Today’s Logistics Report: Checking Out RFID; Resetting Energy Delivery; Crowded Truck Stops



Casual apparel retailer Uniqlo is erasing the gap between inventory management and customer checkouts at the store. The company is applying a new generation of radio frequency identification readers in its checkout machines, the WSJ’s Belle Lin reports, allowing shoppers to simply drop their goods in bins at automated checkout stations that read the RFID tags in a flash. It’s the strategy of Takahiro Tambara, chief information officer of Japan-based Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing, Asia’s top clothing retailer. Mr. Tambara says the self-checkout machines are part of a broader effort to improve Uniqlo’s supply chain that includes a heavy dose of RFID. The company began embedding the chips in its
price tags in 2017 to better track individual items from its factories and warehouses to stores. Newer and cheaper RFID chips, reader hardware, and software are enabling retailers such as Uniqlo to implement the technology with even greater precision.

  • Quarterly sales at Levi Strauss rose 6% but inventory was up 33% and “remains an overhang” at the apparel maker. (MarketWatch)
  • Bed Bath & Beyond struck a $120 million agreement to help boost inventory at the embattled retailer’s stores. (Barron’s)
  • About a third of supply chain managers in a survey expect inventory levels to return to normal by the end of the year. (CNBC)

National Grid provides gas or electricity to about 20 million people in parts of New York and Massachusetts. PHOTO: MATT STONE/MEDIANEWS GROUP/BOSTON HERALD/GETTY IMAGES

Upheaval in U.S. domestic energy distribution markets is accelerating. Two of the country’s largest utility companies, Dominion Energy and National Grid, are weighing potential sales of parts of their natural-gas pipeline networks. The WSJ’s Katherine Blunt, Laura Cooper and Jimmy Vielkind report the efforts involving billions of dollars of assets come as more towns and cities look to phase out the residential use of natural gas. The utilities are grappling with the possibility that parts of their natural-gas delivery networks risk becoming stranded assets, or facilities that retire before they pay for themselves. Shifts in U.S. energy consumption have already roiled supply
chains serving the utilities. Coal volumes in U.S. rail networks have been largely flat this year after breaking a long downturn by rising 2.7% in 2022, according to the Association of American Railroads. Still, U.S. coal consumption last year was about half the level of 2007.

  • Norway has become Europe’s largest supplier of natural gas as Russia has throttled back exports. (New York Times)
  • Finland imported the first shipment of liquefied natural gas through a new floating storage and regasification terminal at the port of Inkoo. (Maritime Executive)

A TravelCenters of America truck stop in Breezewood, Pa. PHOTO: PAUL PAGE/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The onramp for investors looking to get into truck stops is getting crowded. Oil giant BP is trying to fend off a second suitor for TravelCenters of America, with fuel-station operator ARKO looking to top BP’s offer of $86 a share with its own unsolicited bid of $92 a share. TravelCenters has rejected the higher bid and says investors will vote on the matter on May 10. The WSJ’s Jinjoo Lee writes in a Heard on the Street column that markets aren’t treating BP’s bid as a done deal, with shares garnering a premium on the BP offer since ARKO stepped in. The bidding battle highlights big shifts in the fuel-station sector as it begins to adjust to broader changes
in energy trade. Berkshire Hathaway recently took over majority ownership of Pilot Flying J, the largest truck-stop operator in the U.S., from the Haslam family.


Revised calculations show filings for unemployment benefits in the U.S. were higher than previously thought in recent weeks. (WSJ)

Trucking and logistics company ArcBest named Treasurer Matt Beasley as chief financial officer on the retirement of David Cobb. (WSJ)

Costco’s same-store sales fell 1.1% in March, the first monthly decline in nearly three years. (MarketWatch)

A venture between India’s Vedanta Resources and Foxconn to build a $19 billion semiconductor plant in India has failed to gain financial backing or a technology partner. (South China Morning Post)

Airbus plans to double production capacity in China for its A320 passenger jet. (Bloomberg)

Chinese automaker BYD is doubling capacity in a push to overtake Tesla as the world’s biggest manufacturer of electric vehicles. (Nikkei Asia)

A Europol report says criminal networks have made remarkably extensive efforts to infiltrate operations at European ports to help smuggle drugs and illegal goods. (gCaptain)

Sea-Intelligence estimates that Mediterranean Shipping made about $36 billion in operating earnings in 2022. (Splash 247)

Eight shipping industry groups will cooperate to study the potential use of green ammonia as a fuel on the U.S. East Coast. (Port Technology)

Norfolk Southern extended a benefit for medical time off to more of its workers. (Progressive Railroading)

CBRE says third-party logistics companies were the top lessors of new big-box warehouses in the U.S. last year. (DC Velocity)

New York City plans to set up “micro-hubs” for deliveries in the city to curb truck traffic on residential streets. (New York Daily News)

Each Friday, we share top selections from the WSJ Pro team that published during the week. The stories are unlocked for subscribers.

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