News for your perusual (3)


HeiQ acquires Belgian industrial biotech company, Chrisal

Material innovator HeiQ announce that it has acquired Chrisal N.V., a Belgian industrial biotechnology company, adding probiotic ingredients and technology platforms to its offerings.

HeiQ announced that it has acquired 51% of the share capital and voting rights of Chrisal N.V., Belgium, which will be renamed HeiQ Chrisal. Chrisal is a biotechnology company and a leader in innovative ingredients and consumer products that incorporate the benefits of probiotics and synbiotics. It has three technology platforms, all with the purpose to create healthy and sustainable microbial ecosystems. The application of its proprietary technology includes cosmetics, personal care, textiles, wound dressings, water purification, air treatment and cleaning products. Chrisal has its office, manufacturing site and bottling facility in Lommel, Belgium.

With this acquisition,  HeiQ underlines its strategy of becoming a global leader in materials innovation, gaining access to the technology platform of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics for bio-based odor & stain control for carpet & footwear, anti-allergen effect in mattress and bedding, microbial and viral protection for surfaces, anti-inflammatory effect in wound dressings, probiotic skin enhancing cosmetics, algae and biofilm control in drinking water as well as advanced synbiotic surface protection. With this strategic acquisition HeiQ enters the broader market of surface management and accesses a bio-based green complementary technology platform to its immensely successful antimicrobials.

HeiQ co-founder and CEO Carlo Centonze said: “The acquisition of a majority stake in Chrisal brings multiple benefits to HeiQ and its shareholders. The acquisition will progress our direct-to-consumer offer and enlarges our product offering to hygiene-sensitive environments, such as the healthcare sector. HeiQ is increasingly becoming more than a textile technology company; we are innovating materials more broadly. This acquisition of a leading probiotics business is aimed at making HeiQ a leader in probiotic innovation. Chrisal’s culture of entrepreneurship, people empowerment, sustainability, innovation and lean processes are a perfect match with HeiQ.”

Corrie Gielen, President of Chrisal commented: “For 30 years Chrisal has built on new technologies to improve our world in a sustainable way. With our latest patented Synbio® technology we have found the best solution to strengthen products, people and our environment. We are confident that the new partnership with HeiQ will bring us the additional competences and network needed to globalize this beautiful and groundbreaking technology. Together we combine the best of nature with the latest in science to make the difference for a better world.”


ILO: New Swiss agreement on development cooperation

On 1 April, President Guy Parmelin received Mr Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization ILO. In the presence of employers’ and workers’ associations, they signed Switzerland’s new agreement on development cooperation with the ILO. Mr Parmelin also announced that Switzerland had joined Alliance 8.7, a global platform to eliminate child labour, forced labour and human trafficking.

Guy Parmelin

The agreement sets out Switzerland’s strategic priorities for joint development cooperation activities and is intended to ensure that Switzerland’s policy is coherent with that of the ILO and its programmes. It lends detail to the strategy adopted by Switzerland and the social partners in 2013 with respect to the ILO.

Guy Ryder

The newly signed agreement replaces that of 2016. The new agreement takes into account the changing context of development cooperation, namely the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the ILO’s ‘Centennial Declaration on the Future of Work’, and the global employment crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, Mr Parmelin announced that Switzerland had joined Alliance 8.7. This global platform (named in reference to Target 8.7 of the UN’s 2030 Agenda) aims to share knowledge, encourage greater cooperation and advance appropriate measures in the areas of child labour, forced labour and human trafficking. As a new partner country, Switzerland is fulfilling a promise it made during the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

During their bilateral talks ILO Director-General Guy Ryder and President Guy Parmelin discussed further steps regarding technical cooperation in the fight against child labour, forced labour and human trafficking, as well as in overcoming the global employment crisis.

The agreement sets out Switzerland’s strategic priorities for joint development cooperation activities and is intended to ensure that Switzerland’s policy is coherent with that of the ILO and its programmes. It lends detail to the strategy adopted by Switzerland and the social partners in 2013 with respect to the ILO.

The newly signed agreement replaces that of 2016. The new agreement takes into account the changing context of development cooperation, namely the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the ILO’s ‘Centennial Declaration on the Future of Work’, and the global employment crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, Mr Parmelin announced that Switzerland had joined Alliance 8.7. This global platform (named in reference to Target 8.7 of the UN’s 2030 Agenda) aims to share knowledge, encourage greater cooperation and advance appropriate measures in the areas of child labour, forced labour and human trafficking. As a new partner country, Switzerland is fulfilling a promise it made during the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

During their bilateral talks ILO Director-General Guy Ryder and President Guy Parmelin discussed further steps regarding technical cooperation in the fight against child labour, forced labour and human trafficking, as well as in overcoming the global employment crisis.


Zehnder Group set to begin share buyback programme for the purposes of capital reduction

The Zehnder Group (SIX: ZEHN), a leading international provider of complete solutions for a healthy indoor climate, will start a share buyback programme corresponding to a maximum of 5% of the listed registered shares A on 24 March 2021. The aim is to achieve a lasting concentration of earnings.

The share buyback programme announced by the Zehnder Group on 24 February 2021 will commence on 24 March 2021. Over a maximum period of three years, the Group will buy back up to 5% of the listed registered shares A via a second trading line on the SIX Swiss Exchange. This corresponds to 487,800 registered shares A, whose cancellation will be proposed by the Board of Directors at future Annual General Meetings.

Strategic flexibility for future investments and acquisitions will be maintained. At the end of 2020, the Zehnder Group had a strong balance sheet with a high equity ratio of 66% and net liquidity of EUR 96.4 million. It also has a syndicated credit facility of EUR 100 million with a term of three years. As well as including an extension option, it will also be possible to increase the facility by EUR 50 million if larger acquisitions need to be made.

The Zehnder Group has commissioned Zürcher Kantonalbank to conduct the share buyback programme. Further information is available in the official advertisement (in German and French) on our website at

The Zehnder Group improves quality of life with comprehensive indoor climate solutions. The globally active company develops and manufactures its products in 16 plants, including 2 in China and 3 in North America. Its sales activities, spanning more than 70 countries, take place through local sales companies and representative offices.

Zehnder Group products and systems for heating and cooling, comfortable indoor ventilation and air cleaning are characterised by outstanding design and high energy efficiency. The Group is among the market and technology leaders in its business areas with brands such as Zehnder, Runtal, Acova, Bisque, Greenwood, Paul, Core, Enervent and Recair.

The Zehnder Group has had its headquarters in Gränichen (Switzerland) since 1895. It employs around 3300 people worldwide and achieved sales of EUR 618 million in 2020. The company is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (symbol ZEHN/number 27 653 461). The unlisted registered shares B are held by the Zehnder family and persons closely associated with them.

Trinseo and BASF jointly announce Business Collaboration on Circular Feedstock

  • Partnership based on shared values supporting circularity with styrenic plastics
  • Biomass-balanced feedstock: Distinct greenhouse gas reduction with product properties unchanged
  • Chemically recycled feedstock: Plastic waste redirected into production cycles

Trinseo (NYSE: TSE) and BASF announce today the intention to expand their businesses with the production of styrene based on circular feedstock.  The enhanced collaboration between Trinseo and BASF aims to increase efforts by both companies in the development and management of styrene featuring an improved environmental profile.

Trinseo has recently been procuring first supplies of the synthetical chemical styrene based on circular feedstock from BASF for use in its Solution-Styrene Butadiene Rubber (S-SBR) and polystyrene (PS) products. Trinseo supplies S-SBR to major tires manufacturers while its PS products are used in applications such as food packaging and appliances. The first few customers have already processed the material.

“By creating synergy across the value chain, the Trinseo-BASF collaboration is an important move towards helping our customers reach their sustainability goals as well as the development of a truly circular economy,” said Nicolas Joly, Vice President, Plastics & Feedstocks of Trinseo. “The initiative is also in line with Trinseo’s 2030 Sustainability Goals announced earlier this year.”

“CO2 emission reduction and a circular economy are BASF’s paramount targets. Using circular feedstocks instead of virgin fossil resources contributes directly or indirectly to an improved CO2 footprint of subsequent products,” says Klaus Ries, Vice President for BASF’s Styrenics Business Europe. “While our customer Trinseo procures biomass balanced (BMB) styrene for their downstream business already, styrene Ccycled™ will be available in the near future”.

