West Coast

L.L.Bean, known for selling its trademark boots via catalog for more than a century, plans to make a bigger push into brick-and-mortar retail by more than tripling the number of domestic stores over the next five years, officials said Wednesday. The Maine-based company, which is coming off five years of increasing revenue, will open four stores this year before accelerating growth with a goal of at least 100 stores by 2020, CEO Chris McCormick told workers in a memo. The retail push will include Bean's first West Coast presence with the opening of stores in the Pacific Northwest.

Negotiators reached a tentative contract covering West Coast dockworkers on Friday evening, likely ending a protracted labor dispute that snarled international trade at seaports handling about $1 trillion worth of cargo annually. The breakthrough came after nine months of negotiations that turned contentious in the fall, when dockworkers and their employers began blaming each other for problems getting imports to consumers and exports overseas.

Seeking an end to a protracted labor dispute that's led to costly delays in West Coast shipping, President Obama has decided to intervene, the White House announced Saturday. At the president's request, Thomas E. Perez, secretary of labor, will travel to California to "meet with the parties to urge them to resolve their dispute quickly at the bargaining table," according to a statement issued by Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman. Perez will try to mediate a settlement between an association of the major shipowners of the West Coast and the union of longshoremen who unload those ships.

Retailers’ anxiety levels are rising as gridlock grinds on with contract negotiations between West Coast dockworkers and port terminal operators. It's been a long nine months for those dealing directly, or indirectly, with the lack of a West Coast port contract, and after a temporary shutdown over the weekend, retail lobby groups and consultants are assigning potential costs to the issue. According to a Kurt Salmon analysis, congestion at West Coast ports could cost retailers as much as $7 billion this year.

Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren said he's increasingly concerned about the threat of a labor strike at West Coast ports, so he's enlisting retail heavyweights to lobby the White House for help. After Lundgren and the National Retail Federation urged President Barack Obama to take action, the executive said he also sought the help of friend Doug McMillon, the CEO of Wal-Mart. 

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