by an NRF report issued this summer that indicated that college students and their families had planned to spend an average of $1,200 on college or university items, 30% more than a year ago as students prepare to transition back to an in-person learning experience. The top three categories included electronics, dorm furnishings and clothing.

While many institutions implemented policies to return students to and on-campus learning experience, the volume of students, alumni and tourists is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels. The operating environment continues to present a number of different challenges, including undergraduate enrollment declines of approximately 3% according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, fewer international students than pre-COVID levels and many community colleges continuing to offer virtual classes. In addition to enrollment declines, we are also experiencing challenges with escalating freight costs, labor shortages and supply chain issues. While we expect these conditions to persist through fiscal '22, we're hopeful that they will begin to mitigate as we move into the next fiscal year.

Despite these challenges, our organization has proved resilient in providing best-in-class service to our campus partners and their students. The growth of our First Day offerings helped to mitigate the macro pressures on our course materials business and through our General Merchandise Partnership With Fanatics And Lids, we were better positioned to address the global supply chain issues facing many retailers. As we look ahead, our entire organization is excited by our company's momentum as we continue to execute on strategic initiatives that further distinguish our competitive offerings, which as a whole cannot be replicated in the marketplace.

Our innovative academic solutions offerings, unparalleled merchandise assortment, new best-in-class omnichannel customer experience and strategic investments provide an unparalleled customer value proposition for the institutions and the customers that we serve, all of which we expect to accelerate our growth. The benefits of our inclusive access course material models are resonating with institutions across the country and delivering greater student access and better student outcomes. We are seeing tremendous demand for our First Day Complete equitable access program as schools have demonstrated the positive impact the solution has on improving student outcomes and reducing stress at the beginning of each academic term. Additionally, First Day Complete eliminates barriers to course material access, allowing students to engage with the course content from day one and achieve greater academic success. Equally important, the program also supports our school partners missions of improving student academic achievement, persistence and retention.

It's not surprising that based on these benefits, we experienced significant growth in the 2021 fall term when First Day Complete was offered through 65 campus bookstores, up from just 12 campus bookstores the prior year, representing approximately 295,000 total undergraduate student enrollment, up from 43,000 students last fall, and almost 7 times year-over-year increase. With this growth, the program was available across a broad spectrum of schools, from small private colleges to large public universities and multi-campus community college systems.

Year-over-year, revenues for both our First Day models increased 80%. For the 2022 spring term, we have 10 additional stores that have signed up for First Day Complete, representing undergraduate enrollment of over 86,000 students. First Day Complete is disrupting the traditional course material delivery model in collaboration with leading institutions across the country. By delivering all course materials via one convenient service, First Day Complete ensures that students have access to all their learning materials across all of their courses before the first day of class. This allows them to engage with course content from day one to support their academic success. Also First Day Complete offers full academic freedom for faculty, allowing them to select the best course materials for the term, from BNEDs expansive relationship with more than 6,000 publishers, creating a one-stop simplified experience.

Data shows that course materials are still an optional purchase for many students even though it's been well documented that students who have their course materials before the start of class perform better academically. First Day Complete helps to remove barriers and provide the same fundamental level of access across an entire institution for all students. Our survey showed that students who utilize the program felt that they had better experiences, we're better prepared for their academic term and ultimately achieved better academic results, confirming BNC's equitable access program is making a positive impact on student success. First Day Complete is also proving to be a competitive advantage for the schools that have adopted it, which we believe will further help to accelerate the adoption by additional schools. Some BNC partner institutions have started to report that they have seen enrollment growth, which they at least in part attributed to the ability to market the benefits of First Day Complete to prospective students.

Turning now to our general merchandise business. With the resumption of on-campus events and sporting activities, we experienced 78% gross comparable sales growth during the second quarter. Our partnership with Fanatics and Lids offers an unparalleled merchandise assortment and a best-in-class omnichannel customer experience for logo and emblematic products, allowing us to offer our schools a totally reimagined retail experience. This partnership expands the breadth and quality of our offerings in store and online, including newer more exciting brands such as [Indecipherable] Lululemon that are highly relevant for our students, parents and alumni demographic. Both partners are leaders in their space, which provides us with buying power and a partnership that schools will benefit from. We have already seen the impact on winning new business and are excited to see what this year will bring as the strategic partnership will ultimately benefit the students and schools that we serve.

