Categories LATEST

Blue Apron Holdings Inc (APRN) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

APRN Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Blue Apron Holdings Inc (NYSE: APRN) Q1 2023 Earnings Call dated May. 04, 2023 

Corporate Participants:

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

Mitchell CohenInterim Chief Financial Officer

Analysts:

Maria RippsCanaccord — Analyst

Daniel KurnosBenchmark Company — Analyst

Ryan MeyersLake Street Capital Markets — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Good morning and welcome to the Blue Apron Holdings First Quarter 2023 Earnings Conference Call and Webcast. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. As a reminder, this call is being recorded today, Thursday, May 4, 2023, for replay purposes. A slide presentation has been created to accompany today’s remarks and can be accessed on the Blue Apron Investor Relations website. Should you need assistance on this call, please signal a conference specialist by pressing the star key followed by zero. On this morning’s call, we have Linda Findley, President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron, and Mitch Cohen, Interim Chief Financial Officer. Before handling the call over to the company, we will review the Safe Harbor Statement. Various statements that the company makes during today’s call about its future expectations, plans, and prospects constitute forward-looking statements for the purpose of the Safe Harbor provisions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by those forward-looking statements as a result of risks and other factors, including those described in the company’s earnings release issued this morning and the company’s SEC filings. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent the company’s views only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. The company specifically disclaims any obligation to update these statements. During this call, the company will be referring to non-GAAP measures, which are not prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. You are encouraged to refer to the earnings release and SEC filings, where it has defined these measures, and to review the reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures. With that, I would now like to turn the call over to Linda Findley, Blue Apron CEO. Linda, please go ahead.

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

Thank you, Operator. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us for an update on the business. On the call with me today is Mitch Cohen, Blue Apron’s Interim CFO. Given that our last update was just a few weeks ago, I’ll start with a quick recap of our first quarter performance and shift my remarks to share an update on our go-forward strategy. Mitch will then provide a more in-depth review of our financial results. Through our last earnings call, we are focused on reducing cash burn towards our goal of profitability, and we continue to deliver against that in Q1. However, we recognize that the business needs additional capital, and we are actively pursuing all opportunities available to us in order to meet our near-term obligations. While we don’t have a completed deal at this time, this includes the potential of one or more financing opportunities or other strategic transactions, including significant commercial partnerships. Mitch will provide additional color. During the first quarter, we saw success in our efforts to continue driving efficiencies across the business, especially related to cash burn. Previously, we shared that as of the end of February, we had accomplished a more than 50% reduction in annualized cash burn, and I’m very pleased to report even further improvement in the fourth quarter. At the end of the first quarter, our free cash flow burn was down approximately $19 million compared to the end of first quarter 2022, reflecting a 64% year-over-year reduction. As we move into the second quarter, we remain vigilant in managing cash burn and continue to identify areas to bring greater efficiencies into the business. We also continue to execute on our plans towards our goal of profitability. Notably, in Q1, we continue to strengthen our key customer engagement metrics. Average order value was $70.27, up approximately 12% versus the same period in the prior year, and down slightly from the fourth quarter of 2022. The year-over-year improvement reflects the annualization of price increases introduced earlier in 2022, while the sequential decline is related to some strategic investments in our promotional spend within the quarter. Excluding promotions, average order value was $72.19, clearly illustrating the strength of our overall offering.

