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Deere announces layoffs

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Deere & Co., manufacturer of John Deere lawn maintenance products, has announced that 40 employees of the John Deere Ottumwa Works, in Ottumwa, Iowa, will be indefinitely laid off, effective April 20. The layoff affects workers with the least seniority.

The layoffs are in response to reduced market conditions for the factory’s products.

The John Deere Ottumwa Works manufactures balers, mower conditioners, windrowers and pull-type forage harvesters used by hay and livestock producers.

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Ex-employees sentenced in HD fraud case

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Two of the three figures involved in an elaborate fraud scheme that involved Home Depot vendor kickbacks from 2002 to 2007 were sentenced this week.

James Robinson, a former divisional merchandise manager for hard flooring at Home Depot received a sentence of 63 months in prison. Ronald Johnston, the company’s global product merchant for rugs, was sentenced to 46 months in prison. Both men were also ordered to pay $1.8 million.

Athird figure, Anthony Tesvich, is expected to be sentenced in June.

 

Tesvich, a former global product development merchant was forced to resign in 2005 after internal security officers suspected him of accepting $4,900 a month in bribes from one supplier, according to federal investigators. At that point, Tesvich was suspected of funneling “hundreds of thousands of dollars and other items of value” to two co-conspirators who continued to ensure that certain vendors’ products were included in Home Depot’s flooring assortment, according to the charges. Tesvich referred to the cash payments as “French fries” and “milk shakes,” prosecutors allege. The pay-offs and the gifts allegedly included a 2004 Cadillac Escalade, two homes in Gallatin, Tenn., and $300,000 in appliances, home theater and fitness equipment.

Robinson and Johnston left Home Depot shortly before they were interviewed by federal agents on July 10, 2007.

The crime has led to a zero-tolerance vendor-relations policy that prevents executives from receiving any money from vendors, including small entertainment expenses.

Click here for HCN’s Brae Canlen’s award-winning article, “The house on Hamlet Way.” 

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Costco to close its Costco Home stores

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Wholesale Corporation will shutter its two Costco Home stores on July 3, the company announced. The two stores are located in Kirkland, Wash.; and Tempe, Ariz.

Costco CEO Jim Sinegal called the two stores a valuable experiment that taught the retailer a great deal about home furnishings. But it was time for a change.

“The current economic slowdown and resulting weakness in the home furnishings business in particular have led us to conclude that the single-format Costco Home concept does not fit into our long-term expansion plans,” he added. “As the current lease obligations near an end, it makes sense for us to make this difficult decision now.”

Costco isn’t planning any other closings, and the company expects no layoffs as employees will be offered jobs at other local Costco stores. Sinegal added the two closings will have “no significant impact on the operations or financial results of the company.”

Costco currently operates 554 warehouses, including 407 in the United States and Puerto Rico.

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