retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Reuters reports that Macy's and JC Penney have settled a five-year-old lawsuit that charged JC Penney with interfering with an exclusive merchandising agreement that Macy's had with Martha Stewart. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

According to Reuters, JC Penney lost the case initially and was ordered to write Macy's a check for $3.5 million. Both sides appealed the decision, but this settlement ends the appeals process.

Ironically, the whole thing started with Ron Johnson, then the CEO of JC Penney, made the deal with Martha Stewart as part of his overall efforts to turn around the retailer. Johnson's strategies were not working, and he was fired in 2013.

The only people sorry to see this thing come to an end will be the lawyers, who are going to have to give up all those billable hours.


USA Today reports that D-I-Y retailer Lowe's has announced that it plans to hire more than 45,000 seasonal workers to help it get through the springtime rush. According to the story, "The seasonal jobs will include loaders to get products into the hands of shoppers who order online, as well as cashiers, sales people and assemblers who can help put together products for consumers browsing at an actual store."

The story notes that "there’s a chance that some of the temporary positions may become permanent. Last year, almost 50% of Lowe’s seasonal staff went on to become part-time or full-time employees."


Barron's reports that while Chipotle saw a 25 percent increase in same-store sales during January, that was not necessarily the good news that one might ordinarily assume.

In fact, sales were up 25 percent because they were being compared with one of the worst months in the company's history, when it was still reeling from food safety issues that called into question the quality of its food, damaged its brand equity, and threw the brakes on its growth plans.

This growth "won’t come close to bringing the company back to its former glory," Barron's suggests, and it could be running out of time.

Anyone who thinks that food safety is not the food industry's number one issue needs to reread all the stories about how Chipotle has been severely damaged by its missteps.
KC's View: