Free Tuesday Trends sample: Aviation rising, Lands’ End mixed, S.C. Johnson falling

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Rising

Aviation: Legislation that would establish a sales tax exemption for aircraft manufacturers begins moving through the state Legislature, breezing through the Senate’s economic development committee by a unanimous vote. The measure, which would exempt aircraft-related parts, maintenance and labor from the state’s sales and use tax, would benefit companies such as Gulfstream in Appleton and Cessna in Milwaukee, which argue that aircraft owners are taking their business to states that don’t levy those taxes. The state Department of Revenue estimates the bill’s annual impact at $2.9 million for the state and $240,000 for local governments, but supporters say that the return on that investment will be a net positive for the state’s bottom line. State Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan, adds that although Gulfstream became the face of the legislation, the exemption stands to benefit many different suppliers and manufacturers along the aerospace industry’s supply chain.

Mixed

Lands’ End: The Dodgeville clothing maker may be on the verge of operating as a standalone company once again after Sears Holdings Corp. acknowledges it is considering divesting itself of the brand. Sears purchased Lands’ End for $1.9 billion in 2002, but analysts had long questioned the partnership — and some speculate a separation could bode well for Lands’ End. Sears says in a statement that a separation would allow Lands’ End to pursue its own strategies and attract its own talent, but that a separation transaction would likely allow Sears shareholders to benefit from the strength of the Lands’ End brand going forward. Observers speculate that Sears may be in “survival mode” in the midst of nearly a decade of sales declines, and some believe that Lands’ End has its own market niche that would allow it to grow independently. The head of the Dodgeville Area Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile — where Lands’ End maintains the bulk of its 4,500-employee domestic workforce — believes a separation would ultimately be good for the southwestern Wisconsin city.

Falling

S.C. Johnson & Son: The Racine-based consumer products giant announces a six-month planning process at a company meeting, and company officials say the resulting global restructuring will lead to job losses in the Racine area of between 100 and 200. S.C. Johnson says the layoffs will be enacted gradually over the fiscal year that begins next July; there’s no target for layoffs throughout the company’s global workforce. A company spokeswoman says despite S.C. Johnson’s recent run of record sales and record profits, officials hope to bolster the company’s positions against rivals Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Clorox and Reckitt Benckiser, arguing that the industry moves quickly. S.C. Johnson currently has about 3,500 employees in the Racine area.