Imports expected to rise as West Coast Port issues drag on
Washington, D.C. — Year-over-year import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to continue to rise during most of the first half of 2015 despite significant congestion still impacting West Coast ports, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
“Now that a federal mediator is on the scene, we hope the mediator will be able to help the parties quickly reach a new contract so we can begin to work on solutions to the ongoing congestion issues,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “The urgent need to end the uncertainty we’ve seen for half a year now isn’t over just because the holiday season has ended. Retailers are already starting to bring in products for the spring season, and want both labor and management to work together to bring these issues to an end.”
The contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired on July 1. The lack of a contract and other operational issues led to crisis-level congestion at the ports, and NRF asked President Obama to engage with the parties. A federal mediator arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday and is currently working with labor and management on the contract negotiations.
Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.39 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in November, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 10.7% from October as holiday merchandise wound down but up 3.5% from November 2013. December was estimated at 1.35 million TEU, up 2.7% from the year before. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.
The numbers brought 2014 to a preliminary total of 17.2 million TEU, an increase of 6% over 2013’s 16.2 million. Imports in 2012 totaled 15.8 million. January is forecast at 1.39 million TEU, up 1.1% from January 2014, February at 1.3 million TEU, up 4.8% from last year; March also at 1.3 million TEU, down 0.5%; April at 1.43 million TEU, the same as last year; and May at 1.49 million TEU, up 0.6%.
“2014 started out with a whimper as winter weather hammered the country but it appears to have ended with a bang,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “Import volumes on the West Coast, despite all the problems there, were the highest since 2009. A similar picture exists on the East Coast, which had even healthier results.”
Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.
Starbucks No. 2 exec, COO Troy Alstead, to take extended leave
Seattle – In a surprising move, the second in command at Starbucks Corp., COO Troy Alstead, 51, is taking an extended, unpaid leave of absence from the company starting March 1. Alstead, a 23-year Starbucks veteran, is responsible for day-to-day operations of the coffee giant, a position he was appointed to in January 2014. He is widely viewed as a potential successor to CEO Howard Schultz.
Alstead joined Starbucks in 1992. He served for many years as the company’s CFO. Previous roles included leading the operations and development of Starbucks’ international business and its Europe, Middle East and Africa business unit.
Starbucks said it will provide more details about a transition plan during its quarterly earnings call scheduled for Jan. 22. In a latter to employees, Alstead said he was taking time off to give his family “dedicated time and attention.” All Starbucks employees are entitled to a yearlong leave of absence after 10 years of employment.
According to various reports, Alstead previously requested a leave of absence in 2008 but was persuaded not to take it by chairman Howard Schultz.
“Looking back on the 23 years we spent together side-by-side as Starbucks colleagues, I can recall so many memorable moments and accomplishments in which Troy can take pride in a job well done,” said Starbucks chairman, president and CEO Howard Schultz. “Troy is a beloved Starbucks partner and has played an invaluable role in our growth as an enterprise and in the development of our culture as a performance-driven company balanced with humanity, which is unique for our industry. Troy’s humanity and humility will be missed and we wish him the best.”
Alstead’s leave comes at an important juncture for the company. A little more than a month ago, Starbucks announced an ambitious five-year plan that includes the expansion of new store formats, mobile payment initiatives and doubling sales from its food business.
Gordon Bros. and Hilco to close all Deb Shops
Boston — Gordon Brothers Group and Hilco Merchant Resources will begin going-out-of-business sales at all 287 Deb Shops retail locations nationwide beginning Jan. 9. Deb Shops, a Philadelphia-based women’s fashion discount retailer, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Dec. 4, 2014.
On Jan. 7, 2015, Gordon Brothers Group and Hilco Merchant Resources were awarded the store closing process for all locations by the bankruptcy court. Store closing sales will begin on Jan. 9 and will involve discounts of 30%-50% apparel items. Store furniture, fixtures, and equipment will also be for sale.
Gordon Brothers Group and Hilco Merchant Resources will oversee the going-out-of-business sales on behalf of Deb Shops in all locations. Store locations will remain open until all merchandise has been sold. Deb Shops gift cards will be honored through March 8.