Peloton’s business still haunted by recalls

In its latest earnings call, Peloton reported a net loss of $242 million for the quarter. It also lost 29,000 subscribers from last quarter and had a higher-than-anticipated monthly churn of 1.4 percent. While some of that was attributed to summer doldrums, Peloton noted that costs for a recent bike seat post-recall “substantially exceeded” initial expectations to the tune of $40 million. An estimated 15 to 20 thousand members also chose to pause their subscriptions ahead of receiving replacement seats.

But speaking of recalled products, Peloton CEO Barry McCarthy said in its quarterly shareholder letter that the company plans to resume US presales of the Tread Plus this holiday season for a retail price of around $6,000. (For context, the Tread Plus originally cost $4,295.) The Tread Plus was recalled in 2021 after several reports of injuries and the death of a small child. The treadmill was subsequently discontinued, but earlier this year, the company got regulatory approval for a new rear safety guard — which is likely why the company is entertaining bringing the premium treadmill back into its product lineup. The plan is to sell out the existing 10,000 units in inventory with the new rear guard before starting up any new manufacturing.

Would you pay $6,000 for a recalled treadmill that used to cost $4,295? At least now it’ll come with a rear safety guard. Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

It’s not a huge surprise, as McCarthy has hinted he’s wanted to bring back the Tread Plus for some time. On the call, Peloton CFO Liz Coddington also noted that the company’s inventory is in a much better state than last year when it had an excess of units sitting around in warehouses — you know, aside from the ten thousand recalled treadmills. That said, the estimated $6,000 retail price is baffling given how connected fitness hardware sales have struggled since the end of the pandemic, to say nothing of Peloton’s own shift toward subscriptions. Case in point, Peloton reported a bigger-than-expected slowdown in sales this quarter as people opted for summer vacations and spending time outdoors instead of working out at home.

McCarthy noted that Q4 is always a difficult one for the company and was adamant that Peloton was still on track to grow. In particular, he pointed to the company’s recent brand relaunch and the introduction of new Peloton App subscription tiers. Since May, the company’s seen 900,000 app downloads, with more than 600,000 of those coming from new members. In terms of tiers, Peloton said more people had opted for the $24 monthly subscription than anticipated, while 256,000 monthly active users are on the free tier.

“I have never been more optimistic or excited about the future of the business. And there’s this enormous disconnect between the stock price and the energy and the building around all of the partnerships and co-development things that are cooking,” McCarthy said on the earnings call, acknowledging that Peloton’s stock price plunged 20 percent this morning.

Also mentioned was a new initiative to find global partnerships. Yesterday, the company announced it was partnering with the University of Michigan. Peloton will provide the college with co-branded bikes and fitness content for its football, basketball, hockey, and Olympic Sports teams. As part of the deal, students will also get a cheaper App One membership at $6.99 monthly instead of $12.99. Michigan “student-athlete influencers” will also partake in Peloton marketing. The company said it’s also pursuing more co-branding opportunities like this with NCAA Division 1 schools.



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