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Talking Points

Former Yankee Candle corporate office to close

Yankee Candle - Michael Scroggin

CANDLES

Former Yankee Candle corporate office to close

Consumer products conglomerate Newell Brands is shutting down the former Yankee Candle corporate office in South Deerfield as part of a broader restructuring aimed at saving the Atlanta-based company more than $220 million a year. As part of the restructuring effort, known internally as “Project Phoenix,” Newell is closing corporate offices in South Deerfield and Boca Raton, Fla., as well as cutting about 13 percent of its office workers. Newell has owned the Yankee Candle business since acquiring its former owner, Jarden Corp., in 2016. (Jarden had acquired Yankee Candle nearly three years before that deal.) Newell expects to report restructuring charges to cover severance costs and other related expenses of more than $100 million this year, as a result of implementing these cuts. It was unclear how many jobs are being cut overall at the company, or how many are affected in Massachusetts. A spokeswoman for Newell said corporate office employees in South Deerfield will work out of the company’s nearby facilities in Western Massachusetts, including a lab and distribution/manufacturing sites. The office closure is expected to take place by the end of March. The spokeswoman said the candle business remains a valuable part of Newell’s portfolio, and the closure is part of a broader effort to “adapt new ways of working, encourage greater collaboration, reduce overhead, and use our real estate more efficiently.” — JON CHESTO

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Retaliation suit against Whole Foods is dismissed

A federal judge in Boston dismissed a lawsuit on Monday claiming that Whole Foods Market illegally retaliated against three employees who were fired for wearing Black Lives Matter face masks on the job. Whole Foods workers across the country wore the masks following the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. The grocery chain said they violated the company’s dress code, and three workers, including one in Cambridge, were terminated after being sent home repeatedly for refusing to take them off. The court previously dismissed a related class-action lawsuit claiming the company discriminated against employees wearing the masks. In a statement, Whole Foods said its dress code policy has “long promoted a welcoming, safe, and inclusive shopping environment.” Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lawyer representing the workers, plans to appeal the ruling and pursue the claims in state court. The matter is also pending at the National Labor Relations Board, where is a judge is considering whether workers were protected by federal labor law allowing collective action around workplace activities. “The federal courts have butchered our civil rights laws,” Liss-Riordan said. “Hopefully the Massachusetts state courts will be more protective of our civil rights to be free from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.” — KATIE JOHNSTON

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PHARMACEUTICALS

Amazon launches drug prescription service for Prime members

Amazon has started a $5-per-month drug subscription service for Prime members, the e-commerce giant’s latest foray into health care. Called RxPass, the service lets patients order generic medications that treat more than 80 common health conditions, the company said in a statement Tuesday. Customers need to be members of Amazon’s $139-a-year Prime service to join and will be entitled to free delivery. RxPass is available in most US states but for now excludes a number of heavily populated ones, including California, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The program’s web page lists a menu of 53 available medications. — Bloomberg News

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Beautyrest mattresses of Serta Simmons Bedding on display in Clarksville, Indiana.Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

MATTRESSES

Serta Simmons files for bankruptcy

Serta Simmons Bedding is seeking bankruptcy protection in an effort to trim its debt load following an earlier out-of-court restructuring. The Atlanta-based mattress maker filed in the Southern District of Texas on Monday. The Chapter 11 filing allows Serta to continue operating while implementing a deal, backed by a majority of lenders and shareholders, to cut its debt to $300 million from $1.9 billion, the company said in a statement. Serta’s fiscal woes were exacerbated during the pandemic. More recently decades-high inflation has weighed on the mattress retailer, which has a sizeable debt load maturing this year. — Bloomberg News

OIL

OPEC expected to maintain production levels

OPEC+ delegates said they expect an advisory committee of ministers to recommend keeping oil production levels unchanged when they meet next week amid a tentative recovery in global demand. Saudi Arabia and its partners will hold a review of output levels on Feb. 1, after agreeing to significant cutbacks late last year to keep world crude markets in balance. — Bloomberg News

WIRELESS

Phone giveaways weigh on Verizon’s profits

Verizon’s profit outlook trailed Wall Street estimates in a sign that the consumer wireless business continues to weigh down performance. The largest US wireless carrier has relied on costly phone giveaways to compete with its peers. The company said Tuesday that it expects 2023 earnings per share, excluding some items, to be in the range of $4.55 to $4.85, while analysts were looking for $4.97, on average. Verizon is the first of the big three US wireless carriers to report full results. The company has been losing market share to AT&T and T-Mobile US Inc. thanks to their network improvements and free phone offers. — Bloomberg News

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The Johnson & Johnson logo is displayed outside the company's headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey on Aug. 1, 2020. Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

PHARMACEUTICALS

Johnson & Johnson earnings exceed expectations, despite lackluster COVID vaccine sales

Johnson & Johnson beat earnings expectations in the final quarter of 2022 even as a strong dollar and sinking COVID-19 vaccine sales hurt revenue. The health care giant also debuted on Tuesday a better-than-expected 2023 earnings forecast. J&J said fourth-quarter earnings slipped 26 percent to $3.52 billion and revenue declined 4.4 percent to $23.71 billion. Company sales were hurt last year by the strong US dollar, which is currently worth more than a euro. That can affect sales for companies that do a lot of international business. J&J brings in nearly half of its sales from outside the United States. J&J also recorded no US sales in the quarter from its one-shot COVID-19 vaccine, which brought in $689 million in revenue from international markets. — Bloomberg News

RETAIL

Primark had a happy holiday season

Budget fashion retailer Primark had a record week in the run-up to Christmas as shoppers hunted for bargains during the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades. Owner Associated British Foods said that Primark’s sales jumped 18 percent in the key holiday period. Shoppers at Primark particularly spent on clothing to keep them warm, like winter leggings, while women’s party wear and beauty products were also popular ahead of Christmas parties. — Bloomberg News

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Walmart workers to get a raise

NEW YORK — Walmart said US workers will get pay raises next month, increasing starting wages to between $14 and $19 an hour. Company CEO John Furner told employees in a memo Tuesday that the pay raises will be reflected in their March 2 paychecks and will come through a combination of targeted and regular annual pay increases. Workers at 3,000 stores will get raises, increasing average pay to $17.50 an hour from $17. Starting wages currently range between $12 and $18 an hour, depending on location. The competition for low-wage retail workers remains fierce even as companies scale back on hiring, amid a lingering labor shortage. Walmart and its competitors have raised wages several times in recent years and added benefits to retain workers, including covering in vitro fertilization, fertility testing, and financial help with surrogacy and adoption. — Associated Press