A trim for Regis hair care giant; also: Wilsons makes financial moves, ATS Medical’s heart valves, and more Cargill plans

Regis Corp. will attempt to trim costs, just above the ears, please, by closing 160 underperforming salons in 2009. The hair care giant, based in Edina, operates about 13,400 salons and shops worldwide, including SuperCuts, MasterCuts and Cost Cutters. Today’s announcement follows an 18-month review in which Regis examined costs and profits for 8,500 company-owned salons. Of those that will close, about 100 are in regional malls, another 40 are in strip centers, and 20 aretin the United Kingdom.

Wilsons the (struggling) Leather Experts
announced Monday that it’s sold assets from its e-commerce and outlet stores to a New York-based apparel company called AM Retail Group. It’s part of the Brooklyn Park company’s plan to gather enough cash to re-launch the remaining stores as part of a new “mall accessories store concept.” The Pioneer Press’ Gita Sitaramiah reports that the new concept stores will go under the name of Studio. Wilsons Leather also will change its corporate name to PreVu Inc.

ATS Medical’s mechanical heart valves:
They can, well, keep your heart ticking and keep on ticking themselves. The Plymouth medical device maker said today that an examination of one of its Open Pivot heart valves implanted in a patient for 15 years showed no signs of wear. The patient was 70 when it was implanted and lived 15 years before dying of non-valve-related causes, the company said. The patient’s family gave ATS permission to inspect the valve, which had performed an estimated 560 million opening-and-closing cycles.

Minnetonka-based Cargill has broken ground on a manufacturing plant in Chicago that will make foam cushioning out of soybeans instead of petroleum products. The company has been making the material at a Brazil facility for a couple of years, and the new Chicago plant will help increase the product’s supply. It’s used in things such as furniture, bedding and automotive products. A preliminary analysis by the company suggests that making the soybean material can create 36 percent less global warming emissions, compared with petroleum foam.

More Cargill: Thank you to reader David in Minnetonka, who caught a goof on my part in Tuesday’s Cargill note in misplacing its headquarters, which are in the northwest corner of Minnetonka. The office complex at Highway 169 and Excelsior Boulevard in Hopkins is expanding to relieve space at its headquarters and consolidate other locations around the western suburbs. In other Cargill news, the Star Tribune’s Matt McKinney notes the company has made a record $13 million donation to combat global hunger. The money will go to international humanitarian group CARE over the next five years. Some will also go to a Sanford University think tank to study hunger issues.

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