Retail roundup: J.C. Penney loan, Abercrombie apology, Mattel layoffs

A child checks out toys at KB Toys tore in the West Covina Fashion Plaza.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The week before the Memorial Day holiday has been a busy one for retailers. Here’s a sampling of happenings from Mattel, J.C. Penney and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Mattel: As the El Segundo-based toymaker adapts to its newly created North America division, it is reassigning jobs and instituting layoffs at its New York City offices and its Fisher-Price campus in East Aurora, N.Y.

About 100 employees will be affected by what Mattel called an “extremely difficult decision” made to help the company “better match resources with the needs of the business.”

Some of the workers will be allowed to relocate to Mattel’s Southern California headquarters, a move set to wrap up by mid-October, according to a statement issued to The Times on Thursday. Design and development positions at Fisher-Price were left untouched.  


J.C. Penney: After U.S. stock markets closed Wednesday, the struggling department store chain said it had secured a $2.25-billion loan through Goldman Sachs -- $500 million more than the $1.75 billion announced late last month.

The five-year arrangement, secured largely through real estate and other assets, will allow the Plano, Texas, chain to attempt a recovery from an ambitious but ultimately unpopular revamp implemented by former Chief Executive Ron Johnson.

After a year and a half of controversial moves, Johnson was removed from his post in early April and replaced by his predecessor, Myron “Mike” Ullman, who is now tasked with reversing five straight quarters of double-digit sales plunges.

The company, which is sprinting through its cash reserves in pursuit of stability before the key back-to-school shopping season, is also in the middle of updating the home departments in about 500 stores.


“This new funding gives us the financial flexibility to pursue our plans to put the Company back on a path to profitable growth,” Chief Financial Officer Ken Hannah said in a statement announcing the expanded financing.

Top 10 biggest Southern California companies

Abercrombie & Fitch: Earlier this week, executives at the teen retailer met with 18-year-old activist Benjamin O’Keefe and representatives of the National Eating Disorder Assn. to discuss provocative comments from Chief Executive Mike Jeffries.

O’Keefe had collected about 68,000 signatures on a petition demanding that Jeffries apologize for statements made in a 7-year-old interview in which he said that marketers for the brand “go after the cool kids” and admitted that “absolutely” the company is “exclusionary.”

O’Keefe also requested that Abercrombie start offering larger clothing sizes.

After the meeting at the chain’s Ohio headquarters, the company said in a statement that it looks forward to “taking concrete steps to demonstrate our commitment to anti-bullying in addition to our ongoing support of diversity and inclusion.

“We want to reiterate that we sincerely regret and apologize for any offense caused by comments we have made in the past which are contrary to these values,” it said.

Abercrombie is also awaiting the decision of a federal judge in Denver about whether to issue an injunction against the company, which is being accused of being inaccessible to the disabled.


In March, Judge Wiley Y. Daniel agreed with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition that the raised porch entrances at Abercrombie’s eponymous stores as well as its Hollister brand were a barrier to disabled shoppers. He asked both sides to consider possible remedies or face one ordered by the court.


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