Business Trends

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Pepsi Bottling Group Announces Plan to Acquire Texas Bottler

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 2:48 pm
Pepsi Bottling Group

Pepsi Bottling Group

The Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc. (NYSE:PBG) today announced that it has signed a Letter of Intent to acquire Better Beverages, Ltd., a Pepsi-Cola and Dr Pepper franchised bottler that serves portions of central Texas.

The Hallettsville, TX-based Better Beverages was founded in 1925 by H.J. Campbell. It currently employs approximately 180 people and does business in 20 counties across Texas. Better Beverages operates a production facility in Hallettsville, as well as three satellite warehouses in Wharton, TX, Victoria, TX and Brenham, TX.

“We continue to make investments that will expand our business in ways that both strengthen our ability to meet the needs of our customers and enhance our long-term growth prospects,” said PBG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eric Foss. “The Campbell family and their many talented employees have operated a great company for more than eight decades, and adding it to the PBG family will enable even greater success for the Pepsi enterprise in Texas. We look forward to completing this transaction and welcoming the men and women of Better Beverages into our organization.”

Better Beverages has been under the leadership of the Campbell family since it began. H.J. Campbell’s son, R.J., assumed a leadership role following World War II. Two of R.J. Campbell’s sons, Dale and Alan, took over in 1985 and continue to lead the company today.

The transaction is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2009. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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Theaters Prepare for Newest 3D Movie Nationwide

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2009 at 7:00 pm

NEC Corporation of America, a premier provider of IT, network and identity management solutions, today announced the installation of forty NEC digital cinema projectors in theaters across the US to support the 3D release of DreamWorks Animation SKG’s new film, Monsters vs. Aliens. Working in conjunction with RealD 3D and Dolby 3D systems, these include screens at Marcus Theaters, Clearview Cinemas, National Amusements and Southern Theatres.

“3D continues to be the leading impetus in the shift to digital cinema and NEC’s technology is making what could be a challenging scenario, easier and more manageable,” said Jim Reisteter, general manager, Digital Cinema Division, NEC Corporation of America. “Both our NC2500S and NC1600C projectors are being well received by a large cross section of the exhibitor population and with the installation and servicing support from our master reseller, Strong Technical Services, we are championing the movement toward digital cinema.”

Mark Collins, director of projection technologies for Marcus Theaters added, “We are very pleased in the performance and reliability of the NEC Digital Cinema Projectors that we use for both 3D and 2D exhibition.”

Doug Oines, senior vice president and general manager of Clearview Cinemas says, “Clearview is committed to bringing our customers the ultimate movie going experience utilizing state-of-the-art technology. Our installations of NEC Digital Cinema Projectors help us do that. The quality of the projectors and the after sales service offered made NEC the natural choice for our installations.”

Ron Krueger, COO of Southern Theatres comments, “After a careful evaluation process we at Southern Theatres have decided to use the NEC projectors exclusively in our chain for all our digital installations. The performance and reliability of their product combined with the impressive professionalism of their management team made this a simple choice on our part.”

William Towey, senior vice president of operations for National Amusements said, “We have continued to add more NEC digital cinema projectors in to our theatres and have growing confidence in their reliability and performance.”

The Digital Cinema Division of NEC Corporation of America leverages NEC’s world class expertise in visual display products, IT infrastructure and integration services to develop specialized solutions for the delivery and management of digital content. By combining the expertise of movie-making professionals with the technological innovation of NEC, the Digital Cinema Division delivers all-encompassing digital cinema and in-theatre advertising solutions that meet the requirements of the entertainment industry.

Internet Advertising Revenues Surpass $23 Billion in ’08, Reaching Record High

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm

In a year already struck by high-profile accidents, the aviation industry has repeated its anxiety about safety, in a survey for Ascend, the aerospace specialists.

Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. remain strong, topping $23 billion, according to the 2008 Internet Advertising Revenue Report, released today by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC). Despite a difficult U.S. economy, interactive advertising’s continued growth, albeit at a slower pace, confirms marketers’ increased recognition of the medium’s value in reaching consumers online where they are spending more and more of their time.

  • Full-year 2008 revenues totaled a record $23.4 billion, exceeding 2007’s performance, itself the former record of $21.2 billion, by $2.2 billion or 10.6%. By comparison, a variety of sources indicate weakness in overall advertising spending. The Nielsen Company, for example, reported that U.S. advertising for the full year 2008 was down 2.6% compared to the full year 2007.
  • Fourth-quarter revenues of $6.1 billion mark the first time the interactive advertising industry achieved, and surpassed, $6 billion in a single quarter. The figures represent a $154 million or 2.6% increase from 2007’s fourth quarter, which had revenues of $5.9 billion.
  • This is the fifth consecutive year of record results.

