Planet Business

This week: The 9/11 gift shop, an ‘undecillion’ and the five fastest-rising brands in the world

Image of the week: Marchant mirth 
The man laughing his head off is Paul Marchant, chief executive of Primark, and it's not because he's seen Marks & Spencer's new season collection. Marchant was in Spain on Tuesday to open the company's largest store in Spain, just outside Madrid. (The chain's founder, Dublin-born retail veteran Arthur Ryan, was also on hand for ribbon-cutting duties.)

Primark, aka Penneys if you're Irish, is planning to open its first store in the US in Boston in late 2015, a move that this week prompted US retail analyst Walter Loeb to predict a successful market entry and note that the advent of Primark's "strong merchandising" at bargain-basement prices are "scary" if you happen to be a US retailer. Or if you happen to be Marks & Spencer, he could well have added. Photograph: Reuters/Javier

Barbancho In numbers: Exit through the gift shop

The annual operating costs of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, which opened this week, and features a gift shop.
Cost of a black "Darkness Hoodie" in the shop featuring an image of the twin towers in reverse silhouette and the words, "In darkness we shine brightest".
Price tag on the Search & Rescue Dog cuddly toy, which has a removable vest and is available in three breeds.

The lexicon: Undecillion
An undecillion is a fantasy 37-digit jackpot. In dollars, it's $1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. A man called Anton Purisima is now suing the City of New York and a bunch of other defendants for not one but two undecillion, or more money than actually exists on earth, after he was allegedly bitten by a rabies-infected dog on a bus.


“This Might Be The Most Frivolous Lawsuit of All Time,” read Time magazine’s headline. Purisima, who has previously sued the People’s Republic of China for hurts unknown, also claims that LaGuardia Airport overcharged him for coffee, a situation that apparently compounded the pain and suffering of the alleged bite. The dog was not available for comment.

Getting to know: Don Thompson
McDonald's chief executive Don Thompson has seen his $9.5 million pay package receive a heavy grilling this week, as thousands marched on the McDonald's "Hamburger University" to campaign for higher wages for the rank-and-file. Thompson wasn't born into a business elite, growing up near the Chicago housing project Cabrini-Green, but a determined grandmother, his maths and science talent and a positive discrimination scheme combined to lead to an engineering degree. When a recruiter told him McDonald's was looking for someone to engineer "robotics, control circuitry and feedback loops", Thompson reportedly assumed it was a defence firm called McDonnell's that was seeking his skills. On realising it was the fast food chain, he said he wouldn't flip hamburgers for anybody. He eventually did flip burgers, but only as part of "learn the business inside out" training along his path to the top.

The list: Brand climbers
According to Millward Brown's annual BrandZ Top 100 list of the most valuable global brands, the value of these brands is rising faster than all the others.
1 Tencent: The Chinese internet portal and social network's company, owner of WeChat, has risen 97 per cent in value over the past year and is worth an estimated $54 billion.
2 Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg's college experiment, now with added WhatsApp, is a $36 billion brand, up 68 per cent in value, by Millward Brown's metric.
3 BT: It's good to talk, but it's even better for the former British telecoms monopoly to hoover up sports rights. Its brand value clocks in at $15.4 billion, up 61 per cent.
4 Ikea: The home of Billy bookcases is worth $19.4 billion in brand value terms, with the BrandZ report crediting its ability to furnish the homes of both "single Millennials", young families and the aspiring middle class.
5 Uniqlo: The Japanese clothing retailer has reaped the benefits of shoppers' love of temperature-control fabrics, and is now worth $7.3 billion, up 58 per cent. Uniqlo has strong credentials in one of the most important products in the world: underwear.