TIME Companies

RadioShack Files for Bankruptcy

A RadioShack store location sits empty of customers on Feb. 3, 2015, in Richardson, Texas.
Tony Gutierrez—AP A RadioShack store location sits empty of customers, Feb. 3, 2015, in Richardson, Tx.

Troubled electronics retailer will turn space in 1,750 of its stores over to Sprint.

After struggling for years as electronics shoppers shifted online, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, marking an ignominious end for the 94-year-old retailer that had sold the first mass-market computer.

RadioShack, based in Fort Worth, Tx., will sell up to 2,400 of its U.S. stores to General Wireless, an affiliate of Standard General, a hedge fund that led a rescue loan for the retailer last year. General Wireless will then set up “stores within stores” at 1,750 of those locations for wireless network operator Sprint.

“This agreement would allow Sprint to grow branded distribution quickly and cost-effectively in prime locations,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement. Under the terms of the deal, Sprint would effectively operate a “store within a RadioShack store”, occupying about one-third of the retail space at each. Sprint employees will sell mobile devices and plans on all Sprint brands including Boost and Virgin Mobile.

The rest of the retail outlets locations will be sold at bankruptcy auction.

RadioShack, which filed for bankruptcy in Wilmington, Del., had been the pre-eminent electronics store for decades, selling CB radios and cables and connectors, but had trouble finding its niche in the smartphone era. In its most recent quarter, sales fell 16%, while its quarterly loss — the 11th in a row — swelled to $161.1 million from a loss of $135.9 million a year ago.

RadioShack said in its Chapter 11 filing that it had $1.2 billion of assets and $1.39 billion of debts. The company said that a lender group led by DW Partners has agreed to give it a $285 million loan to operate while in bankruptcy.

The liquidation of Circuit City Stores in 2009 was expected to give other electronics retailers some breathing room, but Amazon.com kept eating away at their market share.

For a link to the all court filings pertaining to the bankruptcy case, click here.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

TIME Food & Drink

These Are the Beers Americans No Longer Drink

bar-beer
Getty Images

Major beer brands can still point to the last recession as a contributing factor to their current slump, in addition to beer price dynamics

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

American beer sales have been trending downwards in recent years. After peaking at nearly 219 million barrels in 2008, total U.S. shipments have declined since, reaching just 211.7 million barrels in 2013.

The recent drops in beer sales have been especially pronounced at many of the nation’s top brewers. Total shipments of both Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors have slumped as several of their major brands have lost substantial market share. According to data provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights, American sales of seven major brands, including Budweiser, declined by more than 20% between 2008 and 2013.

According to Eric Shepard, executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights, major beer brands can still point to the last recession as a contributing factor to their current slump. “The people that got hit hardest in the economic recession were your mainstream beer drinkers — lower- to mid-income males, 25 to 34 [years old],” Shepard said.

Another key factor in the weakening sales has been price dynamics. “Beer prices were increased more aggressively over the last five years than wine and spirits,” Shepard said. Many people in the industry believe that, as a result, some customers replaced buying beer with the now relatively less expensive wines and spirits, he explained.

Several other products were also gaining at the expense of big brand-name beers, Shepard noted. While some customers have been moving to wine and spirits, others were switching to imported beer, particularly Mexican imports. Indeed, in the five years through 2013, shipments of Mexican brands Dos Equis and Modelo Especial more-than doubled. Similarly, he added, “Some [drinkers] are moving to craft [beer]. Clearly, there’s been a trade-up in the industry.”

Craft beers have largely bucked the overall downtrend in beer sales. From 2008 to 2013, shipments of craft beer rose by 80.1% to a total of more than 16 million barrels, or 7.6% of the U.S. beer market. While the craft beer category now outsells Budweiser, it remains a relatively niche market. For comparison, the nation’s top-selling brand, Bud Light, shipped 38 million barrels in 2013, accounting for 18% of all beer shipped.

While the last few years have been difficult for many large brewers, they, too, have been introducing new products that combine well-known brand names with new concepts that appeal to consumers. In recent years, Anheuser-Busch has introduced Bud Light Platinum, a higher alcohol content beer with a sweeter flavor; Bud Light Ritas, a margarita-inspired malt beverage; and Shock Top, its own take on craft beer. As of last year, these three brands had captured 2% of the overall beer market.

To identify the seven beers Americans no longer drink, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed figures provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights for all brands with more than 1 million barrels shipped in 2008. All of these seven brands reported a 20% or more decline in shipments in the five years through 2013.

These are the beers Americans no longer drink.

