Jeffrey Smith, CEO of activist hedge fund Starboard Value, wants Dollar Tree to lift its $1 price ceiling on products.
Smith wrote to Dollar Tree CEO Gary Philbin Monday to reveal that his fund had invested a 1.7% stake in the bargain retail company, while indicating that there should be more room to raise product prices at Dollar Tree stores. "Dollar Tree has kept its prices at $1.00 since its founding thirty years ago, despite the fact that $1.00 in 1986 is worth approximately $2.30 today, due to inflation," Smith wrote. Smith feels that by rigidly restricting prices within $1, Dollar Tree could potentially be sacrificing product quality or size.
"Dollar Tree has a great customer base, and we believe its loyalty stems from the fantastic value customers find at Dollar Tree, not merely because everything in the store is the same price," Smith added in the note.
Starboard also wants Dollar Tree to consider selling Family Dollar, a chain of stores that it bought in 2015. Starboard has also planned to nominate seven directors for Dollar Tree's board at next shareholder meeting. The hedge fund hopes to work on strategic changes with Dollar Tree’s existing management team.
Dollar Tree appreciated Smith’s suggestions, and responded, "Dollar Tree is focused on ensuring our brands are the premier shopping destination for value and convenience, taking the right actions to solidify our leadership position in value retail". The company has already added four new independent directors since May 2016.