Two types of mass balanced styrene

There are two types of styrene BASF can produce with a mass balance approach – renewable feedstock based-styrene and styrene based on chemically recycled feedstock. Mass balance is a chain of custody model designed to keep track of the total amount of input (e. g. circular feedstock) throughout the production cycle and ensure an appropriate allocation to the finished goods. Both of these alternative feedstocks replace a certain amount of virgin fossil resources at the beginning of the value chain – leading to a reduction of CO2 emissions.

To produce BMB styrene, BASF replaces fossil resources like naphtha or natural gas by renewable feedstocks derived from organic waste or vegetable oils.  When manufacturing Ccycled™ products, BASF uses pyrolysis oil derived from plastic waste that is not recycled mechanically, e.g., mixed household waste or end-of-life tires, as a feedstock, thus contributing to plastics circularity.

With this approach Trinseo and BASF can offer products with a better environmental profile and the same properties as those manufactured from fossil feedstock.  The allocation process via the mass balance approach as well as the products are certified by an independent auditor.  Read more about BASF’s ChemCycling™ project here.

Trinseo (NYSE:TSE) is a global materials solutions provider and manufacturer of plastics, latex binders, and synthetic rubber with a focus on delivering innovative, sustainable, and value-creating products that are intrinsic to our daily lives. Trinseo is dedicated to making a positive impact on society by partnering with like-minded stakeholders, and supporting the sustainability goals of our customers in a wide range of end-markets including automotive, consumer electronics, appliances, medical devices, packaging, footwear, carpet, paper and board, building and construction, and tires. Trinseo had approximately $3.0 billion in net sales in 2020, with 17 manufacturing sites around the world, and approximately 2600 employees.

At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. More than 110000 employees in the BASF Group contribute to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into six segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions. BASF generated sales of EUR 59 billion in 2020. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchange in Frankfurt (BAS) and as American Depositary Receipts (BASFY) in the U.S.

HeiQ Viroblock underlines versatility with new application on paper and packaging

HeiQ and ICP Industrial Inc, a division of Innovative Chemical Products (ICP) have signed a contract granting ICP Industrial worldwide exclusivity for the HeiQ Viroblock technology in graphic art coatings for commercial printing processes including food, beverage and pharma packaging. HeiQ Viroblock, the world’s leading antiviral/antibacterial technology thereby underlines its versatility as it enters a new ‘beyond textile’ phase in its lifecycle.

HeiQ and ICP Industrial have signed a 5 year worldwide binding contract that grants ICP exclusive rights to implement HeiQ Viroblock technology in coatings for printing processes such as commercial print, food, beverage and pharma packaging. An integral part of the deal is the agreement to enter and intensify a collaborative R&D partnership between the two companies. HeiQ and ICP will offer HeiQ Viroblock technology and trademarks to all ICP downstream customers which manufacture packaging products  for some of the worlds largest consumer brands enabling them to market products in antimicrobial packaging. In addition to packaging sectors, ICP customers can utilize the HeiQ Viroblock Technology in other high touch printed and coated surfaces including laminate films.

Recent studies show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could persist on inanimate surfaces such as metals, glass or plastic for up to 9 days. It was the conceptive goal to make surfaces antiviral that HeiQ Viroblock was first invented. Originally conceived as an antiviral/antimicrobial technology for textiles, this technology has proven its innovative versatility as it has already been adopted for paints and most recently for printed paper products. HeiQ Viroblock is among the first technologies in the world to be proven effective against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) and has been applied by more than 150 brands worldwide to over 1 billion face masks and countless other materials. HeiQ Viroblock combines two mechanisms of attack resulting in an over 99.99% destruction of various kinds of viruses and bacteria, according to tests performed to ISO 18184 and ISO 20743 standards. HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 is made with 100% cosmetic-grade materials.

Setting new milestones in the evolution of this technology, HeiQ Viroblock not only confirms its leading role in the pursuit of protection but also underlines the mainstream acceptance of the need for shielding against contamination from all the materials one encounters in everyday life. The new partnership will on the one hand, strengthen the HeiQ Viroblock brand whilst giving consumers the trust and confidence to live ‘normal’ lives secure in the knowledge that surfaces they come into contact in their daily lives are much less likely to become hosting surfaces of viruses and bacteria

HeiQ Co-founder and CEO, Carlo Centonze said: “It is with great pleasure that we team up with ICP Industrial, a global leader serving the print and packaging industry with advanced coating systems. As we have all learned in this global pandemic surfaces matter and viruses can remain infectious for several days on paper & cardboard. HeiQ and ICP Industrial bring together their unique knowledge to offer consumers viroblocked packaging and commercial print solutions.”

ICP Industrial’s Division President Paul Grzebielucha said: “We are excited to offer this new innovative life saving technology to the print world. We have global reach under our brands of Nicoat, MinusNine and Hitech Coatings to provide this protection on billions of printed surfaces per year. This HeiQ Viroblock game changing technology for our industry and society has proven to be a superior solution that is currently available in the marketplace. HeiQ products have proven efficacy in minutes rather than hours with an effective rate of 99.95%. ICP Industrial has always provided innovative solutions to the graphic arts and packaging segments while maintaining the highest level of customer and technical service in the industry. ICP Industrial is very excited about the partnership with HeiQ bringing this technology to market providing a safer touch environment to the world.”

Lonza completes Divestment of Two Sites to NextPharma

•             Completion of sale of Lonza sites in Ploermel (FR) and Edinburgh (UK)

•             A seamless ownership transfer process remains a priority

Quote from Gordon Bates, President and Head of Small Molecules, Lonza: “The strategic divestment of our Ploermel and Edinburgh sites will enable NextPharma to benefit from operational synergies and optimize existing expertise and technologies. In this context, as we close the divestment process, we are confident that NextPharma is well placed to develop and grow both sites to their full potential. We wish to thank the leadership teams and employees at the Ploermel and Edinburgh sites for their continuing dedication and professionalism during the transition period.”

Quote from Peter Burema, CEO of NextPharma: “We are very excited at adding two new centers of excellence, at Ploermel and Edinburgh, to NextPharma’s manufacturing network, allowing us to further broaden our technology offering for both our existing and new customers. These technologies, combined with the know-how and expertise of the employees at both sites, will provide additional solutions for drug formulations which will benefit patients across the world. On behalf of the whole NextPharma team, I welcome our new colleagues, and together we look forward to continuing to further develop and grow NextPharma as a leading and well-respected European CDMO.”

Lonza announced on April, 2, 2021, the completion of the divestment of its Ploermel (FR) and Edinburgh (UK) sites to NextPharma.

The agreement between both parties waspreviously announced on January 19, 2021.

NextPharma is a leading European pharmaceutical Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation (CDMO) with a current footprint spanning five sites in Germany, one in France and one in Finland, and with healthcare logistics services in the DACH region.

NextPharma supplies products globally, with six of its seven sites FDA-approved. With expertise in solids, semi solids and non-sterile and sterile liquids, the company provides services from pharmaceutical development, clinical supplies, scale-up and process validation through to commercial manufacturing for a large range of dosage forms including tablets, capsules, granules, powders, pellets, gels, creams, sprays and syrups. Additionally, it provides a wide range of packaging solutions including blow-fill-seal, blisters, bottles, sachets, stick packs and tubes. NextPharma’s expertise and centres of excellence enable it to provide a unique service offering in certain very specific specialised areas such as hormonal solids and semi-solids, cephalosporins, penicillins,narcotics, modified release products, ophthalmics as well as paediatric medicinal products.

Lonza is the preferred global partner to the pharmaceutical, biotech and nutrition markets. We work to prevent illness and enable a healthier world by supporting our customers to deliver new and innovative medicines that help treat a wide range of diseases. We achieve this by combining technological insight with world-class manufacturing, scientific expertise and process excellence. These enable our customers to commercialize their discoveries and innovations in the healthcare sector.Founded in 1897 in the Swiss Alps, today Lonza operates across five continents.

With approximately 14000 full-time employees, we are built from high-performing teams and of individual talent who make a meaningful difference to our own business, as well asto the communities in which we operate. The company generated sales of CHF 4.5 billion in 2020 with a CORE EBITDA of CHF 1.4 billion.