“We are seeing an ongoing secular shift from traditional to online media as marketers recognize that ad dollars invested in interactive media are effective at influencing consumers and delivering measurable results,” said Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the IAB. “In this uncertain economy, where marketers know they need to do more with less, interactive advertising provides the tools for them to build deep, engaging relationships with consumers—the experience marketers gain from this will deliver dividends especially after the economy turns around.”

Search remains the main driver of revenue growth according to the report, showing a 19.8% increase over 2007. Digital video, though still a small overall contributor, more than doubled its revenue with an increase to $734 million from $324 million in 2007, demonstrating how both marketers and consumers are embracing this dynamic platform.

As in 2007, retail, financial services, computing and automotive remained the four largest verticals among Internet advertisers in 2008. Consumer packaged goods, an industry vertical historically slow to embrace interactive advertising, notably increased its share of total Internet ad revenues by 60 percent over 2007. The Internet is now the third largest ad-supported medium, marking its increasing significance to marketers and consumers.

“Though some categories in the fourth quarter slowed or even dipped, reflecting the current economic challenges, the overall performance is up, confirming interactive’s ever-growing importance to the successful marketing mix,” said David Silverman, Partner, Assurance, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

A copy of the full report is available at: http://www.iab.net/AdRevenueReport

Industry Cutbacks Threaten Air Safety

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2009 at 4:54 pm
Photo by sagarenas

Photo by sagarenas

Along with poor financial health, a shortage of experienced personnel, fatigue and tough work practices were considered the greatest dangers to air safety, mirroring concerns expressed in an Ascend survey last year. This year, fears over complacency had significantly increased.

The results come shortly after Captain Chesley Sullenberger’s comments that cost cutting practices, putting pressure on airline staff, are threatening safety. Speaking about his successful landing of US Airways flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson river, he said, “One way of looking at this might be that, for 42 years, I’ve been making regular deposits in this bank of experience: education and training. And on January 15th the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.” Sullenberger is alarmed at practices, which he fears threaten that bank.

Ascend Safety director Paul Hayes agrees with the sentiment. “Industry cutbacks are causing concerns. Aviation personnel are aware that they are working harder for less money, and they link this with increased risks to safety,” he says.

“However, these views need to be balanced with the fact that safety is expected to continue improving over the next five years thanks to better technology and management accountability for safety. It follows that respondents overwhelmingly placed responsibility for continued improvement with management. They feared that inexperience, fatigue and complacency threaten the value of safety improvements.”

Almost 200 aviation insiders from over 40 countries responded to the survey, conducted in March by Ascend.

Ranking safety threats from 1 (least important) to 10 (most important), most insiders rated: a shortage of experienced personnel at +7; airline financial health +7, management experience and culture +8; fatigue/difficult work practices +7; and complacency +6.

“It’s important for aviation management to take these views onboard and respond accordingly, seeking to balance economic challenges with appropriate levels of safety training and sound work practices, says Hayes.”

Observations by respondents supported these views:

“Airline management irresponsibly views safety as an additional cost.”
“Safety is about attitude and accountability.”
“Cost is the problem in all areas.”
“Top down emphasis on safety is what brings it to the fore.”
“Pilots must be trained to immediately to go to manual to avoid secondary impacts.”
For charts on survey results:

http://www.ascendworldwide.com/content/download/SafetyData/AirsafetyData.htm

MySpace Gets Support for Microsoft Platforms

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2009 at 4:20 pm

MySpace, the world’s premier social portal, today announced support for Microsoft Windows Mobile and Microsoft Silverlight. The new MySpace mobile application, available this summer, will run on Windows phones and utilize Silverlight, Microsoft Corp’s free browser plug-in that powers rich Internet application (RIA) experiences, into the MySpace Open Platform.

“We are pleased to bring MySpace users the benefits and flexibility of Microsoft’s platforms,” said Aber Whitcomb, chief technology officer of MySpace. “Our relationship enables app developers to use Silverlight to create engaging MySpace apps and allows Windows Mobile users to have a more personal MySpace experience on their phone.”

Today’s news is in conjunction with the CTIA Wireless 2009 in Las Vegas from April 1-3 and the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco March 31—April 3. MySpace and Microsoft will present a session at the Web 2.0 Expo on Silverlight on the MySpace Open Platform. The 50 minute session will take place on Thursday, April 2nd at 1:30pm PT and will focus on how developers can build Silverlight applications on MySpace using the jointly released Open Source kit for Silverlight.

