business news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• The Los Angeles Times has a story about “a group of 7-Eleven franchisees across the country who are at odds with the American subsidiary of Seven & i Holdings Co. — the Japanese company that bought 7-Eleven from its distressed American ownership in 2005 — over a new 15-year franchise agreement … Among the leading points of disagreement is a contract provision that would require franchisees to potentially split more profits with 7-Eleven Inc., which the U.S. store owners allege is a move to boost the profit of the Japanese parent.

“They point to a new $50,000 fee to renew franchise agreements, which vary in length and expire at different times depending on when a store was acquired. Renewals used to cost 20% of a store owner’s franchise fee, which varies too, but the disgruntled owners say it was generally less expensive except for the highest-volume outlets.”

The entire story can be read here.

We took note of a New York Times story on this same subject a couple of weeks ago, but I think it is worth repeating the concern I expressed then - that all these folks have to be careful about spending too much time talking about the wrong stuff. Not to say the economics aren’t important, but if you’re arguing about hot dogs and Slurpees, how are you going to effectively compete with Amazon, Walmart’s new c-stores, and all the other formats that are being developed to appeal to consumers’ convenience needs?

• The Financial Times has a piece about what it called “perhaps the most sensible tweet of Donald Trump’s presidency so far,” in which he called “for the Securities and Exchange Commission to study ending quarterly earnings reporting and shifting to a six-month system is eminently worthwhile.”

MNB took note of this story on Friday, but it is worth taking note of FT’s caution - that “the central issue is not how often earnings reports are, but what they involve.”

The concern, FT writes, is that “quarterly reporting fosters a short-termist culture across corporate management and the investment community. Longer-term capital spending may be skipped if it would damage quarterly numbers. CEOs can become obsessed with ensuring constant quarter-on-quarter improvements instead of the best long-term interests of their businesses … The priority for businesses and bosses, however, should not be trying to hit quarterly guidance, but devising strategic development plans, articulating them to investors, and setting goals based on long-term operational and value-creation measures. Executive pay should be linked to those targets. Then, companies and their leaders should be able to carry investors with them through any bumps and troughs in earnings.”


• The San Jose Mercury News reports that Greenpeace is out with its annual list of supermarkets with the best sustainable seafood practices, and, from one to 22, they are:

Whole Foods, Hy-Vee, Aldi, Target, Giant Eagle, Wegmans, Albertsons, Sprouts, Ahold Delhaize, Meijer, Kroger, Supervalu, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Costco, Southeastern Grocers, Publix, WinCo, H-E-B, Price Chopper, SaveMart, and Wakefern.

Greenpeace says that it ranks the stores based on information obtained “from supermarkets through a standardized eight-page survey, email and phone conversations, publicly available information, and in-store visits.” Supermarkets were scored in four categories: policy, initiatives, transparency and inventory.
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