B-F’s still kinda, sorta behind Finlandia; and Yum CEO Creed talks tough on Domino’s: It’s the technology, stupid

A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 4:51 p.m.

FinlandiaBROWN-FORMAN: Amid recent speculation the company is considering selling Finlandia, CEO Paul Varga threw tepid support behind the vodka brand during the fiscal fourth-quarter conference call with Wall Street analysts yesterday; he was responding to an analyst’s question about Finlandia’s being a “drag” on growth.

“Finlandia has been very important to particularly Jack Daniel’s development in Eastern Europe over the last decade,” Varga said, according to Seeking Alpha’s transcript. “It’s just a very difficult time for the vodka segments in those Eastern European countries right now, and we’ve seen this before with categories where they go through some rough times. . . . Right now, we continue to work Finlandia” (Seeking Alpha).

Greg Creed
Creed

PIZZA HUT: Yum CEO Greg Creed, conceding in especially frank language that Domino’s has greater U.S. revenue momentum, says improving ordering technology is critical. “We have to get our technology in shape in order to be as easy to order, pay, and track [as possible],” he told an investor conference Wednesday, “and I think as we build the brand and we get that in shape, we’ll actually build more units and that will give us greater physical access.” Pizza Hut has 8,100 U.S. locations, including its Express format vs. more than 5,200 for Domino’s (The Street).

Technology is key to luring millenials and other young customers. Domino’s newest technology shows the challenge. The company’s biggest franchiser in Australia yesterday said it will start using satellites next week to follow customers as they approach stores to pick up already-placed orders, allowing the company to wait until the last moment to start cooking so orders stay fresh. The fast-food surveillance measure, which starts Monday, comes a decade after Domino’s started letting customers track their own orders. The newest service works with customers who place orders with their GPS-equipped smartphones, and opt in to be tracked. They  can specify whether they’re coming on foot, on bike, or by car (Bloomberg). Other recent Domino’s innovations include the capabilities to order food via emoji, smartwatch, or a “zero-click” mobile app (Eater).

John Schnatter
Schnatter

PAPA JOHN’S CEO John Schnatter promised neighbors in tony Anchorage he would limit his personal helicopter use to six or fewer times a week, and only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.; they had complained about the noise it created (Insider Louisville).

In other news, U.S. stocks accelerated their decline an hour before markets closed, as Wall Street looked ahead to a Federal Reserve meeting, and the U.K.’s so-called Brexit vote due later this month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and other major indices were all down about 1% (Google Finance).

Oscar-winner and Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence will portray Elizabeth Holmes, the 32-year-old disgraced founder of the controversial blood-testing startup Theranos; the new film is still in development. Lawrence, 25, played an entrepreneur last year in Joy, about the inventor of a kitchen mop (Hollywood Reporter). Louisville filmmaker Matthew Fulks has sued singer Beyoncé, claiming a trailer for the Grammy winner’s new Lemonade movie copied elements of his 2014 short film Palinoia (Spin and Vulture).

Watch the trailer, and Fulks’ film:

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