Business Stories of the Week: Sept. 22, 2017

by September 22, 2017

Crocs are making a comeback, thanks in part to help from private equity. “Crocs” by Flickr user Martin Abegglen.

Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy. And yet…

One of the world’s largest toy store chains filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, the latest sign of a disrupted retail landscape. The company, which had struggled to compete with Amazon and Walmart, faced $400 million in debt payment due in 2018 and was burning through its cash. But the company, which said its roughly 1,600 stores around the world would continue to operate as usual, will likely live to see another day thanks to support from toy manufacturers. Companies like Mattel and Hasbro have essentially been propping up Toys ‘R’ Us for years, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, by giving the chain exclusive holiday merchandise and promotional funds to help it compete with general retailers. In exchange, the toy companies had a place to sell full-price merchandise year round.

Rolling Stone looks for a buyer

The controlling stake in the iconic music and culture magazine Rolling Stone is up for sale, NPR reported on Monday. The combination of a faltering magazine industry, strategic missteps and a botched story three years ago that bruised the magazine’s reputation has steadily taken a financial toll on the well-being of the magazine, which was once considered the counterculture bible. And so, after a 50-year reign, founding owner Jann Wenner has decided to give up control of the magazine he’s helmed since 1967.

Opioid crisis spills into workplaces

As drug abuse spreads across America, workplaces are starting to feel the effects, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. While economists have paid attention to the opioid epidemic’s role in unemployment, about two-thirds of those who report misusing pain-pills are on payrolls, and addicted employees can be a drag on productivity or even a danger to themselves or others. But employers are often hesitant to enact a no-tolerance policy, as it becomes more difficult to hire skilled laborers.

Crocs make a comeback

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay—for now. Crocs, which may just be the world’s most divisive footwear, are seeing newfound success after nearly biting the dust during the recession. The turnaround is no accident, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, but rather the result of a $200 million investment by private equity giant Blackstone Group and four years of strategic changes. During that time, the company has closed hundreds of stores, eliminated unpopular styles and shifted its focus back to its classic foam clog, which accounts for nearly half of the company’s sales.

Hackers gain access to SEC database

The top securities regulator in the United States said on Wednesday that its computer system was hacked last year, giving the attackers access to confidential information regarding publicly traded corporations. That knowledge may have been exploited for trading, according to Reuters. The Securities and Exchange Commission breach comes on the heels of the data break-in at credit reporting firm Equifax, intensifying concerns over potential computer vulnerabilities throughout the American financial system.

Wages are on the rise

After decades of wage stagnation, median earnings for workers appear to be on the rise, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. Median wages for all full-time workers are rising at a pace last achieved in the dot-com boom of the 90s. But this brighter future brings new challenges—namely a labor shortage that could put constraints on growth as the jobs in demand require more skilled workers than are available.