Average revenue per customer was $346, also down slightly from the fourth quarter as a greater number of new versus tenured customers purchased meal kits in the first quarter. As a reminder, newer customers tend to spend less on their initial boxes, but typically increase spending the longer they are with Blue Apron. Finally, orders per customer held strong at 4.9, as our customers continue to respond well to our menu variety and customization options. Total customers in the 12 months ended March 31, was 658,000, compared to 693,000 for the equivalent period a year ago. Much like the fourth quarter, the deliberate focus on marketing efficiency, coupled with reductions in overall marketing spend, drove the year-over-year change. Total customers in the quarter were 326,000, compared to 298,000 in the fourth quarter of 2022, and 367,000 in the first quarter of 2022. The change we made to our promotional strategy I mentioned earlier drove much of the sequential increase. When you look at our year-over-year results, the decline is a reflection of our intentional efforts to shift our focus to performance marketing, along with a reduction in marketing spend. These shifts also have resulted in greater marketing efficiency and notable improvements in overall conversion, which I will discuss in more detail in a moment. Now turning to our go-forward strategy. We remain focused on executing against our three strategic initiatives outlined previously. As a reminder, those are, one, taking a more targeted approach to acquiring and retaining more profitable customers while managing marketing spend. Two, driving margin improvements, and three, executing disciplined cost management and PTG&A. I’ll start with marketing. Our efforts here continue to be aimed at delivering on profitability and scale. As discussed on our fourth quarter earnings call, we have proactively shifted our marketing spend towards performance-based and digital channels that deliver a strong cost per acquisition. In the first quarter, marketing spend was $14.7 million, a reduction of 14% sequentially and 47% year-over-year. Alongside the reduced spend, we are also seeing significant improvements in payback periods with a return to pre-pandemic payback levels of far less than a year. By taking a more holistic approach to our investment in working media and promotions, we are seeing strong improvements in cost per acquisition, building on our early success in the fourth quarter of 2022. In Q1, we reduced cost per acquisition by almost 50%, and now it’s at its lowest level since 2019.

We achieved this while simultaneously increasing our conversion rate by approximately 24% sequentially in the first quarter. One of the key drivers of our success is our focus on testing marketing channels we know are effective for us while overlaying a promotional strategy that allows us to attract the right customers. These improvements are representative of our ability to scale our marketing in a way that benefits our bottom line, as evidenced by improvements in acquisition, retention, and customer KPIs. In support of our marketing efforts, we continue to build out our network of partnerships. Recently, we announced a new chef partnership with Molly Yeh. In collaboration with our culinary team, Molly created a limited-time offering available with or without a subscription. We know limited-time boxes are a great way to engage current and prospective customers. The seasonal boxes have proven to deliver on higher order rates and average order value during the weeks we offer them, along with incentivizing unskipped behaviors and account reactivation. As we continue to build towards our goal of achieving profitability, we are all assessing our existing partnerships. Notably, we have decided to pause the availability of our products on Walmart.com beginning this month as we continue to prioritize activities and partnerships that drive ROI and profitability. We continue to work on other third-party sellers, including Amazon, and remain active in pursuing new partnerships and sales channel opportunities where they align closely with our focus on profitability. Moving to our second commitment, driving margin improvements, in the first quarter, variable margin increased from 35% — it increased to 35.8% from 34.9% in the fourth quarter and 32.5% in the same period in the prior year. The improvements in variable margin were driven by continued cost management and productivity improvements, along with efficiencies implemented over the past several months. Operational efficiency improvements we started implementing in the fourth quarter continue to deliver benefits to the business. Our work includes a reduction of idle time on pack lines, a consolidation of shipments into a smaller number of trucks, and an improvement in material handling and inventory management. This work resulted in higher throughput of boxes per pack line hour and a reduction of labor minutes per order, which is especially impressive as they came in tandem with increased meals per order, ingredient, and recipe count.

We see continued opportunity and margin improvement as we implement more efficiencies throughout the coming year. Turning to our third commitment, cost management. As I noted earlier, we’ve achieved a 64% year-over-year reduction in free cash flow burn in Q1 as compared to the same period in the prior year. In tandem with this reduction, we are also pursuing additional external funding to meet our near-term obligations. While we believe the bulk of these cost reductions have been implemented, we continue to evaluate ways to achieve further incremental cost efficiencies through the course of the year. Overall, we believe our efforts to date provide a solid foundation for us to continue on our path to achieving profitability. With that, let me turn it over to Mitch to go through the financials. Mitch?