Forbo shareholders approve all proposals of the Board of Directors at AGM

At today’s 93rd Ordinary General Meeting of Forbo Holding Ltd, the shareholders approved all the proposals of the Board of Directors by a clear majority. In application of Article 27 of the Ordinance 3 on Measures to Combat the Coronavirus (COVID-19) of the Swiss Federal Council, shareholders exercised their rights solely through voting instructions issued to the independent proxy. A dividend of CHF 20 per share will be paid out as of April 12, 2021.

In view of the measures taken by the Swiss Federal Council to combat the coronavirus pandemic, today’s Ordinary General Meeting took place at the headquarters of Forbo Holding Ltd in Baar.

No shareholders were present. The independent proxy represented 1,195,886 registered shares, accounting for 72.48 percent of the share capital issued.

The shareholders approved all the proposals of the Board of Directors by a clear majority. They approved the Annual Report, the annual statements and the consolidated financial statements for the 2020 business year, while also granting discharge to the responsible governing bodies. In addition, they voted in favor of the proposed distribution of earnings in the form of a dividend amounting to CHF 20 per share.

The shareholders approved the 2020 Remuneration Report by a clear majority in a consultative vote. The Ordinary General Meeting approved the maximum total remuneration of the Board of Directors for 2022, the maximum fixed remuneration of the Executive Board for 2022, the short-term variable remuneration of the Executive Board for 2020, as well as the maximum long-term equity participation of the Executive Board for 2021 by a large majority.

All the current members of the Board of Directors were confirmed in office and re-elected for a one-year term. They are This E. Schneider, Executive Chairman, and the members Dr. Peter Altorfer, Michael Pieper, Claudia Coninx-Kaczynski, Dr. Reto Müller and Vincent Studer. The current members of the Remuneration Committee –  Dr. Peter Altorfer, Claudia Coninx-Kaczynski and Michael Pieper – were also confirmed for a further year.

Lastly, the shareholders extended the mandate of the auditor, KPMG Ltd, for a further year. Furthermore, René Peyer was re-elected as independent proxy.

Forbo is a leading producer of floor coverings, building and construction adhesives, as well as power transmission and conveyor belt solutions. The company employs about 5,300 people and has an international network of 25 sites with production and distribution, 6 assembly centers, and 49 sales organizations in a total of 39 countries around the world. The company generated net sales of CHF 1117.7 million in the 2020 business year. Forbo is headquartered in Baar in the canton of Zug, Switzerland.


ICAC – Tighter Supplies Add – Uncertainty to Hopes for Recovery

Highlights from the April 2021 Cotton This Month include:

  • An expected increase in mill-use and continuing distribution of vaccines are offering some hope for a recovery
  • However, there are multiple warning signs that could derail the progress:
  • Vaccine deployment varies dramatically by country
  • Pent up demand for services may impact demand for goods as economies reopen
  • Tightening supplies could push prices higher
  • A continuing escalation of trade tensions between some of the world’s top producers and consumers  

Tighter Supplies Add Uncertainty to Hopes for Recovery
Although several recent developments are providing hope for a post-pandemic recovery, other factors add uncertainty to those expectations. On the positive side, mill use is expected to increase by 8% in the 2020/21 season and vaccines have slowly been making their way around the globe.
However, vaccine deployment varies widely from one region to the next, with many countries having provided no vaccinations at all. In addition, consumer spending on goods has improved more than it has for services to date, so once people can return to travelling and going out for dinner or a movie, a potential shift in spending could reduce demand for durable goods.

Furthermore, while the global consumption estimate has increased from the previous month, the global production estimate has decreased, so lower stock levels could provide future support for prices, which set a season high at the end of February.

Finally, uncertainty abounds regarding the relationships between major buyers and sellers. There has been no progress made since the Phase One trade agreement between the USA and China went into effect last year with tensions also between China and Australia.

The Secretariat’s current price projection for the year-end 2020/21 average of the A Index is 78.5 cents per pound this month.

Cotton This Month is published at the beginning of the month with the Cotton Update published mid-month. The Cotton Update, which is included in the Cotton This Month subscription, is a mid-month report with updated information on supply/demand estimates and prices. The next Cotton Update will be released on 15 April 2021. The next Cotton This Month will be released on 3 May 2021.

To subscribe to ‘Cotton This Month’, please click here, then click ‘Paid Publications’ and select the version you want to subscribe to.

Formed in 1939, the ICAC is an association of cotton producing, consuming and trading countries. It acts as a catalyst for change by helping member countries maintain a healthy world cotton economy; provides transparency to the world cotton market by serving as a clearinghouse for technical information on cotton production; and serves as a forum for discussing cotton issues of international significance. The ICAC does not have a role in setting market prices or in intervening in market mechanisms.


The U.S. added 916000 jobs in March as the recovery gained steam.

By guest author Ben Casselman from Wall Street Journal. Ben Casselman writes about economics, with a particular focus on stories involving data. He previously reported for FiveThirtyEight and The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. jobs rebound picked up steam last month, fueled by the accelerating pace of vaccinations and a new injection of federal aid.

Employers added 916000 jobs in March, up from 416000 in February and the most since August, the Labour Department said Friday. The leisure and hospitality sector led the way, adding 280000 jobs as Americans returned to restaurants and resorts in greater numbers. Construction firms added 110000 jobs as the housing market stayed strong and activity resumed following winter storms in February.

The unemployment rate fell to 6.0 %, down from 6.2 % in February.

“March’s jobs report is the most optimistic report since the pandemic began,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist of the career site Glassdoor. “It’s not the largest gain in payrolls since the pandemic began, but it’s the first where it seems like the finish line is in sight.”

The report came one year after the pandemic ripped a hole in the American labor market. The U.S. economy lost 1.7 million jobs in March 2020 and more than 20 million in April, when the unemployment rate peaked at nearly 15 %.

The job market bounced back quickly at first, but progress began to slow as virus cases surged and states reimposed restrictions on businesses. Over the winter, the recovery stalled out, with employers cutting more than 300000 jobs in December.

Economists said the latest data marked a turning point. Last month was the third straight month of accelerating hiring, and even bigger gains are likely in the months ahead. The March data was collected early in the month, before most states broadened vaccine access and before most Americans began receiving USD 1400 checks from the federal government as part of the most recent relief package.

“The tide is turning,” said Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America. The report, she said, “reaffirms this idea that the economy is accelerating meaningfully in the spring.”

The United States still has 8.4 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic. Even if employers kept hiring at the pace they did in March, it would take months to fill the gap. More than four million people have been out of work for more than six months, a number that continued rising in March.

And the virus remains a risk. Coronavirus cases are rising again in much of the country as states have begun easing restrictions. If that trend turns into a full-blown new wave of infections, it could force some states to backpedal, impeding the recovery.

But few economists expect a repeat of the winter, when a spike in Covid-19 cases pushed the recovery into reverse. More than a quarter of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and more than two million people a day are being inoculated. That should allow economic activity to continue to rebound.

“This time is different, and that’s because of vaccines,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at the job site ZipRecruiter. “It’s real this time.”

The McKinsey week in Charts

Seven keys to herd immunity

It’s not very often that humanity has a common goal. Herd immunity is one such example. In this heatmap, we sketch the world’s progress toward the day when COVID-19 can’t readily spread.

To read the article, see “When will the COVID-19 pandemic end?,” March 26, 2021.

Just 6 % of the writers, directors, and producers in US-produced films are Black

Black talent is underrepresented both on- and off-screen, but particularly in positions of creative control.
To read the article, see “Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity,” March 11, 2021.

When two plus two does not equal four

Just 2 percent of teachers in two countries (China and Japan) said their students are four months behind schedule. In our survey, many more Canadian, UK, and US teachers said that their students were lagging by four months.
To read the article, see “Teacher survey: Learning loss is global—and significant,” March 1, 2021.

Vietnam’s travel strategy: First, do no harm

Vietnam has pursued a “zero-case-first” strategy since the start of the pandemic, which seems to be paying off. Domestic tourism didn’t fall much, and as international travel resumes, tourism is set to reach precrisis levels of spending by 2024.

To read the article, see “Reimagining tourism: How Vietnam can accelerate travel recovery,” March 19, 2021.

Top IT performers are all in on digital

Top-quartile respondents are more than four times likelier than bottom-quartile peers to have a digitally integrated or fully digital operating model, in which both digital and business-oriented teams deliver technology. That’s one of several insights from our latest McKinsey Global Survey on technology strategy.