Specific to Fanatics, we will benefit from their powerful e-commerce systems and data insights to grow market share and add new customers. These sites are truly best-in-class, mobile first experiences that leverage the Fanatics platform, provide incredible user experience. We continued to transition additional school e-commerce websites for the new Fanatics experience and through November, we now have over 540 sites live on the Fanatics platform.

Turning to our DSS business. Our Bartleby suite of solutions continues to exhibit its rapid growth. DSS revenue grew 39% to $8.3 million with probably revenue growing approximately 70% year-over-year. Bartleby generated 120,000 new gross subscribers during the quarter, representing a 33% year-over-year growth. We introduced Bartleby Plus during the quarter, which combined Bartleby Learn with Bartleby Write to provide a dynamic study bundle to help students to tackle their assignments 24/7. This comprehensive offering includes over 5 million step-by-step textbook and homework, a math solver with detailed solutions, expert Q&A in 30 subjects, essay templates that help students outlining their papers with an interactive guide, plagiarism detection and a citations generator among other tools. Bartleby's products and services are designed to improve student success and outcomes, offering pathways for learning that fit the schedules and demand of today's students. We believe our bundle provides tremendous value to help improve student outcomes.

In conclusion, while there continue to be various challenges operating our business in this COVID affected environment, we remain focused on executing our strategic growth initiatives, which is already helping to mitigate the impact of such near-term challenges. Most importantly, we believe these initiatives position us well for longer-term sustainable growth.

With that, I will turn it over to Tom for the financial review.

Thomas D. Donohue -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Mike. Please note that the second quarter of fiscal 2022 consisting of 13 weeks ended on October 30, 2021. All comparisons will be to the second quarter of fiscal 2021, unless otherwise noted. As Mike highlighted earlier, while we are not back to pre-pandemic levels, the second quarter which is historically the highest sales period for the company benefited from many students returning to in-person classes and greater attendance at campus events and sporting activities as compared to the year-ago period when school supplemented in-person classes with hybrid and remote learning models coupled with a significant reduction in events in sporting activities.

Total sales for the quarter were $627 million compared to $595.5 million in the prior year. This increase of $31.5 million or 5.3% was comprised of a $32.4 million increase from the Retail segment, a $14.7 million decrease from the Wholesale segment and a $2.3 million increase from the DSS segment. Retail gross comparable store sales increased 13.2% during the quarter. Gross comparable textbook sales were essentially flat as the broader industry headwinds were mitigated by the rapid growth of our First Day offerings.

BNC's First Day Complete and First Day by course offerings increased revenue by 80% to $96 million during the quarter as compared to $53.4 million in the prior year period. Gross comparable general merchandise sales increased 78.3% as compared to a 52% decline a year-ago. Our general merchandise business benefited from the return of many students to the campus and the reopening of most of our campus stores, the majority of which were closed in the year-ago period due to COVID.

As a reminder, per our agreement with Fanatics and Lids, logo and emblematic product sales are now accounted for under the agency accounting method, in which BNED receives a percent of sales for the logo and emblematic sales online and in-store. Each sales channel in-store and online has its own commission rate, which will change as a relationship matures. Our comparable sales reflect the actual retail selling price or tend to receive for the products sold under the agency model rather than solely the commission received, whereas GAAP sales on our P&L reflect the commission we've received.

Net sales for the wholesale segment decreased $14.7 million or 40.5% to $21.7 million, primarily due to COVID-19 related supply constraints resulting from the lack of on campus textbook buyback opportunities during the prior fiscal year and lower customer demand, which was partially offset by lower returns and allowances. Additionally, during the prior-year period, wholesale CSS model fulfilled direct to student course material orders for retail campus bookstores that were not fully operational due to COVID-19 campus store closures, whereas those sales shifted back to the campus bookstores in the current period.

