Insider Retail: McDonald's franchisees hire prominent racial justice lawyer, Sports Illustrated owner focuses on merch, and the jewelry industry moves online

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving and happy Black Friday!

We at Insider Retail have been lamenting the "death" of Black Friday for years now. But the pandemic could make things even worse. Social distancing rules and in-store capacity limitations will certainly take their toll on the customer turnout for the shopping event. Many retailers also opted to start sales as early as October this year to combat the emergence of large crowds.

Beyond black Friday, a lot more has happened in the retail world this week! So, if you haven't already subscribed, click here to get our weekly roundup of everything you need to know in the world of retail and restaurants written by me, Shoshy Ciment, and my colleague, Bethany Biron.

Now, onto the news of the week!

McDonald's Black franchisees' add the attorney who represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown

The current and former Black McDonald's franchisees that have filed two lawsuits against the fast-food giant have a new lawyer on their legal team: Daryl Parks.

The civil right attorney has a record of serving as counsel in high-profile racial justice cases. He previously represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

"The case against McDonald's is historic, and it is a privilege to be representing the Black men and women who were – and continue to be – treated like second-class citizens by the company," Parks said in a statement. McDonald's has denied allegations of racial discrimination.

The owner of Sports Illustrated is licensing branded CBD cream, nutritional supplements, and bikinis

Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which owns the rights to 50 brands, acquired Sports Illustrated in 2019. The company has been licensing the magazine's name and intellectual property to create merchandise, including nutritional supplements, CBD cream, and apparel collaborations.

ABG told Business Insider it is trying to balance keeping traditionalist fans happy while expanding into new categories.

"Our vision is, how do we take arguably the most famous sports brand that's meant a lot to a lot of people, and create a 21st-century media brand," Marc Rosen, the executive vice president for ABG's business unit, told Business Insider in an interview. "It's about being in a lot of places and being a lot of things to your customers."

Gina Drosos, the CEO of Signet Jewelers, said that the jewelry category has been "quite behind in developing e-commerce" in an interview with Business Insider.

Signet — which operates Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared, and other jewelry merchants — is pivoting much of its business to online. It is currently in the middle of a multi-year turnaround plan dubbed "Path to Brilliance," which involves improving its omnichannel capabilities.

Drosos said the company wants to "crack the code on why it's taken the [jewelry] category so long to move into a virtual world."

Everything else you need to know:

  • Here's how much people get paid to work at Equinox
  • How GOAT's CEO uses Black Friday to win over sneakerheads
  • Vuori CEO Joe Kudla shares how the activewear brand has nearly tripled its revenue so far in 2020
  • The 5 established food brands that could be acquired by General Mills and Kellogg 
  • The origin story of the Nike SNKRS app, as told by the people who made it a reality
  • Off-price retailers like TJ Maxx are adding more niche brands to their vendor portfolio
  • How Walmart's latest tech acquisition can make "last-mile" delivery fast and affordable
  • We traced the origins and cultural significance of "Got 'Em," one of the more divisive phrases in the sneaker world

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