7. Miller High Life
> Sales loss (2008-2013): -21.2%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels shipped (2013): 4,000,000

Shipments of Miller High Life declined by 21.2% between 2008 and 2013, from more than 5 million barrels to 4 million barrels last year. High Life, known for its tagline as “The Champagne of Beers,” has been in production since 1903, although during prohibition the brand was used to market non-alcoholic drinks. While the brand is now over 110 years old, ownership of Miller Brewing has changed hands several times. In 1970, Miller was bought by cigarette maker Philip Morris. In 2002, Philip Morris, now called Altria, sold most of its stake in Miller to South African Breweries, which then changed its name to SABMiller. In 2007, SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing merged their U.S. operations in a joint venture called MillerCoors.

6. Miller Lite
> Sales loss (2008-2013): -22.6%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels shipped (2013): 13,700,000

Miller Lite states that it is “the original light beer,” having launched the category in 1975. Miller Lite’s ad campaign to introduce Miller Lite to the American consumer included the now famous tagline “Great Taste, Less Filling.” Even after sales declined by 22.6% from 2008 through 2013, Miller Lite remains an industry heavyweight, shipping 13.7 million barrels last year, or 6.5% of all U.S. beer shipments. Yet, Miller Lite remains far smaller than rivals Coors Light and Bud Light, which shipped 18.2 million and 38.1 million, respectively. These two brands alone accounted for 26.6% of the U.S. beer market in 2013.

5. Budweiser
> Sales loss (2008-2013): -27.6%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels shipped (2013): 16,000,000

Budweiser is one of the most famous brands in the world. Created in 1876, Budweiser quickly established itself as a national brand through, at the time, innovative production and distribution methods. These included introducing pasteurization to the beer industry as well as refrigerated rail cars. Today, Budweiser is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which was formed after Belgian brewer InBev acquired American beer titan Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion in 2008. The sale of an iconic American brand to a foreign company initially caused some outrage. However, Americans themselves are drinking far less Budweiser than in years past. Shipments of the brand fell nearly 28% between 2008 and 2013.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Brands

Coca-Cola Is About to Start Selling a New Protein-Packed Milk

In this Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 photo, Fairlife milk products are on display in an Indianapolis grocery store.
Michael Conroy—AP In this Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 photo, Fairlife milk products are on display in an Indianapolis grocery store.

It's lactose-free and packed with 50% more protein than regular milk

Coca-Cola announced plans Tuesday to distribute a premium protein-packed milk under Minute Maid’s Fairlife brand across the U.S. next month.

The lactose-free milk will contain half the sugar of regular milk, 50% additional protein and 30% greater calcium, reports USA Today. Customers will be able to choose among whole milk, fat-free, chocolate and reduced-fat options with prices ranging from $3.98 to $4.20.

“I hope it’s Coke’s next billion-dollar brand,” said Fairlife CEO Steve Jones.

Coca-Cola’s decision to increase the milk’s protein content corresponds with an increased demand for protein among consumers. Data shows 71% of shoppers seek more protein in their diet, according to findings from market-research firm NPD Group.

Coca-Cola is hoping its premium milk will help boost sales, as fresh or pasteurized milk retail volume sales declined by 3% last year. Sales of carbonated beverages are also falling.

[USA Today]

TIME Companies

RadioShack May Sell Off Stores As Bankruptcy Looms

US-BUSINESS-RADIO SHACK
SAUL LOEB—Getty Images A RadioShack consumers electronics store is seen in Falls Church, Virginia, Dec. 30, 2014.

Reports suggest troubled retailer is in talks to sell half of its more than 4,000 stores to Sprint

Troubled electronics retailer RadioShack is reportedly close to filing for bankruptcy and is in talks to sell half of its more than 4,000 stores to Sprint while shuttering its remaining locations.

That’s according to Bloomberg, which cites anonymous sources in reporting that the Fort Worth, Texas-based retailer is close to a deal that would see the RadioShack locations sold to Sprint operated under the wireless carrier’s name. Under those terms, the deal would represent the end of RadioShack’s existence as a stand-alone retailer once the rest of its locations are closed. The deal is not yet finalized and could still fall apart, or the two companies could agree on a co-branding arrangement, Bloomberg’s report noted.

In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that the 94-year-old RadioShack was preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by February after reporting losses in each of the last 11 quarters. The chain reported worse-than-expected losses in September and required help from hedge fund Standard General, which led a financing that helped RadioShack continue operating through the holiday season.

Now, the Journal reports that Standard General, which became RadioShack’s biggest shareholder last year, is in talks to be the lead bidder in the troubled chain’s potential bankruptcy auction. The Journal cites anonymous sources in reporting that Standard General could become the so-called stalking horse, or the first bidder, in a court-supervised auction of RadioShack’s assets. The hedge fund could also potentially purchase a slimmed-down RadioShack that has fewer stores, the paper said.

