Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ

Date : 04/24/2018 @ 6:54AM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Union Pacific Corp. (UNP)
Quote : 145.06  -0.6 (-0.41%) @ 4:12PM

Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ

Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP)
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By Paul Page 

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Two of the big U.S. freight railroads are putting more money behind their recruiting efforts.BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Corp. are offering signing bonuses of up to $25,000 to prospective workers, highlighting how strong shipping demand and a tight labor market are triggering wage pressures at freight operators. The "hiring incentives" vary by location and job, the WSJ's Paul Ziobro reports, and analysts and union leaders say the bonuses are the highest they can recall. BNSF says the railroad is facing a talent shortage across its system and is extending the offer to diesel mechanics, electricians and conductor trainees. Those can be demanding jobs, with irregular schedules, long hours and frequent nights away from home -- a tough sell with the national unemployment rate at 4.1%, and as low as 2.8% in some markets where railroads are hiring.

A new bid aims to rescue Sears Holdings Corp. by turning some of its signature business lines into suppliers for the rest of the retail world. Under a new plan, Sears Chief Executive Edward Lampert would buy the Sears Parts Direct and home-improvement segments through his hedge fund and would submit a proposal to buy the Kenmore appliance operation. The moves are meant to inject cash into the business and stave off bankruptcy, the WSJ's Suzanne Kapner and Allison Prang report, but they would also carve up of the business and give shoppers less reason to buy directly from the retailer. Sears suppliers have grown increasingly concerned about the company, forcing Sears to pay cash upfront for many goods. Sears remains a top appliance seller, but so far it looks like no one other than Mr. Lampert wants to buy the whole Kenmore line.

The retail industry's woes are weighing heavily on toy suppliers. Hasbro Inc. blamed a 16% decline in first-quarter sales on the liquidation of Toys "R" Us Inc., and that has the company speeding up its drive to take more control of its business online. The WSJ's Paul Ziobro reports Hasbro is laying off executives in commercial operations and bringing in people with more expertise in e-commerce. Hasbro already was viewed as a leader in adapting to the new marketplace, and it looks like the company sees bigger changes coming even as other retailers press for more of the Transformers and My Little Pony dolls that Hasbro distributes. Hasbro says some retailers are considering expanding their toy sections to help fill the Toys "R" Us gap. But Hasbro's moves suggest the company isn't willing to wait for those companies to decide.

LOGISTICS TECHNOLOGY

Some of the world's heavyweight technology investors are getting behind freight load-matching technology in China. Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. and Alphabet Inc.'s Capital G late-stage venture fund are among investors plowing close to $2 billion into the Chinese truck-hailing company Manbang Group. The WSJ's Julie Steinberg and Liza Lin write that Manbang, also known as Full Truck Alliance, runs a mobile app platform that matches truck drivers with shippers looking to transport cargo. Previous backers have included internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and a private-equity firm co-founded by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma. The backing highlights the big interest in China's growing logistics industry, where a highly fragmented trucking business makes load-matching services especially valuable. And the international reach of the investor list raises the potential for the company's technology to reach well beyond China.

QUOTABLE

IN OTHER NEWS

XPO Logistics Inc. hired a former Amazon executive Kenneth Wagers as its chief operating officer. (WSJ)

A measure of U.S. economic growth declined from February to March as growth in production and job-related indicators slowed. (WSJ)

U.S. sales of previously-owned homes ticked up in March from a month earlier but remained below year-ago levels. (WSJ)

Wholesale transactions in Canada unexpectedly dropped in February on weakness in the auto sector. (WSJ)

Aluminum prices dove after the U.S. extended a deadline for investors to exit dealings with Russian aluminum giant Rusal. (WSJ)

Global private-equity firms and sovereign wealth funds are pouring record investment into Vietnam. (WSJ)

China's Didi Chuxing Technology Co. is launching its ride-hailing service in Mexico. (WSJ)

Japan's manufacturing sector expanded in April after three straight monthly declines. (Manufacturing Global)

China's coal imports have tumbled since Beijing barred some ports from taking in the energy shipments. (Reuters)

Target Corp. is halting sale of Hunter boots because of production and quality problems with the supplier. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Unions at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. are urging members to reject a contract offer. (Financial Post)

Ship broker Clarksons issued a profit warning, amid weak sale and purchase activity and low tanker rates. (Lloyd's List)

Profits at Japan's three big container shipping lines are forecast to rebound sharply this year. (Nikkei Asian Review)

The Alabama State Port Authority and AutoMobile International Terminal will develop a car facility at the Port of Mobile. (Container Management)

Scorpio Bulkers Inc. cut its first-quarter net loss to $5.8 million from $34.6 million a year ago. (Shipping Watch)

ABOUT US

Paul Page is deputy editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow him at @PaulPage, and follow the entire WSJ Logistics Report team: @brianjbaskin , @jensmithWSJ and @EEPhillips_WSJ. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

Write to Paul Page at paul.page@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 24, 2018 06:39 ET (10:39 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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