Published on: May 17, 2023
• From the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:
"Walmart Inc. must pay $19.3 million to K2 Distribution Co. for breach of contract and other claims, a jury ruled Friday in Washington County Circuit Court. The award is reportedly the largest jury award for damages in the county's history."
According to the story, "K2, based in Pittsburgh, Calif., had sold cleaning products to Walmart under Walmart's private label. Early in the pandemic, Walmart turned to the company to provide large amounts of hand sanitizer and dispensers for Walmart employees and customers.
"According to K2's complaint, it spent more than $35 million to fulfill its obligations of delivering thousands of custom-designed dispensers and cases of sanitizers, as well as contracting for hundreds of thousands of additional gallons of sanitizer.
"'K2 Distribution upheld its end of the deal, but Walmart failed to honor its commitments and agreements,' K2 said in its complaint. 'For reasons that had nothing to do with K2 Distribution's performance of its obligations, Walmart kept and refused to pay K2 Distribution anything for 44,000 dispensers, canceled all in-process orders in August 2020, and thereafter declined to purchase any additional sanitizer from K2 Distribution,' the company said.
"'Adding insult to injury, Walmart falsely asserted in bad faith that it had never made any agreement with K2 Distribution,' the company said.
"Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in a statement that the retailer values its supplier relationships and disagrees with the verdict. 'We continue to believe our business dealings with K2 were appropriate, and we are reviewing our options, including the filing of post-trial motions,' Hargrove said."
• From CNBC:
"DroneUp, a Walmart-backed startup competing alongside Amazon and others in the nascent drone delivery market, is cutting jobs across the company, CNBC has learned.
"The Virginia-based company began informing staffers of the layoffs Monday morning, according to two people who lost their jobs and asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter … The layoffs come as the tech industry continues to downsize and were part of the company’s decision to focus more on its delivery hubs, a network of facilities for on-demand orders in the U.S. DroneUp is moving away from enterprise services like construction and real estate monitoring, aerial data capturing, and marketing, the ex-employees said."
“After tremendous consumer adoption of our drone delivery services, we have made the decision to shift our business model to align our company structure around the continued growth and success of drone delivery and other drone services out of our Hubs,” DroneUp CEO Tom Walker told CNBC in a statement.
The company said that over the next six months, “we will hire more people than were laid off.”
The story notes that "attempts at scaling commercial drone delivery in the U.S. have been slow moving, largely due to technical challenges and a lengthy regulatory approval process with the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency has authorized several companies to test drone deliveries in select markets as long as they don’t pose significant safety risks."