Wayfair loses customers and money in a messy quarter, announces its CFO will retire

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Niraj Shah, CEO, Wayfair
Ashlee Espinal | CNBC

Wayfair shares tumbled in premarket trading Thursday after the online furniture retailer reported larger-than-expected losses in the first quarter as shoppers scaled back their spending on the home category.

Wayfair also announced its chief financial officer, Michael Fleisher, is set to retire early next year. Kate Gulliver, current chief people officer, will be moving into the CFO role in November. Fleisher will remain at the company for a transition period until next January, it said.

Wayfair co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Niraj Shah said, despite sliding sales, consumer health remains “relatively strong.”

The retailer was a massive beneficiary during the pandemic as consumers shifted their spending to the web and bought up fresh home decor and office furniture. But it’s struggled with supply chain complications that have resulted in order delays and frustrated shoppers.

“The companies that will be most successful in navigating this dynamic environment are those that can act with agility,” Shah said in a press release.

Wayfair reported its count of active customers in the first quarter of 2022 declined 23.4% from a year ago, to 25.4 million. Orders per customer totaled 1.87, versus 1.98 in the year-ago period. Orders from repeat customers likewise fell from 2021, totaling 8.1 million, 26% lower than the year ago.

Active customers represent shoppers who purchased at least once directly from Wayfair in the preceding 12-month period.

For the three-month period ended March 31, Wayfair reported a loss of $319 million, or $3.04 per share, compared with net income of $18 million, or 16 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company lost $1.96 per share. Analysts had been looking for a loss of $1.56 a share, according to a Refinitiv poll.

Sales fell almost 14% to $2.99 billion from $3.48 billion a year earlier. That was in line with analysts’ estimates.

Net revenue in the United States dropped 9.9%, to $2.5 billion, while international net revenue declined 31.4%, to $451 million.

Shah said Wayfair is focused on returning to profitability, on an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization basis.

Wayfair shares have tumbled more than 52% year to date.

Find the full quarterly financial release from Wayfair here.

Sophie Tremblay

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