Tipsheet: Bezos’s New Shadow | ‘Cool’ Walmart Store | Costco Chicken Fight Lingers


Rising rates will speed up the clock on retail’s $3.7 billion time bomb by Krystina Gustafson at CNBC. “After years of low rates fueled a private equity “feasting” on retail firms, Moody’s Investors Service says that 19 distressed companies have “well over” $3.7 billion in debt that matures over the next five years. Roughly 30 percent of that total is due by the end of next year.” Distressed retailers’ next maturities/Read more


Jeff Bezos has a new top adviser at Amazon by Jason Del Rey at Recode. “Jeffrey Helbling, most recently a vice president of the Kindle business, is the new technical adviser to the CEO — otherwise known as Bezos’s “shadow,” according to his LinkedIn bio.” Read more


BIG LINE – Winter Storm Stella Has Freaked-Out Shoppers Cleaning Out This NY Trader Joe’s by Jeff John Roberts at Fortune. “How bad did it get? In the case of a Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn, the line to get into the store stretched for an entire block in the early evening….Here’s the line shortly after 7 pm local time on Monday, more than five hours before storm Stella was due to hit.” Pics/Read more


‘COOL’ WALMART – Analyst: Walmart’s next-gen Supercenter concept called ‘cool’ at Barron’s. “In his pre-recorded earnings conference call, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon noted that the company had recently opened two new “test” Supercenters (Florida and Texas) that had scan-and- go technology and consumer touch screens plus a number of other features…we took the opportunity to visit the stores not once, not twice, but three times just before, during, and just after the conference. Okay, you can stop laughing – NOW. It is, in our humble opinion, a really cool store!” Read more


Documents reveal ‘AmazonFresh Pickup’ as the tech giant’s next physical retail concept by Nat Levy at GeekWire. “The filings show signs on the exterior walls with messages like “Shop online. Pick up here,” and “Relax while we load your groceries,” along the exterior.” Permit drawings/Read more


Shopping Malls Are Tracking Your Every Move by Esther Fung at Wall Street Journal. “According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group. In its survey of 1022 adults in February, 39% of the respondents said they would visit a mall or shopping center more often if they received alerts from stores that are selling products they are interested in purchasing.” Read more (subscription)


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Under Armour taps GM exec as first chief innovation officer by Ryan Sharrow at Baltimore Business Journal. “(Clay) Dean spent more than 20 years at GM (NYSE: GM), and most recently led GM’s Global Advanced Design organization. He was also the chief designer on a team that produced the Hummer H2, H2 SUT and H3 programs.” Read more


Sugar and Salt Content Shrivels as Consumers Get Wise on Health by Sam Chambers at Bloomberg. “…reduced ingredients such as sugar and salt in about 20 percent of their products in 2016 as shoppers shift toward healthier brands. A survey of 102 companies, including Nestle SA and Procter & Gamble Co., found that 180,000 products were reformulated in 2016, according to a report from the Consumer Goods Forum. That was about double the previous year.” Read more


CHICKEN FIGHT LINGERS ON – Group opposed to Costco plant hosting meetings this week by Barbara Soderlin at Omaha World-Herald. “A North Carolina farmer known for his criticism of the chicken industry’s growing and contracting practices will speak to farmers at meetings this week around eastern Nebraska…hosted by Nebraska Communities United, a group that formed last year to challenge retailer Costco’s plans to build a chicken processing plant.” Meeting times/locations


Big Food’s Next Course Could Be Big Mergers by John Kell at Fortune. “AB InBev, fresh off its SAB­Miller acquisition, will still likely need another deal to hit its goal of $100 billion in revenue by 2020. PepsiCo and Coke are potential targets…“3G is the catalyst. They are out there with a plan to consolidate the industry” says SIG analyst Pablo Zuanic.” Read more


Amazon’s Delivery Drones Can Be Seen at SXSW by Jonathan Vanian at Fortune. “The drones are instead protected behind a glass enclosure, with a security guard nearby ensuring that no one would tamper with them, reported NBC News.” Pic/Read more


BIG BUTTER – Americans Are Eating More Butter Than Ever by Leslie Patton at Bloomberg. “Americans are forecast to eat a whopping 8 percent more of the stuff than last year, reaching 940,000 metric tons…” Read more


Visa Is Developing a Pair of Sunglasses That Can Pay For Things by Aric Jenkins at Fortune. “To pay, a wearer removes the glasses from their face and taps them on a Visa near field communication (NFC) enabled terminal. Card swiping is not required.” Read more


Gander Mountain list of 32 stores closing at USA Today. List/Read more


Cramer: A border tax could lead to thousands of layoffs in retail at CNBC. “Marginal retailers won’t be able to keep the pace with Amazon or Wal-Mart if they have to pay more for their goods. “They will most likely not make it. That is a real risk, not a canard,” Cramer said.” Read more


Target & Sears Execs to Speak at Internet of Things Conference & Expo Press release


Disney postpones release of Beauty and the Beast in Malaysia due to backlash over ‘gay’ character at Daily Mail. Read more


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