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Edited Transcript of FLWS earnings conference call or presentation 31-Jan-19 4:00pm GMT

Q2 2019 1-800-Flowers.Com Inc Earnings Call

CARLE PLACE Feb 4, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of 1-800-Flowers.Com Inc earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 4:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Christopher G. McCann

1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director

* Joseph D. Pititto

1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - SVP of IR & Corporate Communications

* William E. Shea

1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Alex Joseph Fuhrman

Craig-Hallum Capital Group LLC, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst

* Anthony Chester Lebiedzinski

Sidoti & Company, LLC - Senior Equity Research Analyst

* Daniel Louis Kurnos

The Benchmark Company, LLC, Research Division - MD

* Linda Ann Bolton-Weiser

D.A. Davidson & Co., Research Division - Senior Research Analyst

* Michael A. Kupinski

NOBLE Capital Markets, Inc., Research Division - Director of Research and Senior Media & Entertainment Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good day, and welcome to the 1-800-FLOWERS. COM Fiscal 2019 Second Quarter Results Conference Call. Today's conference is being recorded. (Operator Instructions)

I would now like to turn the conference over to Joseph Pititto, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. Please go ahead, sir.

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Joseph D. Pititto, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - SVP of IR & Corporate Communications [2]

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Thank you, Caroline. Good morning and thank you all for joining us today to discuss 1-800-FLOWERS. COM's financial results for our fiscal 2019 second quarter. For those of you who've not received a copy of our press release issued earlier this morning, the release can be accessed at the Investor Relations section of our corporate website at 1800flowersinc.com.

Our call today will begin with brief formal remarks, and then we will open the call to your questions. Presenting today will be Chris McCann, CEO; and Bill Shea, CFO.

Before we begin, I need to remind everyone that some of the statements we will make today, may be forward-looking within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the applicable statements. For a detailed description of these risks and uncertainties, please refer to our press release issued this morning as well as our SEC filings, including the company's annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q.

In addition, this morning, we will discuss certain supplemental financial measures that were not prepared in accordance with the generally accepted accounting principles. Reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures can be found in the tables accompanying the company's press release issued this morning. The company expressly disclaims any intent or obligation to update any of the forward-looking statements made in today's call, any recordings of today's call, the press release issued earlier today, or in any of its SEC filings, except as may be otherwise stated by the company.

Before I turn the call over to Chris McCann to begin our formal remarks, I'd like to ask everyone to mark their calendars for the morning of Friday, March 22. On that day, we will be hosting an Investor Day in New York City. We'll send out invitations with details on location and agenda in the days ahead, and we hope to see you all there.

I'll now turn the call back to Chris.

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [3]

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Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for joining us. As we noted in our press release this morning, we are very pleased to report accelerated revenue growth, along with solid year-over-year increases in adjusted EBITDA and EPS for our fiscal second quarter. The results are a continuation of the positive trends we saw in the second half of fiscal '18 and our fiscal first quarter of this year. For the quarter, total revenues grew nearly 9%, reflecting strong holiday and everyday gifting demand, combined with excellent execution, across all 3 of our business segments. In our Gourmet Food and Gift Baskets segments, customers who were looking to express, connect and celebrate for the holiday season as well as for everyday occasions, responded well to Harry & David's share more brand messaging, and its focused on providing truly original products.

Harry & David, our largest brand in the Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets segment, was the primary driver behind 8.4% growth for the overall segment. In addition, during the quarter, we saw excellent returns on an increased investments we told you we are making in digital marketing programs for Harry & David, which contributed to company-wide new customer growth of nearly 12%.

Concurrently we also had strong revenue growth from existing customers. The growth in this segment also benefited from enhanced operating performance as Cheryl’s Cookies, strong growth in our 1-800-Baskets business, growing demand for the Popcorn Factory's new offering in wholesale channels, strong growth in Simply Chocolate, which launched several new brands for the holiday season, including our seasonal chocolatiers, the Jacques Torres, Kohler and Ethel M.

In our Consumer Floral segment, revenue increased 8% compared with the prior year period, further extending our market leadership position in floral gifting. Here, again, we are seeing excellent returns on the increased marketing investments we told you we are making in the 1-800-Flowers brand, which helps generate double-digit gains in new customers, while also stimulating increased demand from existing customers.

