Tag: Says

Kellogg Says There Is A Criminal Investigation Into Assembly Line Peeing Incident

flic.kr / Via Roadsidepictures

Cereal maker Kellogg said Monday that a criminal investigation has been launched into a video that appears to show a man urinating on a company assembly line.

Kris Charles, a Kellogg spokesperson, said in a statement that the video, which appeared on WorldStarUncut.com on Friday, was recorded at Memphis facility in 2014.

The graphic video shows a man urinating in the factory and then pans to a Kellogg's logo. It appears to be shot by the urinating man himself.

Via worldstaruncut.com

Via worldstaruncut.com

Charles said the products that could have been contaminated “include Rice Krispies Treats, granola clusters used in a couple of products, and a few other puffed rice treats that we no longer make.”

Charles said that “any products that could have been potentially impacted would be very limited and past their expiration dates.”

In a statement posted online, Kellogg North America President Paul Norman described the urination as “a disgusting act of disrespect for you — our consumers — as well as our thousands of employees.” Norman said that Kellogg had contacted the Food and Drug Administration. “We are working closely with the authorities to identify the individual, fire him if he still works at the plant, and prosecute him to the full extent of the law,” Norman said.

The company's stock was down about .5% in early afternoon trading on Monday.

“Food quality is of the utmost importance to Kellogg Company,” Charles said. “We are outraged by this completely unacceptable situation, and we will work closely with authorities to prosecute to the full extent of the law.”

BuzzFeed – Business

Fashion Was Basically Dead Last Year, Urban Outfitters Says

Urban Outfitters / Via Facebook: urbanoutfitters

Urban Outfitters' CEO blamed a tough year in clothing sales on a dearth of fashion trends, saying the industry has finally cycled through all skinny pants have to offer.

“The last major fashion shift was 10 years ago when the skinny bottom returned to popularity,” CEO Richard Hayne said on an earnings call Monday. “Since then we've had all varieties of skinny: low-rise, high-rise, color, black, white, and print. Washed, sanded, sliced, and destroyed. Yoga and active, leggings, jeggings, and stretch.”

“Today, the customer has a closet full of various skinny bottoms and she has many many long tops and sweaters to go over them,” he continued. “Without a fashion need to drive her purchases, the customer can easily defer her apparel spend. Surely a major fashion shift is the cure for the current apparel malaise. I'm not predicting exactly when that change will come but I'm certain it will.”

Urban Outfitters, which also owns Anthropologie and Free People, saw sales increase in the fourth quarter for non-apparel merchandise like home and beauty. That reinforced Hayne's belief that retailers are grappling with a fashion issue, rather than challenges related to the rise of online shopping or increased competition from cheaper destinations.

“Obviously all these categories faced the same headwinds, so why then was apparel the outlier?” Hayne asked. “To me, the answer is simple. Fashion, or more accurately, the lack thereof.”

Urban Outfitters / Via urbanoutfitters.com

Executives at Gap and J.Crew have expressed similar woes in the past year, which has been challenging for apparel sales. It's been a particular slog for retailers that fall between H&M at one end and high-end designer names at the other.

Urban Outfitters reported sales of $ 3.4 billion for the year ended Jan. 31 across its brands, a 4% increase from the previous year. Anthropologie is its biggest brand with $ 1.44 billion in sales, followed by Urban Outfitters with $ 1.39 billion and Free People with just over $ 600 million.

The company has been working to expand its offerings in home, especially at Anthropologie, and acquired a group of Italian restaurants last year, making it less vulnerable to the whims of fashion “newness.”

“We've been with 'big over little' now for the better part of 10 years, and I think it's nearing the end of its life cycle,” Hayne said. “How long it's going to take to get through that cycle, I really can't tell you. I do see an awful lot of signs out there that would suggest to me that cycle has begun and certainly we all here hope it's sooner rather than later.”

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BuzzFeed – Business

Am I A Robot? Because I Have No Idea What This CAPTCHA Says

Warner Bros / Via HBOGO

You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and have to solve a CAPTCHA.

The ubiquitous authentication method is meant to distinguish real live humans from bots trying to overload a form on a website. It is always annoying, but never in my experience has it been genuinely baffling. Until today.

I got eyeglasses to deal with myopia two years and since then I fear that my overall eyesight has only gotten worse. Today at work I had to authenticate myself to send a message to a company when I saw this.

