Toys ‘R’ Us says to shut about 180 US stores

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September casting doubt over the future of its 64,000 employees and nearly 1,600 stores. (Reuters)
Updated 24 January 2018
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Toys ‘R’ Us says to shut about 180 US stores

BENGALURU: Toys ‘R’ Us said on Tuesday it will shut about one-fifth of its stores in the US in the coming months, as the toy store chain tries to emerge from one of the largest ever bankruptcies by a specialty retailer.
The closure of about 180 US stores will begin in early February and continue until mid-April, Chief Executive David Brandon said in a letter on its website.
The company filed for bankruptcy protection just ahead of the crucial holiday season in the US and Canada to restructure $5 billion of long-term debt, casting doubt over the future of its 64,000 employees and nearly 1,600 stores.
All 83 Toys ‘R’ Us stores in Canada will remain open, said president of the Canadian unit, Melanie Teed-Murch, in a letter to customers.
Toys ‘R’ Us, which like other traditional brick-and-mortar retailers has struggled as more and more consumers shop online, is taking steps to try and entice customers to its stores.
The retailer planned to close unprofitable locations and improve its website and loyalty programs while investing in its stores, according to bankruptcy court papers.
Toys ‘R’ Us, which also operates the Babies ‘R’ Us chain, has set aside more than $400 million out of its$3.1 billion in bankruptcy loans for sprucing up about 900 stores over the next three years with more experiences and better-paid staff.
As the Wayne, New Jersey-based company aims to exit bankruptcy in 2018, its efforts to reinvent its stores will shape how other retailers look to experiential shopping to tackle e-commerce.


Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Updated 20 October 2018
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Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FACTOID

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.