The strong revenue and new customer growth were achieved by leveraging the strength of the 1-800-Flowers brand and our industry-leading experience in digital marketing programs, delivering a customer experience that's second to none. Focusing on truly original products, such as of our top-selling Noelle and Christina arrangements from our new Wild Beauty collection, and our new and exclusive succulent gardens available in a variety of shapes, including our hit Christmas tree succulent.

The 1-800-Flowers brand also help introduce our enterprise-wide gifts that give back collections. Support of our Smile Farms filled and frothy initiatives that is focused on creating meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. A program we are very excited about.

Our BloomNet business also achieved strong growth during the quarter, with revenues up 15% compared with the prior year period. This reflecting investments we've made to drive significant increases in order volumes going through the BloomNet system. This growth in order volume is also helping BloomNet increase its penetration to technology system sales, including digital marketing programs, point of sale store and management systems and digital direct readvertising.

The result, BloomNet is capturing market share in the wire service space and is positioned to continue to deliver strong growth going forward.

So to sum up, we had a very good second quarter. Consolidated revenue growth accelerated to nearly 9%. We posted solid gains in adjusted EBITDA and EPS, and we saw a strong results on the investments we are making in Harry & David, 1-800-Flowers and BloomNet in terms of accelerated revenue growth, strong new customer growth and the increasing order volumes.

As we head into the second half of our fiscal year, we are well positioned to continue the positive trends we are seeing across our business. As a result, we are increasing our guidance the top and bottom line growth for the full year.

I'll now turn the call over to Bill for a more detailed review of our key metrics and our revised guidance. Bill?

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William E. Shea, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO [4]

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Thank you, Chris. As Chris noted, we are very pleased with the strong work top and bottom line results for our

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revenue growth of 8.6% was ahead of our expectations and reflected strong customer demand for both holiday and everyday gifting occasions in our Gourmet Food and Gift Baskets and Consumer Floral segments, while a significant order volume growth in BloomNet.

In terms of our bottom line results, worth noting that the solid increases in both adjusted EBITDA and EPS for the quarter were achieved while absorbing the year-over-year cost increases associated with the assumption of a full bonus payout for fiscal 2019 compared with significantly reduced payout in the prior year and the increase investments we have discussed in past calls in marketing for the 1-800-Flowers and Harry & David brands and the launch of Goodsey. This reflects both the strong revenue growth in the quarter as well as effective leveraging of our operating platform.

Breaking down some of the key metrics for the quarter. We had strong revenue growth across all 3 of our business segments with Gourmet Food and Gift Baskets, Consumer Floral and BloomNet, up 8.4%, 8% and 15%, respectively.

Gross profit margin was 44.6%, a decrease of 10 basis points compared with 44.7% in the prior year period. The minimal decrease primarily reflects our ability to reduce our transportation cost on a per order basis through logistical initiatives. Our shifting of some production on our manufacturing facilities to earlier in the season, when we could use our core workforce, our automation of certain manufacturing functions and our implementation of strategic price increases. These initiatives enabled us to largely offset the impact of continuing rising cost of seasonal labor, the growth of our passport program and the lower gross margin percentage implement.

Operating expenses as a percent of total revenues improved 70 basis points to 28% compared with 28.7% in the prior year period. The improved operating expense ratio was achieved despite having to absorb the impact of the year-over-year increase in bonuses and increased investments in marketing.

This reflects several factors, including increased efficiency of our direct -- of our digital marketing programs, strong revenue growth, which provide a better leverage of our marketing and other cost, automation initiatives in our service center which drove lower customer service cost.

The combination of strong revenue growth and enhanced operating expense ratio in the quarter resulted in adjusted EBITDA growth of 9.1% to $103.1 million compared with $94.5 million in the prior year period. Net income for the quarter was $68.6 million, and EPS was $1.04 per diluted share compared with net income of $70.7 million, and EPS of $1.06 per diluted share in the prior year period, which included a onetime benefit of $0.18 per diluted share associated with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Adjusted for this onetime benefit, net income and EPS for this year's fiscal second quarter increased 17.1% and 18.2%, respectively, compared with adjusted net income of $58.5 million and adjusted EPS of $0.88 per diluted share in the prior year period.

EPS in the quarter also benefited from a year-over-year lower effective tax rate associated with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which became effective in our fiscal second quarter last year. Our effective tax rate in this year's second quarter was 25.4% compared with 29.7% as adjusted in the prior year period.

In terms of category results. In our Gourmet Food and Gift Baskets segment, which represents more than 75% of our total revenue for the quarter, revenues increased 8.4% or $34 million to $440 million compared with the prior year period.

