business news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• The Seattle Times reports that "a 'sizable majority' of members in a regional grocery workers union have ratified a contract with Fred Meyer and other stores, ending a 16-month period of sometimes tense negotiations, according to union officials.

"The three-year contract, agreed to Friday night, guarantees employees a minimum 20-hour workweek, provides wage increases for all workers and 'aims toward' closing a perceived gender pay gap, said United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 spokeswoman Kelley McAllister.

"The union represents about 18,000 grocery workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington."

• The Wall Street Journal reports that while "Sears’s bankruptcy filing was supposed to give the troubled retailer a fresh start," a year later "the chain is still struggling with many of the same problems it faced before it sought court protection.

"Roughly a quarter of the 425 Sears and Kmart stores that financier Edward Lampert bought out of bankruptcy have closed or are closing, according to people familiar with the situation, a retreat the chains haven’t fully disclosed.
The shelves at some remaining locations are bare of crucial products—no lawn mowers in summer or garden supplies in spring, according to shoppers and a former executive."

This despite the fact that the new company was supposed to have stronger financial footing than in the recent past, and only kept the strongest stores. But "the stores’ performance deteriorated faster than expected," the story says, and a viable path forward seems unclear at best.

Yeah, sure. Nobody saw this coming. These guys have no plan, no vision, and no chance of success. Anybody who thinks otherwise, or who does business with them, is smoking something. (Which Sears ought to start selling, using the slogan "This stuff is so potent it even makes us think we can succeed.")
KC's View: