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Business news briefs — Sept. 16

LOCAL BUSINESS

Historic designations

Akron City Council approved historic designations Monday for two downtown properties.

Council signed off on historic designations for the Canal Place properties at 520, 530 and 540 S. Main St., which are former B.F. Goodrich buildings, and for 237-243 Furnace St., which is being converted into the new headquarters for a marketing and advertising firm called WhiteSpace Creative.

The Furnace Street buildings date to 1893 and formerly included the Akron Soap Co., Pioneer Cereal Co. and Pockrandt Paint Co.

The owners of both sets of properties are hoping the historic designations will help them to secure state tax credits for refurbishment efforts.

RETAIL

Turkey help line to hire men

This year if you call Butterball’s Turkey Talk Line for some turkey advice, you might get a male voice on the line. For the first time, Butterball is enlisting the help of men as well as women for its Turkey Talk cooking-advice line during the holidays. And the turkey seller is seeking the first male talk-line spokesman this year as well. The talk line has long offered advice to people cooking turkeys over the holiday season. Butterball will offer an application for men to apply on its Facebook page. Most operators have a background in food or nutrition and have culinary degrees or are dietitians, food stylists or scientists.

Changes at J.C. Penney

Vornado Realty Trust Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steven Roth resigned from J.C. Penney Co.’s board as his firm plans to sell its stake, ending a costly three-year attempt to remake the department-store chain.

The real estate investment trust plans to exit its J.C. Penney holding in the “not-too-distant future,” Vornado said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Vornado owns about 6.1 percent, according to the filing. That makes it the retailer’s sixth-largest shareholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The board departure and plan to unload the chain’s stock heralds the end of a saga that saw Roth and fellow investor Bill Ackman acquire large stakes in the retailer in 2010, join the board in 2011 and push for change. Ron Johnson, their choice for chief executive officer, was ousted in April after failing to revamp the retailer. Ackman resigned from the board in August and later sold his stake.

Penney shares have dropped 30 percent in 2013.

Redbox cuts forecast

Outerwall Inc., owner of the Redbox DVD rental machines, cut its forecast for third-quarter and full-year sales and profit, citing more discounting.

Sales this quarter will be $569 million to $589 million, below an earlier prediction of as much as $630 million, the company said. Profit will be 82 cents to 94 cents a share, less than the $1.36 to $1.51 a share seen previously.

Gap to run television ads

Gap Inc., the biggest U.S. specialty-apparel retailer, is running television ads for its namesake brand for the first time in four years as it seeks to build on the chain’s recent turnaround.

The two videos that just made their debut feature musicians performing modern renditions of songs their fathers made famous. In one ad, Alexa Ray Joel sings Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are accompanying herself on the piano. In the other, Dhani Harrison, son of The Beatles’ George Harrison, sings and plays For You Blue on guitar. The spots promote Gap’s “Back to Blue” campaign for the brand’s fall denim selection. Sales at Gap stores open at least a year have gained for six straight quarters, helping propel the shares to the best performance for an apparel company in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Retailing Index this year.

AUTO INDUSTRY

200-mile electric car?

As automakers race to make cheaper electric cars with greater battery range, General Motors is working on one that can go 200 miles per charge at a cost of about $30,000, a top company executive said.

Vice President of Global Product Development Doug Parks wouldn’t say when or if such a car will be built, however. Currently GM sells the $35,000 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, which can go 38 miles on electricity before a gas-powered generator kicks in. It also offers the all-electric Chevy Spark subcompact that can go 82 miles on a charge. It starts at $26,685. Electric cars are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

The 200-mile car would cost about the same as the current Volt, and it would match the range and be far cheaper than Tesla Motors’ $71,000, all-electric Model S. The Model S can go up to 265 miles on a single charge.

Compiled from staff and wire reports



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