Planet business

 

Image of the week: Fish made of plastic bottles

The artist’s intentions have arguably been more successful than the summit itself, with environmental groups saying the 49-page text produced at it doesn’t do enough to protect the air, oceans and earth from pollution and United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon joining in to say he was disappointed that the meeting wasn’t more ambitious.

He attributed slow progress to “conflicting interests”.

The lexicon: Chindown

Planet Business doesn’t think this one will catch on somehow, but then the man who coined it, Financial Times Asia editor David Pilling, doesn’t seem too proud of it either. Unlike the “Grexit”/Greek euro zone exit shorthand (originally coined by Citi economist Willem Buiter), no one, Pilling notes, has yet “invented a silly term” for the slowdown in the Chinese economy that Beijing authorities are in the process of engineering.

So in a bid for Buiter glory, he proposes “Chindown”, explaining that such a phenomenon would have a catastrophic effect on numerous economies, headed by Brazil, that are dependent on China for their economic growth. But it wouldn’t necessarily be bad for everyone, with producers of soft commodities as well as big oil producers among those who might benefit from its rebalancing

In numbers: luxury goods

7.7

Percentage climb over the past five days in the share price of Burberry, the UK’s biggest luxury-goods company. The stock was lifted on Monday by a report from Deutsche Bank, which said the luxury sector had “never had it so good”.

11

Return on capital in the luxury-goods sector has expanded by this many percentage points since 2001, according to Deutsche Bank, which said absolute levels of profitability were “at all-time highs for most brands”.

17

Percentage gain in sales of jewellery, watches and valuable gifts in Hong Kong’s retail market in the first quarter compared to a year earlier. Hong Kong is one of the key markets for brands such as Prada and Miu Miu.

$500,000

It’s not all going swimmingly for luxury brands: US luggage maker Samsonite is to spend up to this sum on replacement handles on its Tokyo Chic line after reports that they contained carcinogens.

Getting to know: Greg Wasson

By getting into bed with Boots to the tune of $6.7 billion (€5.3 billion), Walgreens chief executive Greg Wasson is in effect the man at the top of a global pharmacy retailer with 11,000 stores in 12 countries. Under the deal, the Illinois-based drugstore chain – the largest in the US – will buy a 45 per cent stake in Alliance Boots and has the option to buy the remaining 55 per cent in three years.

Wasson (53) is described as “a tough risk-taker” by Chicago magazine, citing his decision to ditch a major drug supplier rather than cave on pricing – a move that meant the chain lost customers. He belongs to the generation of retailers who worked themselves up through the business, first joining Walgreens as a pharmacy intern in 1980 while studying for his pharmacy degree, following the route from store manager to vice-president, and then fending off external candidates for the top job.

Not everyone thinks Wasson’s link-up with Alliance Boots is a smart way to expand, however, with Meredith Adler, an analyst at Barclays Capital, describing it as “an expensive acquisition of a company that is highly exposed to the weak UK and European markets”.

But at least it still sells the best travel-sized shampoos.

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