To read the survey, see “Seven lessons on how technology transformations can deliver value,” March 11, 2021.

Intellectual property

Assistive Technology – The Importance of Designs

The 2021 edition of WIPO’s Technology Trends Report shows the importance of designs in the field of assistive technology, many inventions failing due to lack of appeal or poor functional design. In addition, once patented – products often require re-design in order to be mass-produced.

Research reveals that the top patent applicants in the field of assistive technology are using designs as part of their overall intellectual property (IP) strategy. The main contribution made by designs pertains to the distinctive aspects of products that in turn serve brand identity.

Interviews with patent applicants and design right holders confirm that – beyond the traditional use of designs – they are using design to increase the chances of their products reaching more end-users who would otherwise not have considered assistive products appealing or interesting.

The report can be downloaded here

WIPO’s Hague System provides a unique international mechanism for securing and managing design rights simultaneously in more than 90 countries through one application, in one language with one set of fees.

Scientific Non-Patent Literature Now Available in PATENTSCOPE

The integration of non-patent literature (NPL) in PATENTSCOPE has now started with two open access (OA) content:

•             the open-access content on, a part of publisher Springer Nature, which includes content from some of the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journals. Over 54,000 documents (biblio and full-text) are now searchable in PATENTSCOPE.

•             technology/science related open-access content of Wikipedia – filtered using an in-house algorithm*- is also available in PATENTSCOPE.

NPL information integrated in the result list is ranked by relevance together with the patent documents that match the search performed. All the PATENTSCOPE search features are available to perform searches in the NPL in PATENTSCOPE, as well as dedicated fields to search NPL only and WIPO Translate for the translation of the articles.

In the future, more sources of OA content will also become available in PATENTSCOPE.

Access to PATENTSCOPE can be had here

*if non-relevant content from Wikipedia is displayed in the result list, the feedback button just below the top black navigation bar is available to inform the PATENTSCOPE team about such inappropriate content.


IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva Appoints Brenda Boultwood as Director of the Office of Risk Management

Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), today announced her intention to appoint Brenda Boultwood as Director of the Office of Risk Management (ORM). Ms. Boultwood will succeed Vivek Arora, who has moved to the African Department as Deputy Director. Ms. Boultwood is expected to begin her work in this role on April 12, 2021.

Brenda Boultwood

Ms. Boultwood, a US national, joins the IMF with more than 32 years of experience in key positions in enterprise risk management, regulatory compliance, and business at a number of large global organisations. Most recently, she was the Chief Revenue Officer at, a Silicon Valley-based artificial intelligence firm that focuses on regulatory compliance in financial services. Prior to that, she was a Senior Vice President of Industry Solutions at MetricStream, where she was responsible for a portfolio of key industry verticals that included energy and utilities, federal agencies, strategic banking, and financial services.

“Over the past year, IMF Management and the Executive Board recognized the pressing need to deepen the enterprise risk management function and increase the role of the Director of ORM, against the backdrop of heightened global economic uncertainty, IMF program complexity, and accelerated internal modernization,” Ms. Georgieva said.

“Brenda brings a wealth of experience to the Fund and will be instrumental in leading the further development of our Office of Risk Management as we navigate the uncertainties of COVID-19 and the post-pandemic recovery. These changes include elevating the head of the office to a Director level position, increasing the resources of the office, and enhancing the overall role of risk management in the work of the Fund. I am thrilled to welcome her on board.”

Among her previous leadership roles, Ms. Boultwood served as Senior Vice President and Chief Risk officer at Constellation Energy, and as a board member on both the Committee of Chief Risk Officers (CCRO) and the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP). She was also the Global Head of Strategy, Alternative Investment Services, at JPMorgan Chase.

China’s ‘Lipstick King’ Austin Li Named in Time Magazine’s Next Top 100 Most Influential People

China’s ‘lipstick king’ Li Jiaqi (Austin Li), Meione company partner, has been acknowledged by Time Magazine as being one of the emerging Top 100 Most Influential People in recognition of his personal achievements in China’s e-commerce livestreaming as well as charity contributions.

The second annual TIME100 Next list highlights 100 of the top emerging leaders from around the world. As an extension of the TIME100 Most Influential People list, Next is about celebrating people who are shaping the future. The 2021 list is particularly important as the COVID-19 pandemic has tested society and forced positive and influential leaders to the forefront.

China’s ‘lipstick king’ Li Jiaqi, also known as Austin Li, has been acknowledged by Time Magazine as being one of the emerging Top 100 Most Influential People. (PRNewsfoto/Meione)

“It excites me greatly that through my efforts, more and more people are being exposed to China’s booming e-commerce industry,” said Li, one of the country’s leading e-commerce live streamers and an emerging philanthropist.

“I am also filled with pride that mine and my country’s efforts and achievements are being recognized on a global scale,” he said. “I was lucky enough to be involved in helping China’s economy recover from the pandemic, and this honor is also a recognition of China’s success in fighting against the pandemic.”

The list places individuals into five categories of ‘artist’, ‘phenoms’, ‘leaders’, ‘advocates’, and ‘innovators’; Li was recognised as an ‘innovator’. Li’s achievements in e-commerce live-streaming are virtually unparalleled. Known for his charismatic personality and candid product reviews, Li is recognized as being an authoritative figure in the beauty industry whose opinions and recommendations hold weight and influence the purchasing decisions of millions.  

In 2018, he appeared side-by-side with and then outsold Jack Ma at Alibaba’s ‘Ten Years, Ten People’ event, selling 15,000 lipsticks in just five minutes. Then, in 2019, he helped drive $US145 million in sales on e-retailer Taobao during China’s Singles’ day shopping extravaganza. He holds the Guinness World Record for ‘The most lipstick applications in 30 seconds’ and has appeared alongside many A-list celebrities and news commentators, bridging the gap between traditional media and social media.

Throughout 2020, Li focused his attention and reach on helping China cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with state media representatives to promote local products from hard-hit Wuhan and stimulate the city’s struggling economy, Li helped raise CNY70 million on Chinese New Year’s Eve to aid rural farmers and entire communities.

Speaking to Xinhua in September 2020, Li noted: “Whether it is fighting COVID-19 or poverty alleviation, I think we need to play our part.” This attitude is being reflected by his enormous online fan base who are taking note and also making efforts to help progress society.

Since last year, Li has been focusing on the development of remote areas in China from carrying out poverty alleviation through e-commerce to improving education and providing better healthcare, to help rural revitalization.

“In the future, more work will be done to improve children’s education in rural areas and provide medical and health services for women in remote areas,” Li said.

Currently, Li is positioned right at the helm of China’s live-streaming e-commerce industry, an industry projected to be worth $US15 billion by 2023.

Established in 2015, Meione is an innovative e-commerce company based in Shanghai and driven by new types of media and content. Meione founded the +7 brand of which Li Jiaqi is the driving force and company partner. Meione’s vision is ‘to make everything beautiful’, and in the future, the company hopes to become a major fashion consumer product brand group with beauty as its core.

Andrew Tweedie, Director of the Finance Department, to retire from the IMF

Mr. Andrew Tweedie, Director of the Finance Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has notified IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva of his intention to retire from the Fund on July 31, 2021.

Mr. Tweedie, a New Zealand national, has been in his current position since May 2008, where he oversaw the mobilisation, management and control of the Fund’s financial resources and advised the Management team and the Executive Board on all aspects of the Fund’s financial policies and operations. He played a key role in the IMF’s quota reform and in the development of a new income model. Mr. Tweedie joined the IMF in 1987 from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

“Andrew’s outstanding knowledge and experience have strengthened the IMF’s role as a trusted partner for our member countries. I have highly valued his wise counsel and instrumental contributions, especially in helping the Fund adapt and rapidly respond to unprecedented requests by member countries for emergency financing to cope with the COVID-19 crisis,” Ms. Georgieva said.

“He played a pivotal role in the Fund’s response to the Global Financial Crisis, including the quadrupling of the Fund’s lending capacity through a doubling of quotas, an expansion of the New Arrangements to Borrow, and several rounds of bilateral borrowing agreements. These were critical steps that helped secure the Fund’s strong financial position at the center of the global financial safety net. He will be dearly missed,” she said.

The search process to identify a successor to Mr. Tweedie will begin right away.

