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    Bed Bath & Beyond names interim CFO, but struggles remain

    AP – Bed Bath & Beyond has named Chief Accounting Officer Laura Crossen as interim chief financial officer (CFO) to replace Gustavo Arnal, whose death late last week adds to a cloud of financial uncertainty for the company and further complicates its plans for a turnaround.

    According to the New York City Police Department, police found the 52-year-old Arnal unconscious with injuries showing he fell from the 57-storey Jenga residential tower in Manhattan. The medical examiner’s office ruled Arnal’s death a suicide, and police said an investigation was underway.

    The news of Arnal’s death landed just days after Bed Bath & Beyond said that it would close about 150 of its namesake stores and slash its workforce by 20 per cent as it tries to fix its beleaguered business. The company also said last week it was considering selling more of its stock to shore up its finances and had lined up more than USD500 million of new financing.

    “The underlying factors were bad before,” said co-founder of marketing consultancy Metaforce. Allen Adamson “This (tragedy) just makes a difficult situation even worse.”

    Arnal himself, who joined the company in May 2020 after holding senior executive jobs at Avon, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Procter & Gamble, was facing a lawsuit accusing him and activist investor Ryan Cohen of conspiring since March to boost the price of Bed Bath & Beyond shares and then dump the stock for a profit. It also accused Cohen of making a false filing and manipulating the timing of disclosing the sale of most of his stock.

    Pengcheng Si, who filed the lawsuit in August against Arnal, Cohen, Bed Bath & Beyond and its bankers, couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday.

    Bed Bath & Beyond said it is in the early stages of evaluating the complaint, “but based on current knowledge the company believes the claims are without merit”. It disclosed in a separate filing in August that Arnal sold about 55,000 shares for USD1.4 million in six different transactions that still left him with more than 255,000 shares.

    Founded in 1971, Bed Bath & Beyond had for years enjoyed its status as a big box retailer that offered a vast selection of sheets, towels and gadgets unmatched by department store rivals. It was among the first to introduce shoppers to many of today’s household items like the air fryer or single-serve coffee maker, and its 15 per cent to 20 per cent coupons were ubiquitous.

    A Bed Bath & Beyond sign is shown in Mountain View, California. PHOTO: AP
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