Starbucks

Andrew Hill

In saying AG Lafley is “uniquely qualified” to lead Procter & Gamble – again – Jim McNerney, the board’s presiding director, somewhat understates the case.

Not only was Mr Lafley one of P&G’s most successful ever leaders between 2000 and 2009, he has literally written the book on how he achieved the corporate turnround – Playing to Win, co-authored by Roger Martin and published this year. But the record of chief executives who return to the top job is mixed: while there are benefits to bringing back the former CEO, there are pitfalls too. Read more

Andrew Hill

Coffee chain to open in Vietnam. Getty Images

Much is being made of Starbucks’ plan to open an outlet in Ho Chi Minh City in February – “taking on Vietnam’s coffee culture”, as the FT headline has it.

In fact, Starbucks is a little behind schedule – it intended to open in Vietnam in 2012 – and, in any case, I wonder if the significance of the move is not in the headline but in the small print, where the Seattle-based group makes its now familiar commitment to “work closely with local farming communities”. Read more

John Gapper

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

John Gapper

Larry Page returns to work at Google today as its chief executive, although he never went away in the first place, having spent a decade as “president of products” and part of the triumvirate that ran the company.

Still, with Eric Schmidt moving up to becoming “executive chairman” – usually an ambiguous term that means “the old chief executive who is not yet willing to relinquish the reins fully” – Mr Page appears to be back in charge of the company he co-founded with Sergey Brin.

The question is whether his return will reinvigorate Google to prevent it being knocked off its perch as the leading internet company by Facebook or others. Its search engine is still leader but search itself is increasingly under pressure. Read more