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IKEA workers strike in B.C.

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Workers at an IKEA store in Richmond, B.C., have gone on strike, following a failure by the Teamsters Local 213 and Swedish-based retailer to reach a five-year pay contract. Store manager Doug McCann opted to close the store while workers are picketing, according to news reports.

The Teamsters have asked the retailer to eliminate its two-tier wage schedule, which the Teamsters say gave the company the ability to charge lower wages to new employees. The company reportedly was willing to eliminate the two-tier system over six years. The company and Teamsters’ last three-year contract expired on Dec. 31, 2006.

According to the Vancouver Sun, IKEA then offered a five-year deal that included raises of 2 percent in each of the first three years and 3 percent in the next two years. That deal was rejected in a 61 percent vote by workers.

The Teamsters also are requesting general improvements in wages and more full-time positions at the store.

None of IKEA’s 11 other stores in Canada are unionized.

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Akzo Nobel continues in acquisition bid for ICI

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Netherlands-based coatings company Akzo Nobel is growing closer to acquiring Imperial Chemical Industries, the coatings giant known as ICI Paints.

ICI, with a corporate parent based in the United Kingdom, has a large North American presence with brands including Dulux, Glidden and Liquid Nails. The company was number 16 on HCN’s Top 500 list of home channel retailers, following estimated 2006 sales at ICI’s retail stores of $1.8 billion.

Akzo has upped its bid for ICI to about $16 billion (8 billion pounds) and, in recent weeks, has expressed confidence in receiving shareholder backing for the bid. According to Bloomberg, Akzo Nobel spokesman Tim van der Zanden said this week, “We are convinced that we will get the backing of our shareholders at a meeting at the end of October. We have already been on a mini-roadshow.”

Some shareholders reportedly like the new deal, which sets a per-share price that is more than 20 percent higher than ICI’s stock was worth on June 15. But at least one investment firm criticized the proposal — United States-based TPG-Axon, which owns a 3.5 percent stake in Akzo Nobel, reportedly called the deal “overpriced” and said it would lead to lower value for Akzo Nobel’s own stock.

If the acquisition comes to fruition, ICI will sell its U.S. National Starch Unit to Henkel, a German detergent maker.

In June, the U.K. Takeover Panel ordered Akzo Nobel to make a formal bid for ICI. Prior to that, Akzo Nobel made an informal bid of $14.2 billion for the paint giant. In May, ICI announced plans to delist from the New York Stock Exchange in a bid to save about $8 million. ICI sells paint in Europe, the Americas and in the Asia-Pacific region.

Akzo manufactures paints and coatings under the names Crown, Sikken and Schoenox, among others, with operations in 60 countries.

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Leonard Green & Partners completes purchase of Container Store

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The sale of specialty retailer Container Store to private investment firm Leonard Green & Partners has been completed. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to Container Store, the company’s retail store general managers and about 170 employees in all were extended equity opportunities. Leonard Green & Partners has major investments in several retailers, including Petco and David’s Bridal.

As part of the deal, Container Store will take on a new six-member board of directors, consisting of company CEO Kip Tindell, president Melissa Reiff and chief merchandising officer Sharon Tindell. From Leonard Green & Partners, board members will be vp Jonathan Sokoloff, vp Kristofer Galashan and partner Timothy Flynn.

Container Store has 39 locations in the United States, with future stores planned in Denver and Cherry Hill, N.J.

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