DSS sales grew $2.3 million or 39.2% to $8.3 million, benefiting from an increase in subscription sales. The consolidated gross margin rate for the quarter was 23.2% compared to 19.4% in the prior year period. This was primarily due to the favorable sales mix of higher margin general merchandise products, lower contract cost on renewals and new contracts, coupled with lower inventory reserves and lower markdowns.

Our selling and administrative expenses increased by $15.9 million or 17.3% compared with the prior year period as we reopened most stores and brought employees back to serve the increase in on-campus students as compared to the prior year period when we furloughed many employees in response to our COVID related temporary store closures.

At the end of the quarter, our cash balance was $11 million with outstanding borrowings of $183.3 million as compared to borrowings of $99.5 million in the prior year period. This increase is mostly due to the timing of receivables associated with the significant growth of our First Day offerings. Schools generally remit payment for students enrolled in the courses after their student drop at dates, our current liquidity position remained strong. Capex for the quarter was $9.9 million, essentially in line with the prior year period. Currently, our Retail segment operates 1,445 college, university and K-12 school bookstores comprised of 794 physical bookstores in their e-commerce sites as well as 651 virtual bookstores.

With that, we will open the call for questions. Operator, please provide instructions for those interested in asking a question.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] The first question comes from Alex Fuhrman at Craig-Hallum Capital Group. Alex, your line is open.

Alex Fuhrman -- Craig-Hallum Capital -- Analyst

Hi, everyone. Thanks for taking my question. Wanted to ask about the First Day Complete offering. Looks like it added a good amount of revenue for the quarter. Can you talk about how it performed operationally given everything going on with the supply chain and in terms of profitability and how it contributed to the overall EBITDA for the quarter? Would you say that it met your expectation here in the first big semester with a critical math of students?

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Alex, thanks for your question. It's, I think probably the primary one that we've been focusing on and we're still given that rush in the fall semester are still underway, still analyzing some of it given how the cash flows around First Day complete. But we're very, very happy with the performance, especially the operational execution OF First Day Complete. And I'll let Jon Shar talk about a little bit more. But from our perspective, it went very, very well. Some of that was aided by the fact that a large percentage of the courseware that was being sold in some of the big First Day Complete implementations that we did this year for the first time were digital courseware, which made it somewhat easier to fulfill in the large schools that elected the First Day Complete versus those with a larger mix of physical books. But the execution went very well.

In terms of the financial impact, there are several variables that affect First Day Complete contribution to the financials and the economic kind of formula, enrollments, conversion of enrollment and then just the unit pricing for the semester hours, if you're looking at how do you build the model and then how does it -- how does it result, to answer your question around expectations. I think that our expectations depends on what time of year you're talking about. I think when we built our budget for fiscal year' 23 -- or '22 rather, sorry, back in the spring, we didn't have the knowledge of the enrollment declines, especially in the community colleges that, that happened. I think the conversion was very, very close -- very close to where we expected it to be. And then average pricing was -- it varies by school, probably somewhat, somewhat lower just because of the number of credit hours. There are a number of full-time students but they're also a lot of part-time students given the environment we're in right now. So the number of credit hours is probably a little bit lower than we thought it would be. But overall, very, very pleased with the performance of First Day Complete and First Day. And I'll let Jon talk about a little bit further.

Jonathan Shar -- Executive Vice President, BNED Retail and President, Barnes & Noble College

Yeah, thanks, Mike, and just building on that. The team did an incredible job of executing First Day Complete at scale across the 65 campus stores where it was implemented in fall term. We really had complete coverage of the book lists for those schools. We were aided by the transition to digital and the availability of digital content that helped with the execution. But I would say from a execution standpoint at scale, it was outstanding and really sort of gives us a lot of confidence in the ability to continue to scale the program.

