Day: July 18, 2016

Taco Bell fires cashier who refused to serve deputies; protestors target KFC over South China Sea ruling; and Papa John’s is going to pot in Amsterdam

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 9:01 p.m.

TACO BELL fired an unidentified cashier at a restaurant in Phenix City, Ala., who refused to serve two uniformed deputies Saturday after another customer complained about the officers being there. A company spokesperson said the fast food chain had also apologized to the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. The firing came after a woman whose husband worked with the two men complained on Facebook about how the two officers were treated. Since Tammy Bush Mayo first wrote about the incident, her Facebook post has been shared more than 1,200 times (KTVI).

KFC: Dozens of people gathered in front of a KFC in northern China over the weekend, turning the restaurant into the latest victim of a wave of nationalism after an international tribunal ruling on the South China Sea. They carried long red banners with slogans that read: “Boycott US, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, love the Chinese nation,” and, “You are eating KFC from the US, and losing the face of our ­ancestors” (South China Morning Post).

Jack Daniel'sBROWN-FORMAN: Jack Daniel’s supplanted scotch as the U.K.’s favorite whiskey because of a post-recession shift in drinking habits.“There has been an upsurge in the number of people drinking at home, and Jack Daniel’s is a party drink,” says Alwynne Gwilt, who runs the Miss Whisky Blog. scotch, a traditional favorite, “just doesn’t have the same excitement.” The excitement associated with Jack Daniel’s also comes down to its relentless advertising campaigns (Guardian).

AMAZON has received a patent for dr0ne docking stations on street light posts, cellphone towers  and buildings so the flying delivery robots can recharge and download information about an impending thunderstorm or other weather activity. The retailer imagines some stations providing perches for two or more drones, and the stations may be equipped with solar panels, according to the patent granted earlier this month (Silicon Beat).

PAPA JOHN’S has settled a lawsuit seeking class-action status over claims it wrongly charged sales tax on delivery fees in Madison County, Ill. The settlement calls for $165,000 in attorney fees; a $2,000 “case contribution award” to the lead plaintiff, and purchase discounts of between $1 and $3 for qualified customers. According to the agreement, Papa John’s stopped charging sales tax on delivery fees on Oct. 1 (Madison-St. Clair Record).

Amsterdam coffee shopSeparately, the Louisville-based pizza giant opened a store in Amsterdam today, its first in Holland, continuing its expansion in Europe. Papa John’s has more than 320 restaurants in the U.K., four in Spain, and recently opened its first in Northern France. The company is currently looking for potential franchisees in other areas of France, as well as Poland, Czech Republic and Belgium (press release).

The Amsterdam location may well become one of Papa John’s most profitable in the world, given the liberal laws around marijuana use in the city. There are more than 250 “coffee shops” selling marijuana there, leading to millions of annual visitors getting the munchies.

Ford shuffles top execs in Europe and South America, adds CFO to new mobility unit; Humana-Aetna said ready to shed 350,000 members to win DOJ antitrust clearance

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 2:12 p.m.

Neil Schloss
Schloss

FORD today shifted senior leadership in Europe and South America, and promoted an executive to the nascent Ford Smart Mobility LLC subsidiary. The changes come as the European market has been further challenged by Britain’s decision this month to leave the E.U., at a time when the economy is already threatened by a possible recession.

Neil Schloss, 57, was named CFO at the mobility unit, in addition to his current position as Ford vice president and treasurer.

Barb Samardzich
Samardzich

The leadership changes started with the retirement of one of the automaker’s more senior female executives, Barb Samardzich, 57, vice president and COO of Ford of Europe, effective Oct. 1. The company said her retirement is voluntary.

Her retirement spurred a cascade of other changes:

Samardzich, during her 26-year Ford career, was responsible for the design, engineering and development of several key Ford and Lincoln vehicles, including the 2005 model Mustang.

Ford announced the mobility subsidiary in March amid growing competition with other automakers and Silicon Valley in development of driverless cars and other technology innovations that are challenging Detroit’s primacy in the auto world. Underscoring its importance, Ford said Jim Hackett, former Steelcase vice chairman and CEO, was leaving the company’s board of directors to chair the new subsidiary.

Separately today, Ford also highlighted the towing capacity of its 2017 F-Series Super Duty trucks, starting with high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy and high-strength steel that helps cut weight by up to 350 pounds.

The F-450 Super Duty SuperCrew 4×4 now features a maximum gooseneck tow rating of 32,500 lbs., 1,290 lbs. more than its nearest competitor, a regular cab two-door pickup. Maximum fifth-wheel towing has been boosted to 27,500 lbs., 2,500 lbs. better than the nearest competitor (press release). In Louisville, the Kentucky Truck Plant employs about 5,100 workers, producing F-250 and F-550 Super Duty pickups, plus Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators.

HUMANA and proposed acquirer Aetna have reportedly offered to divest regional plans covering roughly 350,000 members, and have received bids from smaller Medicare rivals WellCare Health and Centene, as the two insurance giants scramble to win Department of Justice approval for their $37 billion tie-up.

Analysts say the DOJ’s antitrust unit may not see the sales alone as enough to maintain competition. “The question is not can you find a buyer for the plans,” said FBR Capital Markets analyst Steven Harper, “but will the government approve the buyer?” (CNBC).

The 350,000 members Humana and Aetna are reportedly willing to shed are a tiny fraction of the 60 million members the two would have if their deal went through. But its prospects grew more uncertain when word leaked July 7 that the DOJ had called in executives at both companies to explain why it wouldn’t be anticompetitive.

Humana, started in Louisville in 1961, has more than 21.3 million members and does business in all 50 states. It has approximately 50,000 employees, including about 12,500 in Louisville. Last year’s revenues were $54 billion.

UPS said it announce second-quarter results July 29 at about 7:45 a.m. ET, followed by a conference call at 8:30 with CEO David Abney, CFO Richard Peretz and Wall Street analysts. The call will be open to the public on a listen-only basis, via a live webcast (press release).

Fresh ThymeIn other news, a Fresh Thyme Farmers Market — the city’s second — will be an anchor tenant in the planned Bardstown Pavilion commercial center in Fern Creek, a $35 million-$40 million project under review by metro planners (Courier-Journal). Fresh Thyme opened its first store in April on Shelbyville Road in St. Matthews in a former Liquor Barn store. The Fern Creek outlet would be one of 60 stores the Chicago-based chain plans by 2019.

In NuLu, construction on the proposed $37 million AC Hotel at the corner of Shelby and Market streets could start in October or November of this year (Insider Louisville).

Shooting in Colo. Taco Bell lot leaves one man dead; in Montana, man arrested for threatening Papa John’s delivery man with gun

The latest crime news across the world of 48,000 restaurants*. Updated 8:19 p.m.

Crime scene tapeColorado Springs police are investigating a shooting in a Taco Bell parking lot yesterday afternoon that left one person dead. Initial reports said the incident might have been the result of road rage, but witnesses were still being interviewed by police.

The two parties were in the parking lot of the Taco Bell, one inside of a vehicle and the other outside. The victim outside of the vehicle was shot and later pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital Central, according to The Denver Post.

Papa John’s

In Montana, a 35-year-old Bozeman man with a previous conviction of assault on a peace officer was arrested after holding a pistol to the head of a Papa John’s delivery driver early yesterday morning.

The man, Nickolas Stephen Jennings, was charged with assault with a weapon, a felony and was being held on $15,000 bond, according to KZBK. Jennings was arrested after the driver reported that a man had held a handgun to his head while he was trying to deliver a pizza to an apartment at approximately 3:39 a.m.

In Penn Hills, Pa., a Papa John’s manager told police two men wearing masks, one of them armed with a gun, demanded money from the safe late Friday night.

But the manager couldn’t open the safe, which was on a timer, and subsequently was struck in the face with the firearm, leaving a 2-inch gash under his left eye, then locked in the freezer, according to Penn Hills police Chief Howard Burton. The suspects also stole the manager’s wallet, cellphone, and credit cards, according to Trib Live.

He was treated by medics at the scene, Burton said.

Pizza Hut

In New Orleans, a gunman made off with about $450 in cash after robbing a Pizza Hut early yesterday.

Two employees were taking out trash shortly after 12:30 a.m. when the man entered the restaurant through the back door. Once inside, he ordered employees to empty the cash register, then left out the back door with $450, police said, according to The Times-Picayune.

* Yum has 43,000 KFCs, Pizza Huts and Taco Bells in nearly 140 countries; Papa John’s has 4,900 in 37 countries, and Texas Roadhouse has 485 restaurants in five countries. With that many locations, crimes inevitably will occur — with potentially serious legal consequences for the companies.