business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  In the UK, retailer John Lewis is saying that because poor performance so far this year - in just the first half of the year, it had a loss of more than $800 million (US) - it will not pay out staff bonuses - for the first time since 1953.

While store closures during the pandemic contributed to the decision, the BBC notes that "even before Covid-19 hit, the chain had warned it might not pay the usual staff bonus as competition ate into profits."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"GNC Holdings Inc. is moving ahead with a sale to China’s Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Co. after no other offers emerged, even as the deal drew scrutiny from Sen. Marco Rubio.

"The vitamin retailer said Monday it was canceling a bankruptcy auction and proceeding with a sale of its assets to Harbin for $760 million.

"Sen. Rubio (R., Fla.) last week asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for a review of the deal by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. Known as Cfius, the Treasury-led panel vets acquisitions of American companies that might put national security at risk. The senator argued that through the deal, the Chinese government could gain access to sensitive health data about U.S. consumers."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Starbucks Corp. said its sales recovery in the U.S. is at least another six months away as consumers continue to work from home and many of its stores in central business districts remain closed.

"Comparable sales at Starbucks’s company-owned stores in U.S. urban centers are still down from last year as many workers haven’t returned to offices due to the pandemic, Chief Financial Officer Pat Grismer said Tuesday. Roughly 3% of the 8,900 stores in the U.S. that Starbucks owns remain closed, most of them in city centers, Mr. Grismer said."