KFC tempura chicken strips get progressively spicier, the deeper you penetrate inland China. Iglo’s frozen fish fingers used to have four different colours of breadcrumb, depending where you bought them in Europe. Read more
Luxury goods companies increasingly seem to inhabit a parallel universe.
Many ordinary shopkeepers – at least in the recession-blighted west – are grappling with slumping sales, falling share prices and the threat of bankruptcy.
In the US, in an effort to offset worse than expected post-Thanksgiving trading, many stores caused confusion, according to the New York Times, by bringing forward “Super Saturday” – a day of pre-Christmas discounting – to December 17. In the UK, the bleak outlook for the likes of HMV, Peacocks and Blacks Leisure, is a symptom of what one analyst forecasts will be the worst Christmas for a decade.
Contrast that gloom with the great expectations of the luxury brands. On Wednesday, Mulberry announced it would appoint Bruno Guillon, a director of Hermès, the high-end French company, as its next CEO. He’ll lead the UK bagmaker’s push into Asia. The group’s shares added another 3 per cent, having risen 60 per cent in the past year. Read more
Whoever thought up Amazon’s latest idea for squeezing other retailers – offering money off to people who scanned prices in US stores with its smartphone app and then bought the goods on Amazon – deserves an award for bad timing. Read more
J.C. Penney, the department store chain, has pulled a fast one by nabbing Ron Johnson, head of Apple’s retail stores as its next chief executive.
The runaway success of Apple’s stores, despite early predictions that they would go the way of other capital-intensive efforts by product manufacturers to reach consumers, have prompted many imitations but none have worked as well. Read more
The changes to director remuneration at Tesco following a shareholder rebellion last year are sensible enough. The interesting thing is the line they draw between entrepreneurial risks and rewards, and what directors of big companies should be paid. Read more
I’m intrigued by McDonald’s move in Europe to replace some cashiers by introducing touchscreens on which customers can order their own food because it is a practice that could be introduced more widely in retail outlets and restaurants.
My reaction stems from having noticed that I prefer to use self-scanning machines at a local supermarket rather than go to the aisle where items are scanned by a cashier. I find it generally quicker and easier to scan them for myself. Read more
I asked Sir Terry Leahy to bring to his video interview with me this week – his last as Tesco’s chief executive – an object or picture that represented a “personal turning point” for him. My heart dropped when word came back from the supermarket chain’s HQ that he’d be bringing a Clubcard.
Sure, this sliver of plastic tells the retail group more about shoppers’ preferences and habits than any opinion poll ever could. But we know what the discount-voucher card tells Leahy about us; would it tell us anything about Leahy? Read more
John Gapper is an associate editor and the chief business commentator of the FT.
He has worked for the FT since 1987, covering labour relations, banking and the media. He is co-author, with Nicholas Denton, of 'All That Glitters', an account of the collapse of Barings in 1995.
Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He is a former City editor, financial editor, comment and analysis editor, New York bureau chief, foreign news editor and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.