Windows phones + MySpace

The companies are in close collaboration to offer a MySpace for Windows Mobile application which will be available for download later this summer. The application is fully optimized with a user-friendly interface and will deliver rich content and data to MySpace users on the go. It integrates MySpace’s main social features and functionality with the Windows operating system to provide access to the community in a way that’s familiar to the Windows Mobile user.

“Talking to family, sending pictures and connecting with long-lost friends is important to our customers, and we are giving them the option to do that on the go by teaming up with MySpace,” said Stephanie Ferguson, general manager Business Experiences Team, in the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft Corp. “MySpace is a pioneer in the social networking space, and the MySpace application will be a tremendous asset to the collection of applications you can access on your Windows phone.”

The MySpace application will be available on Windows Mobile 6.1 phones later this summer and then in the fall of 2009 through the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, directly through phones, and the Web. LG will preload the MySpace application on their Windows phones, making it even easier than ever for users to gain real-time access to their global MySpace network. The new Windows phones are expected to be available in the second half of 2009.

Through this relationship, MySpace is further committed to mobile as a central element of the MySpace global business strategy. Today’s news also further solidifies MySpace’s leadership role in the market establishing a unique position for the company in providing applications for all major smart phone device platforms including iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Sidekick, Palm, Nokia, and now Windows Mobile. MySpace has more than 20 million worldwide mobile users.

Silverlight + MySpace

The introduction of Silverlight into the MySpace Open Platform empowers MySpace developers with more freedom and flexibility to design OpenSocial applications using the tools and technology they want. Silverlight and the MySpace Open Platform will enable developers to rapidly create and deliver sophisticated MySpace applications with a custom look and feel through the flexible skinning of controls and data.

Microsoft and MySpace have released an Open Source kit that makes it easy to develop OpenSocial applications using Silverlight that run on the MySpace Open Platform. To learn about this kit and how designers and developers can use it to create interactive, engaging apps on MySpace, please visit http://www.myspace.com/silverlightonmyspace, and read the blog post about MySpace’s support of Silverlight at developer.myspace.com.

“Microsoft is pleased to work with MySpace to enable developers to create compelling and custom OpenSocial applications using Silverlight,” said Brian Goldfarb, director of the developer platform group at Microsoft. “By utilizing the Open Source kit released by Microsoft and MySpace, developers can now harness the power of the rich media features in Silverlight to take the user experience to a new level for the MySpace community.”

Surviving the Recession – Top 10 Best Performing in 2009

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm

recession-2009-pie-chart1The recession is crippling businesses across the nation, but several industries will remain unscathed by the current economic strife, according to recent Recession Updates published by industry research firm IBISWorld

 As one of the nation’s most respected independent publishers of business intelligence research reports, IBISWorld today announced the top 10 industries expected to have the largest revenue growth in 2009:

INDUSTRY                                                                                           
1.    Voice Over Internet Protocol Providers (VoIP) – 20.1 %
2.    ecommerce & Online Auctions – 12.6 %
3.    Biotechnology   – 10.3 %
4.    Engine, Turbine & Power Transmission Equipment Manufacturing   – 10.0 %
5.    Scheduled Bus Service – 9.2 %      
6.    Court Reporting Services  – 7.7 %
7.    Community Housing Services  –  7.5 %
8.    Search Engines – 6.5 %
9.    Family Counseling – 6.1 %
10.   Video Games – 5.8 %

“Emerging industries remain well represented and continue to benefit from technological innovation and cost advantages,” explained George Van Horn, senior analyst with IBISWorld.  “Unfortunately, the impact of the recession is equally pronounced among sectors directly benefiting from the social and financial stress associated with the downturn.”

 
While only five percent of all U.S. industries are fortunate enough to be positively impacted by the recession, IBISWorld research estimates that nearly 60 percent of all industries are negatively impacted or worse (illustrated in the pie chart above).

Video Games Not Recession Proof With Female Demographic

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2009 at 10:51 pm
Photo by VinnyPrime

Photo by VinnyPrime

Companies like Ubisoft are trying to get a piece of the female demographic with games like Fashion Designer, Movie Star and Babyz, but they may not be putting all their eggs in one basket.

Demand from the female demographic is expected to slow according to industry research firm IBISWorld, and for this reason gaming companies may refocus on their loyal, most important demographic – young male gamers.

Reasons:

• The recession is hurting female spending on games more than male spending. Male gamers are more inclined to consider gaming as a ‘compulsory’ expense than women, for whom it is unequivocally a luxury.

• The popularity of communal games such as Guitar Hero, SingStar and the Wii console’s offerings have been far more popular than strictly female-oriented games.

These factors will all combine to slow growth in female gaming. By 2013, IBISWorld expects female gamers to represent around 41 percent of all gamers.