As we previously noted, the strong revenue growth in this segment was driven primarily by Harry & David, which benefited from strong customer demand for holiday gift baskets and towers, including those containing Harry & David iconic Royal Riviera Pears, which were truly exceptional this year.

Successful launch of its new sentiments line for everyday gifting occasions, growing demand for our Harry & David Gourmet line, which has become popular among younger customers for entertainment. Segments growth also benefited from improved operational performance at Cheryl’s Cookies, which has made good progress in bouncing back from last year's holiday season operating issue, strong growth in consumer and wholesale channels for 1-800-Baskets, increased wholesale for The Popcorn Factory.

Profit margin for this segment was 45.6%, up 20 basis points, compared with the gross profit margin of 45.4% in the prior year period. Segment contribution margin increased 12.9% to $105.5 million compared with segment contribution margin of $93.5 million in the prior year period. This increase reflects the strong revenue growth in the quarter, combined with improved gross profit margin.

Consumer Floral segment. Revenues increased 8% or $8 million to $108.1 million compared with $100.1 million in the prior year period.

Profit margin was 38.5%, a decrease of 30 basis points compared with 38.8% in the prior year period. Segment contribution margin was $9.8 million compared with $10.8 million in the prior year period. The lower gross margin, it looks like certain aspects of our increased marketing investments as well as increased penetration of our passport program. Lower segment contribution margin reflects the impact of the assumption of a full bonus payout for fiscal 2019 compared with significantly reduced payout in the prior year period, marketing investments to drive accelerated growth and the start-up cost for our newest brand, Goodsey.

Now BloomNet Wire Service segment. Revenues for the quarter increased 15% or $3.1 million to $23.4 million compared with $20.4 million in the prior year period. Profit margin was 52.6%, a decrease of 480 basis points compared with 57.4% in the prior year period. Lower gross profit margin percentage reflects the investments we've discussed to drive increased order volumes for BloomNet. This was more than offset by strong revenue growth in the quarter, resulting in a segment contribution margin increase of 7.3% to $8.3 million compared with $7.7 million in the prior year period.

In terms of corporate expense. Segment contribution margin results, exclude costs associated with the company's enterprise shared services platform, which includes among other services, IT, HR, finance, legal and executive. These functions are operated under a centralized management platform, providing support services to the entire organization. For the fiscal second quarter, corporate expense, including stock-based compensation, was $20.9 million compared with $18.8 million in the prior year period.

The increase in corporate expense reflects a higher bonus in stock-based compensation compared with the prior year period.

Turning to our balance sheet. At the of our second quarter, our cash and investment position was $257.7 million. Term debt balance, net of deferred financing cost was $98.5 million, and we had 0 borrowings outstanding under our working capital line within our revolving credit facility. As a result, total net cash at the end of the quarter was $159.2 million.

Inventory of approximately $64 million was in line with the management's expectations.

Regarding guidance for fiscal year 2019. We are raising our guidance for revenue and earnings growth for the year based on the following factors: Our strong top and bottom line performance to the first half of the fiscal year, our stated plan to continue to invest in marketing programs to accelerate growth in Harry & David and 1-800-Flowers brands, and to invest in our newest brand, Goodsey. And our assumption of a full bonus payout for the year compared with a minimal payout in the prior year. As a result, we are raising guidance as follows: An increase in consolidated revenue growth for our previous range of 5% to 7% to a new range of 7% to 8% compared with the prior year. An increase in EPS from a previous range of $0.38 to $0.42 per diluted share to a new range of $0.44 to $0.46 per diluted share. An increase in adjusted EBITDA from a previous range of $77 million to $80 million, to a new range of $80 million to $82 million.

Our guidance for free cash flow remains unchanged at a range of $30 million to $40 million for the year. As a reminder, the Easter holiday, which represents approximately $10 million in revenue, falls in our fourth quarter this year compared with fiscal '18 when it fell on our third quarter. Given the resulting impact on our year-over-year quarterly comparisons, we recommend viewing our second half results on a combined basis.

Now I'll turn the call back to Chris.

