business news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

Bloomberg reports that "confidence among consumers fell in April to a three-month low as Americans grew more pessimistic about the outlook for the economy.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment declined less than forecast, to 76.4 from 78.6 a month earlier. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey was 73.5 after a preliminary April reading of 72.3."

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global, the new owners of Hostess Brands, "is gearing up to reopen plants and hire workers, but it won't be using union labor.

It is not a hugely surprising position, since in part it was labor disputes that led Hostess into bankruptcy in the first place, forcing the company to liquidate its various divisions and brands.

According to the story, the disaffected unions representing Hostess employees were convinced they'd get a better deal from the new owners, believing that their members' expertise gave them a strong negotiating position. But, the Journal writes, new ownership "expressed confidence they would be able to find skilled, nonunion workers near the four plants, which are in areas with high unemployment."

How, exactly, was this a surprise to the unions? Unionized employees bit the brands once. Under what circumstances would new owners decide to put their hands into the big, toothy mouth of that particular animal one more time?

USA Today reports that McDonald's president/CEO Don Thompson said Friday that the fast feeder may soon begin serving breakfast all day, and could even begin delivering its meals to homes and offices, saying that this represents a "big opportunity."

See? Didn't I say above that retailers ought to be working on the delivery issue as a way of being more relevant?

Though I'm not sure that when I wrote it, I was thinking about mediocre fast food burgers...

Bloomberg reports that daily coupon site LivingSocial says "that more than 50 million customers may have been affected by a cyberattack, and the company is working with law enforcement to investigate the matter ... While data that was accessed includes names, e-mail addresses, dates of birth and encrypted passwords, credit-card information was not accessed," according to the company. Customers are being advised to change their passwords.

CNBC reports that Goldman Sachs has agreed to set up a $1.75 billion financing package for troubled JC Penney, in addition to the major investment by billionaire George Soros last week.

• The Oregonian reports that Portland State University's Center for Retail Leadership is "launching a certificate program aimed at preparing students to work in Oregon's athletic and outdoor industries. Enrollment begins this fall ... Coursework for the certificate will center on major competitive issues in the industry with an emphasis on marketing, retailing, distribution and sales."

The Center for Retail Leadership, part of PSU's School of Business Administration, was created in the 1990s to focus on Oregon's food industry.

And I'm proud to say that I get to do a variety of things for the Center for Retail Leadership. Good to see it expanding into new and exciting directions...
KC's View: