Amazon mum on future bookstore plans
Amazon declined to comment on reports it may be planning to open more bookstores. In a call with analysts on Tuesday, Sandeep Mathrani, the CEO of mall operator General Growth Properties, said in an offhand comment related to a question about holiday traffic that Amazon had plans to open 300 or 400 bookstores. But on Wednesday, GGP issued a statement saying that his remarks were "not intended to represent Amazon's plans." A New York Times report, citing one unidentified source Wednesday, said Amazon could open more bookstores in the future but at a more modest pace. Amazon said it does not comment on rumors or speculation.
Growth slowed for U.S. services sector
A private survey said U.S. services companies grew in January at the slowest rate in nearly two years, as global economic challenges showed some signs of spreading to consumers. The Institute for Supply Management said that its services index fell to 53.5 last month from 55.8 in December. The January figure was the lowest since February 2014, when it was 52.6. Still, any reading above 50 signals that services firms are expanding. The U.S. services sector has been a source of stability amid financial turmoil. The ISM index has been expanding for the past six years, its gains dovetailing with the recovery from the recession. An improving services sector has coincided with a healthy dose of hiring, as employers added 292,000 workers to their payrolls in December. The unemployment rate held at 5 percent.
Ben & Jerry's offering nondairy ice cream
Raise your spoons: Ben & Jerry's now has nondairy ice cream. The Vermont ice cream maker has created four flavors using a certified vegan almond milk base. Available are the classic Chunky Monkey and Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavors, plus a couple of new ones: Coffee Caramel Fudge and P.B. and Cookies. The P.B. and Cookies variety is a vanilla nondairy frozen dessert with chocolate sandwich cookies and crunchy peanut butter swirls.
Lowe's to buy Canadian chain Rona
Lowe's said Wednesday it plans to acquire a Canadian home improvement company for $2.3 billion, marking the company's second attempt to acquire Quebec-based Rona. The deal will give Lowe's a network of almost 500 Rona stores, including corporate-owned and affiliated dealer locations, and nine distribution centers. In 2012, Lowe's bid almost $1.9 billion for Rona, but that offer was rebuffed when Rona said it was not interested in being acquired. The boards of both companies have unanimously approved the deal. Pending regulatory approval, Lowe's expects to close the deal in the second quarter.
British Airways to resume service to Tehran
British Airways said it will resume flights to Tehran on July 14 following last month's international deal lifting sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear program. The unit of IAG SA will initially serve the Middle Eastern country six times weekly from London Heathrow using Boeing Co. 777 jets in a four-class layout, before moving to a daily service next winter, it said Wednesday in a statement. British Airways first offered scheduled flights to Tehran in 1946 and said the city has the potential to become a top tourist destination. The city is one of 14 new routes due to be introduced this year, the U.K. carrier said.
Redstone resigns as chairman of CBS
CBS said media mogul Sumner Redstone has resigned as chair of the company's board, replaced by the company's CEO, Leslie Moonves. The company said Redstone's resignation took effect Tuesday and he now serves as chairman emeritus. He remains the executive chairman of Viacom. The 92-year-old's health and mental capacity have been at the center of a monthslong court fight.