Even though my initial thought was that the image showed “exe11i,” I wasn't at all sure. I asked my coworkers. While they couldn't agree with each other, they all thought I was wrong.

One suggested “xevui, ” while two others put forward “xevnr” and “exvur” respectively. At best, this showed we all had varying degrees of poor vision that was no match for a nasty CAPTCHA, at worst it confirmed that the majority of us were not human.

Instead we are like Rachael in Blade Runner, human-seeming androids who had been able to pass simple tests but end up revealing our artificial natures under closer examination.

We reached no definitive conclusion about the CAPTCHA, but instead were left with a nagging feeling that our apprehension of reality is deficient.

The consensus was it said “xevur” — I entered that and was rejected. A new CAPTCHA appeared, the old one disappeared forever and we'll never know what the right answer was.

For what it's worth, even my attempt at the subsequent image failed.

Finally after a third try, I passed. But that might have just been one machine taking pity on another.

Warner Bros / Via giphy.com

BuzzFeed – Tech

Wet Seal Says It Closed 338 Stores, Laid Off Almost 3,700 Workers

The teen fashion retailer, under fire for giving workers a day’s notice they would lose their jobs, finally issued a statement on the layoffs this morning.

This photo from redditor DevoidSauce, taken Sunday at a Wet Seal in Seattle, has gone viral.

Redditor DevoidSauce / Via i.imgur.com

Wet Seal, which has refused to respond to press inquiries regarding the abrupt closures and layoffs, said in a statement today it closed 338 stores — or 64% of the 528 stores it operated as of Nov. 1, 2014.

Last month, Wet Seal told investors it planned to close just 60 stores by Jan. 31.

The teen fashion retailer also said it terminated 3,695 full- and part-time employees, some of whom received just one day's notice before losing their jobs, and despite weeks of reassurances from the company that stores would not close.

“This was a very difficult decision to make, but after reviewing many other options since I returned to the company in September, our financial condition leaves us no other alternative than to close these stores,” Chief Executive Officer Ed Thomas said in today's statement. “This is an extremely difficult time for the entire Wet Seal team, and we are doing everything we can to protect the interests of all of our stakeholders, including our employees. We acknowledge and sympathize with how hard these recent events have been on our employees, both those staying with the company and especially those who are leaving the company this week.”

Wet Seal said following the closures it will now run 173 stores and its web business.

The struggling chain has been criticized roundly for convincing employees the business was doing fine throughout the month of December, then abruptly firing thousands of employees via a surprise Friday conference call, giving workers a day's notice in many cases.

Former employees told BuzzFeed News that many of them learned of the layoffs from other stores, or from receiving boxes to mail back IT equipment such as cash registers. Higher-ups assured employees that inventory was on its way and that massive sales were typical.

Wet Seal said its severance and “one-time termination” costs will be about $ 700,000. The company has also been criticized for giving its CFO a nearly $ 100,000 raise the day the layoffs were communicated to store managers.

The chain said the closing stores accounted for nearly half of its sales, which are typically in the range of half a billion dollars a year. Wet Seal has been struggling, in recent years, to identify its target customer, fluctuating between selling to middle-schoolers and college students.

Wet Seal Announces Store Closures

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The Wet Seal, Inc. (Nasdaq: WTSL, the “Company”), a leading specialty retailer to young women, today announced that it was closing 338 retail stores effective on or about January 7, 2015. The Company decided to proceed with the store closures after assessing its overall financial condition and the Company's inability to successfully negotiate meaningful concessions from its landlords. The store closures unfortunately resulted in the termination of approximately 3,695 full and part-time employees. The Company estimates that the 338 retail stores which were closed represented approximately 48 percent of its net sales for the nine months ending on November 1, 2014. Following the store closures, the Company expects to operate approximately 173 retail stores and its Internet business.

Ed Thomas, CEO of The Wet Seal, Inc., stated, “This was a very difficult decision to make, but after reviewing many other options since I returned to the Company in September, our financial condition leaves us no other alternative than to close these stores. This is an extremely difficult time for the entire Wet Seal team, and we are doing everything we can to protect the interests of all of our stakeholders, including our employees. We acknowledge and sympathize with how hard these recent events have been on our employees, both those staying with the Company and especially those who are leaving the Company this week.”