And in terms of sort of expectations in terms of the model and the benefit of the program, I think that it was very much in line with our expectations. And then the nice thing about the program is that it's really done on an individual campus by campus basis, what local basis. So the cost and the pricing on a per credit hour basis is really individual for each campus based on their weighted average of enrollment against courses and the specific book against those courses. So we did see prices come down, but that's because the cost of the content came down as well and also our schools desire to bring down the cost of content, which help us from an operating cost standpoint. So I think the model was really great. We've added as we said in the script 10 additional campus stores and approximately 86,000 in undergrad enrollment for spring, which is not really a term where you'd expect to add a lot of -- because of campus stores in enrollment -- the programs based on the fact that the majority of campuses and institutions would make that decision on an academic year basis when tuition and fees are set for that year in advance and sort of the first quarter time frame of calendar first quarter timeframe. So incredibly excited about the prospects of First Day Complete and what will mean for our campus partners, student outcomes and our business.

Alex Fuhrman -- Craig-Hallum Capital -- Analyst

Great, that's really helpful.

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, let me add one, let me add one comment, let me add one comment, Alex, who is that -- this is a -- we're just scaling this. This is our first first semester and really that significant scale on First Day Complete. And there's a lot of things that we learned in scaling in terms of how different schools are marketing this program, what works, what didn't work as well, which resulted in -- in some cases lower, what I would call conversion or lower higher opt out perhaps than we would see in many other cases. We have some schools that are 100%. We have some that are lower getting us to an average, it's kind of below 100%. But we've learned a lot and I think that will only improve the conversion and results going forward and starting in the spring.

Alex Fuhrman -- Craig-Hallum Capital -- Analyst

Great, that's really helpful. I did want to follow-up on the 10 additional schools that are signed up for the spring semester. That was certainly unexpected given that schools don't typically tend to shake things up like that in the middle of the academic year. Can you talk a little bit about the sales pipeline? I mean, would have to think it's pretty strong given that you have 10 school joining during the program mid year. Is it too early to get a sense of how many strong leads you are heading into the fall semester of next year?

Jonathan Shar -- Executive Vice President, BNED Retail and President, Barnes & Noble College

Yeah, its Jonathan [Speech Overlap]

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Go ahead, Jon.

Jonathan Shar -- Executive Vice President, BNED Retail and President, Barnes & Noble College

Yeah, yeah, we're optimistic. I mean, I think the 10 -- as you said the 10 stores and 86,000 of additional enrollment are a really good sign and I think why we're so optimistic is the impact that the program is having on student outcomes and having students prepared and the benefits of retention and persistence that our institutions are showing. And as Mike said in his script, certain institutions are also showing that enrollment growth because of their ability to market this program. So based on that, the pipeline is really robust and really excited about the prospects of that based on the data that's coming from the institutions that have executed the program with us.

Alex Fuhrman -- Craig-Hallum Capital -- Analyst

Great, that's really helpful. Thank you very much.

Operator

The next question comes from Ryan McDonald at Needham. Ryan, your line is open.

Ryan MacDonald -- Needham -- Analyst

Yeah, good morning, Mike and Tom, and thanks for taking my question. Congrats on a nice quarter here. Great to see the progress you're making on the Fanatics and Lids relationship in terms of additional sites that you've been adding. Just curious as you've been -- those sites have been going live. What sort of uplift you're seeing to general merchandise sales from that perspective and and sort of how you're feeling about as we see these additional sites rolling out about sort of the opportunity here for general merchandise as we go into, say the spring semester?

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Ryan. That's a really important question. It's for purposes of the fall rush as I think we disclosed, we had about just under 15 schools that were really up and running on the what we call Fanatics e-commerce system. As you know, we turned over the management of the stores in terms of the emblematic logoed items to Lids and Fanatics under the FLC entity that we partner with, back in -- back in April. And they worked feverishly to get inventory into the stores all summer long as it became apparent that there was going to be a snap-back in demand. Those 15 stores where we had e-commerce results increased substantially. You're trying to compare it to '20 and you're trying to compare it to '19. When we compare it to '20, 20 was a big year for e-commerce because of the fact that there were no, very, very few campuses open, very few stores open, so the e-commerce activity was much higher in '20. So we compare it to both '20 and '19 and comparing it to both years without getting into the specific percentages, there is substantial -- substantial improvement.

