Economy Briefs: Best Buy to cut costs, close some big-box stores

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MINNESOTA

Best Buy to cut costs, close some big-box stores

MINNEAPOLIS Best Buy Co. said it plans to close 50 big-box stores and open 100 small mobile locations in the U.S. in fiscal 2013 and cut $800 million in costs by fiscal 2015. The news came Thursday as the biggest U.S. specialty electronics retailer posted a fiscal fourth-quarter loss partly because of restructuring charges, but its adjusted results topped Wall Street’s expectations.

Best Buy’s strategy of focusing on closing some of its hulking stores to concentrate on smaller Best Buy Mobile outlets illustrates the shifting nature of the electronics industry. Shoppers aren’t flocking to big-box stores as they once did. And sales of TVs, digital cameras and video-game consoles have weakened, while sales of tablet computers, smartphones and e-readers have increased.

Best Buy lost $1.7 billion, or $4.89 per share, for the period ended March 3. That compares with a profit of $651 million, or $1.62 per share, a year ago.

The Minneapolis company said its quarterly results included $2.6 billion in charges. They were mostly related to its purchase of Carphone Warehouse Group PLC’s interest in the Best Buy Mobile profit-sharing agreement and related costs, as well as an impairment charge tied to writing off Best Buy Europe goodwill and restructuring charges.

NEW YORK

Port Authority to cut nonunion benefits

NEW YORK The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey voted Thursday to cut bonuses and other benefits for its nonunion employees in a move expected to save $41 million over 18 months.

“These changes are painful and will represent pay cuts for many Port Authority employees,” Executive Director Patrick Foye told the authority’s board of commissioners. But Mr. Foye said Port Authority staffers still earn more than many other government employees.

A recent audit ordered by the governors of New York and New Jersey criticized the agency’s organization and called its management “dysfunctional.”

The belt-tightening plan that the audit prompted will require nonunion workers for the first time to contribute to the cost of their health care premiums. More than 2,000 employees would be affected.

Employees at the top of the Port Authority’s pay scale will pay 35 percent of their health insurance premiums.

Employees will lose an average of 5.3 vacation days, with some workers losing as many as 17.

The authority also is eliminating six bonus programs that had added tens of thousands of dollars to workers’ paychecks. Seniority and retention bonuses had enabled some rank-and-file police officers to earn more than $200,000 a year.

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