Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders
While the bulk of the focus at this year’s Reuters Real Estate Summit is on the commercial real estate side of the business, Richard Dugas, chief executive of Pulte Homes, spoke to us about how things look on the residential side of the aisle.
It remains pretty rough out there.
Dugas told us it was still difficult to predict where things stood and how the rest of 2009 would shape up, but he did sound somewhat hopeful that the sector had leveled off from its dramatically depressed levels seen during 2008.
The confetti was not going off and there was no champagne being passed around just yet, but after a ride south that the residential real estate and building industry has seen, “not getting much worse,” sounds a lot like “better”.
In the first day of our annual Reuters Real Estate Summit, our first few guests were not seeing a lot of the so-called “green shoots” that other parts of the U.S. economy are supposed to be seeing.
There are still an enormous number of troubles out there — including a lack of available credit and the dire need to restructure many loans made during the go-go days of a few years ago.
Charles Schwab’s Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders believes the rise in oil prices is in part directly related to the improvement in the economy. Sonders says “there’s no reality if the economy is starting to improve to the ten-year staying at 2-percent and oil staying at $32 dollars.” Do you agree? Or, will the rise in prices start raising red flags? Click here to listen to Sonders’ view.
Today I had the chance to sit down with the CEO of Liz Claiborne in our Times Square studios as part of the 2009 Reuters Global Retail Summit. Bill McComb says “the world has changed and it’s not going back to business as usual.” Click here to listen to what McComb described as the “new normal” and what the fashion company is doing to change the way it does business.
from Shop Talk:
Tim Gunn lovers, alert! An apparel line under the name of fashion's favorite is not entirely out of the question. So says chief executive of Liz Claiborne, the apparel giant that now employs Gunn as its chief creative officer.
Liz Claiborne Chief Executive William McComb, attending the Reuters Global Retail Summit, was asked whether a Tim Gunn-branded apparel line could ever be in the stars.
"I do, and obviously we would be the ones to do it," responded McComb.
The strength of Gunn -- who skyrocketed to fame through television's popular "Project Runway" reality series -- is his impeccable eye, McComb said.
"Tim is not a designer. He does not design. What he would bring to the table is the common sense edit of how to build a wardrobe," said McComb.
"He could do the black dress, the white top, the work pants ... it would be not necessarily high faloutin' fashion, but really smart."
And so we wait in anticipation. Read Reuters' Liz Claiborne story here.
In the meantime, don't expect a celebrity designer smack-down between Gunn and Liz Claiborne's new creative designer, Isaac Mizrahi.
"They're friends, they knew each other from Parsons," said McComb, referring to the prestigious New York design school. "I would characterize it as very warm, very engaging, very friendly."
from Shop Talk:
Many U.S. consumers are not really in the mood to go on vacation. That's understandable, with all that's happening in the economy right now.
Guess who else is staying home this summer?
"As a family -- my wife, my kids and I -- are making sure we're doing more in the way of 'staycations' as opposed to traveling as much," Stephen Sadove, chief executive of upscale retailer Saks, said at the Reuters Global Luxury Summit in New York on Tuesday.
The retailer's top executive said he was paring back expenses and planning to forgo his annual ritual of getting himself a new watch in the light of the economy.
Sadove, who has personally paid to take his wife along in the past on a few of his European buying trips, said, "I didn't think that sent the right signal … We decided that wasn't the right thing to be doing."
One can only hope the struggling retailer's sales figures start sending the right signals soon.
Interior designer Jonathan Adler points to his quirky and irreverent housewares as part of his success during the current economic environment. Click here to listen to what he has to say about his design aesthetic and how gloomy times might be driving people to bring home a little “happy chic.”
This week we’re getting inside views from some of the biggest names in retail…from high-end fashion houses like Hermes to department store chain J.C. Penney. Optimism among those in the industry about a turnaround toward the end of 2009 springs eternal…but what are you seeing? Where are you spending? Or, are you trading down? Ditching Saks and heading to Target? Barclays retail analyst Bob Drbul says the key for consumers in the current economic environment, no matter where they shop, is “value.” Click here to hear his thoughts:
Rice University’s Baker Institute Energy Forum Director Amy Jaffe says, like many other analysts we’ve spoken to this week at the 2009 Reuters Global Energy Summit in Houston, the supply and demand fundamentals for oil are not in sync. But, will oil investors continue to push prices higher through the end of 2009? Or, will they lose their shirts come December? Check out what she had to say…
AT&T says it sees a lot of promise for the netbook and the connection fees that come with the devices as a growing source of revenue as consumers look to take broadband connectivity on the road. But will consumers be as enthusiatic to sign another contract for the service? Click below to hear AT&T’s President of Mobile & Consumer Markets talk about what he sees as the future of the netbook.