Business highlights

Starbucks begins closing operations in Europe

SEATTLE (AP) — Starbucks is restructuring its European operations after several years of slowing sales.

The Seattle-based coffee chain is selling 83 company-owned stores in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to its longtime partner, Alsea. Alsea will also take over operations at 177 other Starbucks locations in those countries which are owned by franchisees.

Mexico City-based Alsea already operates more than 900 Starbucks stores in Mexico and South America. The deal is similar to one Starbucks made in 2016, when it sold off its stores in Germany.

Starbucks also plans to close offices in Amsterdam and consolidate its European headquarters in London. The closure will impact 186 employees, who will be encouraged to apply to open jobs in London.

Starbucks will retain a roasting plant in the Netherlands which employs 80 people.

Kleenex plans to

rebrand ‘mansize’ tissues

LONDON (AP) — Kleenex will re-brand its “Mansize” tissues after consumers complained the name was sexist — touching off a social media conversation about what’s in a name.

The company behind Kleenex, Kimberly-Clark, said Thursday that the product, which is sold only in the U.K., will now be called “Kleenex Extra Large.” Packages for the tissues describe them as “confidently strong” and “comfortingly soft.”

Kimberly-Clark told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that it in “no way suggests” that being both soft and strong was “an exclusively masculine trait, nor do we believe that the Mansize branding suggests or endorses gender inequality.”

“We are always grateful to customers who take time to tell us how our products can be improved, and we carefully consider all suggestions,” the company said in a statement.

The tissues, which had been on shelves for 60 years, were launched at a time when large cotton handkerchiefs were still very popular and the brand offered “a unique disposable alternative,” the company said. It remains one of their most popular products, with over 3.4 million people buying the tissues every year.

Kimberly-Clark is not the first company to run into a branding issue forced by changing social views.

Among the more memorable casualties was stationery maker BiC, which ran into disparaging comments when trying to market pink and purple pens “for her.” Amazon was flooded by reviews poking fun at the strategy and the notion that it was “designed to fit comfortably in a woman’s hand.”