RadioShack’s stock fell during Monday’s trading session and is down nearly 90% in the past year.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

TIME Brands

Fast-Fashion Apparel Giant H&M Opening More Stores as Profit Soars

Shoppers And Retail Economy As German Investor Confidence Jumps
Bloomberg—Getty Images Pedestrians carry Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) branded shopping bags in Mannheim, Germany, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015.

Swedish retailer says its profit leapt 17% in 2014, plans 400 new stores

Hennes & Mauritz AB, more commonly known as H&M, has announced plans to open 400 new stores in 2015, a move that comes after the Swedish retailer reported profit leapt 17% for the latest year. Here are the most important points from the retailer’s latest earnings report.

What you need to know: H&M, a major powerhouse in the world of retail, is accelerating store opening plans in 2015 and intends to open an additional 400 stores on top of the 3,511 locations it already operates. In 2014, H&M opened 379 new stores. The new store openings for this year will mostly occur in China and the U.S., although H&M said it will debut in several new markets this year, including South Africa, India, and Peru.

The U.S. is the company’s second-largest sales market after Germany, and an important growth market. H&M opened 51 stores in the U.S. last year — that’s more than any other market outside China, where 86 stores were added. Sales in the U.S. leapt 26%, among the better-performing markets for the year ending on Nov. 30, although H&M’s sales grew broadly across all major markets.

H&M is a fast-fashion purveyor that turns around trend designs quickly, taking away business from teen-focused retailers and other rivals that take a longer time to respond. Sales growth in the U.S. has far outpaced those reported by Gap, for example, while teen retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch have seen their businesses suffer a bruising decline as tastes have changed in favor of H&M and rival Forever 21.

The big number: Profit for the full year after taxes totaled 19.98 billion Swedish kroner ($2.4 billion in U.S. currency), up 17% from a year ago. H&M gave an early indication that sales growth will continue to remain strong early in 2015, with sales up 15% in December and expected to rise 14% in January.

What you might have missed: H&M also unveiled a plan to launch a new beauty concept with an initial debut in about 900 stores and online beginning this fall. The new concept will comprise of a range of make-up, body care, and hair care items, and will replace H&M’s current own-brand cosmetics line. H&M didn’t say much about the line, or why it was changing its strategy in beauty, although the move is the latest step by the apparel chain to diversify its product range.

H&M last year debuted a sport-focused line, and also expanded the amount of shoes it sold in some of its stores. Sportswear, which has been an increasingly popular apparel trend that has boosted results for Nike and Under Armour in the U.S., has lured H&M, Forever 21, and other rivals that haven’t traditionally focused on that category. For example, H&M’s U.S. online store lists 124 items for women under sportswear, selling a range of clothes meant for the gym or even to be worn more casually, and not necessarily for athletic purposes. That’s a dominant trend in retail today, as yoga pants take the place of jeans for everyday wear (in one of many examples).

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Brands

Yahoo to Spin Off Alibaba Stake

Deal would let the Internet portal cash in on its stake while paying minimal taxes

Yahoo plans to spin-off its multi-billion dollar stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba into a separate company in an effort to cash in on its investment in the company tax-free.

The proposed transaction, which Mayer released today in conjunction with Yahoo’s fourth quarter earnings, will create an independent company called SpinCo. This publicly traded entity will absorb all of Yahoo’s 384 million Alibaba shares, worth $40 billion. Those shares will then be distributed to Yahoo’s investors.

The move comes amid pressure on Yahoo by activist shareholder Starboard Value to sell the Alibaba stake while paying minimal taxes.

When Alibaba went public last September, it marked the largest IPO of all time. Yahoo sold $9.4 billion worth of Alibaba shares in the IPO. Since then, Yahoo shareholders have argued that the company’s stake in Alibaba is worth more than Yahoo itself.

Since taking the CEO job over two years ago, Marissa Mayer has coasted on Yahoo’s fortuitous early investment in Alibaba. The company has returned $9.7 billion in proceeds from that investment through share repurchases. After this spin-off, that figure will total $50 billion. “This level of capital return is historic, especially for a company of our size,” Mayer said in a statement.

In the release, she touted the expertise of Yahoo’s tax lawyers in executing the complex transaction.

SpinCo will own a 15.4% stake in Alibaba.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Brands

There’s Still Time to Get Your Free Burrito from Chipotle Today

Restaurant Chain Chipotle Warns Climate Change Could Force Guacamole Off The Menu
Joe Raedle—Getty Images A Chipotle restaurant is seen on March 5, 2014 in Miami, Florida.

But you have to order their "sofritas" first

Chipotle really, really wants you to try its new tofu.

On Monday, Jan. 26th, the Mexican chain is offering free food for customers who order their new organic tofu Sofritas. Here’s the deal: All you have to do is buy one of their entrees made with the vegan-friendly protein today, bring your receipt back to any Chipotle location from Jan. 27 through Feb. 15 and you’ll get a free burrito, burrito bowl, salad or tacos.