History is made: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala chosen as Director-General

WTO members made history today (15 February) when the General Council agreed by consensus to select Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria as the organisation’s seventh Director-General.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala the new Director-Genral of WTO

When she takes office on 1 March, Dr Okonjo-Iweala will become the first woman and the first African to be chosen as Director-General. Her term, renewable, will expire on 31 August 2025.

“This is a very significant moment for the WTO. On behalf of the General Council, I extend our warmest congratulations to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as the WTO’s next Director-General and formally welcome her to this General Council meeting,” said General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand who, together with co-facilitators Amb. Dacio Castillo (Honduras) and Amb. Harald Aspelund (Iceland) led the nine-month DG selection process.

“Dr Ngozi, on behalf of all members I wish to sincerely thank you for your graciousness in these exceptional months, and for your patience. We look forward to collaborating closely with you, Dr Ngozi, and I am certain that all members will work with you constructively during your tenure as Director-General to shape the future of this organization,” he added.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala said a key priority for her would be to work with members to quickly address the economic and health consequences brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am honoured to have been selected by WTO members as WTO Director-General,” said Dr Okonjo-Iweala. “A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again. Our organization faces a great many challenges but working together we can collectively make the WTO stronger, more agile and better adapted to the realities of today.”

The General Council decision follows months of uncertainty which arose when the United States initially refused to join the consensus around Dr Okonjo-Iweala and threw its support behind Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea. But following Ms Yoo’s decision on 5 February to withdraw her candidacy, the administration of newly elected US President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped the US objection and announced instead that Washington extends its “strong support” to the candidacy of Dr Okonjo-Iweala.

Amb. Walker extended his thanks to all eight of the candidates who participated in the selection process and particularly to Ms Yoo “for her ongoing commitment to and support for the multilateral trading system and for the WTO”.

The General Council agreed on 31 July that there would be three stages of consultations held over a two-month period commencing 7 September. During these confidential consultations, the field of candidates was narrowed from eight to five and then two. On October 28, General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand had informed members that based on consultations with all delegations Dr Okonjo-Iweala was best poised to attain consensus of the 164 WTO members and that she had the deepest and the broadest support among the membership. At that meeting, the United States was the only WTO member which said it could not join the consensus.

The consultation process undertaken by the chair and facilitators was established through guidelines agreed by all WTO members in a 2002 General Council decision. These guidelines spelled out the key criteria in determining the candidate best positioned to gain consensus is the “breadth of support” each candidate receives from the members. During the DG selection processes of 2005 and 2013, breadth of support was defined as “the distribution of preferences across geographic regions and among the categories of members generally recognized in WTO provisions: that is (Least developed countries), developing countries and developed countries”. This same process, agreed by all members in the General Council in 2020, was strictly followed by Chair Walker and his colleagues throughout the 2020-21 DG selection process.

The process for selecting a new Director-General was triggered on  May 14, 2020, when former Director-General Mr Roberto Azevêdo informed WTO members he would be stepping down from his post one year before the expiry of his mandate. He subsequently left office on August 31, 2020.

A couple of key executive departures at Neiman Marcus

The Dallas-based retailer didn’t disclose future plans for either executive.

Two key women executives, leaders in digital operations and merchandising, are leaving Dallas-based Neiman Marcus.

  • Katie Mullen, chief digital officer since July 2020 and before that chief innovation officer since 2018, will step down this summer. Mullen joined the retailer from The Boston Consulting group and led a team that created new tools that helped transform how sales associates communicate with customers and how it manages its relationships with the brands it sells. “Katie has set Neiman Marcus Group on a course for long-term success, and we are well-positioned to move to our next phase of digital capability building,” the company said in an emailed statement.
  • Melissa Lowenkron, a 24-year veteran who started at the company as an assistant buyer in children’s as a new graduate of the University of Texas, is leaving the company. She’s held several executive positions, including as a general merchandise manager for Bergdorf Goodman in New York. She’s leaving the company as senior vice president and general merchandise manager of handbags, ladies shoes, beauty and jewelry. “Her leadership, deep merchandising experience and passion for developing people throughout the organization had a significant impact on our business,” the company said.

No future plans were disclosed for either executive.

Last week, Neiman Marcus said that it had hired Bob Kupbens to be executive vice president and chief product and technology officer to lead the next phase of its digital efforts. He started Monday and takes over from Mullen who is staying for a transition period.

Neiman Marcus also said last week that it’s going to spend $85 million on its systems and fulfillment centers, including an investment in its Pinnacle Park distribution center in Dallas, to strengthen its online business. The retailer’s distribution centers in Irving and Longview were put up for sale last year.

Neiman Marcus former exec Jim Gold joins a competitor of the Dallas luxury retailer

Gold has been named interim CEO of online fashion luxury retailer Moda Operandi.

Jim Gold, a former longtime Neiman Marcus executive, has joined a competitor of the Dallas-based luxury retailer that has a worldwide e-commerce business specializing in “right off the runway” fashion.

Gold has been named interim CEO of Moda Operandi after the departure of Ganesh Srivats, who had been CEO for more than two years.

Gold was president and chief merchandising officer of Neiman Marcus when he left in March 2019 after 28 years with the Dallas retailer. He signed a separation agreement with noncompete limitations that expired in July. 

Robert Karofsky appointed sole President UBS Investment Bank as Piero Novelli retires

Robert Karofsky has been appointed sole President UBS Investment Bank, following Piero Novelli’s decision to retire from the banking industry to pursue new opportunities, including non-executive chairman positions and roles in academia teaching finance and business. Novelli will step down as Co-President Investment Bank on 31 March 2021.

Piero Novelli

Together, Karofsky and Novelli successfully reshaped the Investment Bank, realigning efforts around clients’ evolving needs, focusing resources on opportunities for profitable growth, and reinvesting in the bank’s digital transformation. They also deepened the Investment Bank’s partnership with Global Wealth Management and Asset Management. Under their leadership, the Investment Bank achieved its best fourth-quarter and full year results since 2012, finishing 2020 with an exceptional return on attributed equity of nearly 20 %.

Robert Karofsky

Karofsky joined UBS in 2014, leading the Equities business globally. In September 2018, Karofsky and Novelli became Co-Presidents Investment Bank. Leveraging his markets experience, Karofsky has led the Investment Bank’s digital transformation.

Novelli re-joined UBS in 2013 and has held a number of executive roles across the Investment Bank. Prior to becoming the Co-President, he was Executive Chairman, Corporate Client Solutions, having previously served as Global Head of Advisory and, before that, Chairman of Global M&A.

Group Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers: “I want to personally thank Piero for his contributions to reshaping our Investment Bank and successfully co-leading the business, employees and our clients through the pandemic. Our world-class Investment Bank is critical to the success of our Group strategy and I am confident Rob is the right leader to help us achieve our strategic ambitions.”

Clariant AG: Board of Directors decides on agenda items for the 26th Annual General Meeting

•             Hariolf Kottmann informs Board of Directors to be no longer a candidate for the office of Chairman

•             Board of Directors proposes Günter von Au to be elected as new Chairman of the Board of Directors

•             Ordinary dividend of CHF 0.70 for fiscal year 2019 and 2020 combined

The Chairman of the Board Hariolf Kottmann has informed the Board of Directors in an extraordinary meeting that he will no longer be a candidate for a Member of the Board of Directors nor for the office of Chairman at the upcoming 26th Annual General Meeting in April 2021.

Hariolf Kottmann

 Against this background and after intensive discussions, the members of the Board of Directors of Clariant unanimously suggest to the shareholders Günter von Au to be elected as new Chairman of the Board of Directors. Günter von Au has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2012 and acted as Vice Chairman from 2012 to 2018.

Günter von Au

 The Board of Directors additionally proposes to the shareholders of the Company to distribute an ordinary dividend of CHF 0.70 per share. This includes CHF 0.55 per share for fiscal year 2019 and CHF 0.15 per share for 2020.

 By agreeing to the agenda items of the Board of Directors, the anchor shareholder SABIC withdraws its own proposals for the agenda of the Annual General Meeting, which it sent to the Company at the end of December 2020. These included a special dividend distribution to the shareholders of an amount up to CHF 2.00 per share and the amendment of article 20 of the articles of association – introduction of a time limit of 12 years for members of the Board of Directors including the Chairperson. Instead, the requested inclusion of the 12-year period will be anchored in the Bylaws of the Board of Directors.

