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Dunkin’ to close 350 more stores

Associated Press


Dunkin’ to close 350 more stores

Dunkin’ Brands Inc. expects to close up to 800 underperforming US stores this year as it tries to shore up its portfolio in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The company had previously announced the closure of 450 stores within Speedway gas stations. But the company said Thursday it’s targeting an additional 350 stores, most of which are unprofitable. Closing the restaurants would allow their franchisees to reinvest in newer stores in higher-traffic areas, Dunkin’ chief financial officer Katherine Jaspon said during a conference call with investors. Jaspon said the 800 stores represent 8 percent of Dunkin’s US footprint but just 2 percent of its sales. International franchisees are also assessing their stores and could close 350 low-volume stores abroad by the end of this year, Jaspon added. Canton-based Dunkin’ said Thursday its sales dropped 20 percent in the second quarter to $287 million. Sales at US stores open at least a year dropped 19 percent from the April-June period a year ago. Dunkin’ isn’t the only chain targeting low-performing restaurants. McDonald’s said earlier this week that it will close 200 US restaurants this year, about half of which are locations inside Walmart stores. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


California Pizza Kitchen files for bankruptcy

California Pizza Kitchen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Houston on Wednesday, becoming the latest restaurant chain to try to cut debt as it grapples with the pandemic. The company, which operates more than 200 restaurants in the United States and abroad, has reached an agreement with a majority of its senior creditors on a restructuring plan. It’s looking to reduce its debt by $230 million, more than half of the total, and raise additional funding from existing lenders to buttress its balance sheet, according to court filings. Casual dining chains have been struggling to stay afloat as lockdown measures force them to close restaurants. Pizza Hut franchisee’s NPC International, the holding company of Chuck E. Cheese and the US arm of Le Pain Quotidien have sought bankruptcy protection since the pandemic started. Founded in 1985 in Beverly Hills, California Pizza Kitchen was acquired by private equity firm Golden Gate Capital in 2011. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Grubhub sees more orders but suffers a loss on pandemic spending

Grubhub saw its average daily orders jump 32 percent in the second quarter but swung to a loss as it spent heavily to prop up restaurants and protect drivers as the pandemic shut in consumers. The Chicago-based restaurant delivery company lost $45 million in the April-June period, down from a profit of $1.3 million in the same period a year ago. Grubhub announced a $7.3 billion merger with Just Eat last month. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



London company buys two YouTube brands for kids

Moonbug Entertainment Ltd. is building a kids media empire for the YouTube generation. The London-based company has acquired two of the most popular kids brands on YouTube: Cocomelon, an animated show that is the most-viewed channel on the entire site, and Blippi, a program hosted by entertainer Stevin John. Moonbug will now operate the largest network of kids channels on YouTube, encompassing 235 million subscribers and generating more than 7 billion views a month. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Comcast loss on movies and theme parks offset by Peacock subscribers

The coronavirus pandemic took a toll on Comcast in the second quarter as movie theaters closed, theme parks shut down, and advertisers cut back. The company reported Thursday that its NBCUniversal TV, film, and theme park divisions, as well as its Sky unit in Europe, all suffered steep drops in revenue in the April-June quarter. But period was not all grim news. The Philadelphia-based company added US Internet customers and 10 million people have signed up for its new Peacock streaming service since April. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Nestle makes Juneteeth a holiday in the US

Nestle will include Juneteenth as a US holiday starting next year, becoming one of the first European companies to commemorate the formal end of slavery in the country in 1865 as protests over racial injustice rage on. The Swiss food giant joins the likes of Nike and Twitter in adding June 19 to its corporate holiday calendar for the first time. Juneteenth quickly became more widely known this year amid Black Lives Matter demonstrations and outrage over an initial plan by President Trump to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., that day. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Trump administration allows Keystone pipeline to carry more oil-sands crude

The Trump administration will allow the existing Keystone pipeline to carry more oil-sands crude into the Midwest and Gulf Coast while the conduit’s decade-old expansion project faces renewed legal hurdles. A White House permit issued Wednesday raises the cross-border shipping limit for the TC Energy Corp. line to 760,000 barrels a day, from 590,000 under a previous presidential permit, company spokesman Terry Cunha said in an e-mail. The White House decision came after President Trump’s earlier approval of TC Energy’s proposed Keystone XL expansion project was hampered by a federal court decision that blocked most construction. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Maker of Budweiser sees an increase in demand

Anheuser-Busch InBev returned to growth early in the summer as lockdowns that shut bars and restaurants eased, showing that the worst effects of the pandemic may be over for Big Beer. The Budweiser brewer’s volumes advanced 0.7 percent in June after crashing by about a third in April, a sign that demand for beer is slowly picking up again. Overall sales in the latest quarter totaled $10.3 billion, above analysts’ estimate of $9.5 billion. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


SpongeBob finds a new home

For 21 years, Nickelodeon has relied on ‘‘SpongeBob SquarePants’’ to draw young viewers to TV. Now, the cable network wants its underwater character to lure tots and their parents to the Internet. ViacomCBS, which owns Nickelodeon, is adding the entire catalog of ‘‘SpongeBob SquarePants’’ to its CBS All Access streaming service on Thursday, and will release ‘‘Kamp Koral,’’ a spinoff show, on the service early next year. ‘‘Kamp Koral’’ will arrive around the same time a new ‘‘SpongeBob’’ movie appears on All Access, making it the online home for one of the most popular kids’ franchises. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Yelp says more than half of business closures will be permanent

More than half of the business closures that were temporary when the COVID-19 outbreak began are now considered permanent, according to Yelp Inc. Of the 132,580 closures listed on its website as of July 10, 55 percent are permanent, up 14 percentage points from the end of June, according to the Yelp’s Economic Average Report released Wednesday. More than 72,000 businesses have permanently shut down, with California, Texas, and Florida accounting for the largest share. Restaurants accounted for the largest number of permanent closures in Yelp’s report, followed by the retail and beauty industries, bars and fitness centers. — BLOOMBERG NEWS