It’s basically a buy-one, get-one-free kind of thing — but, hey, a free burrito is a free burrito no matter when you redeem it.

So what exactly are you buying in order to get that free size-of-a-small-baby burrito? In Chipotle’s own words, Sofritas are made “organic tofu from Hodo Soy that we shred and then braise with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices. The result is a delicious, spicy tofu that will give vegans and carnivores something they both will love.”

Keep in mind that should you dislike Sofritas, you can use your next-time “freebie” for anything on the menu — if supplies are still in store. (Those deliciously spicy carnitas are still off the menu at about a third of Chipotle’s locations.)

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Aviation

Why Airlines Don’t Talk About Safety In Their Ads

Airport
Mark Wilson—Getty Images People stand in the main terminal at Washington Dulles International Airport is shown October 2, 2014 in Dulles, Virginia.

Fliers don't want to be reminded of the risk

Looking around at modern airlines’ slogans, you might notice a common trend: Few of them stress safety. Not Delta’s “Keep Climbing,” not American Airlines’ “The new American is arriving,” not JetBlue’s “You Above All.”

There was a time when this wasn’t the case. Safety was often mentioned in air travel ads when the aviation industry was still nascent in the 1920s and 1930s — back then, airlines had the tricky task of convincing travelers to try a then-unproven means of getting about.

The trend lasted until the late 1980s, when Pan Am launched reassuring ads amidst terrorist threats targeting American airliners flying across the Atlantic. Those threats, however, eventually took form as that year’s fatal bombing of Pan Am Flight 1o3, which claimed 270 lives in the air and on the ground.

The Pan Am attack, says aviation security expert Glen Winn, is ultimately what convinced airlines to quit bragging about safety.

“Leading up the destruction of Pan Am 103, [Pan Am] had advertised themselves as not only the safest, but also the most secure,” Winn said. “Airlines since then have been really careful how they say what they say.”

Safety has since all but disappeared from airlines’ advertisements. And when airlines are required to discuss safety during on-board safety demonstrations, major brands are trying to make them more fun, revamping their in-flight safety videos to transform mandatory prepare-for-the-worst briefings into informative musicals and short films.

Why the shift? Yes, Worldwide commercial aviation deaths per year have declined. But no airline can guarantee passengers total immunity from harm. And several high-profile disasters over the past few months, like Malaysia Airlines Flights 370 and 17 as well as AirAsia Flight 8501, have put travelers especially on edge. Putting the “S-Word” in slogans or commercials, airlines have found, doesn’t reassure passengers — it just reminds them of the random chance of danger their next trip might bring, however slight it may be.

“When you talk about safety, you bring up a bad taste in people’s mouths,” said Andy Trinchero, executive director of marketing at aviation marketing firm. “It’s something that people don’t even want to hear about, really.”

TIME Brands

One of the Last Marlboro Men Has Died

Darrell Hugh Winfield was discovered while working on a ranch in Wyoming

One of the last Marlboro Men died earlier this week.

85-year-old Darrell Hugh Winfield passed away Monday at his home in Riverton, Wyoming, the Associated Press reported.

Winfield, discovered by ad agency Leo Burnett in 1968 while working on a ranch, was the quintessential macho cowboy — a quality that made him one of the rugged faces of the cigarette company between the late 1960s and the late 1980s.

The Marlboro Man was first introduced in the 1950s in an attempt to sell filtered cigarettes to men. They had previously been targeted at women.

[AP]

TIME Internet

Twitter Account to Overly Thirsty Brands: Stop Saying the Word ‘Bae’

Social Media Site Twitter Debuts On The New York Stock Exchange
Bethany Clarke—Getty Images

A valiant effort to shame companies trying way too hard to sound like teenagers

The thing about brands on Twitter is that they want you to forget that they’re brands. They want you to think of them as your quippy, sassy ol’ pals who occasionally sell you products you probably don’t need.

Most of us Internet dwellers, however, see right through these brands’ tactics — and a new Twitter feed aims to call them out for it.

The account is called “Brands Saying Bae” — so, as you can imagine, it pokes fun specifically at companies using the word “bae.” (If you don’t hang out with teenagers, “bae” is a slang word many of them like to use as a term of endearment. The Wall Street Journal also adds the following analysis: “Bae can be aspirational — someone of romantic interest. The term has also inevitably evolved to apply to inanimate objects. On Instagram, a particularly mouthwatering plate of BBQ could be #bae, for example.”)

So, naturally, tons of brands — from Burger King to Walmart to Gain — have begun incorporating this slang word into their tweets. Here are some examples from Brands Saying Bae, along with plenty of tongue-in-cheek commentary:

To whoever runs this Twitter account: Thank you, and keep on fighting the good fight.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser