Talk of the bay: Nielsen morale ratings slide as job cuts loom

By Times Staff
Published May 2, 2007

Online community Topix.net is abuzz with discussions about layoffs at the TV ratings company The Nielsen Co. in Oldsmar. According to one participant, about 300 employees are being laid off in the first round, and many began receiving their pink slips on Monday. Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus said he wouldn't confirm or deny the layoffs at Oldsmar, but reiterated the company's announcement earlier this year that it was reducing its work force by 10 percent. "We are always looking to make efficiencies and reducing costs, and it's an ongoing process, " Loftus said. "This is an ongoing process and it began in January." Some members in the online forum complained about the cutbacks. "The atmosphere is absolutely horrible and morale is in the toilet. We're all just waiting for the final flush, so to speak, " read one posting. Others seem resigned to their fate. "I was let go this morning (Monday) when I got to work, " read another post. "It was fun while it lasted and good luck to all."

Pharmacy selloff ends Eckerd era

Eckerd Drug became CVS in Florida long ago, but the onetime Largo-based brand name's countdown to extinction draws closer everywhere else. Rite Aid Corp., which is acquiring the remaining 1, 850 Eckerd and Brooks Pharmacy stores from its Canadian owners at Jean Coutu Group, expects to close on the sale by the end of May. Then begins an 18-month transition to make them all Rite Aid stores from the mid-Atlantic states to New England. Rite Aid will emerge from the deal with more than 5, 000 stores, good enough to solidify its hold on third place behind CVS Corp. and Walgreen Inc. Rite Aid divested 24 stores to satisfy antitrust issues triggered by the combination. Coutu, which flopped as Eckerd's owner, will end up with a 30 percent stake in Rite Aid.

USF bids farewell to research center

The 9-year run of the University of South Florida's Center for Economic Development Research draws to a close at the end of the month. The research organization, a smaller version of a better-known economic forecasting group at the University of Florida, never became a household name among local businesses. It shares a building with the Tampa Port Authority off Channelside Drive. The USF business school decided to close the center with the retirement of longtime director Dennis Colie. Does Colie have any regrets? "I stayed a year longer than I wanted to, " he said Tuesday.