business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Bloomberg reports that "GNC Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection with the aim of selling itself and closing stores after its latest effort to manage its debt load unraveled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"The health and wellness company’s Chapter 11 petition filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware allows the retailer to keep operating while it pursues a dual-track process to restructure its balance sheet in a standalone plan or complete a sale, according to a statement."

The story notes that any turnaround "will be complicated by the retail industry’s temporary shutdown of stores to help stop the spread of Covid-19. That has been partially offset by the company’s e-commerce operations, whose sales increased 25% in the first quarter."

•  From USA Today:

"J.C. Penney has revealed the locations of another 13 stores it will close permanently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, including seven in Michigan.

"The department store chain expects to begin liquidation sales at the stores on July 3 after a federal judge signs off.

"The latest round of store closings comes in addition to 136 stores that have already begun going-out-of-business sales. Those locations were the first ones revealed as part of a broader plan to close 242 locations permanently," as the retailer deals with bankruptcy and works to craft a turnaround plan.

•  From the New York Times:

"A Missouri appeals court on Tuesday ordered Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary to pay $2.1 billion in damages to women who blamed their ovarian cancers on the company’s talcum products, including its iconic baby powder.

"The decision slashed by more than half a record award of $4.69 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to the women, which was made in July 2018.

Johnson & Johnson still faces thousands of lawsuits from consumers who claim its talcum products were contaminated with asbestos that caused cancer. The company announced last month that it would stop selling baby powder made from talc in North America, though it would continue to market the product elsewhere in the world.

"A spokeswoman said Johnson & Johnson would seek further review of the ruling by the Supreme Court of Missouri and defended its talcum products as safe."

•  FMI-The Food Industry Association the, International Franchise Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Automatic Merchandising Association, the National Grocers Association, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America have come together to ask Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin to address the national coin shortage.

In a letter, they write, "We were alarmed to hear that the system for distributing coins throughout the country is at the breaking point. The Federal Reserve’s announcement on June 11th that it will have to ration the distribution of coins across the country came as a shock. Some of our member businesses are being told that they cannot get coins from their banks at all. This threatens the functioning of our member businesses and, by extension, the needs of their customers."

The associations are calling for three actions:  "1) the Federal Reserve could distribute more coins from its inventory to ensure that economic activity is not disrupted; 2) the U.S. Mint could increase coin production to meet these needs; and 3) distribution of coins could be prioritized for consumer businesses in the essential critical infrastructure workforce that most need coins to complete cash transactions with individual Americans."