Vaccine puns, Bob Dylan’s lump sum and Ikea’s ‘emotional but rational’ move
Planet Business: The times they are a-changin’
No drama: William ‘Bill’ Shakespeare (81) receives the Covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry. Photograph: Jacob King/PA Wire/Bloomberg
Image of the week: All’s Well
Ireland’s own Margaret Keenan may have become the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine outside of a drug trial, but the second person to do so at the same hospital in Coventry was none other than William Shakespeare. The internet immediately reckoned Bill, as his friends know him, was looking good for 456 years old, with the news of his vaccination promptly followed by a mass scrambling for the best lines/puns, from the standard “all’s well that ends well” to “the taming of the flu”, “Is this a needle which I see before me?” and “two doses, both alike in quantity”.
Even if this was the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, “exit, pursued by Bayer” was a good effort, though after about 10 minutes of this game, it was agreed all round that this was much ado about nothing. On a non-Shakespearean, but rather pithy note, the signs of the door of Edinburgh General Hospital’s implored people to “join the resistance, get vaccinated”, while elsewhere, in Newcastle, there were “I’ve had my Covid vaccination” stickers on offer to the lucky first patients.
In numbers: Catalogue out
Years that retailer Ikea has been printing its catalogue. The 2021 version will be the last to come in physical form as Ikea makes the “emotional but rational” decision to turn the page.
Peak print run for the catalogue in 2016, when copies were distributed in the 50-plus markets in which Ikea sells bookcases, picture frames and meatballs. Some 40 million of the final 2021 catalogue will be printed.
45 per cent
Rise in Ikea’s online sales over the past year. Even customers who buy in-store are seeking home decor inspiration online rather than consulting the catalogue.
Getting to know: Rubin Ritter
Rubin Ritter (38) has been co-chief executive of German online fashion portal Zalando for a decade but now he is looking for a new challenge – and so is his wife. Ritter, whose contract was due to run until November 2023, announced this week that he was stepping down from Zalando ahead of schedule next year for personal reasons, which he explained thus: “I want to devote more time to my growing family. My wife and I have agreed that, for the coming years, her professional ambitions should take priority. And regarding my own future, I am eager to allow myself time to explore new interests beyond Zalando.” Well, a decade is more than enough at any company anyway. Cristina Stenbeck, chairwoman of Zalando’s supervisory board, said the board regretted his decision but had “the utmost respect for his personal motives”. Ritter’s unnamed wife, meanwhile, is understood to be a judge expecting the couple’s second child.
The list: Going for a song
Bob Dylan this week sold his back catalogue of songs to Universal Music Group in a nine-figure deal that Universal dubbed “the most significant music publishing agreement this century”. But as investors eye up the long-term value of music rights in the age of streaming, it’s far from the only such deal in recent times.
1. Blondie. The Hipgnosis Songs Fund has become a serial buyer of catalogues, with one purchase – the works of Blondie – already hitting pay dirt thanks to Marks & Spencer’s Christmas ad use of One Way or Another.
2. Stevie Nicks. The Fleetwood Mac star cashed in 80 per cent of her music publishing rights in a deal with Primary Wave Music, which immediately welcomed her to “the Primary Wave family”.
3. Richie Sambora. Hipgnosis, led by founder Merck Mercuriadis, has also snapped up song rights held by Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, who said he felt “very strongly that Merck is the only person I could have entrusted my babies to”.
4. Taylor Swift. Rights to her first six albums have been sold for $300 million to private equity group Shamrock Capital, sealing a quick profit for their owner of little more than a year, Ithaca Holdings, run by Swift’s nemesis Scooter Braun.
5. Dave Stewart. One of Hipgnosis’s biggest purchases has been the 1,068-song catalogue of Eurythmics musician Dave Stewart, meaning the fund now owns half of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) and other songs Stewart co-wrote.