As if the luxury goods industry were not already in a fragile mood, Johann Rupert, chairman of Richemont, owner of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, gave it more to worry about this week. He warned of the damage it faces from growing wealth inequality, and resentment among the have-nots of those who flaunt luxury watches and jewellery.
The price of oil keeps on falling; the shale gas boom has reduced the price of natural gas in the US to a third of that in France; Germany has appealed to Sweden for its support in expanding two coal mines; and the EU’s effort to switch to clean energy is troubled. For companies wondering where to locate, the world has turned upside down.
There is something peculiarly impressive about the video below of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, talking in Mandarin to students at Tsinghua University in Beijing. If nothing else, it shows a dedication to the country’s customs that very few foreign business leaders can match.
The Chinese backlash against the US decision to charge five Chinese military officers with cyber-espionage has started. Of the US companies likely to be affected, Cisco is the most obvious.
The New York Times, quoting Caixin magazine and the Xinhua news agency, says China plans to make security assessments of foreign equipment entering the country to ensure that it cannot be used for espionage: Read more
The UN theme for International Women’s Day on Saturday is: Equality for women is progress for all. One glance at the FT graphic on women in senior management, published on Friday, suggests this progress is now happening on a global scale – but with some perhaps surprising results.
Arriving in Shenzhen last week, I saw a poster for a local company called Stylution. Multinationals have concocted a similarly awkward “stylish solution” to the problem of how to staff expansion in China: hire hybrid managers with a perfect mix of global and local experience.
Apple $60m settlement with Proview Technology of Shenzhen, the manufacturing city in the Pearl River delta, to gain undisputed control of its iPad trademark, shows how tricky controlling intellectual property in China remains.
China is still stuck between its official policy of moving to more innovation and protection of intellectual property and the sketchier reality on the ground. It remains very easy to buy knock-off Apple phones and components in the Pearl River. Read more
The news that sales of Rolls-Royce cars in China have overtaken those in the US, and that China now accounts for 31 per cent of Rolls-Royce’s sales, makes me wonder if we have reached a turning point for luxury design.
That sprung to mind when I saw a BMW M5 driving along a parkway in the US the other day. Although this is subjective, my first reaction to looking at its rear view and tail lights was that it would have looked more at home on the Bund in Shanghai. Read more
We all know that the world’s economic centre of gravity is moving east as India and China grow rapidly, but Danny Quah of the London School of Economics has managed to draw a map of it. Read more
The speed at which global auto makers, particularly luxury car companies, are switching their focus of interest from the US to China continues to amaze.
BMW’s results on Tuesday, showing that its second quarter sales in China doubled from 22, 700 to 45,200, followed a declaration on Monday by Volvo’s new Chinese chairman that it will compete more directly with BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
China’s luxury car market is not only growing very rapidly but also has better margins than other markets, making it very attractive to global car companies. Read more