Mitchell CohenInterim Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Linda, and good morning, everyone. I’ll first begin with an update on our liquidity position before diving into the first quarter’s performance for the quarter ended March 31, 2023. Our cash balance at the end of the first quarter was $31.6 million as compared to $33.5 million as of the end of the fourth quarter, 2022. Our cash position at the end of the first quarter reflects a number of factors, including equity proceeds primarily from our active market offering launched in November, 2022, our debt paydown, and the success of our efforts to drive operational efficiencies and cost reductions. Starting with our active market offering activity, in January of this year, we completed our November ATM, which resulted in proceeds of $16.2 million net of commissions. In addition, in February, 2023, we launched another active market offering, which provides us with the option to sell from time-to-time up to 70 million new shares. Substantially, all the 70 million new shares remain available. With regard to debt paydown, as noted on our previous call, we amended the note purchase agreement in March. The amendment requires us to pay down the remaining balance of our interest of our 30 million outstanding senior secured notes in four monthly equal instalments of $7.5 million. To date, we have paid $15 million of the $30 million principal amount. The first $7.5 million instalments was paid in connection to the signing of the amendment in March, and the second $7.5 million was paid in April. The third payment is scheduled to be made this month, and the fourth and final payment due in June, 2023. Because the outstanding amounts owed to us from Joe Sanberg’s affiliates continue to be delayed, we will need additional funding prior to the middle of June. As Linda mentioned, we are actively pursuing all opportunities available to us to meet our near-term obligations. This includes one or more financing opportunities and or other strategic transactions, including significant commercial partnerships, although there can be no assurance that we will close any such transactions. Our ultimate goal is to get to the path of a stabilized balance sheet and launch our profitability. According to the first quarter results, net revenue was $113.1 million, up 5.9% sequentially and down 4% year-over-year. The sequential increase was driven by the growth in customers and increased order volume in the quarter. The year-over-year decline was driven by the reduction in orders and reduction in customers in the 12-month period alongside a reduction in the order volume in the period. As Linda mentioned, average order value was $70.27, down modestly from the fourth quarter of 2022 to the increased promotional spend in the quarter.

Order per customer for the quarter was 4.9, as customers continue to spend to respond well to our menu variety and customization. Turning to expenses, variable margin was 35.8% for the quarter, for the first quarter. This is a 90 basis point sequential increase and a 330 basis point increase over the prior year period. The improvement to variable margin was driven by ongoing efforts to drive operational efficiencies and lower our costs per box. These efforts include better managing our labor expense and reducing our food and packaging costs. In the first quarter of 2023, PTG&A costs were $35.7 million, a 4.1% increase sub-sequentially. The fourth quarter of 2022 included a significant reduction in food bonus expense, reflecting the decision to pay out lower year-end bonuses in the first quarter. Notably, first quarter PTG&A represented an 18.7% decrease year-over-year, reflecting our successful efforts to reduce costs. The year-over-year decrease was driven by the prior year impact of the retirement of carbon offsets, as well as corporate headcount reductions implemented late in the fourth quarter. Free cash flow was a negative $10.8 million, an improvement of 64% year-over-year, factoring in our active market activity and the pay down of debt, our net cash decrease was less than $2 million in the first quarter. Looking at the bottom line, we reported a net loss of $17 million for the first quarter compared to a $38.7 million loss in Q1 2022 and a $21.8 million loss in Q4. In the first quarter, adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $8.7 million compared to a $31.4 million loss in Q1 2022 and a $13.5 million loss in Q4. Our significant reductions in cash burn and adjusted EBITDA loss are indications that our efforts to reduce costs and drive efficiencies are working as planned, including our work to manage marketing expenses, reduce PTG&A, and improve variable margin. As noted, our first quarter cash burn includes the impact of a $7.5 million debt pay down as we paid the first of our four monthly instalments in March. We continue to make good progress against our operational goals. This said, we will continue to evaluate ways to achieve further incremental cost efficiencies through the course of the year as we continue to actively pursue sufficient additional funds needed to fund our near-term obligations. Overall, we believe the efforts to date provide a solid foundation for us to continue on our path to achieving profitability. With that, I’ll turn things over to the operator to open up the call for questions. Operator?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. We will now begin the question and answer session. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Maria Ripps with Canaccord. Please go ahead.