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [5]

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Thanks, Bill. We are very pleased with our results through the first half of our fiscal year, importantly, the accelerated revenue growth we are seeing across all 3 of our business segments illustrates a strong returns we are getting on the investments we told you we are making this year. These include our digital marketing programs for the 1-800-Flowers brand, where we are taking advantage of market conditions to drive accelerated revenue growth. Our initiatives to accelerate Harry & David's migration to a digital marketing platform, which is helping to drive both strong revenue and significant new customer growth. And our programs to increase total order volumes going through our BloomNet platform.

In addition to strong growth in new customers, we're also seeing solid improvements in the behavior metrics of our customer file in terms of increased frequency, average spend and retention among our best customers all helping to drive increased lifetime value.

Helping to drive this are our initiatives to expand our passport loyalty program, which provides free shipping and service charges for members, and our focus on cross-brand merchandising and marketing programs to grow multi-brand customers. So during the second quarter, we saw a continued double-digit growth in passport members as well as strong growth in the creation of new multi-branded customers.

As we move into the second half of our fiscal year, we plan to build on the strong returns we are getting from our investments. We have the benefit of the Valentine holiday moving to a Thursday this year compared with it falling on a Wednesday last year, providing an additional day for marketing and fulfillment. And also, as part of our ongoing mission to deliver smiles, we are continually innovating to enhance the customer's experience.

Among the innovations we are introducing for Valentine's Day, are several in the area of conversational commerce, where the 1-800-Flowers brand is already established a leadership position. These include smart ordering capabilities from Samsung's voice power digital assistant, Bixby. This enables customers to use Samsung devices to place orders via voice commands and to complete the order with Samsung Pay. Voice and chat-optimized capabilities on Google Assistant, including real-time order tracking, new search and shop features in the 1-800-Flowers store on Google Express. And text ordering and tracking capabilities via Apple Business Chat, an upgraded search and shopping capabilities on the 1-800-Flowers bot for Facebook Messenger, featuring new track my order functionality. Building on our success in mobile, we have also launched PWA technology for tablets, giving us one of the fastest tablets speeds in the gifting space, and significantly enhanced conversion rates.

We've also continued to expand our integration with SmartGift, a true lifesaver for those customers, I'll say it, mostly men, who inevitably wait to the last possible moment to place their Valentine order. Using this highly personalized experiential gifting feature, customers can choose what they would like to send and then let SmartGift notify the recipient via text, e-mail or any messaging platform that their gift is on its way. Recipients can then even modify their delivery and product preferences involving them even further in the whole gifting experience.

In terms of truly original product innovations, for the Valentine holiday, we have our new Magnificent Roses. These are roses that arrive beautifully packaged and last up to 6 months. Our hot pink collection. High-end collection of arrangements featuring flowers in this hot trending you. Our expanded line of top selling succulents configured for Valentine's Day. New Simply Chocolate colossal truffles in a variety of flavor combination. And from Harry & David, our new Ruby Cacao Truffles creamy confections made using the unique ruby cocoa bean. Our focus on the innovation to enhance the customer experience and create truly original products has us well positioned to drive strong growth in our second half and deliver on our guidance for fiscal '19.

Before I turn the call over to Caroline to begin the Q&A portion of our call, I would like to commend all of our associates across the enterprise for their hard work for their hard work, their innovative thinking and their dedication to helping our customers express, connect and celebrate.

I'll turn the call back to Caroline to open the call for any questions that you might have. Caroline?

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) And we'll go first to Dan Kurnos with The Benchmark Company.

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Daniel Louis Kurnos, The Benchmark Company, LLC, Research Division - MD [2]

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Just a couple from me. Well, one housekeeping first. I know you mentioned that Cheryl's had recovered. Can you just give us maybe order of magnitude in terms of the bounce back? Are you through kind of the make goods? Just any color you have around how close Cheryl's is to being back to 100% after last year?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [3]

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Sure. So we're very pleased with Cheryl's recovery really from this year from the operational issue they had last year, and that really demonstrated itself in the on-time delivery and fulfillment metrics that we saw or the customer service metrics that we saw from Cheryl's this year. So we're very pleased and the team really performed very well. So on the demand side, I would say, while we didn't recapture everything we expected to recapture, we're very pleased with the growth that we saw year-over-year there, and feel we're in really good position.

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William E. Shea, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO [4]

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Dan, as for contribution, we're continuing to optimize the systems we have in place to get back to the kind of the key metrics, or to get the key metrics back to where they used to be. We are making good progress in this area. And we expect Cheryl's to continue to be one of our highest contributing brands. There always room for improvement and we'll continue to work on that in the upcoming year.

