Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ

By Paul Page Features Dow Jones Newswires

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Amazon.com Inc.'s latest effort to take command of its fulfillment operations involves people -- lots and lots of people. The e-commerce giant is holding what's effectively a national jobs fair next week to fill 50,000 new positions at distribution centers and sorting sites in the U.S., the WSJ's Laura Stevens reports, giving the company an early start in setting up for the holiday rush. It also puts Amazon on track to swell its U.S. workforce to around 300,000 by next year, up from 30,000 in 2011 and closer to the payrolls of the big express parcel carriers, United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. The expansion is a result of the rapid growth in online sales and the crunch around the holidays as retailers and logistics scramble to handle a growing flood of packages. Finding the hires is proving tougher, with warehouse employment nearing a landmark 1 million U.S. jobs, according to federal figures, and Amazon looks like it is trying to corner the market for those workers.

Norfolk Southern Corp. may be the winner so far in rival CSX Corp.'s drive to remake its freight rail operations. The railroad says it is winning over shippers in its eastern U.S. network just as CSX is struggling with service problems as the railroad cuts costs and streamlines its network, the WSJ's Paul Ziobro reports. The changes have disrupted operations for shippers, who Mr. Harrison says should brace for "a little pain and suffering." Shifting volumes from one railroad to another is not easy, but Norfolk Southern says it has seen "some business move over," and experts say others are looking for changes as they set long-term projects. Norfolk Southern says it will take the business at the right price, and that seemed to be the case in the second quarter. The railroad posted a 23% increase in profit to $497 million on a 7% gain in revenue.

China's e-commerce companies are looking for new growth drivers as the country's torrid online expansion loses momentum. Beijing-based JD.com is trying to maintain growth by building on its logistics network with faster deliveries and adding to its product line to appeal to more affluent consumers, the WSJ's Liza Lin and Alyssa Abkowitz report, even as bigger rival Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. rolls out its own international expansion plan. They are responding to changes in their core market: China's e-commerce business is expected to grow 19% this year, according to McKinsey & Co., down sharply from 74% growth in 2011. JD.com has outpaced the growth, building up its gross merchandise volume 40% in its first quarter ended March 31. With about twice JD.com's number of users, Alibaba and its big online shopping sites remain dominant in China. Some analysts believe bigger moves by the smaller competitor could trigger a price war, with Alibaba rolling out liberal discounts to retain customers.

E-COMMERCE

The internal combustion engine could be losing steam. The U.K. is planning to ban the sale of cars powered by traditional engines by 2040, joining other European regulators in a bold push toward populating roads with electric cars. The initiative follows a similar move by France and efforts by several European cities to ban or restrict diesel engines, the WSJ Eric Sylvers and John D. Stoll report, even as electric cars remain unpopular in the mass market. With their timeline, British regulators hope to spur more development and take a role in the global tug of war over the power behind transportation. One a global scale, the U.K. and France pale in car sales compared to the U.S. and China -- which together sell nearly half of the world's light vehicles. But China is working to dissuade purchases of conventional cars while funding development of a domestic supply chain for alternative technology, an effort that could change the landscape both in the country and abroad.

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IN OTHER NEWS

The U.K. economy grew a subdued 0.3% in the second quarter. (WSJ)

U.S. new-home sales rose slightly in June in a market marked by severe supply constraints. (WSJ)

Foxconn Technology Group named Wisconsin as the site of its first factory in a planned $10 billion investment in U.S. manufacturing. (WSJ)

Boeing Co. swung to a $1.76 billion second-quarter profit as the company clamped down on the cost of building its jets. (WSJ)

Malaysia's Petronas energy company is ending its multibillion-dollar plan to build a natural-gas export terminal on Canada's west coast. (WSJ)

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a cap-and-trade program that requires businesses there to obtain permits for greenhouse-gas emissions. (WSJ)

Matthew Wadiak, a founder of Blue Apron Holdings Inc., is stepping down from executive leadership after the company's rocky first month on the market. (WSJ)

Farm equipment manufacturer Agco Corp. will buy the Precision Planting LLC high-tech planting equipment line from Monsanto Co. (WSJ)

Whole Foods Market Inc.'s same-store sales fell 1.9% in the latest quarter, extending a streak going back two years. (WSJ)

The board of Snapdeal agreed to accept a takeover offer of up to $950 million from rival Indian e-commerce company Flipkart. (Economic Times)

Japan Display, a supplier of panels to Apple Inc., is seeking nearly $900 million in new bank aid. (Nikkei Asian Review)

Japan's "K" Line is selling its troubled SAL Heavy Lift business to Harren & Partner of Germany. (Lloyd's List)

Orders for new shipping vessels have slipped this year but tanker and bulk cargo orders have grown sharply. (American Shipper)

Orders for newbuild ocean vessels have slipped during the first half of 2017, despite orders for bulkers and tankers rising during the period, according to newly-released data from ship valuation service VesselsValue.

Covenant Transportation Inc. says freight demand is growing this summer following a 60% decline in the trucker's second-quarter net profit. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Online furniture retailer Wayfair plans to open a distribution center in the burgeoning logistics area outside Dallas. (Dallas Morning News)

Discount grocery chain Aldi will open a distribution center in Goodyear, Ariz., as it expands into the U.S. southwest. (Arizona Central)

Minnesota-based Supervalu Holdings will pay $61 million to buy a large distribution center in Joliet, Ill., owned by bankrupt Central Grocers. ( Chicago Tribune)

Singapore's manufacturing output jumped 13.1% in June, the 11th straight monthly gain. (Straits Times)

Amazon is preparing to launch services in Singapore, its first entry into Southeast Asia. (TechCrunch)

Dutch ship operator Samskip will acquire the assets of Norway-based cargo carrier Samskip. (Ship& Bunker)

The family-owned trucking company linked to the deadly case of immigrant smuggling in Texas has a history of safety and tax violations and financial problems. (Associated Press)

A nonprofit group is suing the Trump administration, saying it illegally convened an infrastructure advisory council without public disclosures. ( New York Times)

A study commissioned by DHL says supply chain companies face "a potential crisis" in recruiting qualified workers. (Lloyd's Loading List)

ABOUT US

Paul Page is deputy editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow him at @PaulPage, and follow the entire WSJ Logistics Report team: @brianjbaskin , @jensmithWSJ and @EEPhillips_WSJ. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

Write to Paul Page at paul.page@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 27, 2017 07:07 ET (11:07 GMT)