It's important to note that the 540 sites that we talk about that are now part of the -- subject to the Fanatics experience, which means that a student comes into our e-commerce system and if they select from the menu they want a pair of logoed emblematic items. They are seamlessly transferred into the Fanatics system which has been customized to reflect each students brand -- each schools brand, sorry. The brand each school, more local and personalized approach. And that's only happened for over 500 of those schools within the last six weeks or so. So what we're really looking forward to is, and we've started to see already with Black Friday. We're looking at the results which we'll report on our third quarter and also Cyber Monday, which we haven't gathered the results from -- we haven't received the result yet from Fanatics. But we're very encouraged by the early results from what we saw for this vastly higher number of schools that are now on offering the Fanatics experience. And I would encourage you or anyone else that's interested to go look at the sites and you can see -- see how expansive they are in terms of assortment and how easy it is they are to use and how how representative they are, what I would call, really a best-in-class e-commerce website. So we're excited about what's going to happen not just in the spring semester, but over the holidays from an e-commerce perspective, now that we have so many schools up and running. Not just on e-commerce, but all the stores, but particularly in e-commerce.

Ryan MacDonald -- Needham -- Analyst

Yeah, it's a really good point on the e-commerce side when you think about the holiday season and the potential that opens up here. As to my second question, I really wanted to ask about Bartleby. It's great to see that the continued strength and the growth rate there and that the gross subs numbers continues to climb. Just curious to see what you're -- what you're seeing in terms of student usage and adoption there as we progress through the semester, because obviously as we saw Chegg [Phonetic] put up some weak numbers and talked about maybe some changing student usage patterns there. Just trying to understand if that's something that's more industry wide or how Barnes & Noble's performance comparatively looks for Bartleby? Thanks.

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

I think David Nenke can address that for us.

David Nenke -- Executive Vice President, Consumer Digital and President, Digital Student Solutions

Yeah, we -- we've seen students come back in as we said in the introduction. The students are learning through a mix of on-campus as well as -- as well as virtual. We are providing service to customers to help augment their learning. So we, I guess are agnostic to their earning method. We want to be there to support students as they learn. We have continued to see good usage. Our customers are continuing to use us and in fact, we saw most of our metrics for our paid subscribers actually increase year-on-year in regards to time the on site and usage, etc. So we're encouraged that we're building the services that can help support customers as they -- as they go through their learning and so we're excited about what we're seeing. I wouldn't speculate on, more broadly industry dynamics or anything like that, what we're trying to do is focus on providing the best service we can to our -- to our customers and we are seeing good usage and we're excited about how customers are responding to our products.

Ryan MacDonald -- Needham -- Analyst

Excellent, thanks for taking my questions.

Operator

The next question comes from Rory Wallace Outerbridge Capital. Rory, your line is open.

Rory Wallace -- Outerbridge Capital -- Analyst

Thanks for taking my question. I was curious on First Day Complete. With the new signings which seems like a quite high average enrollment for the spring term, is this a situation where the First Day revenues could actually grow sequentially in the January quarter? And just following on some of the comments that Mike made around optimizing the marketing strategy behind the programs, is this something where the schools are being receptive to kind of this co-marketing feedback in terms of how to -- how to optimize the program structure to really drive enrollment or conversion?