The European Commission appoints three new Heads of Representation

On January 27, 2021, the Commission has appointed three new Heads of the Representation in Spain, Latvia, and Slovenia. Ms María De Los Angeles Benítez Salas will take up her duties as Head of Representation in Madrid on 1 April 2021. On 16 April 2021, Ms Zane Petre and Ms Jerneja Jug Jerše will start in their new functions in Riga and in Ljubljana, respectively. Heads of Representation act as the official representatives of the Commission in the Member States under the political authority of President Ursula von der Leyen.

Ms Benítez Salas, a Spanish national, brings with her a wide range of experience as well as her management expertise gained during her 35 years in the European Commission. She is currently Deputy Director-General in the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI). She joined the Commission in 1986 as Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Abel Matutes. In 1993-97, she assumed the function of principal adviser at the Commission Delegation in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After returning to Brussels, she was Head of Unit in the Directorate-General for Maritime affairs and fisheries (MARE) and in the Secretariat-General, and Director in DG AGRI responsible for various dossiers. In 2013, she became Deputy Head of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA), later Deputy Head of European political Strategy Centre (EPSC).

Ms Zane Petre, a Latvian national, brings a long experience in the Latvian and European diplomacy to her new assignment. She has worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, including as a European Correspondent, in the Political Director’s Bureau and Head of International Operations and Crisis Management Division and she was the Representative in the Civilian Crisis Management Committee through the Permanent Representation of Latvia to the EU, and a Head of Chancery to Moldova. In 2012, she joined the European External Action Service (EEAS). She was Head of the Political, Press and Information Section in the EU Delegation to Eritrea (2012-16) and then Deputy Head of Delegation and Head of the Political, Press and Information Section in the EU Delegation to Nepal (2016-20). In September 2020, she joined the Policy and Reform Coordination Team, Support Group to Ukraine in the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR).

Ms Jerneja Jug Jerše, a Slovenian national, will be able to draw on her strong policy background and expertise, in particular in economics, in her new function. She joined the European Commission in 2005. She has worked in the Directorate-General for Internal Market (MARKT) and in the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (ECFIN). In 2016, she moved to the Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS), where she became a Deputy Head of Unit in 2018. Currently she is a Head of Unit in the Directorate General for Structural Reform Support (REFORM) responsible for Revenue Administration and Public Financial Management.


The Commission maintains Representations in all capitals of EU Member States, and Regional Offices in Barcelona, Bonn, Marseille, Milan, Munich and Wroclaw. The Representations are the Commission’s eyes, ears and voice on the ground in EU Member States. They support the President and the whole Commission in their interaction with Member States. Heads of Representation are nominated by the President and act under her political authority. They promote permanent political dialogue with the national, regional and local authorities, parliaments, social partners and civil society. The Representations provide country-specific knowledge, analysis and advice to the President and all Members of the College. They reach out to citizens and stakeholders, and together with the Spokesperson’s Service they provide information about the action of the Commission and the EU to the media.

Swiss Bossard Group – Changes on the Executive Committee

David Jones to succeed Steen Hansen as CEO of North America. Rolf Ritter to join the Executive Committee as Head of Strategy & Business DevelopmentChange of Leadership in Bossard North America; after 13 years as CEO of Bossard North America, Steen Hansen is leaving the Bossard Group. The Board of Directors has chosen David Jones of Detroit, MI, USA, to succeed him as of February 1, 2021. David Jones is new to the Bossard Group.

In David Jones, the Board has appointed a highly qualified and internationally experienced leader to manage and expand the North American market. David Jones, US citizen, is a mechanical engineer with an MBA from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After starting his carrier at General Motors, he joined the Sika Group in 1995 and rose through the ranks of the Automotive Division, starting as an application engineer in Michigan. He then moved into sales and was appointed Engineering Manager in Zurich, Switzerland. After four years in Switzerland, he returned to Michigan as a Key Account Manager, becoming VP of Engineering and was later promoted to Executive VP of Automotive & Industry in North America (2010-2013), ultimately headed up Sika’s global Automotive Division (2013-2020).

Steen Hansen is leaving the Bossard Group; the Board of Directors wishes Steen all the best for his future endeavors.

The Board welcomes David Jones to the Bossard Group, wishing him great success and hoping he will find his new assignment rewarding.

Rolf Ritter

Rolf Ritter is taking on the new role of Head of Strategy & Business Development. The Board of Directors has appointed Rolf Ritter as a member of the Executive Committee of the Bossard Group effective May 1, 2021.

Rolf Ritter returned to the Bossard Group on January 1, 2020, having served as CEO of Bossard France from 2004 to 2009. He is a dual Swiss-US citizen and has an MBA from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. He began his career as an internal consultant at SIG in Neuhausen, Switzerland. He then joined the Volkswagen Group to implement strategic logistics projects in Brazil and Mexico. After heading up Bossard France, Rolf Ritter became CEO of BDT Media Automation GmbH in Rottweil, Germany; a global technology leader in data archiving with production facilities in Germany, Mexico, China and Singapore. In 2014, he founded his own consulting firm in Miami, USA, and began investing in tech startups as well as providing strategic consulting to a number of companies in the area of mergers and acquisitions. At the same time, he taught information technology courses at the College of Business at Florida International University.

As Head of Strategy and Business Development, Rolf Ritter is responsible for mergers and acquisitions, startup screening, management of minority holdings, and support of implementing the new strategic Group initiatives.

RYU Apparel Inc. Announces the Appointment of Industry Veteran Rob Blair as Chief Operating Officer

– RYU Apparel Inc. (TSXV: RYU) a creator of award-winning urban athletic apparel, is pleased to welcome Rob Blair as its new Chief Operational Officer (COO).

Mr. Blair brings nearly two decades of experience building high-growth iconic apparel and sportswear brands. As an industry expert in design, merchandizing and corporate brand strategy, Mr. Blair has worked with iconic athletic apparel brands Red Bull, Lululemon (NASDAQ: LULU), Gap Body (NYSE: GPS) and Nike (NYSE: NKE).

Career highlights include:

•             Mr. Blair was the visionary architect behind the Lululemon men’s business, refocusing the strategy to address the needs of the modern male consumer, and creator of the ABC pant, a now iconic style and franchise program that sells more than 1M units annually and delivers 25% of the men’s business and a significant portion of the company’s annual revenue.

o            As a result of Mr. Blairs product innovation strategy and leadership, Lululemon’s Men’s division resulted in 73% margins and today continues to deliver multi-year double-digit growth

•             Executed a full re-brand strategy to address the needs of the modern male consumer, achieving a 200% increase in growth while working with performance denim brand DUER.

•             Expanded a $100 million portfolio at Nike Lab, achieving double digit growth, including over 40% comparative growth and 60% margin growth

•             Operationalized the Nike Lab apparel business model to support Nike innovation and category amplification, building a $100 million product portfolio and while delivering double digit growth.

•             Led the GAP BODY and GAP Fit division, a USD 240 million Growth driver for the GAP brand.

Mr. Blair commented, “I’m excited to join the talented and hardworking RYU team. The company has an incredible heritage of high-end performance products, sport-style innovation and a clear message of respect. 2020 was a difficult year for many businesses due to the pandemic. However, there are very positive tailwinds and market momentum in ecommerce, athletic and athleisure apparel, and RYU is an award-winning brand with great potential. Together, I am confident, we can grow the business into a significant player in the athletic apparel segment.”

RYU CEO Cesare Fazari stated: “Mr. Blair is a transformative thinker with a sharp eye for trend and a long history of executing high-growth strategies. It is an incredibly exciting announcement for RYU to welcome him to the team. Heading into 2021, his experience will complement and empower the RYU team as we move to deliver on our strategic plans, which includes Canada Skateboard, Zoom Media, European distribution, product placement in BEI’s new series, “The Count” and’s new ecommerce store.”

RYU Apparel (TSXV: RYU, OTCQB: RYPPF, FWB: RYAA), or Respect Your Universe, is an award winning urban athletic apparel and accessories brand engineered for the fitness, performance and lifestyle of the athletic man and woman. Designed without compromise for fit, comfort, and durability, RYU exists to facilitate optimal human performance.

Workplace Fairness Announces 4 Additional Members Elected to Board of Directors

Workplace Fairness is pleased to announce the election of four new board members: Jenni Klock Morel, Dr. Phoenix Mourning-Star, Justin Sindelar and Eva Zelson. “The addition of these Board members reflects the spirit and mission of Workplace Fairness and brings important and valuable skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to the organization,” said Edgar Ndjatou, Executive Director of Workplace Fairness.

