Payless ShoeSource to shutter all of its remaining U.S. stores

NEW YORK — Payless ShoeSource is shuttering all of its 2,100 remaining stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, joining a list of iconic names like Toys R Us and Bon-Ton that have closed down in the last year.

The Topeka, Kansas-based chain said Friday it will hold liquidation sales starting Sunday and wind down its e-commerce operations. All of the stores will remain open until at least the end of March and the majority will remain open until May.

The debt-burdened chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2017, closing hundreds of stores as part of its reorganization.

At the time, it had over 4,400 stores in more than 30 countries. It remerged from restructuring four months later with about 3,500 stores and eliminated more than $435 million in debt.

The company said in an email that the liquidation doesn’t affect its franchise operations or its Latin American stores, which remain open for business as usual. It lists 18,000 employees worldwide.

Shoppers are increasingly shifting their buying online or heading to discount stores like T.J. Maxx to grab deals on name-brand shoes. That shift has hurt traditional retailers, even low-price outlets like Payless. Heavy debt loads have also handcuffed retailers, leaving them less flexible to invest in their businesses.

But bankruptcies and store closures will continue through 2019 so there’s “no light at the end of the tunnel,” according to a report by Coresight Research.

Before this announcement, there have been 2,187 U.S. store closing announcements this year, with Gymboree and Ascena Retail, the parent of Lane Bryant and other brands, accounting for more than half the total, according to the research firm. This year’s total is up 23 percent from the 1,776 announcements a year ago. Year-to-date, retailers have announced 1,411 store openings, offsetting 65 percent of store closures, it said.

Payless was founded …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Small business brings opportunity to communities, entrepreneur says

SALT LAKE CITY — Starting a business from scratch is a daunting task for most anyone, especially someone with no prior business experience. But for Sarah Calhoun, founder and owner of Montana-based Red Ants Pants, the desire for better fitting, functional work pants was the spark she needed to make the leap into the world of small business and entrepreneurship.

Speaking to an audience of fellow business owners Friday as the keynote address at the Salt Lake Chamber’s Small Business Summit, Calhoun explained how she came into entrepreneurship sort of accidentally, having grown tired of wearing men’s work pants that didn’t fit her female frame. Raised on a farm in rural Connecticut, she was always having to wear heavy-duty pants designed for men to do work around the property. When she decided to get into the apparel business, she found an audience hungry for what her company was making, she said.

Salt Lake Chamber

Sarah Calhoun, founder and owner of Red Ants Pants, speaks with Kimberly Flores, director of public relations and communication for the Salt Lake Chamber, at the Salt Lake City Marriott University Park during the chamber’s Small Business Summit on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. Calhoun was the featured speaker.

“I knew there was a demand for it, and women were just wearing men’s pants and getting by or sewing their own pants or modifying other pants (for their needs),” Calhoun told the audience at the Marriott hotel at the University of Utah. “So I decided to start a company.”

The company name is derived from the notion that in ant colonies women do all the work, she told the audience with a wry smile. The pants are made for women who work at farming, ranching, construction, trades like welding or ironworks, landscaping, or other kinds of outdoor …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Trump says he might extend deadline in US-China talks

BEIJING — President Donald Trump said that “there’s a possibility” he would extend a March 2 deadline in trade talks with China if the two countries are closing in on a deal.

Trump made the remarks after two days of high-level negotiations broke up in Beijing Friday, and the two countries announced plans to resume talks next week in Washington. The world’s two biggest economies are locked in a dispute over China’s aggressive push to challenge American technological dominance.

The U.S. is scheduled to hike import taxes on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on March 2. But Trump told reporters that he might extend the deadline “if I see that we’re close to a deal or the deal is going in the right direction.” He had made similar comments on Tuesday.

Earlier Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Chinese President Xi Jinping negotiators “made headway” in talks this week in Beijing.

Economists said this week’s two days of talks were too brief to resolve the sprawling dispute that extends to cyber-spying and China’s trade surplus. They said Beijing is trying to persuade Trump enough progress is being made to postpone the penalties.

. “I hope you will continue to work hard to promote a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement,” Chinese President Xi Jinping told Lighthizer in a meeting after the negotiations ended, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The decision to hold more talks suggested they were making progress. But there was no indication of movement on the thorniest dispute: U.S. pressure on Beijing to scale back plans for government-led creation of Chinese global leaders in robotics and other technologies.

“We feel we have made headway on very, very important and difficult issues,” Lighthizer told Xi. “We have additional work we have to do but we are hopeful.”

Xi said Beijing and Washington “share broad …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

AP analysis: Steel tariffs waived even with tough trade talk

WASHINGTON — Despite President Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade, his administration has granted hundreds of companies permission to import millions of tons of steel made in China, Japan and other countries without paying the hefty tariff he put in place to protect U.S. manufacturers and jobs, according to an Associated Press analysis.

The waivers from the import tax show how pliable his protectionist policies can be. Trump has positioned himself as an “America First” trade warrior, using tariffs as a club against countries he’s accused of playing unfairly. Although China has been the principal target of Trump’s ire, he also has criticized Japan and American allies in Europe.

Behind the scenes, however, his Commerce Department approved tariff exemption requests from 370 companies for up to 4.1 million tons of foreign steel, with roughly 8 percent of the total coming from China and close to 30 percent from Japan, according to AP’s review of thousands of applications for relief from the import tax on steel. Many recipients of the waivers are subsidiaries of foreign-owned businesses.

Although Trump has sought to rebuild America’s steel industry by curbing imports, tariffs are fraught with economic risk — a message that came through loud and clear in many of the waiver applications. Companies that use steel in their products warned the Commerce Department that the 25 percent tariff could do serious damage to their businesses.

The numbers also provide a window into a steel tariff exemption program that has vexed many applicants as well as lawmakers who’ve questioned the pace, transparency and fairness of the process. The flood of applications overwhelmed the system the department set up nearly a year ago to review them, and more than 38,000 requests still await rulings.

The Commerce Department has received waiver applications from 45 states and Puerto Rico, evidence of the geographic …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News