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Rory, this is Mike, and I'll let Jon jump in. But on your question around marketing -- co-marketing. Each, like Jon said, each school is different and they approach the marketing differently. Some are more cautious and others, some are very aggressive. Some have marketed First Day Complete as books are free. And as Jon said, in those cases some of those schools have actually increased enrollment and gotten the attention of their, what we would call competitor schools, in their region [Phonetic] of areas, who are now calling us saying, hey, this works for them, we need to see this. Some of it -- some of those schools that are cautious -- are cautious because during the sales process there is a lot of people in the schools that are involved in, in making the decision to go to a First Day Complete, inclusive access model. And so I think some of the schools are perhaps overly cautious in terms of how they market and how they might highlight the ability to opt out from that type of thing. Sometimes, probably more so than the benefits, and that's happened in the few cases. And I think our conversations with the school when we were in the process of selling the First Day Complete product, it's clear that they see the benefits of it and I know -- I think now that they understand those benefits aren't going to be fully realized until and unless they -- they are more, we can call it aggressive in their marketing, they're just more positive in their marketing as opposed to cautious and basically trying to send the signal that will cover themselves from some of the constituents and the fact that others that have -- have had some issues during the sales process. So I think the answer is yes, there -- these learnings that I referred to, that's basically one of the things I was referring to is the learnings around the marketing and I think the schools that we have that experience with have come around, but I'll let -- I'll let Jon talk about it more specifically if he wants to.

Jonathan Shar -- Executive Vice President, BNED Retail and President, Barnes & Noble College

Yeah, and I think that -- I think that just building on that, that based on the outstanding execution from our store teams and supporting the institutions that move to First Day Complete, there is a lot of confidence in our ability to execute at a high level and drive student outcomes and convenience and it really create a conscious [Phonetic] experiences for students and really sort of disrupt the course material delivery model at those schools. And there's been a lot of great discussions on how to collaborate and optimize the marketing and positioning of the program within institution. So we think that there is a lot of opportunity to within the schools that we've executed to improve the percent of students that are participating in the program and driving -- driving our sell-throughs even higher at those institutions, as well as the students as they've experienced this for the first time in many of the schools where this was the first semester that they were participating in the program. And as students see what the benefits and having sort of a box of books ready for them prior to the first day of class picking that up, I think there is more and more acceptance and understanding of the benefits of that of having materials, doing better in class, being better prepared and our survey results show that as well. So I think it's both the schools becoming very willing to collaborate in marketing and students becoming more excited that over time we're going to see even enhanced participation and growth within the schools and then also will lead to more schools participating as they see the benefits of competitive or peer institutions.

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Rory, on your question on incremental January revenue growth. We're not obviously giving any specific guidance on what's going to happen, but it just -- would be logical to assume that's going to happen with the number of student enrollments being added into the First Day Complete program.

Rory Wallace -- Outerbridge Capital -- Analyst

I appreciate that. And I guess following on the question around the fall '23 pipelines, do you have enough sort of sales [Phonetic] and operational capacity to try to target similar or even higher levels of enrollment growth for First Day Complete in fall of '23? I understand there's a lot of moving parts with the environment right now.

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

[Indecipherable] yes, we do and yes we are. I mean, we are -- we do have a pipeline. We do have very, very detailed sales process, but we won't get into describing, but it's got a very robust pipeline for fall of '23. And some of the things you see happening and some of the schools you see adopting First Day Complete in spring semester of this year are -- or in some schools that are going forward. But most of those are -- most of the schools that we have in our site, so to speak are having discussions where they have commitments from, in many cases for fall of '23 are schools that someone is doing early release [Phonetic] just can't get to the point where they felt comfortable making that change that quickly given the fact that they've already published rates and tuition rates and that type of thing for fiscal year, or fiscal year '22 for spring semester.

Rory Wallace -- Outerbridge Capital -- Analyst

Thanks, Mike. And Tom, just a couple for you in terms of -- one on cash flow from First Day Complete, I know it's -- you're creating more receivables in kind of way to cadence to collections now, I mean do you think that those -- are those going to be kind of worked down by the end of this fiscal or is this kind of a structurally higher level of receivables in these both that you're going to be running way through. Maybe just comment briefly on that?

And then my last question was just on incremental margin performance, obviously it's a tough supply environment, but at the same time you seem to be getting a good benefit from your higher margin initiatives, so just curious how you're feeling [Technical Issues] margin performance in the next few quarters?

