Archive for December, 2011

Quiznos sub chain pondering bankruptcy filing

The Quiznos  sub sandwich chain, which has multiple locations in metro Atlanta, is still trying to decided whether it will seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection to deal with its massive debt.

The Associated Press reported Friday that the company is still trying to negotiate with creditors, including former company executives, landlords and developers, who are owed $875 million. The chain wants to owe them a lot less and if it doesn’t get deep concessions with all of the creditors – it has deals with three-quarters of them so far – bankruptcy will follow.

The company did not disclose how its restaurants and franchise relationships would be affected if it decides to file for Chapter 11. In May of 2010, the company announced plans to develop up to 600 new locations nationwide by the end of 2010, through corporate-owned and Quiznos-funded joint venture opportunities.

The company has closed about 1,500 locations in recent years, leaving it with about 3,500 as …

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Is that gift under the tree stolen?

Ever wonder how that gift you’re about to open made it under the tree in the first place? Hmmm.

According to an Associated Press report, an estimated $1.8 billion in merchandise will have been shoplifted by the time Christmas Day arrives Sunday, and retailers will lose a total of about $5 billion during the period when you factor in employee and vendor thefts.

Researchers for the National Retail Federation trade group said shoppers, many of whom have been hit hard by a struggling economy that has left them either jobless or sorely underpaid, are stealing everything from necessities to luxuries that are no longer within legitimate reach.

Just blaming the economy, however, is a cop-out since the holiday traditionally is a big lure to shoppers and thieves alike.

More from the AP:

An estimated one in 11 Americans shoplift, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. … About 75 percent of shoplifters are adults — equally men and women — …

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Wanted: Master Legoland builder at Phipps

Are you the best Lego builder in the land? Planners of the new Legoland Discovery Center opening at Phipps Plaza in April may have your dream job.

They have launched a “Brick Factor” competition and are seeking Lego fans who are skilled enough to become “master model builder” at the upcoming center.

The contest takes place at the Marriott Buckhead, 3405 Lenox Road, starting Jan. 7. Top candidates will be invited back for a final audition the following day.

The winner will be offered a full-time job as master model builder, responsible for building and maintaining LEGO models throughout the center and entertaining guests with your skills.

Click this link for the entry form. You must be at least 18 years old as of April 1 and applications must be received by Dec. 30.

Merlin Entertainments, the London-based company that owns the Legoland concept, will build the $12 million, 32,000-square-foot-plus attraction next to the movie theater on the third floor of Phipps …

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Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate drops sharply to 9.2 percent in November

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate fell sharply to 9.2 percent in November from 9.9 percent in October, the state labor department said Thursday.

Although the local figure is not seasonally adjusted, the jobless rate declined substantially from November of last year, when it was 10.3 percent.

The unemployment picture improved because the number of jobs increased by 13,300, the labor department said.

Most of the growth was in private service-related industries, such as trade, transportation, warehousing, professional and business services, education, health care and financial services.

Also, there were fewer layoffs in construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, administrative and support services, and accommodation and food services, the labor department said.

Among metro Atlanta’s core counties, Clayton had the highest unemployment rate at 11.5 percent. Fulton was next with 9.6 percent, followed by DeKalb (9.5), Cobb (8.4) and Gwinnett (8.2).

In the city of Atlanta, the …

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Another Countrywide shoe drops

In July, the Federal Trade Commission announced that 19,529 former Georgia customers of Countrywide Home Loans would share in millions of dollars in refunds that the now-defunct company overcharged.

The charges included hidden escrow and other fees after customers had filed for bankruptcy because they couldn’t pay their mortgages.

Another Countrywide shoe dropped Wednesday when Bank of America, which bought out Countrywide in 2008 and eventually shut it down, agreed to pay $335 million to resolve allegations that its Countrywide unit engaged in a widespread pattern of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers on home loans.

According to a Justice Department complaint, as reported by The Associated Press,

Countrywide charged over 200,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers higher fees and interest rates than non-Hispanic white borrowers with a similar credit profile.

