10 brands that look to be in trouble
Each year, 247WallSt.com identifies 10 important brands sold in America that they predict will disappear before 2014. This year’s list is filled with companies being torn down by innovation, competition, and financing. The take an in depth look at the state of 10 brands in trouble by analyzing sales, losses, market share, public disclosures that may indicate a parent brand will sell the company, sold companies, bankruptcies, loss of customers, and so forth.
The 24/7 analysts claim the following ten brands will disappear in 2014 based on their research:
|Rank:||Brand:||Top Reason it Will Disappear:|
|1||JCPenney||As Macy’s, Target, and Amazon.com are seeing healthy growth, JCPenney has had a lot of drama in recent years, seeing dramatic sales losses that many speculate are insurmountable.|
|2||Nook||Despite a lifeline from Microsoft’s massive investment, the Nook just doesn’t appear to be able to withstand competition from Amazon’s Kindle or the iPad, not to mention e-reader sales are declining overall in favor of tablet computers.|
|3||Martha Stewart Living||Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. has three divisions: publishing, broadcasting and merchandising. Broadcasting and merchandising look great, but publishing is in the tank and is seeing massive losses and abysmal ad sales. Having already shuttered Everyday Food and Whole Living magazines, Living could be next or at least taken out of print and put online only.|
|4||Living Social||The coupon phase is dying, and competition is tight. Amazon.com wrote down their $175M investment in Living Social by $169M last year and the company lost $50M in the first quarter of this year alone versus a $156M profit in the first quarter of 2012.|
|5||Volvo||As of April, Volvo’s market share has plummeted to 0.3 percent and sold only 19,571 vehicles in the U.S. last year, down 8 percent in a market where sales are trending up overall. In addition to that, several Chinese Volvo dealers committed fraud and the brand is generally thought to be in trouble.|
|6||Olympus||Having dwindled to only 7 percent of the market and three straight years of losses, pledging to stop issuing dividends to investors until they are back in the black, which they and others don’t project will be soon.|
|7||WNBA||With attendance and tv viewership in the dump, the brand will not likely survive current WNBA advocate and NBA commissioner David Stern’s retirement in 2014, and as profitability diminishes and teams disappear, the writing is on the wall.|
|8||Leap Wireless||T-Mobile and Sprint have snatched up all of the small wireless companies, but no one seems to want Leap Wireless whose shares are down 90 percent in the last five years. They won’t be able to build a comparable 4G network or pay debts, and is likely headed for bankruptcy.|
|9||Mitsubishi Motors||With the biggest decline in sales of any brand in America last year, selling only 60,000 units, mostly lower-priced, this company could exit the U.S., particularly after being ranked third from last in the new J.D. Power vehicle dependability survey.|
|10||Road & Track||Hearst bought this famous auto magazine in 2011 and also owns Car & Driver, both of which have seen a dip in ad sales, but Road & Track has been hardest hit. Both headquartered in the same city, consolidation of the brands is a possibility.|
Which of these brands will have what it takes to turn things around, or will 2014 see the death of some very old brands alongside a few startups that may not hold up to the test of time?
Big retailers are opting for refunds instead of returns
(BUSINESS NEWS) Due to increased shipping costs, big companies like Amazon and Walmart are opting to give out a refund rather than accepting small items returned.
The holidays are over, and now some people are ready to return an item that didn’t quite work out or wasn’t on their Christmas list. Whatever the reason, some retailers are giving customers a refund and letting them keep the product, too.
When Vancouver, Washington resident, Lorie Anderson, tried returning makeup from Target and batteries from Walmart she had purchased online, the retailers told her she could keep or donate the products. “They were inexpensive, and it wouldn’t make much financial sense to return them by mail,” said Ms. Anderson, 38. “It’s a hassle to pack up the box and drop it at the post office or UPS. This was one less thing I had to worry about.”
Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc., and other companies are changing the way they handle returns this year, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to weigh the costs of processing physical returns versus just issuing a refund and having customers keep the item.
For instance, if it costs more to ship an inexpensive or larger item than it is to refund the purchase price, companies are giving customers a refund and telling them to keep the products also. Due to an increase in online shopping, it makes sense for companies to change how they manage returns.
Locus Robotics chief executive Rick Faulk told the Journal that the biggest expense when it comes to processing returns is shipping costs. “Returning to a store is significantly cheaper because the retailer can save the freight, which can run 15% to 20% of the cost,” Faulk said.
But, returning products to physical stores isn’t something a lot of people are wanting to do. According to the return processing firm Narvar, online returns increased by 70% in 2020. With people still hunkered down because of the pandemic, changing how to handle returns is a good thing for companies to consider to reduce shipping expenses.
