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19 posts from September 2013


The Container Store to go public

The Container Store, the popular Coppell-based retailer that was bought out by a private equity fund in 2007, on Monday made official long-standing speculation that it intended to go public this year. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the 61-store chain said it intended to use unspecified proceeds from the sale of shares to pay a dividend to its owner. If its initial public offering is oversubscribed, it will use the additional proceeds to repay part of the $361 million outstanding under a secured loan.

Founders Kip Tindell and Garrett Boone founded the store in 1978 in Dallas. In 2007 Leonard Green & Partners acquired the company for an undisclosed price.

According to Container Store’s SEC filing, it had $707 million in sales in its 2013 fiscal year, which ended March 2. It lost $90.5 million that year, breaking even on operations but accruing $90.4 million in preferred dividends. For the six-month period ending Aug. 31, the company lost $688,000 on sales of $343.4 million, its filing showed. It reported a hefty gross profit margin of 58.4 percent for that period. It reported long-term debt of $371 million as of Aug. 31.

-- Jim Fuquay

Baylor, Scott & White complete merger

Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System and Temple-based Scott & White Healthcare said Monday they completed their previously announced merger, creating the state's largest not-for-profit health system. The combined organization, named Baylor Scott & White Health, has 43 hospitals, more than 500 clinics and other care sites, 6,000 affiliated physicians  and 34,000 employees. It has annual revenue of $8.3 billion. Its web site is www.BaylorScottandWhite.com

“Over time, patients in the communities we serve will begin seeing the new brand Baylor Scott & White Health emerge,” said Joel Allison, CEO of the new company. He previously led Baylor.   “We are building a new national model for health care delivery engineered to meet the demands of health care reform, the changing needs of patients and payers and the extraordinary advances in clinical care.” Dr. Robert Pryor, CEO of Scott & White, becomes president, chief operating officer and chief medical officer of Baylor Scott & White Health.

The organizations announced their merger plans in December. In the Tarrant area the new system operates Baylor All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth, Baylor Grapevine., Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington, and Baylor Trophy Club.

-- Jim Fuquay

GameStop to hire 17,000 workers for the holidays

GameStop says it will hire about 17,000 employees nationwide for the holiday season as it prepares for the release of the new PlayStation4 and Xbox One gaming consoles.

The Grapevine-based videogame retailer is currenty recruiting for positions including game advisors, consumer electronic technicians in its refurbishment operation center and warehouse personnel at the  company’s two distribution centers.


The company said its recruiting efforts are underway and will continue into December. Interested applicants should visit the career’s section on GameStop’s website, GameStopCorporate/EmploymentListings, or find the company on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter for a full list of available jobs, descriptions, qualifications and application details.

-- Steve Kaskovich

Texas electric service complaints at lowest since deregulation

Complaints to state regulators about electricity service fell a fourth straight year to the lowest since retail electricity deregulation in Texas in 2002, a new study shows. The analysis, by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, also points out that complaints are still much higher than before deregulation. TCAP has historically been critical of deregulation, but  Randy Moravec, TCAP executive director, said the decline in complaints "comes as good news for Texas consumers, and may suggest that the market has matured since the inception of electric deregulation in 2002."

During the state's 2013 fiscal year, ended Aug. 31, there were 7,129 filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas. That compares to 2,062 in 2001, prior to deregulation, but also about half the peak in 2009, the year after Texas power prices spiked along with natural gas costs and several small electricity providers went out of business, stranding customers in high-cost plans.  "The drop follows a downward trend in Texas electricity prices, and is linked to changes in the commodity price of natural gas — a key fuel for many electricity plants," the study notes. For its analysis, TCAP reviewed 16 years of complaint data at the PUC, the state agency that oversees the Texas electricity market.

"The data show continuing dissatisfaction relating to billing and customer service," Moravec said. "When selecting a retail electric provider, customers should use the powertochoose website to identify complaint ratings for providers in addition to their prices." Prior to deregulation, regulated utilities provided service to residential customers, and most service complaints would have been related to power outages. With deregulation, consumers bought their power from competing retail electric providers (REPs), who offered varying prices and were responsible for billing and contract terms, much like a wireless phone service. Distribution, the power lines that carry electricity to users, remains regulated.

TCAP said electricity customers can file complaints through the PUC's Office of Customer Protection at 1-888-782-8477, by email atcustomer@puc.state.tx.us, or online at http://puc.state.tx.us/consumer/complaint/Complaint.aspx

-- Jim Fuquay




When appropriate, the PUC will investigate such complaints, and may sanction companies if a rule violation is found.


Fort Worth businesswomen set $100,000 fundraising goal for 2014 Stock Show auction

Women Steering Business, a second-year group and one of several raising money to buy livestock from youth exhibitors at the annual Fort Worth Stock Show, has set its goal for the 2014 show at $100,000. That would be more than double what the group raised for the 2013 show.

Here's the story in today's Star-Telegram.

And here's Star-Telegram video from Saturday's kickoff party:


Scott Nishimura, Star-Telegram business news reporter

Twitter: @JScottNishimura

Fort Worth-Arlington mortgage loan delinquency rate dropping, says CoreLogic

The number of Fort Worth-Arlington mortgage owners at least 90 days delinquent dropped in July from a year ago, but inched up slightly since May, according to the latest CoreLogic National Foreclosure Report.

In July, 4.16 percent of mortgage holders in the area were behind on their mortgages, compared to 4.89 percent a year ago. The delinquency rate, though, was 4.12 percent in May, which had been the lowest rate in a few years.