The Workplace Fairness Board of Directors comprises professionals from the nonprofit and for-profit sector who are dedicated to the organization’s mission of workers’ rights advocacy. Serving on the Workplace Fairness Board of Directors is an extraordinary opportunity for an individual who is passionate about advocating for workers’ rights.

More About New Board Members Elected in December 2020

Jenni Klock Morel San Diego, California

Jenni Klock Morel serves on the board of Workplace Fairness, bringing expertise in nonprofit development and operations and a background in law. Jenni is a writer, nonprofit leader, consultant, and Social Justice Law Scholar. Previously, Jenni practiced law mostly helping people file for bankruptcy and in consumer protection, using state and federal statutes to shut down abusive practices by creditors. She also has a background in workers’ rights and a passion for workplace fairness and advocating for the rights of employees against abusive, discriminatory and harmful employment practices. Jenni left the practice of law to wield the power of the pen and pursue a career in and for the nonprofit sector.

To the Workplace Fairness Board of Directors, she brings a background in prospect research, grant writing, development, nonprofit management and years of experience in legal writing and content creation for law firms around the nation. Jenni holds a J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law and is recognized as a Public Interest and Social Justice Law Scholar. She holds two B.A. degrees from Michigan State University in Political Science and English, and a Grant Writing Certificate from San Diego State University College of Extended Studies.

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Dr. Phoenix Mourning-Star, Waterville, Maine

Dr. Phoenix Mourning-Star serves on the board of Workplace Fairness to add his expertise in workplace rights research. Phoenix is a Sr. Science Advisor and Founder of Result International Research & Consulting. He is also a Visiting Professor of Mathematics & Statistics at Colby College. His efforts in employment fairness began in 2006 as a researcher studying the National Employee Survey investigating disproportionate punishment in the workplace.
Phoenix holds his doctorate in Ecology with Chemical & Biological Engineering and  is a multi-disciplinary strategist and scholar leveraging his degrees in Mathematics (BS), Biostatistics (MS), Epidemiology (MS), Environmental Law (LLM) and International Science, Technology & Space Policy.

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Justin Sindelar, San Jose, California

Justin Sindelar serves on the board of Workplace Fairness to add his expertise in digital experience design and nonprofit digital organizing. He is a Digital Experience Specialist at NVIDIA, where he designs unique and integrated digital experiences informed by UX research, information architecture and usability. Justin also brings special expertise in accessible design, having led several pilot accessibility programs in the private and non-profit sector. His professional background began with several student-led nonprofit organizations, where he developed web properties and provided long-term digital organizing strategy. Justin graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with concentration in Marketing. 

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 Eva Zelson, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Eva Zelson is an attorney at Zeff Law Firm, where she focuses her practice on representing the rights of employees and victims of police brutality. She also works with the Social Justice Law Project to provide representation and advocacy in various racial justice matters. As a longtime follower of Workplace Fairness, Eva looks forward to drawing on her knowledge of the changing needs of workers to ensure that Workplace Fairness continues to be an important resource for employees. Eva graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies and from William & Mary Law School. 
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Workplace Fairness publishes a weekly newsletter, Workplace Week, which covers news and commentary on critical issues affecting employees and their advocates. Find helpful and more comprehensive information at

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E-Newsletter. The newsletter includes stories covered at Today’s Workplace Blog and the In the News sections of the website.

Workplace Fairness is a national non-profit organization that provides information, education and assistance to individual workers and their advocates nationwide and promotes public policies that advance employee rights. The organization’s mission is to educate workers and their advocates about workplace rights and options for resolving workplace problems and so that policymakers, members of the business community and the public view the fair treatment of workers as both good business practice and sound public policy.

Gail Glave Named Managing Director at Tiger Capital Group

As a key leader in Tiger’s retail disposition practice for over 23 years, Ms. Glave has directed liquidation projects ranging in size from USD 10 million to USD 900 million.

Tiger Capital Group on January 29, 2021 announced that Director of Field Financial Operations Gail Glave has been promoted to Managing Director.

Gail Gave

As a key leader in the retail disposition practice of the asset appraisal, disposition and investment firm, she serves as both a senior financial analyst and operations specialist, responsible for financial modelling, tracking and analysing daily sales data, and the on-site management of Tiger’s field supervisors.

“Gail is on the leading edge of liquidation analysis,” said Tiger Chief Operating Officer Michael McGrail. “Her leadership role in developing Tiger’s Insight Analytics is grounded in her ability to analyse data, at the most granular level, to find insights that improve our client’s operations and sales.”

“On top of that,” McGrail continued, “her store level expertise in retail operations, including merchandising and discount modeling is unmatched. She brings a valuable ‘merchant’s perspective’ to all Tiger projects.”

Over the course of her 23-year career at Tiger and predecessor company The Nassi Group, Glave has managed selective store closing sales and chainwide liquidations for such brands as Kmart, Lord & Taylor, Payless Shoe Source, Toys R Us, Modell’s, Gander Mountain, Sports Authority, Bon-Ton Stores, Circuit City, Border’s, Cost Plus World Market, Fashion Bug, Linens ‘n Things, Fred Meyer Jewellers, Saks Off Fifth, Whitehall Jewelers, and Shreve, Crump & Low Fine Jewellers.

Glave began her career with the Tiger family of companies as an Assistant Financial Analyst at The Nassi Group in 1997. She was promoted to Lead Financial Analyst in 2003, and Director of Field Financial Operations in 2017.  Prior to Tiger, she was Jewelry Operations Director at Best Products, Inc. from 1986 to 1996, where she managed communications to 230 jewelry managers, designed operational plans and created special promotional events.

A resident of Virginia, Glave earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from Frostburg State University.


The Ghosts of Brooks Brothers

After the retailer filed for bankruptcy one couple was left with a warehouse full of abandoned mannequins and a hefty price tag to dispose of it.

By guest authors Sapna Maheshwari and Vanessa Friedman from the New York Times. Sapna Maheshwari covers retail. She has won reporting awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and the Newswomen’s Club of New York and was on Time’s list of “140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2014.”

Vanessa Friedman is The Times’s fashion director and chief fashion critic. She was previously the fashion editor of the Financial Times.

All captions courtesy by the New York Times

he bones of Brooks Brothers stores are scattered across 100000 square feet here in a warehouse near the Massachusetts border, mixed in with a sea of cardboard boxes and junk.

There are legions of mannequins, empty circular tables that once displayed neckties, posters of horseback-riding gentlemen from a bygone era. There is a whole section of Christmas trees and countless gold-painted ornaments of sheep suspended by ribbon — a Brooks Brothers symbol since 1850 known as the Golden Fleece. Blank order forms for tailors are strewn about. A neon sign that apparently still works. There is no apparel, but there are rows of heavy sewing machines that most likely came from one of the brand’s recently shuttered factories. And in the bathroom, a welcome carpet with Brooks Brothers written in cursive sits next to a toilet.

The whole mass was abandoned here in the fallout of Brooks Brothers’ bankruptcy filing and sale last year, the scraps of a retailer that made nearly $1 billion in sales in 2019. Ever since, the couple that owns the warehouse, Chip and Rosanna LaBonte, has been scrambling to figure out how to get rid of it all. Junk removal companies have told them it will cost at least USD 240000 to clear the space, which Brooks Brothers had rented through November. In order to pay the bill, the LaBontes are going to have to sell their home.

The couple’s plight illustrates the far-reaching consequences of retail bankruptcies, which cascaded during the pandemic and affected everyone from factory workers to executives. Smaller vendors and landlords have often been left holding the short end of the stick during lengthy byzantine bankruptcy proceedings, particularly with limits on what they can spend on legal bills compared with larger corporations. And once bankrupt brands are sold, people like the LaBontes are typically left in the dust.

“It is a very sad situation that unfortunately does happen quite a bit because it is just part of the bankruptcy situation as the statute is drafted,” said James Van Horn, partner and retail bankruptcy specialist at Barnes & Thornburg. “Unfortunately, creditors can become victims, and sometimes they have little or no options to recover what is owed them.”