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Daniel Louis Kurnos, The Benchmark Company, LLC, Research Division - MD [5]

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Great. And then, Chris, I think, this is really the first time you've highlighted extensive new customer growth. Obviously, you are taking a lot of the new customers from FTD's profile. But just curious, how much of it is -- you did call a little bit about in the script, but how much of it is coming from some of your more efficient marketing? Can you talk about what channels are proving most effective? And can you give us any data around how those new customers are behaving like AOV or stickiness and repeat rates?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [6]

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Sure, Dan. So as we stated prior to the beginning of this year, where we're going to do because of the metrics we were seeing in our customer file around frequency, average spend retention really being driven by programs like the multi-brand customer initiatives passport. Because of that, that gave us the impetus to say, "Okay, let's feed the ecosystem. Let's fuel the ecosystem and invest in new customer acquisition above the rate that we were going already. And specifically on the consumer side between Harry & David and 1-800-Flowers." So we saw the ability to fuel the ecosystem with those 2 brands. That's worked very well. And as you point out, the Flowers brand had double-digit new customer growth, but the Harry & David and the Gourmet Food category had double-digit customer growth. And that's by far the bigger category for us this holiday. So that's where most of the new customers came in. And we've mentioned previously, what we're seeing on the new customer growth is that especially on the Harry & David side, as an example, is really coming from of our migration and to be much more of a digital marketing platform. So rather than catalog prospecting as the main driver, we're seeing more of new customer acquisition coming through search channels, whether it be SEO, SEM display channels, affiliate programs, et cetera, as we continue to ramp up Harry & David into more of a digital marketing company. What we've seen from last year, which gave us the impetus here -- we, obviously, haven't seen it yet this year, the customers just came in. But those new customers are attracting a more better customer demographic, a younger customer demographic, a more tech-savvy customer demographic and they're behaving a little bit differently, their retention metrics are great, their frequency metrics are good, and even with what we saw this holiday, is they buy and shut ship now, which really helps us from an operation's point of view, not everything being held until the last week of Christmas.

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William E. Shea, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO [7]

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Yes. And Dan, one other point. Just overall our AOV is up slightly, flat to up slightly, depending upon the brand. So the growth in new customers hasn't influenced that.

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Daniel Louis Kurnos, The Benchmark Company, LLC, Research Division - MD [8]

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Got it. Really helpful. So then just kind of a good segue into my last question and then I'll get off. Look, you seem like you're finally getting scale. Something that we -- I think, we've all been waiting for, for a while. And particularly impressive this holiday period with all of the data we've seen out there around pressure on trucking, shipping, freight cost, et cetera. I'm going to ask it in kind of an odd way, does this alter how you guys would view an acquisition? Or give you more leeway to bolt something on that might not have stand-alone scale?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [9]

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No. I think, Dan, as we look at the position that we're in from an acquisition point of view. First off, we're in a very strong position, a good balance sheet. We have good cash position. We'll always be very thorough and disciplined in what we're looking at. But I think you're right, Dan. We are looking for opportunities to bring even more scale into the platform that we've built. While at the same time, we'll also add companies, either add companies by acquisitions or build like we did with Goodsey, that complements the offerings that we have out there. So what we're seeing from a brand like Goodsey is they -- while very early stage on Goodsey, they got most of their traffic from the sister brand and it's just a complementary offering. So we'll look at that opportunity. But yes, I think, it does skew us to really look for opportunities of scale.

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William E. Shea, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO [10]

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I'll just say since you brought up transportation, I figured I'd take the opportunity to tout some of our accomplishments there, while transportation cost in the industry continue to increase, we were largely able to mitigate the increases through certain logistical initiatives that we put in place. And we're actually able to reduce our transportation cost on a per order basis in Q2. We have several initiatives in play here, we do work very closely with FedEx, which is our key transportation vendor, but also an excellent partner for us to enhance our distribution platform. We were able to reduce the number of FedEx hubs that we're bringing product to, which helped us save on some of our trucking cost. We're able to consolidate some of our trucking needs to several larger firms and lock in some pricing. And most importantly, we're able to really forward deploy more inventory to not only our fixed, but also our seasonal distribution centers and get the product closer to the customer, which would enabled us to lower our small package cost. So we're very pleased with our logistics and transportation team. This past holiday season, it really did help us save some money.

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Operator [11]

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And our next question will come from Michael Kupinski with NOBLE Capital Markets.

