Baker Ahles & Kaskovich

July 16, 2014

Leather from old Southwest Airlines seats going to Africa

Used leather will be recycled by a nonprofit in Nairobi to make shoes and soccer balls for local residents.

A couple of years ago, Southwest Airlines said it was renovating the interiors of its Boeing 737-700s with a new seat called Evolve and replacing all its old leather seats.

The Dallas-based carrier asked itself, “What should we do with thousands of old leather seats?”

The answer: Send them to Kenya to be turned into shoes and soccer balls.

On Tuesday, Southwest announced a recycling project which will donate the used leather to a nonprofit in Nairobi that will use it to produce goods like shoes and soccer balls for the local community.

The airline is also partnering with a nonprofit in Malawi that will develop a leather works training program to teach school kids while generating proceeds for the school

“With the pilot of LUV Seat in Nairobi, Malawi, and the United States, we’re embarking on a new vision of social impact through training, job creation, and ultimately product donation,” said Bill Tiffany, Southwest’s vice president of supply chain management.

Southwest estimates that it has 43 acres of leather from its old seats. With the redesign to the environmentally friendly Evolve seat, the airline reduced the weight of each plane by more than 600 pounds. — Andrea Ahles

GameStop’s Spring Mobile chain buys 19 more stores

GameStop’s Spring Mobile chain of AT&T wireless stores continues to expand.

The Utah-based chain said Wednesday that it bought 19 locations from Cellular Center and In Touch Communications, moving the company into Tennessee and Kentucky, and expanding in Indiana and Illinois.

The latest acquisition continues the rapid growth of Spring Mobile, which GameStop bought last year. The Grapevine-based video game retailer is banking on rapid expansion of Spring Mobile and another small chain, Simply Mac, to transform the company into an operator of specialty electronics retailers.

In April, GameStop executives told investment analysts that the company planned to add 200 to 250 stores to Spring Mobile this year. In the first eight months under GameStop ownership, Spring Mobile made a dozen acquisitions, doubling its size.

With the latest acquisition, Spring Mobile now operates 239 stores in 23 states and calls itself the third-largest authorized retailer of AT&T wireless solutions. More than half — almost 130 locations — have been added in the last 10 months.

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