Retailers, consumers and prices
Check out what executives at luxury retailers around the world are saying about consumer demand.
Early feedback from the Reuters Global Luxury Summit, which gathered top executives from Asia, Europe and the United States, sounds positive. Some executives even predicted that the sector will rebound this year after suffering during the weak economy.
Paris-based luxury fund SG Gestion, for instance, said watches and spirits are set for a solid comeback, with LVMH, Swatch and Richemont topping the list of companies with the biggest upside.
Meanwhile, sales at British luxury fashion brand Jaeger have grown strongly, helped by a booming online business that is set to double in size over three years. Italian fashion house Valentino is building up its business and Japanese upscale jeweler Mikimoto and Japanese cosmetics firm Shiseido are eyeing growth in China.
Check out the new guy in charge at Barnes & Noble.
On Thursday, Barnes & Noble named William Lynch, the (young) father of its Nook e-reader, as its new chief executive. Outgoing CEO Stephen Riggio — the chairman and founder’s brother — is sticking around as a vice chairman.
Barnes & Noble appears to be betting that the Nook will be a prime source of future growth. Lynch, 39, called e-books “key to our future” during a morning conference call.
Check Out the ongoing battle between food makers and retailers.
As the recession crimps household budgets, retailers like Wal-Mart and Target are increasingly looking to woo shoppers with their own private label food items that often look very similar to name brand products but are sold at lower prices.
Wal-Mart is relaunching its Great Value private brand, adding more than 80 new products, like double-stuffed sandwich cookies and organic cage-free eggs.
The global economic meltdown has the World Bank on high alert.
As the financial crisis deepens, the World Bank is issuing even bleaker warnings about rising poverty and hunger in the developing world. Initially, it estimated that 46 million people in developing countries could be pushed into poverty. Now, that level is up another 7 million.
“We estimate that about 130 million people were pushed into poverty from the food crisis and if you add the financial crisis on top of that we are estimating that about 53 million more people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the financial crisis,” World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit.
Children and women are being hardest hit, she said. The World Bank estimated that the current financial downturn may add between 200,000 and 400,000 additional infant deaths per year on average in the 2009 to 2015 period. That means a total of 1.4 million to 2.8 million more infant deaths, if the financial strain continues.
“The one big piece we need to look at in this financial crisis and its translation into the food crisis is that we’re talking about human beings,” said Okonjo-Iweala. “Remember that 923 million people are malnourished the world over. When you talk about the financial crisis becoming an unemployment crisis in the developed world, in the developing world for many poor people it’s not an issue of unemployment, it’s an issue of life and death.”
(Reuters photos of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Jan. 2009/Girls waiting for drinking water in Kathmandu, March 2009)
You are not alone.
“When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7-year-old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week,” U.S. President Barack Obama said recently, referring to a salmonella outbreak that has made 683 people in 46 states sick, killed as many as nine and forced the recall of more than 3,000 products.
from Summit Notebook:
While the six degrees game is tied to Kevin Bacon, connections to other celebrities are helping a major charity.
from Summit Notebook:
Great Value, which first hit stores in 1993, is being relaunched with more than 80 new products and packaging that "pops" according to Andrea Thomas, who helped oversee the relaunch and spoke to the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago.
from Summit Notebook:
The recession has hit U.S. consumers, yet Reckitt Benckiser has not felt as much of a pinch. The maker of Lysol disinfectants and Air Wick air fresheners said shoppers did not shy away from its products even as the overall household products industry felt the impact of pantry destocking, or consumers using up what they had at home rather than buying more products.
Rob De Groot, head of the group's North America and Australia region, told the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago that he did not see a massive consumer destocking. Click here to hear his comments.
De Groot expects Reckitt's U.S. market share to rise this year, even as the overall market remains flat.
“Our lives are incredibly chaotic,” said the 57-year-old CEO, who says he has found an easy way to step up his exercise and burn off calories from some of his favorite foods, such as Campbell’s tomato rice soup and a grilled cheese sandwich made on his company’s Pepperidge Farm bread.