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Michael A. Kupinski, NOBLE Capital Markets, Inc., Research Division - Director of Research and Senior Media & Entertainment Analyst [12]

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I have a couple of quick questions. Dan asked quite a few. Can you talk a little bit about the number of affiliated floral shops at this point? Did you increase those in the quarter? Or are you still pretty constant from the previous quarter?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [13]

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Yes. It was pretty steady quarter-to-quarter, there hasn't been any dramatic change, Michael.

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Michael A. Kupinski, NOBLE Capital Markets, Inc., Research Division - Director of Research and Senior Media & Entertainment Analyst [14]

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Okay. And I know that you were thinking about, I believe, in the last quarter, you had talked about the prospect of potentially increasing those, any thoughts on that at this point?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [15]

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No. We're still looking at it. We think there is opportunity in the marketplace to do so. There is -- that's a rather slow process. Florists may need or take time to make that decision. And then also, I think, it's a matter of time of the year when florists will choose to join another wire -- even can switch to wire service. You generally won't see that happen like now right before Valentine holiday or a major holiday. You'll see that more when there's more time in between the holiday.

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Michael A. Kupinski, NOBLE Capital Markets, Inc., Research Division - Director of Research and Senior Media & Entertainment Analyst [16]

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Got you. And I was talking with a relatively small Colombian floral producer at a recent conference. And he indicated that there is -- has been some significant amount of consolidation within the floral producers. And first of all, I was just wondering if you're seeing that and if you are, if you have any thoughts about -- can't get it out, the implications of that prospect. And would it make sense for the company to vertically integrate into the floral production business, much like you have with Harry & David, with the Pears, could owning a floral producer be a competitive advantage, any thoughts on that?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [17]

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Yes. So we really haven't seen the consolidation that you referenced. We've heard that there might be some consolidation coming down the road, but we haven't really seen any evidence of it yet. And as far as you know, we have very good supply relationships. And one of the things we like is having good supply relationships with multiple -- with several different suppliers, so we're not locked in. So I think buying one might not give you the advantages you might think on vertical integration.

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Operator [18]

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And next, we'll go to Anthony Lebiedzinski with Sidoti & Company.

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Anthony Chester Lebiedzinski, Sidoti & Company, LLC - Senior Equity Research Analyst [19]

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So just following up on the 12% new customer growth. I was wondering if -- did you see a good chunk of those customers become passport program -- passport program members?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [20]

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Well, again, we're very happy with that 12% growth of the overall customer file. And as we look at the customer file overall, we continue to see it grow. We're investing in that growth. Again because of the impetus that you're pointing out there, Anthony, because that we're seeing programs like passport work, et cetera. Specific to passport, we're seeing double-digit growth in customers joining passport and steady increases in the percentage of total sales coming from passport. So we're seeing that grow nicely. And we're seeing the same thing on multi-brand customers as well, where we see higher frequency retention compared to nonpassport customers. So the customer file, we're very pleased with both -- what we're bringing into the top of the funnel. How we're migrating them into higher retention rates, getting them to join programs like passport. So we're very pleased with what we're seeing in the customer file because that portends the future.

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Anthony Chester Lebiedzinski, Sidoti & Company, LLC - Senior Equity Research Analyst [21]

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Got it, that sounds good. So I was also wondering if you could perhaps help us better understand your growth trends in terms of everyday gifting demand versus holiday gifting demand, if you could kind of parse that out perhaps that would be very helpful?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [22]

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Well, hard to really parse that out. It kind of gets mixed in, but what we look at and what was very happy to see is even during the holiday season, we saw a good double-digit increases especially in the food brands, especially at Harry & David in thank you occasion, sympathy, get well, just because occasions. And that really bodes well for us then when we get into times of year, let's take Harry & David as an example, January where you don't have the holiday season, but where you still see strong returns from those everyday customers. And we're just getting better and better at it. You've heard Bill mentioned in the past, that it took us a while to get the everyday business going in some of these food brands, because we -- they weren't focused on it. So product development cycles needed some lead time, marketing programs needed some lead time, and then leveraging and learning from the 1-800-Flowers brand, and that's where the multi-branded [environment] on the desktop comes into play. When customers are coming to 1-800-Flowers, which is an everyday engine for birthday, anniversary, get well, et cetera, we're able to get good cross-merchandising and cross-brand marketing programs in front of those eyes, and get them to try our new -- our newer brands on the food side thought to create that multi-brand customer effect. So you start to get that network effect as you do it.

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William E. Shea, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO [23]

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Yes, but I think what's fair to say is, while holiday gifts is a big driver of the second quarter, especially on the food side of our business, we did see double-digit growth throughout GFGB and within Harry & David on everyday gifting.

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Anthony Chester Lebiedzinski, Sidoti & Company, LLC - Senior Equity Research Analyst [24]

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Got it. That's good to hear. And as far as Celebrations Passport program, so you've had that program for a while. What are the renewal rates that you're seeing overall?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [25]

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So we don't break that out, but -- well, what I would say is what we're very happy is we're seeing an increased renewals rates as we move on in time.

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Anthony Chester Lebiedzinski, Sidoti & Company, LLC - Senior Equity Research Analyst [26]

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Got it. Okay. And lastly, as far as the increased bonus dollar amount, did you call that out? Or if you haven't, can you share that with us?

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William E. Shea, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO [27]

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I mean, it's significant. It's -- I think, as we gave guidance to this fiscal year, it was -- we said it was high single-digit close to $10 million on an annual basis. So half of that would be represented in the first half of the year. So it's a number around $5 million.

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Operator [28]

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And next, we'll go to Alex Fuhrman with Craig-Hallum Capital Group.

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Alex Joseph Fuhrman, Craig-Hallum Capital Group LLC, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [29]

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I wanted to ask about the marketing spending at Harry & David. It sounds like it's going really well, now that you're starting to transition more towards the digital platform. We've seen nice increases in marketing spending for the first 2 quarters of the year, but still not quite as much as your sales growth. I guess, what I'm wondering is as you think about next year's holiday season, could we be looking at a couple of years of really increased marketing investment at Harry & David? I guess, I'm trying to understand, are you just really scratching the surface of what you can do digitally? And then for that matter, just for the rest of the calendar year, do you think there are more opportunities to increase the marketing spending at Harry & David now that you're more digital as you go after the everyday gifting business with that brand?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [30]

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Yes, I think that's a good point that you have put there, Alex. First of all, if i look at and say the results that we're seeing in Harry & David, first and foremost, are reflective of how the team is really performing there and coming together. How marketing is working so well with merchandising, finance and the operations team, all in play there. So it's great to see because it's taking a real holistic view at our marketing efforts and what's working. We are seeing and we saw better-than-expected returns on our digital marketing efforts this quarter. So that's good to see for us. We got really good new customer growth, which was the main target, and I think as you look going forward, especially your last point, as you look at -- as we position Harry & David more and more into that everyday gifting business, and we continue to see the returns there that we are seeing -- I would expect, you will see us increase our marketing spend a little bit more into the nonholiday time, going after that. And we can -- as we do that, we're also continuing to trim catalogs circulation and to shift those dollars into the digital platform.

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Alex Joseph Fuhrman, Craig-Hallum Capital Group LLC, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [31]

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Great. That's really helpful. And then just following up on Harry & David, I'd be curious as you started to take the marketing spend up on that brand a little bit, has that brand been a big contributor to new members who are signing up for the passport program? Or is it more the other way around where passport members are finding their way over to Harry & David?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [32]

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No. It's a combination of both really, I think each, and that's the way we work. Each brand is out there, signing up members, getting members to join passport, and Harry & David has been a big driver of that. We've mentioned that in the past, once we got Harry & David 2 years or so ago now, onto that multi-brand platform and began to introduce them to all the multi-brand capabilities, including passport, that's when we saw passport take a nice lift up. So instead of being dependent on 1 big brands like flowers to drive membership, we now have that second big brand driving membership as well.

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Operator [33]

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(Operator Instructions) And we'll go next to Linda Bolton-Weiser with D.A. Davidson.

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Linda Ann Bolton-Weiser, D.A. Davidson & Co., Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [34]

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So can I just ask you about the GFGB gross margin? Because it was up, I think it was up slightly year-over-year, but not a lot. So I guess, I'm a little bit surprised given the Cheryl’s Cookies impact in the prior year, why the gross margin in GFGB was not up more year-over-year? Or was a lot of the Cheryl’s Cookies impact in the -- below the gross margin line. Can you just explain that a little?

