Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Perils of disaster fixation


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


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


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


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.