In connection with the Store Closures, the Company expects to incur estimated pre-tax charges ranging from an aggregate of $ 5.4 million to $ 6.4 million, including costs associated with inventory write-off, asset impairments and employee terminations. Charges associated with inventory write-off are estimated to range from $ 2.5 million to $ 3.5 million. Charges associated with asset impairments (consisting primarily of write-offs of fixtures, furniture and equipment at the impacted stores) are estimated to be approximately $ 2.2 million. Charges associated with employee severance and other one-time termination costs arising from the Store Closures are estimated to be approximately $ 0.7 million. Such estimates do not include any claims or demands which may be made by the landlords of the impacted stores for unpaid rent or otherwise.

The above charges are estimates and the actual charges may vary materially based on various factors, some of which may be beyond the Company's control. See “Safe Harbor Statement Under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995” below.

About The Wet Seal, Inc.

The Wet Seal, Inc., a pioneer in fast fashion retailing, sells apparel, footwear and accessories designed for teen girls and young women of all sizes through retail stores nationwide, as well as an e-commerce website. After the store closings, the Company expects as of January 9, 2015 to operate a total of 173 stores in 42 states and Puerto Rico and an e-commerce business at www.wetseal.com. For more company information, visit www.wetsealinc.com.

Via ir.wetsealinc.com

LINK: One Day’s Notice: Wet Seal Under Fire For Surprise Layoffs

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BuzzFeed – Business

American Apparel Founder Says He’s Down To His Last $100,000

Ousted CEO Dov Charney told Bloomberg News that he’s been living on the Lower East Side on a friend’s couch. He also plans to “sue everyone,” as per the report. Updated with comment from Standard General.

Bloomberg Television / Via bloomberg.com

American Apparel founder Dov Charney, who was booted from the company last week, says he's down to his last $ 100,000, according to an interview with Bloomberg News.

The ousted executive told Bloomberg reporter Trish Regan that he's living on a friend's couch on New York's Lower East Side, aiming to muster support to take his company private, she said on Bloomberg Television today. Regan was reporting on a conversation she had with Charney last Thursday afternoon which was not televised.

Charney, who pledged 43% of his stake in the company to hedge fund Standard General this summer during an internal investigation, is apparently “very upset” at the firm and has accused them of conspiring with a board member to oust him, she said.

She quoted Charney as saying: “I gave them my entire life's work and they agreed to put me back in, but instead they used this investigation to fire me. They betrayed me. I gave them my heart. My shares. They teamed up with Allan and worked against me.” (Charney was referring to Allan Mayer, former co-chair of the board.)

The hedge fund, in an e-mailed statement, responded to Charney's accusation, saying: “As we have stated previously, our objective is to help American Apparel grow and succeed.”

“We supported the independent, third-party and very thorough investigation into the allegations against Mr. Charney, and respect the board of director's decision to terminate him based on the results of that investigation,” a Standard General spokesperson said in the e-mail. “We believe that American Apparel will benefit from the leadership of its new CEO, Paula Schneider, and we are focused on supporting her and American Apparel going forward.”

“He would like to see this company taken private,” Regan said of Charney. “He's suing everyone, by the way.”

American Apparel fired Charney last Tuesday and named his successor, retail veteran Paula Schneider. Charney was working as a paid consultant for the company during an internal investigation that began in July; he was suspended as CEO and chairman for “alleged misconduct and violations of company policy” in June.

It's unclear how Charney is down to his last $ 100,000, given he was still earning his base CEO salary of around $ 800,000 in the consultant role. He is technically still the company's biggest shareholder.

A group of at least 30 executives wrote a letter to the board hours after Charney's dismissal last week, urging the company to bring him back in some leadership capacity. They wrote that he “makes this thing tick.”

Charney was served with a termination letter in June for a long list of reasons including breaching his fiduciary duty, violating company policy, sexual harassment, and misusing corporate assets, according to the letter, which was obtained by BuzzFeed News. In news reports following his dismissal, Charney proclaimed his innocence and called the board's accusations baseless.


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BuzzFeed – Business

Instagram Says It Has 300 Million People Using It Every Month

In March, it was 200 million people.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Facebook continues to amass a non-trivial portion of the internet across its portfolio of applications — today saying that Instagram, a photo-sharing app it acquired for around $ 1 billion at the time in 2012, has 300 million monthly active users.

Facebook now has either built or bought several apps that have collected hundreds of millions of daily users. It also purchased WhatsApp for what was $ 19 billion at the time, which was last reported to have more than 600 million monthly active users.