Maria RippsCanaccord — Analyst

Great. Good morning, and thanks for taking my questions. First, so you had very healthy net ads this quarter, especially in the context of your lower marketing spend. Can you maybe expand a little bit on key drivers behind that? Maybe give us a little bit more color on what worked for you this quarter, and just talk about the sustainability of this dynamic as we head into sort of seasonally slower Q2 and Q3?

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

Thanks so much for the question, Maria. So, I can definitely give you a little bit more color. First of all, we played with a couple of different levers that we established the technology for last year. So, as you know, last year was an investment into marketing technology and some brand spend as we started to lean back into marketing after the reset that had happened in 2018. So, we were able to leverage some of that technology that was put into place to be a lot more efficient on driving into performance spend and marketing and removing some of the top-of-the-funnel branding spend. That’s not to say that we’re moving away from branding at all. We’re actually transitioning our branding into more performance-based channels that take advantage of the 81% brand recognition that we now have after some of our branding activities. And, of course, the long history of Blue Apron is a strong brand. So, that’s one thing that we were actually able to do. Another thing that we played with that we talked a little bit about in the script was the promotional spend versus media spend. So, we tested some different promotional structures that actually did prove to be contra-revenue. So, you saw some of that come out of our AOV. But we were also able to lower our marketing spend at the same time and still acquire those higher-quality customers as part of that process. So, we were able to trade off a bit between promotional spend and marketing spend that still resulted in better efficiency and better-quality customers. We do think this is something that’s sustainable, although you will still see seasonality throughout the quarters, as you always do. But we do think that this is something sustainable that we can lean into further investment in the future as we secure that funding that we discussed earlier.

So, some of that is playing against each other in a really positive way where we’re seeing both higher-quality customers come in at a much greater efficiency than what we’ve had in the past and returning to some of those levels that we were talking about in 2019 of paybacks that are less than a year. A lot of this is a result of performance-based channels, which tend to be things like search and tend to be affiliate. We changed our affiliate model as well to make that a lot more efficient, and that’s helping quite a bit as well. And finally, driving a lot more organic and reactivations. Again, we have a very strong email list from years of work in the industry. And the combination of being able to drive that and driving more organic traffic through improvements in some of the technology that we have put in place are all working towards the same end.

Maria RippsCanaccord — Analyst

Got it. That’s very helpful. And then secondly, could you maybe talk about what sort of trends you’re seeing with underlying food prices? And how much of a headwind would you say inflation still is to gross margin?

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

Sure. So, I think underlying prices, we’re still seeing some inflationary pressure, particularly in food. I think we are also continuing to see consumers be a little bit cautious about their spend. That’s why we’re focusing so much on value. I think everyone’s dealing with the macroeconomic environments and uncertainty that people continue to just feel emotionally about exactly what’s happening in the macro climate. But we are seeing strong continued spend with people in the product. As you know, with meal kits, people are more price-sensitive when they’re coming into meal kits. But once they’re in, they tend to be far less price-sensitive. We’re seeing that continue, and we are also seeing responses of people seeing value in the kits. So, there’s some pricing pressure continuing on food costs. But overall, the efficiencies that we’ve been able to drive both in our procurement side and in our labor side are helping to offset that. On the consumer side, we are just seeing people continuing to see value in the kits and being willing to spend on the value-added products that we have added over the last several years within the kits themselves.

Maria RippsCanaccord — Analyst

Got it. That’s very helpful. Thank you so much, Linda.

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

Thank you, Maria.

