Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Perils of disaster fixation

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By Tim Kelly

Fixated on reviving the shattered northeastern seaboard, Japan risks neglecting growth in the rest of the economy, warns Takeshi Niinami, CEO of Lawson, Japan’s second-biggest convenience store operator.

“The question is what do you do about the other 95 percent of the economy,” Niinami told the Reuters Rebuilding Japan Summit in Tokyo.

His remedy: throw Japan open to the rest of the world and deregulate, policies more in vogue before Japan’s March 11 earthquake than since.

Niinami wants Japan’s politicians to rediscover their pre-quake appetite to thrust Japan into trade pacts either with Southeast Asian economies or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a policy that Prime Minister Naoto Kan enthused about at the start of the year but since March 11 has dropped.

Talbots still has too many shops: shortseller

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KRAVETZApparel retailer Talbots announced a deal that will reduce its debt by about $330 million through its purchase of a blank check company.

The company, which caters to older women, has suffered since it bought trendier retailer J. Jill in 2006 for $517 million. But it resold it this year to private equity firm Golden Gate for $75 million.

All I want for Christmas is a blockbuster

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What’s a great holiday gift in a recession, yes a good old fashioned book. Random House just got its new Dan Brown bestseller on the shelves.

Pearson’s Chief Financial Officer admitted that its consumer publisher Penguin does not have a blockbuster for the holiday season but — in a rare glimpse of corporate honesty — said it sure would like to have one.

Retail in recession: bottoms, bananas and breeding

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So, what did we learn from executives in the hard-hit luxury and main street retail sectors this week at the Reuters summits?

The idea of a “new normal” age of lower consumerism was in vogue, with many executives expecting consumers to continue to be thrifty for some time. Conspicuous consumption may be dead, they say.

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