Since forcing users to download a separate messenger application, the company said it has 500 million people using Facebook messenger. Most recently, Facebook built a standalone application for Groups, which the company said has more than 700 million people using it every month. Collectively pieced together, Facebook's fiefdom of the internet is rapidly growing beyond a billion users to basically begin reaching saturation point for the overall population of people connected to the internet.

Instagram, increasingly, is justifying its $ 1 billion price tag — with many in the Valley whispering that the price was actually cheap, in retrospect, given the growth and engagement the photo app commands. In addition to the 300 million monthly active users it has disclosed, Instagram has become a popular tool for photographers that are building audiences large enough that allow them to quit their day jobs and focus on that. That drives a virtuous growth cycle, bringing more users into Instagram and encouraging those users to create high-quality photos.

“It's a significant increase,” Rob Fishman, co-founder of Niche, a service that connects popular Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine users to potential brands for advertising campaigns, told BuzzFeed News. “Especially for advertisers, who are looking beyond traditional display (last week, Google admitted 56% of all display ads are never seen by a human!). Instagram's fast-growing user base has always been hyper-engaged, and now there's scale there too.”

Instagram is also rolling out verified badges for public officials and brands, and is going to crack down on spam and fake accounts, the company said.

Instagram has also attracted developers who are interested in building services and products that tie in with the photo-sharing app — something that, initially, helped drive a lot of adoption of Facebook. Here's a snapshot of several services featured on ProductHunt, which aggregates new products that the community can rank by voting:


And with that usage comes monetization. In the case of Instagram, the company began running sponsored ads last year. In the span of a few short years, Facebook has built a mobile advertising business that generated more than $ 2 billion, according to the company's most recent earnings report, as a result of its growing News Feed and mobile app ads.

“As more people join, keeping Instagram authentic is critical — a place where real people share real moments,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said as part of the announcement.

That means that Instagram, too, has become another application in Facebook's portfolio that has surpassed Twitter in terms of usage. The company said it had 284 million monthly active users as part of its most-recent earnings report, with 80% of those users coming from mobile devices. Twitter, with that user base, has gone on to build an advertising business that's expected to pass $ 1 billion in revenue annually.

“Instagram's ad business is still very new and has a lot of growing up to do,” eMarketer principle analyst Debra Williamson said. “For example, its targeting capabilities are still very limited, but the company's new authentication initiatives send a message to the ad community that their followers will be real entities and that the impressions they receive will not be fakes or bots.”

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BuzzFeed – Business

Aéropostale CEO Says Teens In Its Clothes Will “Not Be Teased Or Made Fun Of”

The struggling teen brand’s CEO laid out his thoughts on how to rehabilitate the company yesterday, saying Aeropostale is the uniform teens wear to feel cool.

Aeropostale / Via Facebook: Aeropostale

Aeropostale is a brand that teens can wear without fear of being mocked.

At least that's what recently returned Chief Executive Officer Julian Geiger, who laid out his plans for rehabilitating the struggling teen retailer on a conference call with analysts and investors yesterday, thinks.

“The teenager today wants to fit in,” Geiger said. “They want to fit in by wearing things that make them feel safe. If there's a brand promise to Aéropostale, it's that the teenager can wear our clothes, go to school and not be teased or made fun of [for] the way they look.”

Aéropostale brought Geiger, whose last management gig was as CEO of Crumbs Bake Shop, back to the company in August. (Crumbs filed for bankruptcy in July.) The company needs some serious work — sales have been plummeting every quarter, and at least one analyst is questioning whether Aéropostale will ever turn a profit again. Like Abercrombie, American Eagle, and many other mall retailers, the company is having a hard time battling fast-fashion behemoths like H&M and Forever 21, the decline of logo apparel and the competition posed by tech while teen wallets are thin.

Geiger explained yesterday that he thought Aéropostale had been “overly influenced by the lure of fast fashion” and must balance on-trend offerings with basics, which are “the foundation of every teenager's uniform as well as the fulcrum of our profitability.”

“I still believe that while they strive for individuality in many ways, at 14 years to 17 years old, they still want to be accepted by their friends and peers and that there is still a uniform that they wear that makes them cool and fit in,” he said of teens. “I think that our mandate is to be that store that best juggles this dichotomy.”

Aeropostale / Via aeropostale.com

BuzzFeed – Business