The Drive-Thru: Victoria's Secret changes, problems at Target, and moldy Whoppers

White Castle Valentines Day 37

Irene Jiang/Business Insider

Irene celebrated Valentine's Day at White Castle and saw why so many people love to do it.

Hello!

Happy Friday and welcome to another spectacular edition of The Drive-Thru, Business Insider's weekly roundup of the biggest stories in restaurants and retail.

If you haven't subscribed to The Drive-Thru yet, let me advise you to make like Nike and Just Do It. (Sign up here!)

Also, if we haven't yet met, I'm Shoshy Ciment, a junior reporter here at BI, where my coverage mostly focuses on sneakers. Next week I'm heading out to eTail West in Palm Springs, California, where I'll be leading a fireside chat with Adam and Ryan Goldston, the twin brothers who founded shoe company Athletic Propulsion Labs out of their dorm room.

Stay tuned for some of my coverage from the conference next week. For now, here's everything that happened in the retail world this week.

Victoria's Secret gets a new owner and its CEO steps down

L Brands, the parent company of Victoria's Secret, announced Thursday that private-equity firm Sycamore Partners would acquire a 55% stake in Victoria's Secret in a deal that valued the brand at $1.1 billion.

Les Wexner, CEO and chairman of L Brands, will step down after nearly six decades with the company.

An interesting side effect: The L Brands-owned Bath & Body Works will become a standalone company.

After the sale was announced, the co-CEO of Victoria's Secret rival ThirdLove said the news was a "positive step" for the industry.

Big picture: Victoria's Secret has been struggling for months as it loses relevance among shoppers and controversial executives cause issues at the head of the company. Now, at least one analyst expects the company's new owner to reimagine the product line to ditch sexiness for comfort and functionality.

Target is being hit with a labor board investigation
Target store

Mark Wilson/ Getty

Target is being accused of restricting workers' rights. An employee activist website was blocked from store servers last week and flagged for "hate and racism."

Adam Ryan, liaison for the employee activist group Target Workers Unite, filed an unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Friday, claiming that blocking the website falls under discouraging union activity in disciplining or retaliating against employees engaging in protected activities.

I got the scoop on how this all went down. According to a Target spokesperson, a third-party company is responsible for blocking and flagging would-be problematic websites on Target's server. Target determines which categories of flagged websites should be denied access, but it is not directly involved in the process of blocking specific websites.

Target said it flagged the issue to the third-party company and the website was moved into a new, unblocked category, late Friday.

What's next? The NLRB received 18,552 charges in the 2019 fiscal year. Now, an investigation is under way to see if the incident could count as an unfair labor practice.

Burger King touts a moldy Whopper

Screenshot of moldy Whopper video

Courtesy of Burger King

Burger King launched an ad with a moldy Whopper.

A moldy Whopper is at the center of Burger King's new ad campaign. The fast-food brand posted a video to YouTube on Wednesday that showed a Whopper growing old and moldy.

Though it might seem gross at first glance, the ad is meant to represent the chain's move away from preservatives and artificial flavors. Irene wrote about how this move is part of a larger trend in the fast-food industry, which involves a push toward "natural" and socially conscious foods.

The move was risky, but marketing execs seem to think it could pay off.

"We knew that the approach was different and that some people would think that it's too risky or would hurt us," Fernando Machado, Burger King's global chief marketing officer, told Business Insider's Tanya Dua. "But people are smarter than that, and the biggest risk for us is to go with an idea that would fall flat."

Taste test of the week: Fried chicken and doughnuts are an unexpected hit

KFC Chicken and Donuts 6

Irene Jiang/Business Insider

KFC is launching Chicken & Donuts nationwide.

KFC announced this week that it would be rolling out Chicken & Donuts nationwide.

Hayley tried and enjoyed the unlikely combination back in September, during a test run of the menu item. Now that it's rolling out nationwide, a slew of taste testers at Business Insider got to try the strange sandwich on Thursday.

The verdict? Though it probably had a frightening calorie count, taste testers agreed that the sandwich was the most delicious new item that KFC has come out with in a long time.

One taster summed it up nicely: "I didn't want to love it, but I loved it."

Read the full taste test here.

Everything else you need to know:

White Castle Valentines Day 53

Irene Jiang/Business Insider

White Castle goes all out for Valentine's Day.

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