Business Stories of the Week: July 28

by July 28, 2017
Birkenstock's CEO has slammed Amazon's new third-party selling program. ("Beach" image by "nateen98650" via Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Birkenstock’s CEO has slammed Amazon’s new third-party buying program. (“Beach” image by “nateen98650” via Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Michael Kors goes shoe-shopping

In an effort to combat diminishing brand cachet, clothing brand Michael Kors said it will buy luxury shoe label Jimmy Choo, whose $1,000 stilettos became a favorite of bold-facers like Sarah Jessica Parker and Princess Diana in the 1990s. Michael Kors’ sales have declined 11 percent in the last quarter and investors have erased a third of the stock value in the last year, due in part to the heavy discounts the company offers that have given shoppers reason to pause before paying full price, Forbes reported on Tuesday. The Jimmy Choo acquisition will give Michael Kors a new foothold in the luxury shoe market and more room for international growth.

Birkenstock CEO slams Amazon

In other shoe news, Birkenstock’s CEO, Dave Kahan, is steamed at Amazon. The online retail giant recently announced plans for a new third-party buying program, in which the company will buy products for full-price from retailers and then sell them to consumers across the globe. Kahan is less than thrilled about it, CNBC reported on Wednesday. In a searing email to its resellers, Kahan called the new program an “assault on decency” and a “pathetic” attempt at creating a backchannel to sell products that are not approved to be sold on Amazon. For Amazon, the plan is just another part of their attempt to grab a larger share of the market, but could prove to be controversial if brands try to protect their trademark in court.

And yet Amazon’s shares soar

Jeff Bezos passed Bill Gates as world’s richest person, Bloomberg reported. Shares of Amazon stock surged to $1,065.92 on Thursday, giving Bezos a net worth of $90.9 billion, versus $90.7 for the Microsoft co-founder. Bezos owns about 17 percent of Amazon, which has grown 40 percent this year, adding nearly $25 billion to his net worth. The growth is thanks to Amazon’s progress in taking market share in categories like fashion and groceries, as well as $99-a-year Amazon Prime memberships, which continue to turn some retail shoppers into Amazon devotees.

Taco Bell launches literal marketing vehicle

Fast food chain Taco Bell is launching a joint venture with ride-sharing service Lyft that will allow and encourage drivers to bring hungry passengers to the Taco Bell drive-thru. The companies will test the program, dubbed “Taco Mode,” within the Lyft app, around the Newport Beach, California area before aiming to expand nationally next year. Taco Mode’s initial test will be available from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and will include taco logos inside the app, branded taco-themed vehicles and in-car menus, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Sick Americans face potential financial ruin

As the healthcare debate in Washington rages on, The Atlantic explored what a repeal of Obamacare would actually look like for the people who lose their medical coverage as a result. The options currently under consideration in the Senate would lead to anywhere between 15 and 30 million more uninsured over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office has reported. While it’s clear that losing access to affordable care has a big impact on people’s health, it can also negatively affect their bottom line, possibly leading to an increase in financial crises for millions of Americans.

Failed drug tests take a toll on factories

Factories are struggling to fill open blue-collar positions, and it’s not for a lack of skilled workers—it’s because of drugs. In some cases, nearly half of all applicants fail a drug test, which renders them disqualified, the New York Times reported on Monday. And it’s not just the workers and their families who pay the price for the lost job. The companies themselves report having to turn away hundreds of thousands of dollars in orders because they lack the manpower to fulfill them. Even as states decriminalize marijuana, relaxed drug policies aren’t an option for manufacturers because of insurance and liability.