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Progressive AE and Design Plus announce merger

BY Marianne Wilson

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Progressive AE and Design Plus, both of which are based in Grand Raids, Mich., announced they have merged to create one of the area’s largest full-service design firms specializing in architecture, engineering and interior design. Financial details of the merger were not disclosed.

The combined company, which will be headquartered in Progressive AE’s office in Grand Rapids, will retain the Progressive AE name. It will be led by Progressive AE’s president and CEO Bradley Thomas, with a bolstered leadership team that will include senior members of the Design Plus team.

The combined entity brings together two respected companies with nearly 85 years of experience, more than 150 full-time professionals and annual revenues of more than $25 million.

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Retail container imports to increase 8.5% in September; strong holiday numbers expected

BY Marianne Wilson

Washington, D.C. — Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 8.5% in September compared with the same month last year, and strong increases are expected into the holiday season despite talk of a possible strike at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Retailers are bringing in more merchandise for the holiday season this year,” said NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold. “The question at some ports is whether longshoremen will be on the docks to unload. Regardless of what happens with contract talks, retailers have contingency plans in place to ensure that merchandise reaches store shelves in time and that there is no disruption for shoppers.”


Talks between the International Longshoremen’s Association and United States Maritime Alliance broke down in August, and at least one major ILA local has authorized a strike if a new contract for East Coast and Gulf Coast ports isn’t agreed on by the time the current pact expires September 30. Labor and management have agreed to meet again next week under the supervision of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Retailers are considering a variety of contingency plans, including diverting cargo to West Coast ports, which are represented by a separate union and not affected.



Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said shipping patterns are being affected by the possibility of a strike.

“Importers anticipating a strike placed orders early to ensure that their goods would arrive in time, and are most likely also switching deliveries for the East Coast to the West Coast instead,” Hackett said. “As a consequence, August appears to have been a relatively good month, and September will also be above the norm. The West Coast will benefit at least through October as cargo is diverted.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.41 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in July, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 2.2% from June and 2.5% from July 2011. One TEU is one 20-ft. cargo container or its equivalent.

August was estimated at 1.43 million TEU, up 4.4% from last year. September is forecast at 1.49 million TEU, up 8.5%; October at 1.48 million TEU, up 11.7%; November at 1.32 million TEU, up 1.9%; and December at 1.25 million TEU, up 2.7%.

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Shopko expands offering of private brand consumables

BY CSA STAFF

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Shopko has expanded its line of private brand consumable products with the introduction of approximately 70 new items. The new products are available in stores now and include primarily health and beauty products and cleaning products.

“We know that our customers are looking for quality and value, and Shopko brand products consistently deliver on both fronts. We test all of our products against the national brand equivalent to assure that our product quality meets or exceeds that of the national brand,” said Tom Abbott, Shopko SVP product development/general merchandise manager, consumables. “Our research has found that Shopko brand products are as good as or better than the national brands, but at a fraction of the price, which is a welcome benefit to our customers in this economy. Customers appreciate that they are getting the high quality products they desire, while enjoying the savings that our private brand offers.”

Shopko intends to continue to expand its private brand line with the next wave of new products arriving in spring of 2013. At that time more than 175 new items will be introduced in a number of existing categories, including skin care, sun care, hair care, laundry detergent, cleaning, vitamins, oral care, incontinence, diapers and shave.

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