Locally, 1.22 percent of all loans were in some stage of the foreclosure process, which is down 0.30 percentage points from July 2012, the report said. The foreclosure rate in June was 1.16 percent, CoreLogic said.

Texas’ 90-day delinquency rate was 3.53 percent in July, down from 4.3 percent a year ago. The foreclosure rate was 1.1 percent, down from 1.44 percent in July 2012.

_ Sandra Baker


Pier 1 Imports hires marketing exec from J.C. Penney

Pier 1 Imports has hired a top marketing executive away from J.C. Penney.

The Fort Worth-based home furnishings retailer said today that Eric Hunter has joined Pier 1 as Executive Vice President - Marketing, responsibe for the company's brand image and integrated marketing efforts. Previously he served as Senior Vice President of Marketing and acting chief marketing officer for J.C. Penney.

Here is more from the press release:


“As we look to the future and continue the development of our omni-channel business - ‘1 Pier 1', strategizing and effectively implementing the breadth and complexity of marketing activities is vital for our success,” said Alex Smith, Pier 1 Imports’ President & CEO. “Eric’s broad marketing experience in retail makes him well-equipped to take on this pivotal leadership position.”

Mr. Hunter brings more than 15 years of diverse marketing experience to Pier 1 Imports. Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President of Marketing and acting chief marketing officer for JCPenney Company, in Plano, Texas. While there, he led strategy, research, creative, media, customer relationship management and digital direction for the JCP enterprise brand and all JCP-owned brands. Previously, he served as Chief Marketing Officer & Group President with Kellwood Company, an affiliated portfolio company of Sun Capital Partners, Inc. that designs, manufactures and markets a growing collection of premier fashion brands. Prior to Kellwood, Mr. Hunter spent considerable time working in agency creative, with PMK/HBH/Momentum Worldwide, the promotional marketing arm of Interpublic’s McCann Worldgroup, and Creative Artists Agency.

-- Steve Kaskovich


BOKA Powell firm designs new Hillwood office building at Alliance

Alliance Lobby w Furniture_Glass_lo 

Architecture firm BOKA Powell is designing Hillwood Development Co.’s speculative office building at its Alliance development.

The 157,000-square-foot, three-story Class A Alliance Office Aerial_lomulti-tenant office building will be built in Alliance Town Center, off Interstate 35W and just north of Heritage Trace Parkway.

It’s expected to be completed in mid-2014.

The building will feature a dramatic entrance with floor-to-ceiling windows, said BOKA Powell, which has offices in Fort Worth and Dallas.

“Our modern design has a regional Hill Country flair, with locally sourced stone and steel materials and a color palette that reflects the indigenous landscape,” said Courtney Richardson, lead designer with BOKA Powell, in a statement.

 “Huge canopies bracket the entry way, creating an iconic grand porch that will glow at night,” she said.

The building includes two wings of 25,000 square feet for each of the three stories, with the lobby tucked in the center. 

The building will include a number of green design elements, including the use of locally-sourced materials, low-emissivity “low-e” coated glass, taller window heights that bring in natural light.

BOKA Powell is providing master planning, architectural design and interior design services for the new building. Rogers-O’Brien Construction is the general contractor.

_ Sandra Baker

PUC seeks to revoke license of Fort Worth-based electricity provider

Staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas has recommended revoking the certificate of Fort Worth-based Proton Energy, a retail electric provider that says it has about 2,500 customers. Owner Ramzan R. Ali said he will contest the action, which he said is aimed at driving a small competitor from the market. He said Proton Energy has been in operation about 4 1/2 years. 

According to the PUC staff complaint, Proton has committed more than 1,000 violations of federal and state rules since 2011. More than 400 times, the PUC alleged, Proton disconnected customers for non-payment without providing proper notice. The state regulator also said that at least 288 times Proton improperly placed a switch-hold on a customer, a move that prevents the customer from changing retail electric providers. It said Proton failed numerous times to respond on a timely basis to PUC inquiries regarding customer complaints against the company.

Ali emailed the Star-Telegram a lengthy objection to the PUC complaints, saying Proton gave customers more than the required notice before disconnecting an account. Ali's statement did acknowledge that an employee had mistakenly put switch-holds on some customers who were supposed to be disconnected. He said he fixed his procedure and the error will not  happen again.

Proton has 30 days to request a hearing before an administrative law judge, a PUC spokesman said. If such a hearing takes place, the judge would write a "proposal for decision" that would be presented for the PUC board for its approval.

-- Jim Fuquay


Luminant to idle three coal-fired units

Dallas-based Luminant, the state's biggest electricity generator, has told the Electric Reliability Council of Texas it plans to shut its  750-megawatt Martin Lake 3 unit by mid-December. That's in addition to two units at Luminant's Monticello power plant already scheduled to shut temporarily Oct. 1, Reuters reports in a story here. All are coal-fired.

"We want to operate as much of our generation as we can, but it does not make economic sense to operate a unit at a financial loss," Luminant spokeswoman Meranda Cohn said in a statement.

Summer is Texas' peak power use, and Luminant said that  in 2014 the Martin Lake units will operate year-round and Martin Lake 3 will operate only from June to September, Cohn said.

Texas regulators are working to raise wholesale the regulatory ceiling on wholesale power prices in the state's $29 billion electric market, as new generation capacity has lagged demand growth. ERCOT, the state's largest power grid, aims for a 13.75 percent margin of capacity over supply. That has been shrinking in recent years and is expected to fall below that level in 2014.

-- Jim Fuquay



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