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Archive for Friday, January 31, 2003

Briefcase

January 31, 2003

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Auto dealers seek to simplify incentives

Auto dealers will launch an effort this weekend at the annual convention of the National Automobile Dealers Assn. to convince automakers to simplify the incentives they offer consumers.

About 25,000 auto dealers will be at the convention in San Francisco to talk with representatives from nearly all the major automakers.

Alan Helfman, general manager of River Oaks Chrysler Jeep in Houston, one of the nation's largest Chrysler dealers, said confusion over incentives has cost him thousands of dollars at times because he's had to rectify errors out of his own pocket.

"You've got to have a lawyer and an accountant to understand the programs," said Helfman, pictured above. "And if it's complicated for us, it's got to be for the customer."

Leadership

Sprint announcement may come Wednesday

If a management shake-up is in the works at Sprint Corp., expect the news Wednesday, when the telecommunications giant is scheduled to release its earnings report, analysts said Thursday.

For a second day, the Overland Park-based company was silent on The Wall Street Journal's report that chief executive and chairman William T. Esrey, 63, and president and chief operating officer Ronald T. LeMay, 57, are leaving the company.

The Journal, which cited unnamed sources, also said that Gary Forsee, vice chairman at BellSouth Corp., was expected to take the top job at Sprint.

Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst based in Atlanta, said Sprint's refusal to comment could only lead him to speculate that, "They're leading up to a big management change on Wednesday with their earnings release."

Aviation

Bombardier reviewing Wichita work force

Bombardier Inc.'s aerospace unit told its Wichita employees Thursday that the company was reviewing wages and benefits as part of an effort to cut costs and save jobs.

In addition to employee compensation, the company is also looking at inventory control, supplier management and other expenses, said Dave Franson, spokesman for Bombardier in Wichita.

But Franson said job cuts were "not on the table today." Montreal-based Bombardier, the world's third-largest civil aircraft manufacturer, has 2,200 workers at its Wichita plant.

Topeka

Payless faces lawsuit

Payless, the nation's largest shoe retailer, has been sued by a group charging that it sells damaged goods in mostly black neighborhoods because of its security practice of bolting tags onto shoes to stop shoplifting.

The Los Angeles-based National Association for Cosmetologists said Payless ShoeSource should stop bolting anti-theft devices to shoes sold in minority neighborhoods.

A spokesman for Topeka-based Payless said the company used anti-theft tags in about a third of its 5,000 stores in the United States based on how much merchandise had been lost to shoplifting in the past, but it doesn't limit the practice to minority areas.

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