T.J. Maxx Customers And Employees Sound Off On Ivanka Trump

T.J. Maxx and Marshalls employees were instructed this week to remove all Ivanka Trump signage and mix her products with the rest of the stores’ vast offerings.

The company said its decision to stop featuring Trump’s merchandise was based on “a number of factors,” pointing out they send similar communications “from time to time.” But many took it as a signal that yet another retailer is distancing itself from the Trump family, perhaps in response to sluggish sales due to the #Grabyourwallet boycott movement. Last week, both Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus stopped carrying Trump’s products. 

T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have massive followings of faithful bargain-hunting shoppers. But how do they, and people who work at the stores, really feel about the whole thing?

We visited a T.J. Maxx on 57th Street in New York City, which voted overwhelmingly against Donald Trump, to find out. 

Chris, a woman shopping for pantyhose, made clear her disdain for doing business with Trump partners. “You just reminded me that they didn’t stop selling it, they just stopped featuring it,” she said, putting down a pair of pantyhose and heading for the exit. “I need these for a funeral, but I won’t buy them here. Thank you for reminding me.” 

Other people were less concerned. A few shoppers who declined to give their names said they didn’t feel strongly either way, or that the fact that the store carries Ivanka Trump “doesn’t matter, it’s just clothes.” One employee was ambivalent, while a recent hire said he agreed with the decision to stop featuring Trump’s line.

You shouldn’t have a clothing line if you’re involved in government, but there is a downside to this now, too.
TJ Maxx shopper Margherita

A shopper named Danielle, who only recently began frequenting TJ Maxx, was a bit conflicted. She questioned whether or not Ivanka Trump should be subject to the boycott, voicing her support for female entrepreneurship and wondering if the president’s daughter might “be getting unduly punishment for something she did not do.”

Trump was a key member of her father’s campaign, prompting groups like #GrabYourWallet to begin boycotting her product lines during the campaign season. Despite being unsure how she felt about the issue overall, Danielle said the boycott has had an effect: She’s found herself “looking at [Trump’s] products with ambivalence” as a result. 

Margherita, a regular shopper at both T.J Maxx and Marshalls, said she was pleased to have been in a Marshalls store when the employees started taking down Trump signs. 

“You shouldn’t have a clothing line if you’re involved in government, but there is a downside to this now, too,” she suggested. “I think it will make her merchandise more rare and valuable now that it is being sold in [fewer] stores, but I appreciate the stores making a statement.”  

Focusing on merchandise displays is losing sight of what’s actually important, said a shopper named Art. 

“There are more important issues than where people are putting their clothes. People are losing their healthcare… There is a laundry list of more important things to worry about. The average American can’t even afford to fucking shop at Nordstrom, anyway. People say ‘God bless America,’ but I say ‘God help America.’”

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Bombardier asks court to stop Metrolinx from cancelling $770M contract for 182 light-rail vehicles

TORONTO — Bombardier Inc. has turned the tables on the Ontario government’s transit agency, filing a court injunction to stop Metrolinx from terminating a $770-million contract and saying it, not Bombardier, is responsible for the project’s delays.

Metrolinx formally notified Bombardier in November of its intent to cancel a contract for 182 light-rail vehicles, citing “significant quality and manufacturing issues.” The trains were designated for new Toronto rail lines, including the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West LRT routes. The pilot vehicle for the Eglinton line was originally supposed to arrive in 2014 but has been delayed multiple times.

Bombardier said Friday that Metrolinx is responsible for the problems that “have put the project in jeopardy.

“Since the contract was signed in 2010, Metrolinx has changed the scope, the timelines, and the technical qualifications countless times,” Bombardier said in a press release announcing that it has asked the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for an injunction.

“It is irresponsible for Metrolinx not to discuss issues in good faith and instead consider an unjustified cancellation of a contract that would cost Ontario taxpayers millions of dollars, kill hundreds of Ontario jobs, and put transit projects like the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch LRT in jeopardy.”

Metrolinx shot back that it has been concerned “for some time” about Bombardier’s ability to deliver a quality product on time.

