Volkswagen rolled the last Beetle off the assembly line on Wednesday. The car's first generation sold over 21 million units between 1938 and 2003. The New Beetle was introduced in 1998 and the Volkswagen Beetle in 2011. They sold 1.16 million and 530 000 units respectively. But sales progressively slowed and only 15,000 Beetle cars were sold in the U.S. in 2017. The last batch of Beetles will be sold on Amazon.com in a move symbolizing the company's embrace of the future.
PepsiCo shares are up (a little) this week after the company’s second-quarter earnings topped estimates. Company revenue was $16.449 billion vs. $16.426 billion expected. The comeback of its North American beverage business continued during the second quarter, helped by its Starbucks coffee drinks and water business. As consumers drink less soda, Pepsi has turned to higher-growth beverage categories instead, releasing energy drinks like Mountain Dew Game Fuel and jumping in on the sparkling water trend with Bubly. Bubly “is going to be one of our next billion-dollar brands. That’s our goal,” CEO Ramon Laguarta told analysts on the company’s results call. Frito-Lay North America was the strongest performer, reporting 5% organic revenue growth. They credited sales growth in convenience and dollar stores for the unit’s success.
State Farm Insurance is on the hunt for 1,100 new employees in Tempe Arizona alone this year. They want to hire thousands of employees in claims, underwriting, and technology and customer service, according to a report in the Murfreesboro Voice. The positions are primarily located in: Murfreesboro, TN; Atlanta, GA; Bloomington, IL; Tempe, AZ; Richardson, TX; DuPont, WA; Charlottesville, VA; New Albany, OH; and Greeley, CO.
Pet product sales are on track to top $75 billion this year, up from $36 billion in 2005, according to the American Pet Products Association, as U.S. consumers continue to spend more on everything from premium pet foods to canine fashions. Petco has created in-store kitchens as part of its focus on pet nutrition, and Walmart is expanding its in-store veterinary clinics.
Amazon plans to invest $700 million to upskill 100,000 of its employees by 2025. As part of its "Upskilling 2025" initiative, courses will include software engineering, information technology, AWS cloud and machine learning. The programs announced this week to reskill current employees in IT and software engineering will also benefit Amazon, allowing the company to gain technical talent without having to fight over the very small pool of qualified workers.
Crate & Barrel opened its first full-service restaurant, called The Table at Crate, this week at its Oak Brook, Illinois store. The concept is a collaboration with Cornerstone Restaurant Group. The Table is the retailer's first full-service restaurant and the restaurant group's first foray into retail. Restaurant guests can take signature cocktails into the adjacent Crate & Barrel retail space as they shop. The store is also looking to host chef demos, cookbook dinners and other experiential events in the restaurant.
Kroger has partnered with Myriad Genetics to offer its GeneSight pharmacogenomic test to Kroger Health Plan members. The GeneSight test analyzes 12 genes known to impact how 56 common depression treatment medications work. The test helps healthcare professionals provide personalized treatment to patients suffering from depression. Kroger will pilot the test across five states at nearly 500 of its 2,200 pharmacies.
H-E-B has partnered with autonomous vehicle startup Udelv to test self-driving technology. The pilot will take place in San Antonio. During the test phase, H-E-B will use one Udelv vehicle to provide deliveries from a single H-E-B location, and a safety driver will remain on board. H.E.B. employs 100,000 people in 350 stores.
McDonald’s U.S. franchisees want a chicken sandwich to rival Chick-fil-A’s as the Southern chain’s threat to their business continues to grow, CNBC reports. “A Chicken Sandwich at McDonald’s should be our top priority,” the National Owners Association board said in an email to fellow operators. McDonald’s carries Chicken McNuggets and the McChicken sandwich. But the board wrote in the email that they don’t compete in the premium chicken sandwich category, with either a grilled or crispy option. “Chick Fil A’s results demonstrate the power of chicken,” the board wrote. This year, Chick-fil-A ranked highest of all fast-food chains on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. McDonald’s landed at the bottom of the list.