Report projects drop in December spending
YONKERS, N.Y. — Despite strong November retail sales, consumers still worry about what lies ahead.
According to a projection by the Consumer Reports Index, planned December spending is slightly down (11.8), versus the year-ago period (12.2). The waning confidence may be because of consumer financial difficulties, whether anticipated or unexpected, the report noted. More optimistic customers are those ages 18 years to 34 years, and those with household incomes of $100,000 or more, while pessimistic customers are those ages 65 years and older and those who have a household income less than $50,000.
"Despite all the talk and media attention about positive economic growth, consumers are telling us that they are not seeing or, more importantly, not feeling the difference," said Ed Farrell, a director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center. "The consumer may not be confident enough to continue spending through the holiday season. It may require deep discounting from retailers to get consumers back to the store in the final weeks of December."
The full Consumer Reports Index report can be found here.
Deffenbaugh, Cerner develop on-site health clinic
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Deffenbaugh Industries, which is a Kansas City waste and recycling services company, has collaborated with Cerner to develop an on-site health-and-wellness center for its employees.
The clinic, which opens Monday at Deffenbaugh’s Kansas City headquarters, will serve more than 800 local company employees, giving them convenient access to pharmacy services, primary and urgent care, and occupational health-and-wellness programs.
Employees will benefit from a larger focus on preventing injuries and illnesses with access to confidential biometric screenings, wellness programs and education, and free or low-cost routine physicals and shots, the company stated.
As it relates to pharmacy services, the clinic will dispense, at no charge, up to 50 of the most commonly used non-narcotic pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs.
Looking to battle rising healthcare costs and maintain affordable health plans, Deffenbaugh Industries reached out to CBIZ Benefits and Insurance Services to assist with creating an integrated employee health strategy, as well as with evaluating the selection of a healthcare partner that could assist in developing and operating an on-site health clinic. CBIZ selected Cerner, which has been operating its own primary care clinic on its headquarters campus since 2006 and works with employers across the country to reduce healthcare costs.
A&P files for Ch. 11 bankruptcy
MONTVALE, N.J. — Battling hefty debt and intense competition, grocer A&P filed for bankruptcy on Sunday and has secured $800 million in debtor-in-possession financing to keep the 395-store chain open and operational during the proceedings.
"We have taken this difficult but necessary step to enable A&P to fully implement our comprehensive financial and operational restructuring. While we have made substantial progress on the operational and merchandising aspects of our turnaround plan, we concluded that we could not complete our turnaround without availing ourselves of Chapter 11. It will allow us to restructure our debt, reduce our structural costs and address our legacy issues," A&P president and CEO Sam Martin stated.
The grocer listed total debts of more than $3.2 billion and assets of roughly $2.5 billion in a petition filed in bankruptcy court in White Plains, N.Y., according to a Wall Street Journal report.
A person familiar with the situation told the WSJ that A&P’s inability to negotiate concessions from its primary supplier, C&S Wholesale Grocers, contributed to the company’s decision to file for bankruptcy.
Furthermore, the retailer had about $13 million in interest payments due to unsecured creditors, the WSJ reported, and wanted to keep those funds rather than pay them to those that would be further down in the payment scale during bankruptcy proceedings.
According to A&P, as it implements its financial and operational restructuring, it intends to continue and accelerate most of the basic elements of the turnaround plan announced in October, including:
A completely new management team that is in place;
The reduction of structural and operating costs;
The improvement of the A&P value proposition for customers; and
The enhancement of the customer experience in stores.
The company also announced that Frederic F. "Jake" Brace, who was named chief administrative officer in August, will lead the company’s restructuring effort. Brace will take the additional title of chief restructuring officer. The retailer has entered into an $800 million DIP facility with JPMorgan Chase. A hearing to approve a portion of the facility has been scheduled for Dec. 13.
Upon approval, this DIP facility will be available to fund A&P’s operations, pay its vendors and for other corporate purposes. In addition, this financing will provide the capital necessary to continue the company’s efforts to improve and renovate select stores and provide enhanced product offerings to its customers, the company stated.
Founded in 1859, A&P is one of the nation’s first supermarket chains. Aside from its namesake A&P chain, the retailer also owns Waldbaum’s, Pathmark, Best Cellars, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh and Food Basics.