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Newell Brands CEO: It's a summer of 'glamping' due to the coronavirus

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large

Newell Brands CEO Ravi Saligram says it’s a summer of ‘glamping’ as people look to get a mental break from COVID-19 quarantines.

Glamping is the modern day version of roughing it in the great outdoors — think high-tech tents that will charge mobile devices and snazzy cooking machines to whip up some grub. It’s this trend that Saligram hopes to tap via outdoor brands such as Coleman, Contigo (water bottles) and Rubbermaid. Saligram, who just passed his one year mark as CEO, has been tasked with turning the company around after several tumultuous years.

“We’re trying to restore innovation in the U.S. And with the changing of hands of stuff [in management], the Coleman brand lost its way a bit. We are squarely focused on innovation. And post COVID if there is one redeeming feature it is that people are seeking the outdoors and want to be one with nature,” explained Saligram on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.

With his full management team now set, turnaround expert Saligram (who led OfficeMax and Ritchie Bros. as CEO prior to joining Newell) will look to build on signs of life in Newell in the second quarter.

Three of the company’s eight business units grew sales in the second quarter. Newell as a whole returned to modest sales growth in June, the company said on its July 31 earnings release. The company wasn’t immune to the COVID-19 pandemic, of course, as retailers delayed orders for back to school (Newell owns Sharpie, Paper Mate, Elmer’s and other writing brands) and Yankee Candle stores were closed.

Newell’s second quarter sales fell 14.9% from a year ago. But considering where Newell Brands is coming from — a badly jumbled integration of Jarden, an activist situation and a waning stock price — the glimmers of hope inside the company are likely welcome news for investors.

Saligram says he is doubling down on innovation at Newell and focusing efforts on improving the corporate culture. New products due out soon such as antimicrobial Rubbermaid containers suggest Newell may be getting its innovative edge back.

“We used to put out innovation every day. It’s in our DNA. I’m trying to bring that out. The last few years, there was a lot of internal focus. Now we’re trying to get the external focus, get focused on the consumer and collaborate with the customer, really understand consumer insights and get ahead of it,” Saligram notes.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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