August 22, 2014 in Business

Business Briefs: Sears’ losses grow in second quarter

From Wire Reports
 

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Sears said Thursday that its second-quarter loss widened as it continues to deal with weak sales.

The retailer – which runs Sears and Kmart stores – lost $573 million, or $5.39 per share, for the period ended Aug. 2. That compares with a loss of $194 million, or $1.83 per share, a year earlier.

The Hoffman Estates, Illinois, company is still working to turn itself around, with efforts including lowering costs, investing in its loyalty program and improving prices and promotions.

Revenue declined 10 percent to $8 billion from $8.87 billion.

Sales at Kmart stores open at least a year fell 1.7 percent. At Sears locations, the figure edged up 0.1 percent.

Census Bureau reports wealth gap widening

NEW YORK – A report from the Census Bureau is the latest evidence that the rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer.

The study released Thursday divided the U.S. into five groups, from wealthiest to poorest. The median net worth of the richest households rose 11 percent between 2000 and 2011, to $630,754. The next-wealthiest group’s net worth also rose.

But because wealth dropped for the majority of Americans, the median household net worth for the country overall declined about 7 percent to $68,828.

A rebound in the stock market and rising home values after the housing bust helped richer Americans regain their wealth since the recession, which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

But the bottom 20 percent owed more than they had and were worse off in 2011 than they were in 2000. In 2011, the median net worth of the poorest Americans was negative $6,029, compared with negative $905 a decade before.

The report, using Census Bureau surveys, included net worth based on stocks, money in the bank, home values, retirement accounts and other assets in its measurement of net worth. It also took into account debts, such as home mortgages, car loans, credit card debt and student loans.

Bakery where Twinkie created will close

CHICAGO – Hostess Brands plans to close the suburban Chicago bakery where the Twinkie was invented in 1930, cutting 400 jobs and shuttering a piece of American baking history.

The company said it plans to close the Schiller Park bakery in October.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Hostess Brands CEO Bill Toler said the company is closing the plant as it tries to improve efficiency.

“While the old Hostess company was in bankruptcy, many competitors took over the shelves and are tenaciously defending their business and thus we must be highly efficient and technologically advanced to compete,” he said.

Hostess filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

The plant’s employees were stunned by the news, said Donald Woods, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 1.

“They were working like 12-hours, six days a week, and they were looking for this plant to be a part of their future,” he said, adding that the workers voted in May to rejoin the union. They had been told the company planned to keep the plant open long term, he said.

The bakery had just reopened a little over a year ago as Twinkies returned to store shelves after Hostess’ bankruptcy.

The spongy, cream-filled snack cake was invented in 1930 by a bakery manager looking for uses for idle shortcake pans.


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