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Top Headlines - part 3

Fast Food: McDonald’s Experiences Fourth Straight Month of Declining Sales

Fast Food: McDonald’s Experiences Fourth Straight Month of Declining Sales

BUSINESS

  • Harsh winter weather, sluggish economy and internal decision-making factors behind McDonald’s global sales decline of 0.3%
  • McDonald’s revenue hit hardest in US, where stiff competition for its popular breakfast and coffee menu threatens to reduce market share
  • McDonald to focus on better customer service and improved menus, particularly in breakfast offerings

Recently McDonald’s Corp. revealed that the figures for its comparable-store sales in February worldwide had dropped much lower than expected, largely due to a decline in business at its over 14,200 US sites.

Consensus Metrix reported that for restaurants open for a minimum of 13 months—thus more established—global sales dipped by 0.3%. The overall picture for McDonald’s roughly 35,400 restaurants around the world is lackluster. Only the European market, the company’s most profitable, had gains, with February sales increasing by 0.6%. In Africa, the Middle and Asia Pacific, however, sales dropped by 2.6%. The 0.3% global sales decline this past quarter eclipsed analysts’ predictions of 0.1%. In the US, same-restaurant sales dropped by 1.4%, more than twice the 0.6% predicted by analysts.

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Retailer Men’s Wearhouse To Buy Competitor Jos. A. Banks For $1.8 Billion

Retailer Men’s Wearhouse To Buy Competitor Jos. A. Banks For $1.8 Billion

BUSINESS

  • Combined company will be fourth largest US menswear retailer
  • Merger to save $100 million-$150 million over three years
  • The two companies had been negotiating since October

American menswear retailer Men’s Wearhouse Inc. has agree to purchase rival Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. for $1.8 billion, ending months of negotiations. The combined company will have sales of $3.5 billion annually, some 23,000 employees and more than 1,700 locations.

It will become the fourth-largest menswear retailer in the US after Macy’s, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney. Improved sourcing and merchandising will save shareholders $100 million to $150 million over three years, the companies said in a joint news release.

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American Airlines Ends Interline Agreement with JetBlue

American Airlines Ends Interline Agreement with JetBlue

BUSINESS

  • Airlines had shared frequent-flyer programs and other benefits
  • End of agreement result of merger with US Airways
  • Customers to keep points earned

American Airlines cancelled its interline agreement with JetBlue, ending perks customers of both airlines enjoyed, now that it has access to the East Coast of the United States.

The agreement, which started in 2010, allowed customers to buy connecting flights on each other's planes using one ticket. It also offered frequent-flyer programs and baggage handling.

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Photo Service Getty To Offer Free Access To Embedded Photos

Photo Service Getty To Offer Free Access To Embedded Photos

BUSINESS

  • Getty providing bloggers and social media users watermark-free use of 40 million pictures from its extensive photo library free of charge
  • Embeds offer new possibilities for targeted advertisements based on user data
  • Getty struck deal with Pinterest to get paid for metadata on its images pinned by Pinterest users

Getty Images, the world’s biggest stock photo company, is offering its content to the public for free after recognizing that its library of over 150 million photos were being widely pirated and shared over the internet, with watermarks and without.

In the past, users needed to pay licensing fees for watermark-free Getty photos. According to The Verge, a US technology news and media organization, Getty is now removing the watermark for roughly 40 million of its pictures.

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Office Supply Retailer Staples To Shut 225 Stores, Slash $500 Million

Office Supply Retailer Staples To Shut 225 Stores, Slash $500 Million

BUSINESS

  • Staples to close 12% of its North American store locations
  • Customers shopping online poses challenge
  • Analysts say it might be too little, too late

American office supply retailer Staples Inc. plans to close 225 underperforming locations, representing 12% of its North American locations, and cut $500 million in annual costs by 2016.

The plan comes after a disappointing holiday season and forecasts for a further decline in business.

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Oil Company BP Combats Decline In Sales By Creating New US Unit

Oil Company BP Combats Decline In Sales By Creating New US Unit

BUSINESS

  • New BP continental US unit to boost cycle times, decision making and profitability against independent competitors
  • US business to be BP-owned but managed independently at new Houston location
  • Several oil companies worldwide divesting US shale divisions in last three years

London-based oil producer BP intends to separate its onshore US oil and gas assets into a new division that will boost the competitiveness of its shale gas portfolio there.

BP, by market value the second-largest European oil company, asserted that this separate shale division with new Houston headquarters would be more viable as a competitor against independents as it could benefit from faster cycle times and shorter decision-making times.

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Consumer Electronics Chain RadioShack Suffers $400 Million In Losses

Consumer Electronics Chain RadioShack Suffers $400 Million In Losses

BUSINESS

  • RadioShack turnaround plan involves closing 1,100 stores
  • RadioShack struggles to compete against online retailers and changing technology
  • Poor performance blamed on holiday shopping season, soft market for mobile devices and being under stocked in some products

American electronics chain RadioShack Corp. lost $400 million in 2013, and plans to close 1,100 stores as part of chief executive Joe Magnacca’s turnaround plan.

The retailer has struggled for years to compete against online retailers and changing technology. Analysts say RadioShack cannot compete in a world where people shop online and that it is too dependent on wireless technology.

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February US Auto Sales Up 0.3%

February US Auto Sales Up 0.3%

BUSINESS

  • Incentives drew customers to dealerships
  • Nissan led automakers with 16% gain
  • Some foreign manufacturers saw sales drop

Automakers saw sales in the United States rise in February 0.3%, as incentives drew customers to dealerships. Last month, nearly 1.2 million vehicles were sold.

On average, incentives for February were $2,633 per vehicle, or up 5% from 2013, according to TrueCar. The average transaction price was $32,074, some 3.6% higher than 2013. It’s also the highest February average sale price since 2009.

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Pharma Giant Bayer To Acquire Chinese Herbal Treatment Company Dihon

Pharma Giant Bayer To Acquire Chinese Herbal Treatment Company Dihon

BUSINESS

  • Bayer aims to boost its position in emerging markets for herbal medicine and over the counter drugs in China
  • Healthcare expenditure in China predicted to increase from $357 million to $1 trillion by 2020
  • Pharmaceutical companies worldwide moving toward herbal medicines and OTC drugs

Pharma giant Bayer, creator of Aspirin, will purchase Dihon Pharmaceutical, a privately-owned company with headquarters in south west China to strengthen its position in Asia, where pharmaceutical businesses are growing, and help it reach its goal of becoming the #1 non-prescription drugs company worldwide.

Dihon focuses on traditional herbal Chinese medicine and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs—a sector in which it is a leader in China. Dihon boasts yearly sales of $168 million and has 2,400 employees.

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Online Video Service Hulu Sells Japanese Subsidiary To Nippon TV

Online Video Service Hulu Sells Japanese Subsidiary To Nippon TV

BUSINESS

  • Deal with Nippon marks the end of Hulu’s international business venture
  • Japanese viewers watch content on televisions, computers, tablets, gaming consoles and smartphones
  • Hulu to offer US customers more broadcast content

American online video on demand service Hulu LLC has entered into an agreement to sell its Japanese unit to Nippon Television Network Corp., the top Japanese television network, ending Hulu’s venture into international business.

Hulu launched its Japanese unit in September 2011; the unit offers subscriptions for unlimited viewing of premium content on internet-connected devices for a $9.60 monthly fee. It has 50 content partners and offers more than 13,000 movies, dramas and anime.

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