Because of the higher costs for loans, borrowers were at an …

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White Castle considering beer sales

Even if you can’t find them in metro Atlanta, many people are familiar with the White Castle hamburger chain.

The iconic fast food restaurant known for its sliders and fries is considering selling beer and wine.

The 90-year-old chain is already testing alcoholic beverage sales in Lafayette, Ind., where customers can buy a glass of wine for $4.50 or beer for $3. The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch newspaper quotes a spokesman who says customer feedback so far is promising.

White Castles are mainly found in the Midwest and Northeast, although Tennessee also has locations. If you’re not familiar with the chain, you can get a pretty good idea what a White Castle burger looks like if you drop in on a local Krystal restaurant.

Is White Castle on to something? Now that many areas around Atlanta have approved Sunday alcoholic beverage sales, are sales at fast food restaurants next in line? “Order up!”

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Adult kids saving more than baby boomers

Many parents regularly encourage their children to put a portion of their money aside for a rainy day and for their golden years, but it’s the parents who aren’t heeding their own advice, a new survey finds.

Baby boomers’ children in the 30s and above appear to be saving more on a regular basis than their parents who are now reaching retirement age.

A TD Ameritrade survey, as reported by Reuters, found that only 23 percent of boomers questioned said they were completely confident they will reach their savings goals by the time they hit age 65. Almost half of boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, said they were somewhat confident. Boomers are reaching retirement age at a rate of around 10,000 a day.

But while 85 percent of boomers have retirement accounts – an IRA or a 401k or 403b retirement plan, – only 16 percent fund them regularly if they have both. By contrast, a quarter of “Gen Y” children — born between 1977 and 1989 — said they were funding both …

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‘Rudy’ movie hero fined in investment scheme

The inspiration behind the 1993 hit movie “Rudy” has agreed to pay back nearly $400,000 of $11 million securities regulators say he and others received in illicit profits from an investment scheme, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, who founded and ran the Rudy Nutrition sports drink company before it fizzled, was considered a key player in the investment scheme, the Securities and Exchange Commission said. He and 12 accomplices were accused of inflating the company’s  penny stock price so they could profit from the run-up.

The movie, considered one of the top inspirational sports movies ever produced, focused on the life of Ruettiger, whose dream of playing football for the University of Notre Dame became a reality despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

But unlike the end of the movie, in which the Fighting Irish beat Georgia Tech in the re-created 1975 game and Rudy is carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates, …

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Newest BlackBerry being delayed

Is this the beginning of the death knell for the BlackBerry?

Research in Motion, the company behind the smartphone, was taking a beating Friday on Wall Street in the wake of announcing a delay in the introduction of its next generation BlackBerry until the latter part of 2012.

According to one analyst, “This could be game over for the BlackBerry franchise,” Reuters reported.

When it does reach store shelves, the BlackBerry 10 will feature the QNX operating system. It was expected to be introduced in the first quarter of 2012, but the new smartphone relies on a chip that won’t be available until mid-2012, the Canadian company said. That will push phone shipments to later in the year.

The delay comes as BlackBerry’s chief competitors, Apple, Amazon and Google, continue to grab market share in the smartphone and tablet arena.

RIM has been beset with problems in recent months. Several weeks ago it said it had to write off much of its deeply-discounted PlayBook …

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Amazon selling over 1M Kindles a week has been selling more than 1 million Kindle tablets a week, the company bragged Thursday. It’s the first time Amazon has disclosed Kindle sales figures since the tablet’s debut in 2007

Amazon, however, isn’t breaking down the sales, according to a Reuters report. The figure, for the last three weeks,  includes Amazon’s newest tablet, the $199 Kindle Fire,  which has been catching heat over its performance, and all versions of Kindle e-reader, the cheapest of which is $79.

As Reuters notes about Amazon’s revelation:

The disclosure comes after a spate of negative reviews of the Kindle Fire that focused on issues such as slow response from the user interface and Web browser, the need for more privacy and child settings, and the lack of external volume control.

Amazon is planning a software update in the coming weeks to deal with some of the Kindle Fire fallout.

By comparison, Apple says it sold 11 million iPads last quarter and has sold nearly 40 million …

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