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William E. Shea, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO [35]

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Yes, I think, we're very pleased with the 20 basis points improvement in gross margin within GFGB. Again, that's where we see the largest component of the seasonal workforce needs that we have. As you know, it's a tight labor market out there with rising labor cost. So we have to absorb that, and that's a significant headwind that we have. So we're very kind of pleased with that. With respect to Cheryl's, as Chris mentioned, operationally, we did a great job of pleasing our customers, getting all the packages out on time. We still have work to do to drive down some of the labor cost in that distribution center. So there's more efforts going on there, but overall, we're very pleased with the overall 20 basis points improvement in GFGB.

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Linda Ann Bolton-Weiser, D.A. Davidson & Co., Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [36]

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Okay. And then can I also ask you -- on Valentine's Day, you made a comment, because I couldn't quite remember if Thursday was better than Wednesday, but it sounded like it is. So you benefit from that. But thinking ahead to FY '20 and just thinking about how we're modeling that. I guess, it will be Friday next year. So that -- just remind me that's one of the worst days? So what would you recommend we haircut the Valentine's Day revenue projection, is it -- would be a 10% haircut, because of the Friday placement? Or can you just comment on that for next year looking forward?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [37]

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Yes. No, Friday is actually a very strong day for the Valentine's holiday, because we have a full week of selling up in front it.

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William E. Shea, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO [38]

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Yes. I think, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday are all very good, very strong days for us. So probably Thursday is slightly better than Wednesday, and Friday is, I think, about the same as Thursday. It really went -- it's going to be the following year. We actually have a leap year in there, so we skip the Sunday. And when it falls on the weekend, that's when we have some impacts. In '21, we'll to deal with -- in fiscal '21, we'll have to deal with a weekend.

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [39]

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But it's nice that we have a leap year and eliminate one weekend day.

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William E. Shea, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO [40]

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It is.

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Linda Ann Bolton-Weiser, D.A. Davidson & Co., Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [41]

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Okay. That's good. And then just looking at your marketing ratio, just for the whole company. The ratio is actually down year-over-year. So you talk about spending more on marketing. Is some of the marketing spend following in the gross to net line? Or can you just talk about the different types of marketing spending and where they're falling in the income statement?

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William E. Shea, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - Senior VP, Treasurer & CFO [42]

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So all the marketing spend would fall within that marketing and selling line. There's other buckets of cost that fall within the marketing and selling line on the income statement. But again, we're very pleased with our OpEx ratio and with our marketing spend as a percent of revenue. Overall, our revenue growth came in higher than we had expected, which helps drive that ratio down. And clearly, we're getting better and more efficient marketing spend, based upon the results that we're seeing.

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [43]

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Yes, and with that, what we said is we're doing is really going out there and fueling more customers into top of that ecosystem because we're seeing the benefit of that pay off. So we said we were going to go out there and invest extra to raise the level of new customer acquisition, and we've done that to the point of that double-digit growth. So we're very happy there.

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Operator [44]

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And we'll return to Dan Kurnos with The Benchmark Company.

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Daniel Louis Kurnos, The Benchmark Company, LLC, Research Division - MD [45]

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Just one real quick follow-up, guys. Since I'm little surprised it didn't come up. Just on Valentine's Day, Chris you talked about it. I haven't really seen FTD get aggressive yet, they're kind of in a tricky situation. Is there any thoughts around sort of what the landscape is going to look like for Valentine's Day from a marketing perspective and how that could impact your margins?

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [46]

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So I think as we look at Valentine's Day, our expectations are it will be an aggressive and promotional holiday with all of our competitors. It always is. And I think what you've seen us continue to do is stick to what we do well. Focus on our brand, focus on the truly original products and deliver a great customer experience. I think also you'll see us utilize the capabilities we have in digital marketing to get a good return, I mean, we're very pleased on the floral side with the 8% growth this quarter, and we have very good momentum and good learning from that going into the Valentine holiday, so we're feeling very confident.

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Operator [47]

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And this does conclude our question-and-answer session. I would now like to turn the conference back over to our speakers for any closing remarks.

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Christopher G. McCann, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [48]

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Well, thank you all for joining us on the call today and for your questions. And, of course, if you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. And, of course, don't forget Valentine's Day is just around the corner. So visit any of our all-star brands now to wow the one who wows you on Valentine's Day. One last note, as Joe mentioned in the opening call, we'll be hosting an Investor Day in this New York City on the morning of Friday, March 22. We'd love to see you there. We'll have our senior management team there for presentations and for Q&A, and we look forward to seeing you then.

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Operator [49]

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The conference has now concluded. Thank you for attending today's presentation.