Business Briefs

Fly the Chaotic Skies

Keep an eye on three stubborn, egotistical airline titans as they battle for survival, dominance, and your ticket dollars. None of the airlines have publicly confirmed merger talks, but industry insiders say a merger may be the only option for several of those involved, and it should happen sooner than later.

Delta, United, and Northwest would all benefit greatly from a merger with one of their competitors, and such an alliance may very well be their only saving grace as oil prices pass $100 a barrel, union problems continue to flourish, and customer service levels continue to plunge.

Here’s the problem with each and every merger option. Forgive me if this sounds like children on your local playground.

Northwest is open to reviewing any merger as long as the new airline will bear their name and the headquarters will remain in Minneapolis. Delta is open to reviewing any merger as long as the new airline will bear their name and the headquarters will remain in Atlanta. And, you guessed it, United is open to reviewing any merger as long as the new airline will bear their name and the headquarters will remain in Chicago.

Industry experts see a Delta-Northwest deal as most likely and feel that could prompt an alliance between United and Continental. It’s quite obvious that everyone but the airlines understands that somebody’s gotta give if this team-up project has a chance to work. Watch the news—this should be interesting due to the sense of urgency and obvious refusal to budge on the part of everyone involved.

Sears/K-Mart Continues Dismal Performance

Almost three years after these seasoned giants joined forces in hopes of regaining leadership among the nation’s retail forces, the opposite appears to be happening. The company earned just $2 million in the third quarter, prompting a double-digit sell off of its stock. Sales at both stores worsened, profit margins eroded badly and cost-cutting has lost its power to impact the bottom line. Industry critics are calling the 99% profit decline as the beginning of a “Death Spiral.”

The next time you drive by a Sears or a K-Mart, you might want to snap a picture with your cell phone so you can show it to your grandchildren some day in trying to describe these two one-time category killers.

Kohl’s to Open 90 Additional Stores in ’08

Sears and K-Mart can eliminate the poor economy, global competition, increased cost for goods, or the real estate downturn for their constant slide toward retail oblivion. While these factors certainly play a role, the struggling retail giants must look elsewhere for the true cause of their demise.

This becomes more evident in light of a recent announcement by Kohl’s that they plan to open 90 new stores in the coming year after opening 112 during the past year. The chain is making changes in hopes of finding their niche among those retailers which offer sophisticated, yet affordable, shopping experiences. Their new locations offer sleek interiors. They’ve recruited the clothing lines of Vera Wang and actress Daisy Fuentes. Their appliances have been featured on the Food Network and the Rachael Ray show. While some critics feel such expansion plans might seem risky at the moment, Kohl’s vision obviously includes change, continued high customer service levels and value to maintain their current customer base while attracting new consumers in search of a rare shopping experience. Should be interesting to watch.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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