Operator

Our next question comes from Dan Kurnos with the Benchmark Company. Please go ahead.

Daniel KurnosBenchmark Company — Analyst

Great. Thanks. Good morning. Linda, I wanted to stay on that topic. You gave a lot of good color around there. Is there any way to punch down [Phonetic] what percent of new ads or at least directionally are reactivations? Because I think if you’re working on reducing effectively AOV and promotions to kind of incentivize value or highlight value in the market, I think there’s obviously a longer-tailed stickiness to it. But if the bulk of those are coming from known commodities that have been in the pipeline before rather than from new customers, and the new customers that you’re bringing in, I’m curious if you have any early learnings that those cohorts are behaving similarly to either reactivations or what you’ve seen from a historical perspective?

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

Sure. I’ll try to answer your question, but definitely remind me if I miss any part of it. So we don’t currently talk about the percentage of those customers that are coming from reactivation. But what I can tell you is we did launch a new reactivation program this year very early in Q1 where we were testing against a lot of that email list and a lot of the data that we have on our current customers and former customers. Again, as we’ve said before, first-party data is going to become extremely powerful as we continue to go deeper into the cookie-less environment. And we’re taking advantage of that with the technology that we’ve put into place. I will still say a majority of those net ads were coming from new customers, even though reactivation was extremely healthy for us. Those experiments are proving true of what we’ve seen in the past, that reactivated customers tend to perform extremely well and tend to be very sticky compared to new customers because of the known entity aspect that you’re talking about. So, we are seeing really good progress there. But we still have a lot of opportunity to go given the size of our database. So, that’s a very positive aspect of it. The other thing that I will note is, while we were doing a lot of different tests and experiments, overall, the new customer cohorts that we were bringing in in the beginning of 2022 are performing the same or better than previous cohorts coming in on average. Again, there’s always tests. So, you’ll see a little bit of wobbliness, I guess, for lack of a better term, when you’re testing. But on the whole and on average, they are performing the same or better.

Daniel KurnosBenchmark Company — Analyst

Yes, that’s super helpful. And to that point, I mean, you kind of alluded to the concept that perhaps AOV continues to trickle downwards as you press more on the promo front, which, you know, everybody loves a lower upfront price, right? So, I guess, do you still see substantial opportunity to balance, as you put it, sort of your contra versus your media spend where even if AOV continues to come down, margins can improve as you pull back on sort of broader marketing spend?

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

So, there’s a couple of things to unpack in that question. I will say that while we do continue to test our promotional structures, what you might see going forward is more testing of the structure rather than the dollar amount, which should roughly stabilize our AOV. So, you’re not necessarily going to see a consistent trickle down there. That being said, we still think that above $70 on an AOV is incredibly healthy and one of the higher in the industry. So, you’ll still see some seasonality there, but you’re not necessarily going to see a steady trickle down. We do think that it’s more about pulling structural levers than necessarily looking specifically at dollar amounts. So, that’s one thing that’s really important because it’s that structural piece that actually helps drive the higher quality customers coming into the business. So, that’s something that you’ll see there. On the margin piece of it, we do anticipate continued seasonality, as you’ve seen in previous years on margin. We’ve always talked about Q3 being our highest margin challenge of the year just because of the heat. That being said, we have a lot of productivity opportunities ahead of us, a lot of efficiency opportunities ahead of us. So, we do anticipate that we will continue to improve our variable margin.

Daniel KurnosBenchmark Company — Analyst

Got it. And that’s super helpful. And just last one, how do we think about the impact of the Walmart pause? I know it’s just a partner, but just how do we think about that? Are there any other sort of evaluations going on that we should be aware of at this point?

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

So, the thing that we’ve always said about the Walmart partnership is one of the big benefits of Walmart was it was our first and it helped us develop the technology that let us take an order and ship it within 24 hours. And we do continue to see opportunities to leverage that across different third-party partnerships. Again, our core driver right now is profitability. So, we’re always going to make sure that we’re evaluating everything we do, not just each partnership, based on profitability to bring the most return into the business and long-term success.

