Sears to Accelerate Store Closings as Struggles Continue
Sears Holdings revealed on Tuesday it will accelerate the closing of some 50 retail stores this year and work on selling off other assets as the company's Sears and Kmart chain continue to struggle. The compnay explained the moves by revealing that holiday sales were well below expectations. In its latest guidance, the Hoffman Estates, Illinois retailer said it expects fourth quarter sales of $7.3 billion, down sharply from an $8 billion final quarter in 2015 and below analyst estimates calling for revenue of $7.4 billion. The company officially reports fourth-quarter numbers on February 25th. The company expects to report that sales at US Sears and Kmart stores open for a year or more dropped 7.1 percent as poor performance in their apparel divisions dragged down overall store performance. A spokesman said that the poor showing was in part due to unseasonably warm weather in many markets and "intense competition."
H-E-B Issues Ice Cream Recall
International grocer H-E-B revealed Friday it is launching a voluntary recall of one of its store brand ice cream flavors because it may contain small fragments of wood. There have been no reports of injuries connected to eating the ice cream, but the company says there is a small possibility of choking. The recall is for the store's Creamy Creations brand Caramel Pecan Turtle flavored ice cream. Only products with Sell By dates of April 16th, May 10th, June 7th, and July 18th are affected, and the UPC code on the recalled products is 0 4122051877 7. If you purchased one or more packages of the recalled ice cream, you can return it to your local H-E-B store for a full refund.
Angie's List Rebukes $512 Million Buyout Offer from InteractiveCorp
Angie's List shares jumped almost 12 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday after the company rebuked a $512 million buyout offer from InterActive Corp (IAC). The offer represented a 10 percent premium over Wednesday's closing price on Angie's shares. IAC made the offer public late in the day, saying it would also consider merging its HomeAdvisor platform with Angie's small business review business, creating a company that would bring in revenue exceeding $700 million. Executive leadership at Angie's has been under public pressure to consider the Home Advisor merger since October, when TSC Capital publicly suggested the union would give Angie's "the much-needed scale to compete successfully in the $300 billion home services market."
Joe's Crab Shack To Begin Testing No-Tipping Policy
Joe's Crab Shack this week began testing a no-tipping policy in 18 of its 130 restaurants across the country, paying servers a higher hourly rate, raising prices to compensate and removing the tip line from credit card receipts. The move makes the company the first national chain to test a no-tipping policy after a handful of smaller, local chains have tried the concept. Servers typically earn $2.13 per hour plus tips, but that federally-mandated minimum hasn't been increased since 1991. Most recently, New York-based Union Square Hospitality Group did away with tipping at its 13 New York eateries, including the Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe. A spokesman for the company said that menu prices would increase about 20 percent as a result of the move.
Alibaba Breaks Singles' Day Sales Record
Alibaba reported Wednesday that it has broken the Singles' Day sales record thanks to clever marketing and the use of several Hollywood celebrities to promote the event. The company said it generated 91.2 million yuan ($14.3 billion) on the day invented as China's answer to Valentine's Day. Top-sellers included Nike shoes, Levi's Jeans and baby-related products, which helped the company surpass last year's sales record of $9.3 billion by the middle of the day. The company went to drastic measures to boost sales for Singles' Day 2015, moving the event headquarters to Beijing and bringing in celebrities like James Bond star Daniel Craig and Kevin Spacey to take part in a four-hour variety show promoting the event.
Volkswagen Post 1st Quarterly Loss in 15 Years
Volkswagen announced Wednesday it took its first quarterly loss in some 15 years and warned shareholders that the $7.4 billion it set aside to cover costs associated with the emissions scandal may not be enough. Almost six weeks since the carmaker admitted to using deceptive software in diesel cars, the carmaker is under intense pressure to make repairs to some 11 million vehicles with the deceptive software and identify those responsible. At the same time, the company is struggling to convonce regulators and consumers that it won't make similar mistakes in the future. As a result of the biggest crisis in VW's 78-year history, its stock value has plummeted by more than 25 percent.
IBM Acquires Weather Channel Digital Assets
IBM announced Wednesday that it has agreed to purchase several digital assets from Weather Company, the organization that runs the Weather Channel and Weather Underground. The purchase includes the Weather Underground app and website, as well as the Weather Channel app and website, but does not include the Weather Channel television network. As part of the deal, Weather Channel staff will license weather forecasts and anayltics from IBM under a long-term contract. The sales price for the digital assets was not disclosed.
Volkswagen Emission Scandal May Affect 11 Million Cars Worldwide
Volkswagen admitted Tuesday that as many as 11 million vehicles worldwide are equipped with software designed to trick emission tests, expanding a controversy that started last week in the US. The company did not specify where the vehicles in question are, though many were probably sold in Europe, a market that Volkswagen dominates by accounting for one of every four cars sold. The world's largest automaker announced it was setting aside about a half year's profits to cover costs associated with the controversy. Along with the costs of repairs to the affected vehicles, the company is also likely to face fines and damages from civil suits related to the deceptive emissions software.
Auto Union Slams GM Over China Production Speculation
Reports surfaced earlier this week that General Motors is considering importing its new Envision SUV from China, angering the United Auto Workers union (UAW), which blasted the automaker on Tuesday. The Envision is currently made in, and only available in China, but speculation has surfaced recently that the company might begin selling the model in the US. A spokesman for the company declined to comment on the reports, but UAW officials were more than happy to share their thoughts. "After the sacrifices made by US taxpayers and the US workforce to make General Motors the profitable quality company it is today, UAW members are disappointed with the tone-deaf speculation that the Envision would be imported from China," commented UAW vice president Cindy Estrada. GM has also declined comment so far about speculation that GM is considering moving peoduction of other models to China.
Target Reaches $67 Million Settlement with Visa over 2013 Data Breach
Target Corp. has reportedly agreed to pay as much as $67 million to banks that issue Visa credit cards in a settlement over a 2013 incident in which hackers stole personal information for millions of card holders. The agreement only covers Visa-related firms, and Target is working on a similar agreement with Mastercard-issuing firms. The size of the two agreements should approach the $100 million settlement paid out by Heartland Payment Systems over a similar breach in 2008. In all, the breach at Target exposed some 40 million credit and debit cardholders during the 2013 holiday shopping season.