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Ex-Sears CEO takes top spot at sandwich chain

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Aylwin B. Lewis, former CEO of Sears Holdings, will take on the role of president and CEO of Potbelly Sandwich Works, a nationwide chain of sandwich restaurants.

Lewis has an extensive background in the food service business. Prior to his role at Sears, he served as president and chief multi-branding and operating officer of Yum Brands, parent of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. He also formerly served as chief operating officer of Pizza Hut, and he currently is a member of the board of directors for Walt Disney.

Lewis left Sears Holdings in February amid tumult at the retailer, which still is seeking a new CEO. W. Bruce Johnson has been serving as interim CEO of Sears Holdings since that time.

Most recently, Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears swung to a net loss of $56 million in the first quarter, compared with net earnings of $223 million in the first quarter last year.

Sales for the quarter fell 5.3 percent to $11.07 billion from $11.7 billion in the same period last year.

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Lowe’s evacuated after chemical spill

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lowe’s was forced to evacuate a store in Medford, N.Y., yesterday after employees lifting a pallet of hydrochloric acid accidently damaged some of the containers, causing them to leak, according to several media outlets.

Long Island’s Newsday, citing local fire officials, reported that seven people were hospitalized with chemical burns and respiratory problems. The Suffolk police said that no one suffered life-threatening injuries, however. It was unclear as to whether those exposed to the chemicals were customers or employees.

News 12, a Long Island television station, reported that two customers were sent to local hospitals and the rest of the victims were treated at the scene.

Hydrochloric acid, also known as muriatic acid, is commonly used as a pool-cleaning agent. According to Newsday, Lowe’s workers accidently poked a case of plastic bottles of hydrochloric acid with a forklift, causing them to leak. The incident happened at about 2:40 p.m. The store was evacuated and closed down for cleanup for the next three hours, the newspaper said.

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Creditors to take majority control of Ainsworth Lumber

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Vancouver-based oriented strand board producer Ainsworth Lumber, facing financial difficulty because of tumult in the U.S. housing market, has announced a plan to allow creditors to take over 96 percent of the company.

The recapitalization plan is pending the approval of shareholders and Canadian courts. Under the plan, members of the founding Ainsworth family will lose their controlling interest, according to the Edmonton (British Columbia) Journal. The Ainsworth family members most recently controlled 58 percent of company shares and have been prominent in the company’s management. That will change under the new arrangement, with the new owners of the company being the bondholders who will own 96 percent of newly issued stock.

As part of the plan, $823.5 million in debt will be converted to equity in the company and $150 million in new bonds. A further $200 million in bonds will be issued to fund recapitalization costs and operating expenses.

The company’s board of directors, supported by a recommendation of an independent committee, unanimously recommended the action.

“[Under the] company’s existing capital structure, the recapitalization is the best alternative available to the company and its lenders, noteholders, shareholders and other stakeholders,” read a statement from the lumber company.

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