While it might be nice to keep the makeup or batteries for free, don’t expect to return that new PS5 and get to keep it for free, too. According to WSJ, a Walmart spokesperson said the company lets someone keep a refunded item only if the company doesn’t plan on reselling it. And, besides taking the economic costs into consideration, the companies look at the customer’s purchase history as well.
Google workers have formed company’s first labor union
(BUSINESS NEWS) A number of Google employees have agreed to commit 1% of their salary to labor union dues to support employee activism and fight workplace discrimination.
On Monday morning, Google workers announced that they have formed a union with the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the largest communications and media labor union in the U.S.
The new union, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) was organized in secret for about a year and formed to support employee activism, and fight discrimination and unfairness in the workplace.
“From fighting the ‘real names’ policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multi-million dollar payouts that have been given to executives who’ve committed sexual harassment, we’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively. Our new union provides a sustainable structure to ensure that our shared values as Alphabet employees are respected even after the headlines fade,” stated Program Manager Nicki Anselmo in a press release.
AWU is the first union in the company’s history, and it is open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company in the United States and Canada. The cost of membership is 1% of an employee’s total compensation, and the money collected will be used to fund the union organization.
In a response to the announcement, Google’s Director of People Operations, Kara Silverstein, said, “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”
Unlike other labor unions, the AWU is considered a “Minority Union”. This means it doesn’t need formal recognition from the National Labor Relations Board. However, it also means Alphabet can’t be forced to meet the union’s demands until a majority of employees support it.
So far, the number of members in the union represents a very small portion of Google’s workforce, but it’s growing every day. When the news of the union was first announced on Monday, roughly 230 employees made up the union. Less than 24 hours later, there were 400 employees in the union, and now that number jumped to over 500 employees.
Unions among Silicon Valley’s tech giants are rare, but labor activism is slowly picking up speed, especially with more workers speaking out and organizing.
“The Alphabet Workers Union will be the structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company, from the kinds of contracts Google accepts to employee classification to wage and compensation issues. All issues relevant to Google as a workplace will be the purview of the union and its members,” stated the AWU in a press release.
Ticketmaster caught red-handed hacking, hit with major fines
(BUSINESS NEWS) Ticketmaster has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after hacking into a competitor’s network specifically to sabotage.
Live Nation’s Ticketmaster agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after admitting to hacking into a competitor’s network and scheming to “choke off” the ticket seller company and “cut [victim company] off at the knees”.
Ticketmaster admitted hiring former employee, Stephen Mead, from startup rival CrowdSurge (which merged with Songkick) in 2013. In 2012, Mead signed a separation agreement to keep his previous company’s information confidential. When he joined Live Nation, Mead provided that confidential information to the former head of the Artist Services division, Zeeshan Zaidi, and other Ticketmaster employees. The hacking information shared with the company included usernames, passwords, data analytics, and other insider secrets.
“When employees walk out of one company and into another, it’s illegal for them to take proprietary information with them. Ticketmaster used stolen information to gain an advantage over its competition, and then promoted the employees who broke the law. This investigation is a perfect example of why these laws exist – to protect consumers from being cheated in what should be a fair market place,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
In January 2014, Mead gave a Ticketmaster executive multiple sets of login information to Toolboxes, the competitor’s password-protected app that provides real-time data about tickets sold through the company. Later, at an Artists Services Summit, Mead logged into a Toolbox and demonstrated the product to Live Nation and Ticketmaster employees. Information collected from the Toolboxes were used to “benchmark” Ticketmaster’s offerings against the competitor.
“Ticketmaster employees repeatedly – and illegally – accessed a competitor’s computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme in a statement. “Further, Ticketmaster’s employees brazenly held a division-wide ‘summit’ at which the stolen passwords were used to access the victim company’s computers, as if that were an appropriate business tactic.”
The hacking violations were first reported in 2017 when CrowdSurge sued Live Nation for antitrust violations. A spokesperson told The Verge, “Ticketmaster terminated both Zaidi and Mead in 2017, after their conduct came to light. Their actions violated our corporate policies and were inconsistent with our values. We are pleased that this matter is now resolved.”
To resolve the case, Ticketmaster will pay a $10 million criminal penalty, create a compliance and ethics program, and report to the United States Attorney’s Office annually during a three-year term. If the agreement is breached, Ticketmaster will be charged with: “One count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, one count of computer intrusion for commercial advantage, one count of computer intrusion in furtherance of fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of wire fraud.”
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