amazon23
ENERGY/HVAC

Amazon bets on fuel-cell technology

BY By Marianne Wilson

Amazon will deploy a high-tech, green solution to help power its warehouses.

In a move to increase the energy efficiency of its sprawing network of fulfillment centers, Amazon has entered into a partnership with hydrogen fuel-cell maker Plug Power to deploy Plug Power fuel cells and hydrogen technology in its fulfillment network.

The deal includes an investment option that gives Amazon the right to acquire up to a 23% stake of the fuel-cell maker.

At select warehouse locations, Amazon will begin powering its forklifts using Plug Power’s Genkey technology, which will enable faster charging times, reduced costs, and support energy-efficiency in Amazon’s fulfillment operations, the supplier said.

Additionally, Amazon and Plug Power will begin working together on technology collaboration, exploring the expansion of applications for Plug Power’s line of ProGen fuel cell engines.

“This agreement is a tremendous opportunity for Plug Power to further innovate and grow while helping to support the work Amazon does to pick, pack and ship customer orders,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “Our hydrogen fuel cell technology, comprehensive service network, and commitment to providing cost-savings for customers has enabled Plug Power to become a trusted partner to many in the industry and we are excited to begin working with Amazon.”

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walgreens
FINANCE

Walgreens confident about Rite Aid deal

BY Michael Johnson

Walgreens is still confident in its ability to close the Rite Aid transaction, but will force the issue if it comes to that, Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and CEO Walgreens Boots Alliance, told analysts Wednesday morning.

"I am still optimistic that we will bring this deal to a successful conclusion, but there is no doubt that the process of getting clearance for the transaction is taking longer than expected," Pessina said. "We are constantly and currently cooperating with FTC, Rite Aid and Fred's to get the necessary approvals and close the transaction."

But in the coming weeks, Walgreens may certify compliance, he said, which is a formal notification that a merger applicant believes it has supplied all the information regulators need to make a decision on the deal. Once parties have certified that they have substantially complied with an FTC request, the investigating agency has 30 additional days to complete its review of the transaction and take action if necessary.

"We are working to be in a position to certify compliance. We believe we can achieve this in the coming weeks and are still working toward our revised time table to obtain clearance by the end of July."

Pessina declined to speculate on whether the FTC could approve or disprove the deal with only two commissioners in place. "I cannot comment on the organization of the FTC. It will be up to them to decide whether they have enough people or not to judge on the quality of this deal," he said. "We are doing what we can together with Rite Aid and Fred's. We are collaborating very well with the FTC. And as I said we are preparing ourselves to be ready to certify compliance if we will decide to do so."

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JoeKefauver
News

Washington Spotlight: Is Ivanka a Retail Partner or Issue Adversary?

BY Joe Kefauver

The retail community has had a curious relationship with the Ivanka Trump brand over the last year or two. Some prominent brands proudly display her clothing, shoe and accessories lines. Others carry it, but really don’t highlight it too much, and some have decided to drop it all together.

At the end of the day, the jury seems to still be out whether the presence of her brand moves the needle or not. Ironically, the political world finds itself in the same place — trying to decide if her brand moves the needle on issues that seem to be important to her. And many of those issues affect entry-level employers like retailers.

Ivanka caused a stir at the Republican National Convention last summer by directly taking on the pay equity issue during her prime time speech — not an issue Republicans have traditionally spotlighted at convention time. Since then, she has also been outspoken about women’s health care, paid family and maternity leave and even childcare tax breaks. This week, she was very public in her support of Tuesday’s National Equal Pay Day advocating for closing the wage gap.

Social media came alive with a lot of kudos but nearly as many challenges — basically asking if she was just talking the talk or was she going to walk the walk. To date, her critics begrudgingly give her credit for trying to advance a conversation but say she is not willing to force her father’s hand in this space.

If her new, official but unpaid position within the White House evolves and solidifies into a real policy role, employers could find themselves in the position of having a potentially very powerful adversary as the president’s closest confidant. Her strong advocacy on behalf of national paid and family leave laws and her willingness to pressure her father’s administration to cajole employers into closing the wage gap could have profound impacts to retailers – both on bottom lines and brand reputations.

Joe Kefauver is managing partner of Align Public Strategies, a full-service public affairs and creative firm that helps corporate brands, governments and nonprofits navigate the outside world and inform their internal decision-making. Align specializes in service sector industries.

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