Is the Recession Boosting Alarm Sales?

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2009 at 12:35 am
Photo by CraigPJ

Photo by CraigPJ

With the economy in trouble, business owners are worried about more than just their bottom lines.  It seems that security is among one of their major concerns.

According to Larson Brewer, the owner of Phoenix-based Suncoast Security, the company’s alarm installations grew from 15 per week in 2008 to 25 per week in 2009.  Suncoast is adding as many as 17 jobs to its staff and has plans to expand to Colorado and Washington to meet the rising demand for security.

“New business is coming from residents and business owners concerned that they will see an increase in break-ins because of the down economy,” explained Brewer.  “Crime is not going down.  In fact, it’s gone up and we expect it to continue to rise.”

What do industry analysts say?

“Security alarm systems are considered a discretionary purchase, therefore revenue is expected to decline 2.3 percent in 2009,” explained George Van Horn, senior analyst with industry research firm IBISWorld.  “Last year, about 65 percent of alarm systems were purchased from businesses, 20 percent from government centers and 15 percent residential.  An increase in demand may be a reflection of recent budget cuts in local police forces.”

Survival Steps for Retailers in Today’s Economic Environment

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2009 at 5:16 pm

In order to help retail companies manage through the downturn, retail advisory firm Karabus Management, a subsidiary of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) Canada, today announced critical next steps retailers should take in order to meet the demands of this challenging economic environment.  Recommended “next steps” for survival include:

Take costs even lower – Align costs with lower demand by establishing targets for reduction that total at least 10% – 15% of total cost infrastructure expenditure. Use approaches that ensure sustainability of a company’s ability once they emerge from this tough macro economic climate.

There are three approaches retailers should consider:

   

1.

 

Reduce costs with a bottom up view. Cost optimization can not be a reactive one-off initiative. Operational excellence demands a bottom-up analysis of every cost in every area with no exceptions or sacred cows. This is an ideal time to re-assess real estate strategies and store portfolio profitability and then develop a strategy for renegotiating leases.

         
   

2.

 

Eliminate all discretionary spend. In the key areas of marketing/advertising, travel, utilities, store wages and other areas, retailers should conduct a rigorous review of spend that is least tied to short term sales.

         
   

3.

 

Consider firm-wide pay reductions for staff at certain compensation levels. Significant savings can be realized without people losing their jobs. This is a good short term move without losing sustainability of operations.

Reduce inventory strategically and improve gross margin return on inventory investment simultaneously:

   

1.

 

Eliminate fringe businesses and merchandise items – Tough economic times require a definitive merchandising point of view. Retailers need to truly focus on their differentiation in a way that will drive traffic and sales. Further, they should explore and implement creative solutions with vendors to reduce their cost structure. Focusing on the most profitable areas of merchandise is probably more beneficial than wholesale cuts across the board.

         
   

2.

 

Manage Open-to-Buy (OTB) flexibly – Re-engineering the merchandise planning and OTB process to move a greater percentage of purchases closer to or even in season will help retailers manage risk. There are significant opportunities throughout the supply chain, which should afford retailers much greater flexibility in purchasing activities.

         
   

3.

Impose greater markdown disciplines – While capital is tight, this is the time to apply science to markdowns to better manage inventory and margin risk. Markdown optimization technology, supported by changes to processes, provides Merchants with more accurate, timely and granular information about consumer demand. Retailers that are using this technology – and are changing age-old merchandising practices, further defining roles and skills and creating accountabilities – are getting impressive results.

Retailers Get Rotten Eggs this Easter

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2009 at 4:37 pm

 

Photo by polska1

Photo by polska1

The Easter Bunny will have less in its basket this year as holiday expenditure is expected to decline eight percent, according to industry research firm IBISWorld. Total sales from Easter clothing, candy, flowers, decorations, food and greeting cards are expected to fall from $14.8 billion in 2008 to $13.6 in 2009.

Holiday gift giving will take a hit because many households are continuing to tighten purse strings due to the financial climate. Candy sales in particular are estimated to reach only $1.77 billion, down by 10.2 percent from Easter 2008. Interestingly, the forecast for candy sales could have been much worse had it not been for the holiday’s calendar date.

“Easter falls on April 12, compared to March 23 of last year, so candy producers and marketers have 20 additional days to merchandise their products and entice the public to spend,” explained George Van Horn, senior analyst with IBISWorld.  “This will cushion some of the inevitable blow on spending.”

Businesses still expected to perform well this Easter are supermarkets. This industry will experience a 3.5 percent rise in food sales as families prepare their holiday meals at home, rather than dining out. Though these meals will be on a budget, the nation will spend about $4.6 billion on food this Easter.