Business|Gustavo Arnal, C.F.O. at Bed Bath & Beyond, Dies
Gustavo Arnal, 52, the chief financial officer of the beleaguered home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, died on Friday. He was brought on to help stabilize the company in 2020, as it needed to ramp up its offerings to meet shopper demand in a retail sector disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Arnal died in what looked to be a suicide, according to the New York Police Department. He was found near his residence, 56 Leonard Street, a skyscraper known as the Jenga building because of its stacked architectural design, and “appeared to suffer from injuries indicative from a fall from an elevated position,” the police said in a statement. Emergency medical officers pronounced him dead on the scene, and the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office is working to determine exactly how he died, the statement said. The New York Post reported earlier on Mr. Arnal’s death.
Mr. Arnal joined Bed Bath & Beyond as its chief financial officer in May 2020 as part of an executive shake-up led by the then chief executive, Mark Tritton, who left in June. Mr. Arnal was previously chief financial officer at Avon and held senior positions at Walgreens Boots Alliance and at Procter & Gamble, where he spent more than 20 years of his career.
Mr. Arnal spoke to Bed Bath & Beyond investors on Wednesday, giving them updates about the company’s finances and delivering tough news about the impact of its latest turnaround efforts. The retailer said it had started the process of closing 150 stores and would lay off 20 percent of its workers in its corporate office and across its supply chain operations. The store closures will also impact retail associate jobs, the company said.
Though he had been at Bed Bath & Beyond for only two years, Mr. Arnal provided a semblance of continuity in the retailer’s ranks, as many top executives had left, including the chief executive, chief operating officer and chief stores officer.
The retailer has been under immense pressure over the past several years, as it has worked to quickly build up its supply chain and operations, while also dealing with the business pressures of the pandemic and two sets of activist investors. It announced last week that it had secured a loan from the investment firm Sixth Street to shore up its liquidity.
The company has also been at the center of a volatile few weeks of trading, partly because of a legion of dedicated individual investors. Shares of the retailer skyrocketed Aug. 16, energized by disclosures by the activist investor Ryan Cohen; they plummeted shortly after when he disclosed he had sold out of the company completely.
Mr. Arnal sold roughly 55,000 shares in Bed Bath & Beyond on Aug. 16 and 17, as part of a trading plan he had signed in April. In August, Bed Bath & Beyond disclosed in a regulatory filing that Mr. Arnal and the retailer were being sued by certain shareholders. The retailer said it was in the “early stages of evaluating the complaint” but, based on its current understanding, “believes the claims are without merit.”
Bed Bath & Beyond released a statement on Sunday about Mr. Arnal’s death, saying it was “profoundly saddened by this shocking loss.”
“Our focus is on supporting his family and his team and our thoughts are with them during this sad and difficult time,” the company said.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.
Kashmir Hill and Ashley Southall contributed reporting.