Thomas D. Donohue -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, thanks, Rory. In terms of the working capital cycle, historically our working capital cycle was get the product in, sell it to the students, get the cash and then pay the vendors, to your point and it's a good point. with the First Day and First Day Complete products and the cadence on the campus, we're typically providing the products and a lot of instances paying for those products before we get paid by the school. So you're right, the receivables are higher and this chalks up to perhaps lessons learned and we'll look to address that and we're collecting as we -- as we get through the semester. But really the billing -- the real important date in the First Day and First Day Complete products is that sense of state and that's really what triggers the billing and reconciliation with the school students by students. So you will see that -- you'll see it in the balance sheet the receivables are higher, which is reflective of the growth of those programs which is -- which is great that they are growing so quickly. And you would expect as we get through the spring term that a lot of that would wash out by the fiscal year-end. So yes, that should happen.

In terms of the margin performance, I think it really comes down to what was missing last year were students on campus. And what we're experiencing and it's certainly not back to the pre-pandemic levels is the mix. When the kids come into the store and they pick up their materials or they're buying their course materials, they are also getting other supply products and capping on convenience products as well as emblematic and logos. So having the fall experience on campus will drive that sales mix, which should improve the margin performance over time. It's certainly not back to pre-pandemic levels, but it's certainly moving in the right direction.

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

[Indecipherable] This is Mike, Rory. That's been the general merchandise area given the supply chain issues. We did sell through some of the older inventory that and was transferred to Fanatics and Lids back in April while we are waiting supply of some of the newer inventory, that inventory into our agreement with Fanatics and Lids because of the sales contract that we struck with them has a lower [Indecipherable] commission, I guess you can call it than current newer inventory that we are moving into. So that did affect our margins somewhat, although the percentage of that, that's remaining is not very low. So we should not see that direct impact going forward.

Rory Wallace -- Outerbridge Capital -- Analyst

Okay. Yeah, I appreciate that distinction. And, I guess just one more on kind of for David, just in terms of -- understand pleased with the engagement Bartleby, which seems to be bucking the trend somewhat versus some peers. What are sort of the top growth initiatives for the business for the Bartleby and DSS business looking into the back half of this fiscal year? And just how you can kind of structurally improve the positioning here with the environment rapidly influx, of course?

David Nenke -- Executive Vice President, Consumer Digital and President, Digital Student Solutions

Yeah, the [Indecipherable] that we will focus on over the rest of the year, we're going to continue to work on the product and features, etc. But I think Bartleby Plus is one of the main priorities. What we saw from our limited launch in store, to the 55 stores, obviously we'll aim to roll it out to the rest of the stores or as many as possible, also available online and SCOs [Phonetic] we're seeing good take up and good usage from our customers on that product. We're very excited about the full range of features being available to customers, etc. So that will be one of our key priorities going forward as we -- as we kind of look at providing a full suite of services to the customers on how they use and how they engage with our product. So, and for the back half of the year, we'll continue to work on features and some of those things. The Bartleby Plus is going to be one of the key initiatives for us to really getting that in the handsets of students so they can use the full range of the products, and that was I think one of the things that we were excited about going into and it exceeded our expectations for the fall rush period.

Rory Wallace -- Outerbridge Capital -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks a lot. I appreciate you taking all my questions. Thanks, everyone.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] We don't appear to be having any more questions coming through, so I'll hand the call back to Andy for any closing remarks.

Andy Milevoj -- Vice President Corporate Finance and Investor Relations

Great. Thanks, Bethany, and thank you all for joining us on today's call and your continued interest in BNED. Please note, our next scheduled financial release will be our fiscal '22 third quarter earnings in early March. We hope everybody has a great holiday season. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 44 minutes

Call participants:

Andy Milevoj -- Vice President Corporate Finance and Investor Relations

Michael P. Huseby -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thomas D. Donohue -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Jonathan Shar -- Executive Vice President, BNED Retail and President, Barnes & Noble College

David Nenke -- Executive Vice President, Consumer Digital and President, Digital Student Solutions

Alex Fuhrman -- Craig-Hallum Capital -- Analyst

Ryan MacDonald -- Needham -- Analyst

Rory Wallace -- Outerbridge Capital -- Analyst

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