Daniel KurnosBenchmark Company — Analyst

Okay. Great. Thanks very much, Linda. Appreciate it.

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

Thanks so much, Dan.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] The next question comes from Ryan Meyers with Lake Street Capital Markets. Please go ahead.

Ryan MeyersLake Street Capital Markets — Analyst

Hey. Good morning, guys. Thanks for taking my questions. First one for me. So, you know, we’ve had a couple quarters now of this sort of cost reduction effort, if you will. Obviously, pretty solid results, lowering opex about 18% year-over-year. As you guys look at the remaining quarters, on a dollar amount, how much more cost do you feel like you can continue to take out of the business, largely on the marketing and PTG&A side?

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

So, thanks so much for the question, Ryan. You did see that we announced in about end of the year, so it was actually in December, that we implemented the $50 million cost reduction across the business. We saw better than expected results on seeing those cost reductions impact us quite early in Q1. So, Q1 was really the first quarter where you saw that impact come together. But I will say that I think overall, we’ve seen a lot of those cost reductions impact us throughout the year. So, you’ll see more of that $50 million coming throughout the year. It wasn’t just necessarily all showing up in Q1. So, you’ll see continued impact. We always see additional opportunities, and we’re continuing to look at other opportunities for cost reduction. I do think that we’ve proven that we are very good at focusing on finding those and moving on them very quickly. And so, anything we find in the future quarters, we will definitely implement. But we still see positive impact yet to come from the reduction that we did in December.

Mitchell CohenInterim Chief Financial Officer

And Ryan, it’s always a constant evaluation of PTG&A. So, we’ll still uncover some more things and continue to keep looking. We talked about it on our last call, possibly separating part of our living space and things of that nature.

Ryan MeyersLake Street Capital Markets — Analyst

Got it. And then, in the press release, and then, Mitch, your prepared remarks, you guys talked about sort of a commercial partnership as an option to bring in more funding or financing. What would something like that look like?

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

We can’t give any more details at this time, but it is something that, in addition to the other options on funding and strategic options, we are considering heavily. And so, we’ll update you as soon as we have more details.

Ryan MeyersLake Street Capital Markets — Analyst

Got it. Thanks for taking my questions.

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

Absolutely.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this will conclude today’s question-and-answer session. I’d like to turn the conference call back over to Linda Findley for any closing comments.

Linda Findley KozlowskiPresident and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Apron

Thank you so much, everyone, for your time today. We look forward to providing an update on all of our efforts soon. And in the meantime, if you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Disclaimer

This transcript is produced by AlphaStreet, Inc. While we strive to produce the best transcripts, it may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies. This transcript is provided as is without express or implied warranties of any kind. As with all our articles, AlphaStreet, Inc. 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. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed in this transcript constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of securities or commodities. Any opinion expressed in the transcript does not necessarily reflect the views of AlphaStreet, Inc.

© COPYRIGHT 2021, AlphaStreet, Inc. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, redistribution or retransmission is expressly prohibited.

Most Popular

WBA Earnings Preview: Will Walgreens’ Q3 report bring cheer to investors?

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) has been facing challenges due to higher operating costs, rising competition, and an unfavorable retail environment. These factors have put pressure on the drugstore

Darden Restaurants (DRI) Q4 2024 Earnings: Key financials and quarterly highlights

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) reported fourth quarter 2024 earnings results today. Total sales increased 6.8% year-over-year to $2.95 billion. Same-restaurant sales remained flat.   Net earnings were $308.1 million,

KR Earnings: Kroger Q1 sales and profit top expectations

Grocery chain The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) reported a decline in adjusted profit for the first quarter of 2024, despite a modest increase in net sales. The results exceeded Wall Street's

Add Comment
Loading...
Cancel
Viewing Highlight
Loading...
Highlight
Close
Top