“We have repeatedly conveyed our disappointment to Bombardier on its progress to date and in particular that the pilot vehicle is almost two years late and has not yet been delivered,” Metrolinx said in a statement. “Bombardier’s focus should be on getting all the vehicles delivered on schedule and with the quality expected, not on legal proceedings of this nature.”

Bombardier said it is “fully capable” of delivering the trains on time, adding that the pilot vehicle has been ready since October 2016 but Metrolinx refuses to take delivery.

The company added that the Eglinton Crosstown tracks won’t even be available for testing until 2019 and won’t be available for public service until the end of 2021.

“The bottom line is Bombardier will be delivering cars that Metrolinx will not be able to use for years, resulting in significant storage costs for Ontario,” Bombardier said.

Company spokesman Marc-André Lefebvre said more than 200 jobs in Kingston, Ont., and Thunder Bay, Ont., are at risk if the contract is cancelled.

Both Metrolinx and Bombardier have come under public fire recently. Ontario’s auditor general found in November that Metrolinx is overpaying its contractors, and continues to award work to contractors that have performed poorly in the past.

Bombardier, meanwhile, has had to delay a $1.2-billion order from the Toronto Transit Commission for 204 new streetcars multiple times. Under the original schedule, Bombardier should have delivered 109 by the end of 2016 but instead had delivered just 30.

Financial Post

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TransAlta cancels a planned preferred share swap because of investor push back

The old adage, “a bad deal is a bad deal is a bad deal” was reinforced Friday when Calgary-based TransAlta Corp. indicated it would not be proceeding with a previously announced consolidation of its outstanding issues of rate reset preferred shares.

That plan – whereby holders would roll their almost $1 billion of prefs into a new single class that would pay a higher current dividend, introduce a minimum reset yield for the future, offer them a slight premium to their recent trading price and hopefully lead to improved liquidity – came with one huge benefit for the company.

If the transaction was approved, it would have reduced TransAlta’s “notional capital balance of preferred shares by approximately $300 million.” That reduction it said, would strengthen the balance sheet “and improve certain financial ratios.”

But in the trade off between the promise (higher annual income) and the reality (an effective reduction in principal), holders have decided a $300 million haircut was too much of a price to pay. DBRS assigned a provisional rating of Pfd-3 with a negative trend to the new class of pref shares that were to pay a 6.50 per cent yield.

“It is a good day for shareholders. We don’t always do what the banks tell us to do,” said James Hymas, portfolio manager at Hymas Investment Management and the publisher of the PrefBlog. CIBC World Markets was TransAlta’s financial adviser while PWC provided a fairness opinion.

When TransAlta announced the plan in late December, Hymas said on the blog: “This is a rotten deal for the preferred shareholders, so rotten that we may call it a sleazy attempt by the company to pull the wool over the eyes of unsophisticated retail investors.”

Reached Friday, Hymas reiterated that it “was a bad deal. I suspect the early returns by shareholders combined with comments made to their investor relations department convinced them that it was not going to pass. Rather than be embarrassed, my guess is that they decided to cancel the deal.”

Hymas offered TransAlta, whose common share holders received a major dividend cut one year back, some advice: Get to work on improving the credit rating and spend less time on financial engineering. Last March DBRS changed the trends of all TransAlta’s long-term debt ratings – as well as on its preferred share ratings – to negative from stable.

Reached for comment, TransAlta said it “has no further comment on discussions related to this decision.”

Another money manager whose clients own the preferreds was pleased with the decision not to proceed. “It was a bad proposal and poorly thought out on many levels. There was major push back which is why they pulled the plan.”

At least one institutional money manager, with a large holding, was upset at the decision to given that it was “extra supportive” of the transaction.

The manager had little time for the view that holders were being “compromised” because they were not being offered full value, or $25 per share.

“That’s a fiction. They are perpetual securities and worth what they are worth. It’s not like a piece of debt where eventually they owe you the principal,” he added.

This professional manager said that, “when you run the arithmetic it’s a very fair proposal value for value. TransAlta was quite careful and thorough in how they approached it.”

When the other benefits – a higher yield, greater liquidity, and tax benefits to those investors who own the security outside a registered account– are combined, holders had another reason to support the transaction, he said.

Financial Post

bcritchley@nationalpost.com

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