Rent the Runway posts widening losses, as subscribers have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels

Key Points
  • Rent the Runway booked a wider fiscal third-quarter loss compared with 2020, as its sales shot up 66% year over year, in its first financial report since its IPO in late October.
  • The company ended the quarter with 116,833 active subscribers, up 78% year over year.
  • Active subscribers are at about 87% its 2019 base, the company said.

In this article

Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Rent the Runway shares fell more than 13% in extended trading Wednesday after the company booked widening third-quarter losses, despite sales that shot up 66% year over year, in its first financial report since going public in late October.

The fashion rental platform's market capitalization has been nearly cut in half since its public debut, when it fetched a more than $1.7 billion valuation. Shares are down roughly 50% since they started trading at $23 apiece on Oct. 27. On Wednesday, the stock closed down 10% at $11.50.

Among investors' concerns, Rent the Runway has yet to turn a profit. It didn't do so in the latest quarter, either, as costs associated with its recent public offering and the repayment of debt weighed on profits. Its active subscriber count has also yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, as Rent the Runway awaits a bigger return among Americans to offices, weddings and concerts in 2022.

Rent the Runway's net loss for the three-month period ended Oct. 31 nearly doubled to $87.8 million, or $6.72 per share, from a loss of $44.3 million, or $3.98 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding the one-time costs associated with its IPO, Rent the Runway said its net loss was lower year over year.

Revenue grew 66% to $59 million from $35.5 million.

The company ended the quarter with 116,833 active subscribers, excluding those who have put their memberships on pause, up 78% year over year. Rent the Runway said that accounts for about 87% of the active subscriber base the company had back in 2019.

The company counted 150,075 total subscribers, including paused accounts, in the quarter, which is up 45% year over year.

Rent the Runway said that all major metros in the United States have returned to roughly 90% of their pre-pandemic subscriber counts except for New York, Washington D.C., and San Francisco, which are three of the company's biggest markets. While it said that markets in the South and Mountain regions of the country are seeing subscriber activity significantly higher than in 2019.

Hyman told analysts on a conference call that there has been week-over-week subscription growth in the New York market, and she's confident it will get back to 2019 levels.

Meantime, it launched an at-home pickup option in five cities, giving shoppers an easier way to return their orders and saving Rent the Runway some money associated with shipping costs, said Chief Executive Jenn Hyman in a Zoom interview.

"It's less expensive for us than other return methods," Hyman said. "It's a bit of a benefit both for our customer experience and for our fulfillment margins."

Heightened fulfillment, technology and marketing costs have hindered Rent the Runway's ability to turn a profit. The company said it will be trying to mitigate these pressures in the coming quarters, such as by using local transportation providers and diversifying the marketing channels that it uses.

Rent the Runway said it's also experimenting with using automation in warehouses to eliminate some labor expenses.

For the fourth quarter, Rent the Runway expects active subscribers to be between 121,000 and 122,000, which would only be up about 5,000 people from the prior quarter, while revenue will range from $62.8 million to $63.3 million.

For the full year, it expects sales to amount to between $202 million and $202.5 million.

"We saw resiliency despite the fact that the entire year has been impacted by Covid," said Hyman. "And we believe that our ramp may have even been higher had there been more big events happening — had there been more women returning to offices."

"So we believe that as the macro environment normalizes, that provides upside for Rent the Runway," she added.

Rent the Runway also said Wednesday that it has paid down roughly one-third of its pre-IPO debt balance.

Find the full earnings press release from Rent the Runway here.

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