Business Briefs – March 2008

Need for Leadership Grows Daily

Flying cross-country recently, I had a chance to peruse, in depth, four major newspapers and the “big picture” was chilling to say the least! All four papers reported comments from President Bush which he made during an interview with American Urban Radio Networks.

“We’re not in a recession, and I don’t think we will go into a recession,” Bush said. “We’re in a slowdown, and there’s a difference.” Bush spoke as reports were released showing falling home prices, plunging consumer confidence and accelerating wholesale inflation.

All three Presidential hopefuls, McCain, Obama and Clinton, are attempting to convince us that they have a plan to save the economy. All three are Senators who are, indeed, familiar with Washington and the many challenges our country is currently facing. The President and the Senators, representing both major parties, have long been in a position to deal with this journey to recession and have yet done nothing to prevent it!

I must admit I was appreciative to learn that we’re just experiencing a “slowdown.” However, as I read further through the papers I discovered a good many contradicting reports. For instance:

Sharper Image: This 31-year-old company just filed for bankruptcy protection. They plan to close 90 of their 184 stores.

Rite Aid: The 40-year-old, Pennsylvania-based drugstore chain recently announced the closing of 28 stores.

Sprint Nextel Corp.: The nation’s third largest wireless carrier is apparently feeling the heat from opponents Verizon Wireless and AT&T. They recently announced that they will cut another 4,000 jobs and close 125 stores.

CompUSA: The computer and electronics retailer is winding down its retail operations after being acquired by an investment firm, which is looking to sell the company’s business and assets. They are currently planning to close at least 103 retail stores.

Movie Gallery: The video rental company said it plans to close 400 of their 3,500 Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video stores. This, of course, is in addition to the 520 locations the bankrupt video rental chain closed last fall.

Ethan Allen Interiors: The manufacturer and retailer of high-end home furnishings is closing 12 of its 300 retail centers.

Macy’s: The 150-year-old retailer, headquartered in New York City, has announced the closing of nine underperforming locations due to declining sales. The closing locations employ a total of about 900 people.

84 Lumber: Due to the decline in the nation’s housing market, the Pennsylvania-based building materials company recently closed 12 stores.

Krispy Kreme: In the first nine months of fiscal 2008, franchisees closed 25 stores and tumbling sales are expected to lead to even more franchised store closures ahead.

Starbucks: In order to optimize resources and potentially reduce cannibalization of existing stores, Starbucks plans on closing 100 stores and slowing expansion by 34%.

Home Depot: The nation’s second-largest retailer and home improvement company is closing three call centers, causing 950 employees to lose their jobs in Tampa, Dallas and Chicago as the collasping housing market has hurt the demand for bigger-ticket installed projects.

Pep Boys: The Philly-based auto parts store recently announced their plans to sell 100 Express Stores to Memphis-based competitor AutoZone. They also plan to close 33 other stores and lay off 860 employees. This will reduce the chain to 624 stores.

Rent-A-Center: The nation’s largest rent-to-own retail chain based in Texas recently announced they would close 280 of their 3,355 stores in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.

Kirkland’s: The national home-decor chain recently closed 30 under-performing stores and is considering closing up to 100 more in the next 18 months. They plan to focus on stores not based in malls.

Fashion Bug, Lane Bryant & Catherine’s: Parent company Charming Shoppes, Inc. is closing 150 stores, laying off 150 employees and reducing the number of stores they will open in 2009. Closing will reduce Fashion Bug stores to 900, Lane Bryant stores to 923, and Catherine’s stores to 471.

Sofa Express: The Ohio-based furniture retailer has announced that it is shuttering its headquarters, closing 44 stores and laying off workers.

Levitz Furniture: The 98-year-old Pennsylvania-based furniture company is liquidating its assets and closing all 76 of its stores.

PacSun ‘Demo’ Stores: Pacific Sunwear of California, Inc. said it will close its 154 Demo stores as a result of a a review of strategic alternatives for the urban-apparel brand. This follows the closure of 74 under-performing Demo stores last May.

Talbot’s & Sigrid Olsen: Continuing poor sales has forced Talbot’s to close 78 children’s and men’s apparel stores to focus on its core middle-aged female customer. Sigrid Olsen recently announced the closing of 54 of their stores.

New York & Co.: The 38-year-old upscale women’s clothing chain known as Jasmine Sola will be closing all of their 23 locations.

I must assume all of the above organizations and those many others who are struggling to survive today’s turbulent times are greatly appreciative of the fact that our country is simply going through a bit of a “slowdown.” Can you imagine what may occur should we ever see another recession?

Today’s leaders, in every field of endeavor, must again focus on the fundamentals which once lead us to a place of world supremacy and global respect. We can accept no less for our future generations.

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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