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Industry News - DECember 14th 2014



Retailers Hire Holiday Workers in Record Numbers

Retailers added 465,500 seasonal workers in November, the most ever added during the holiday hiring season, according to an analysis of non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“Despite all of the uncertainty, all the talk of fiscal cliffs, the widespread damage to retail epicenters on the east coast by Hurricane Sandy, and the continued growth of e-commerce, retailers are hiring holiday workers in record numbers,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
The net gain in retail employment achieved last month surpassed the previous record set in 2007, when retail payrolls grew by 465,400 workers during the month of November.
November job gains were up 21% from the 383,700 seasonal workers hired by retailers a year ago. Furthermore, October job gains in the retail sector were adjusted upward to 145,200 from an originally-reported figure of 130,100.
Retail employment has grown by a total of 610,700 in October and November.  That is up 19% from 512,600 in the same two-month period a year ago. It is just shy of the 660,200 seasonal workers added during the entire three-month holiday hiring period last year.
“An early Thanksgiving and the fact that many retailers started the traditional Black Friday sales on Thursday may have contributed to strong early holiday sales and the need for additional workers. Of course, more people working this holiday season could result in further retail sales gains as more Americans have more spending money in their pockets for gifts,” Challenger added.
Last year, retail employment increased by 147,600 in December. Even if retailers simply match that level of hiring activity, seasonal hiring this year could reach nearly 760,000.  If that occurs, it would the strongest retail holiday hiring season since 2000, when 788,100 seasonal workers were added to retail payrolls. 

Mandarin Oriental Cuts Losses with RFID Tech to Control Inventory

Mandarin Oriental, Boston has installed the InvoTech ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID Uniform System to manage employee uniform processes and reduce costs.
The Forbes Five-Star property uses InvoTech’s system to control garment inventories and to reduce expenses from uniform losses, laundry activity and daily labor. The system also contributes to greater purchasing efficiencies. InvoTech’s UHF-RFID Uniform System enables Mandarin Oriental, Boston to protect its investment in high-quality designer uniforms for its staff of 300. The property previously counted and tracked each garment by hand. This was labor-intensive and resulted in high uniform replacement costs.
Mandarin Oriental, Boston sewed a durable UHF-RFID chip into a pouch on each of its more than 2,000 uniforms. The chip enables InvoTech’s system to track each garment’s movement from laundry, to storage, to employee via antennas placed at strategic locations.

Honeywell Boosts Voice, RFID Offerings With $600 Million Intermec Deal

Boosting its offerings in voice, RFID and receipt printing, Honeywell will acquire rugged device manufacturer Intermec for $600 million. Intermec's strengths lie in mobile computing, radio frequency identification solutions and bar code, label and receipt printers for use in warehousing, supply chain, field service and manufacturing environments. The news comes as Honeywell closes out a year of strong financial performance and looks ahead to continued growth in 2014.

"We've done a lot over the past decade to transform Honeywell and today we're achieving top-tier performance with a differentiated and balanced mix of long- and short-cycle businesses, a successful pipeline of new products, geographic expansion, and continued focus on our key initiatives," said Honeywell Chairman and CEO Dave Cote.

"The addition of Intermec is a natural extension to our Scanning & Mobility business, which was established through the successful acquisitions of Hand Held Products, Metrologic and EMS," said Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions president and CEO Roger Fradin.

"While Intermec strengthens our core scanning and mobile computing business, it opens up entirely new opportunities in RFID, voice solutions and barcode and receipt printing segments that we currently don't serve," he added.

"The addition of Intermec nearly doubles the size of our scanning and mobility business to 1.6 billion in annualized sales," said Dave Anderson, senior vice president and chief financial officer, in a call with investors. "It really enables Honeywell to be a leader of rugged mobile computers and scanners in the AIDC space. And just as a reminder, the AIDC industry is approximately $4.5 billion in size."

The deal also enhances Honeywell's reach and distribution, expands its product  offerings, and strenthgens its intellectual property portfolio, positioning the firm to become a technology leader in this space, Anderson added.

Pending shareholder approval and regulatory reviews, the Intermec acquisition is expected to close by the end of the Q2 2014.

U.S Military Buys 900 Rugged Xplore Tablets

The U.S. military has signed up to buy more than 900 of Xplore Technologies' iX104C5M rugged Windows tablets. The manufacturer expects to fulfill the multimillion-dollar order over the next several months.

"We are extremely pleased to announce receipt of the largest single military order in our history," said Philip S. Sassower, Xplore’s chairman and CEO. "We believe the value proposition of our rugged tablet computer should make it the device of choice for military field applications. We believe that this purchase order is an initial indication of our potential in the military sector."

"We expect this order to be the first in a series of purchase orders for the U.S. military involving the delivery of several thousand devices, improving our footprint in the military space," said Mark Holleran, Xplore’s president and COO. "We believe Xplore’s ultra rugged tablet solution is gaining traction in military applications in the U.S. and other countries by delivering on our promise of value, performance and reliability. We further believe the iX104C5M is the best tablet for use in military deployments - whether supporting special operations, managing workflows on the flight line or delivering real-time data to mobile field units."


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