Thursday, January 3, 2019

Business news in brief - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Lord & Taylor shutters Fifth Avenue store

NEW YORK -- Lord & Taylor's flagship store on Fifth Avenue locked its doors forever after 104 years.

The department store famed for its animated holiday windows closed down Wednesday afternoon, ending a blowout sale that left whole floors empty. By the end, clothes that once sold for as much as $100 were going for $5.99.

The 11-story building has been sold to the WeWork space-leasing company for more than $850 million.

Forty-five other, smaller Lord & Taylor stores remain open, mostly on the East Coast. In addition, Lord & Taylor-branded merchandise is being sold online through the Walmart website.

Patty Conte said the Fifth Avenue location was her favorite store and that she went there Wednesday "to do a last walk-through." She purchased some women's shoes under a "buy one, get one free" offer, for a total of $25 plus tax.

For her, shopping online is not an option "because it's important to feel the fabric and to try things on."

The demise of the Fifth Avenue store reflects a shifting economy in which retail stores have taken a hit from online sales.

Hudson's Bay Co., the Canadian corporate behemoth that has owned the brand since 2012, said it was closing the flagship and some of its other stores because of an "increasing focus on its digital opportunity and commitment to improving profitability."

Founded in 1826 on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Lord & Taylor was one of the nation's first big department stores, run by two English-born cousins, Samuel Lord and George Washington Taylor. The store occupied several locations before 1914, when it moved into the building that fills a whole Manhattan block on Fifth Avenue at 38th Street.

-- The Associated Press

Department store exec Nordstrom dies

NEW YORK -- Blake Nordstrom, who led the upscale department store chain Nordstrom as co-president with his brothers Erik and Peter, has died. He was 58.

The Seattle-based company did not disclose the cause of death, saying Nordstrom passed away unexpectedly early Wednesday. Last month, Nordstrom said that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma but that his cancer was treatable.

Nordstrom Inc. said in a statement that its executive leadership will continue under Erik and Peter Nordstrom. The company is publicly traded, but family members still own about 30 percent of its shares. The family group had hoped to take the company private last year, but a special committee for its board rejected the offer as too low.

Blake Nordstrom had worked at the chain for more than 40 years. He was the great-grandson of company founder John W. Nordstrom, a Swedish immigrant who opened a Seattle shoe store in 1901 that eventually became a national department store chain.

-- The Associated Press

U.S. refiners turning to domestic oil

U.S. light oil has become too cheap for Gulf Coast refiners to pass up.

Fuel makers on the Gulf, home to the largest cluster of refineries in the world, processed oil with an average API gravity of 33.06 in October, according to the Energy Information Administration. The measure of oil density matches a record set in February, when Gulf refiners processed the lightest crude in 26 years thanks to a surge in domestically produced light barrels.

Growing U.S. output has sent imports to a three-year low, as domestic barrels are cheaper than imported ones. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark oil, is being traded at a discount of $8.10 per barrel compared with Brent, the benchmark used to price imported oil.

U.S. production has doubled in the past seven years to a record 11.537 million barrels daily in October, largely supported by new drilling technologies that allowed producers to extract oil from areas previously deemed uneconomical. That's reduced America's dependence on imported oil from OPEC countries.

-- Bloomberg News

Brazil president's plans boost gun-maker

Brazilian firearms manufacturer Forjas Taurus SA is starting 2019 off by extending last year's big rally.

After gaining 88 percent in 2018, the stock added 47 percent to about $1.57 in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, on the back of President Jair Bolsonaro's plans to make it easier for Brazilians to own guns. It was the biggest intraday gain for the stock since Nov. 1.

The nation's new administration intends to guarantee, via a decree, the right to possess firearms for citizens without criminal records, Bolsonaro wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday.

During a speech to Congress on Tuesday, the former army captain reiterated his pledge to ease gun purchases for personal protection. "The good citizen deserves to have means to defend himself," Bolsonaro said.

-- Bloomberg News

N.J. wind project draws third bidder

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- A third firm has confirmed that it's interested in building a wind energy project off the New Jersey coast.

Norway-based Equinor said it submitted a bid Friday to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to build an offshore wind project.

The company joins Orsted, a Danish wind company, and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Shell and EDF Renewables North America, in submitting bids to the board by last week's deadline.

"Equinor has placed a strong bid we hope will help New Jersey meet its clean energy goals: protecting the planet from climate change while building a new industry with good jobs," company spokesman Elin Isaksen said.

The state is seeking companies to build projects that would generate at least 1,100 megawatts of electricity. Orsted estimates that amount could power more than a half-million homes.

-- The Associated Press

Qatar Airways grows China carrier stake

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Qatar Airways said it now holds a 5 percent share in China Southern Airlines, helping expand the Persian Gulf carrier's reach in one of the world's fastest-growing aviation markets.

Qatar Airways Group said Wednesday that the acquisition of additional shares of China Southern supports its overall investment strategy. The Mideast carrier has a 49 percent stake in Air Italy, nearly 10 percent in Cathay Pacific and LATAM Airlines Group, and a 20 percent investment in International Airlines Group -- the holding company for British Airways among others.

China Southern Airlines is a member of SkyTeam, an alliance that includes Delta, KLM, Air France and others.

-- The Associated Press

Business on 01/03/2019

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