Retailers like Brooks Brothers were prominent among the more than 600 corporate bankruptcies in the United States last year, which had the highest number of filings in a decade, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The LaBontes, who are in their 60s, have been working with a liquidator to sell what they can of the Brooks Brothers detritus, and are about to list their home in Sherborn, Mass. While they have filed a claim in bankruptcy court, they are anticipating receiving less than 5 percent of what they are owed, if that — and confessed that the proceedings are hopelessly confusing. Most of all, they are angry and incredulous about the situation, especially as Brooks Brothers continues to operate under wealthy new owners.

The office attire segment of retailing as a whole was battered last year as many Americans worked remotely, ditching entire portions of their closets. J. Crew and the owners of Ann Taylor and Men’s Wearhouse also filed for bankruptcy, while sales nose-dived at chains like Banana Republic. Temporary store closures added to the distress, along with the cancellations of special occasions like proms, graduations, weddings and other events.

All that led up to Brooks Brothers’ bankruptcy filing in July, one of the most significant retail collapses of 2020. Brooks Brothers had dressed all but four U.S. presidents at the time of its filing, and prided itself on its American factories, which were also forced to close.

But investors saw value in the brand, and the retailer was quickly purchased for USD 325 million by Simon Property Group, the biggest U.S. mall operator, and Authentic Brands Group, a licensing firm.

The firms have been buying up a string of bankrupt mall retailers through a joint venture called the SPARC Group, including Lucky Brand denim and Forever 21, leveraging the combination of Authentic Brands’ expertise in licensing famous brand names in various lucrative and creative (and some say equity-destructive) ways and Simon’s real estate portfolio.

At the time of the Brooks Brothers purchase, SPARC committed to keep operating at least 125 Brooks Brothers retail locations, compared with 424 retail and outlet stores globally before the pandemic.

Under the new owners, Brooks Brothers switched to wire transfers instead of checks, but kept paying rent on the warehouse through November, sending even more goods there as it closed dozens of stores and shuttered its three American factories, Mr. and Ms. LaBonte said. But after Thanksgiving, it sent a letter to the couple rejecting the lease as well as the contents of the warehouse. According to a person with knowledge of the deal, the warehouse and its contents had not been part of SPARC’s purchase of Brooks Brothers. As a result, said Mr. Van Horn said, the new owner most likely has no legal responsibility to the LaBontes.

A representative for SPARC stopped returning requests for comment.

“They used it for all of their store fixtures, so tables, props, fishing poles, canoes, everything you would see that would go in and out of a store to decorate it,” Mr. LaBonte said. “There’s probably 20,000 square feet of Christmas trees — everything except the actual merchandise.”

As to who would want it now: Customers have included local clothing makers looking for mannequins and a set designer from an upcoming HBO series called “The Gilded Age.” Last Monday, an older couple wandered through the space, looking at the Christmas decorations and empty gift boxes. Habitat for Humanity has been looking at the haul for several days and is taking some of the goods. Still, Mr. LaBonte estimated that somewhere around 30 percent of the leftovers have been sold.

The liquidator paid the LaBontes approximately USD 20000 to sell what they can through mid-April or so. The couple will not receive a cut, and will deal with what’s left. When junk removal specialists assessed the cost of clearing the space in December, one quote was around USD 243000 while the other was closer to USD 290000.

“We’re just another Covid casualty to them, we get that,” Ms. LaBonte said of Brooks Brothers. “But I also don’t think they realized how much stuff was there.”

The junk removal firms, which confirmed the prices with The New York Times, said that it was expensive to remove the volume of goods. The costs included labor, multiple trips to dumps, donation and recycling centers, and the use of specialized equipment such as a forklift, large dumpsters and an 18-foot box truck.

“I’ve been doing this for seven years and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Rick McDonald Jr., the owner of EastSide Junk, which provided the USD 243000 quote to the couple. “They left an astronomical amount of stuff.”

When Authentic Brands, the licensing firm, announced the purchase of Brooks Brothers out of bankruptcy last year, Jamie Salter, the company’s chief executive, spoke about the retailer’s legacy and its “incredible history.”

The LaBontes, confronting a warehouse full of some of that history, were unhappy to see those comments.

They put out a statement recently asking: “What kind of heritage can they claim when they operate like low-rent, fly-by-night bullies?”


Recycled polyester becomes a production standard –  A new step in Riri Group’s green path

Riri is the first company in the fashion accessories industry to complete its transition towards an exclusive use of recycled polyester for zips’ tapes.

To Riri, being ‘Responsible today for a sustainable tomorrow’ means looking ahead, toward a real effort in bringing sustainability in operational decisions, even if they mean more management issues and lead to changes out of the comfort zone which is the result of years of experiences and processes. Riri Group thus becomes the first manufacturing company in the fashion accessories industry to introduce the use of recycled polyester as production standard for its zip range.  This achievement marks another essential one in the sustainability path that the Swiss-Italian Group has walked since the 90s. This change fits perfectly the Group’s green approach which sees innovation for the future as one of the main pillars of the corporate strategy, as well as the commitment to protecting natural resources and to improving the traceability and transparency of both materials and processes, in a framework that sees to rethink social and economic models. Riri’s slogan “excellence in details” can also be read as “sustainability in details” as it speaks to the company’s will to act putting sustainability first. 

By employing recycled polyester as production standard for the zip range, the contribution to sustainability on a quantitative level will be significant:

·              The company, in fact, will reduce emissions resulting from polyester purchase by 32%; thus, carbon footprint will be cut down by 3%, for zip production. As a result, 460,000 kg of CO2 per year is saved, the same as 169 return flights from Geneve to New York.

·              All the recycled polyester is GRS (Global Recycled Standard)-certified, highlighting Riri’s constant commitment to choosing suppliers that meet the industry’s international standards.

·              The recycled polyester used in tapes for zips is made from recycled polyester fibers, both pre- (20%) and post-consumer (80%).

·              An important contribution is made to the goal of increasing the global use of recycled polyester, as stated by Textile Exchange, from 14% to 20% by 2030.

This choice shows once more the ability of the company to develop products that keep in mind the environment whilst preserving functionality, reliability and that visual taste that the world of fashion requires.

Indeed, Riri has introduced its first recycled polyester tape in 2013 and since then has been consistently increasing the use of GRS-certified recycled polyester that comes from recycled materials.

“We are proud of this step and the effect that it has on sustainability and the cultural change through which we approach the development and improvement of our products” states Renato Usoni, Riri Group’s CEO. “Our innovation is the result of a tireless research of low environmental impact materials, an approach that has been the foundation of our identity for many years, but that now is renewed once more to make another step toward the future”.

Webinar on Professional Summit on April 14, 2021

Online Registration can be had here

Join us at the BoF Professional Summit on April 14, 2021 from 2-6pm BST.

The fashion industry has 10 years to do its part to avoid catastrophic climate change and an urgent duty to improve the welfare of the workers who make it tick. But while fashion brands have stepped up their sustainability commitments, measuring progress in a comparable, standardised way has been elusive, until now.

The Business of Fashion’s inaugural Sustainability Index benchmarks the performance of fashion’s biggest companies against ambitious environmental and social goals across six of the most important topics for sustainable innovation in the coming decade:

  • Transparency
  • Emissions
  • Water & Chemicals
  • Waste
  • Materials
  • Workers’ Rights

What progress have fashion companies made in living up to their rhetoric in these sustainability categories? What does fashion need to achieve next over the next decade to truly clean up its act?

On April 14, 2021, The Business of Fashion will convene leading global experts, thought leaders and activists in sustainability and workers rights for a 4-hour live broadcast of interactive conversations and panel discussions, led by BoF’s expert editors and correspondents. We’ll unpack the findings from the BoF Sustainability Index and outline the steps that need to be taken over the coming decade to align the industry with global climate goals and social imperatives.

As an all access BoF Professional member, register now to reserve your spot.

If you are not a member, you can take advantage of our 30-day trial to experience all of the benefits of a BoF Professional membership, including the Summit.

Window Coverings

The window coverings market is expected to register a CAGR of 4.42 % over the forecast period from 2021 – 2026. With rapid urbanization across the world, homes are being adapted and re-designed to hold communal and private spaces that follow the concept of shared living. This is leading to newer opportunities for vendors in the market studied in development and consumption across the residential and commercial sectors.

Window Coverings Market by Mordor Intelligence offers an in-depth look into this market, particularly as it is affected by the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. The report contains key market trends, regional data and industry product highlights.