The latest News for your perusal (4)


EU Commission clears acquisition of the light control units business of OSRAM Continental by Continental

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of the light control units business of OSRAM Continental GmbH by Continental AG, both of Germany.

The light control units business of OSRAM Continental manufactures and supplies light control units used to control automotive lighting systems.

Continental is active in the manufacture and supply of various components and spare parts, notably for the automotive industry. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the lack of overlaps between the activities of the companies. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

OUTWARD HOUND acquires Comfy Dog & Cat Bed Company BEST FRIENDS BY SHERI

New Acquisition Fills Portfolio Gap, Providing OUTWARD HOUND Entry Into The Growing Pet Bed Category.

OUTWARD HOUND, a portfolio company of Prospect Hill Growth Partners, has acquired BEST FRIENDS BY SHERI in a deal announced on April 6, 2021.

BEST FRIENDS BY SHERI was founded by Sherry Samani in 2009. Originally focused on producing homeware textiles, Sherry noticed her pomeranian Kudo enjoyed sleeping on some of her fabric swatches. Realizing that there was a gap in the market for high-quality, fashionable pet beds, Sherry went to work and BEST FRIENDS BY SHERI was born. Over ten years later, BEST FRIENDS BY SHERI’s product portfolio includes some of the best selling pet beds in the industry.

Known particularly for the Original Calming Donut Pet Bed, BEST FRIENDS BY SHERI’s innovative pet bed designs have been praised by FORBES, TODAY SHOW, and MARTHA STEWART.

OUTWARD HOUND, a portfolio company of Prospect Hill Growth Partners, has acquired BEST FRIENDS BY SHERI in a deal announced today.

“BEST FRIENDS BY SHERI is one of the strongest pet bed brands in the world with a great following and long history of success,” said OUTWARD HOUND CEO Michael Black. “Sherry has done an amazing job building a product line that is beloved by pet parents and veterinarians alike. We’re excited to expand OUTWARD HOUND’s offerings into the growing pet bed category,” said Mr. Black.

“The OUTWARD HOUND family of pet brands has always been built on innovation,” said David Fiorentino, Partner at Prospect Hill Growth Partners. “Our acquisition strategy is to identify innovative brands with high growth potential. BEST FRIENDS BY SHERI meets and exceeds that criteria and we are excited to further grow OUTWARD HOUND with such a strong brand,” said Mr. Fiorentino.

McDermott, Will, and Emery served as legal advisor to OUTWARD HOUND. Proskauer Rose and Andreas F. Pour, Esq. served as legal advisors and Hexagon Capital Alliance served as financial advisor to BEST FRIENDS BY SHERI.

Outward Hound® is a Prospect Hill Growth Partners Portfolio Company that is an award-winning innovator, creator, manufacturer and distributor of the highest quality toys, games, gear and feeders for dogs and cats. The company’s portfolio of brands includes Outward Hound, Planet Dog, Petstages, Wholesome Pride Pet Treats, and Nina Ottosson treat puzzle toys. Outward Hound is headquartered outside of Denver in Centennial, CO. For more, visit and follow @OutwardHound on Instagram.

Prospect Hill Growth Partners is a Boston-area private equity firm that makes control equity investments in North American consumer and healthcare growth companies. The partners at Prospect Hill have collectively invested $2.7 billion of capital in more than 35 portfolio companies over two decades. The partners’ successful investment track record has been built on their sector-focused investment strategy and expertise, a robust operational value-add model, and strong alignment of interests.

Xcel Brands Acquires LOGO by Lori Goldstein

 Xcel Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ: XELB) on April 5, 2021, announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire the Lori Goldstein brands, including LOGO™ by Lori Goldstein. The acquisition focuses on growing the popular brand through a multi-channel approach including Live streaming, e-commerce and global  direct-response television networks, and expanding the business into new products and categories.

Designed to bring style to the masses, LOGO by Lori Goldstein launched in 2009 and has been profitable since inception. Boasting more than USD 1.5 billion in historical retail sales, the brand offers multiple categories such as casual womenswear, outerwear, eyewear, jewelry and activewear.

“Xcel Brands continues to provide brands with the operating and technology platform needed to succeed in a dynamic and complex market. Our investment in LOGO by Lori Goldstein reinforces our commitment to help propel the industry forward by optimizing the business outcomes of our brands through a true omni channel distribution strategy and by reimagining shopping, entertainment and social media as one thing,” said Robert W. D’Loren, Xcel Brands’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

The acquisition presents highly achievable growth opportunities for Xcel Brands under the LOGO brand including product merchandising and design upgrades to drive growth and developing a material business across multiple channels of distribution and through brand collaborations.

“This new venture came as a natural partnership, with a common goal to drive robust expansion and bring the LOGO brand into its next phase,” said Lori Goldstein, Stylist & Designer. “It will position us for significant growth and to be a leader across multiple channels of distribution. My inspiration for designing a lifestyle brand coupled with Xcel Brand’s distribution and marketing capabilities and elevated portfolio is a win-win for both parties.”

As digital and social media platforms enlighten consumers to be more style savvy, women now long for greater creativity, experimentation, and meaning in the clothes they wear. With the shopping landscape continuing to adapt and transform, retailers are capitalizing on the opportunity to cater to all women of all ages looking for inclusive, accessible and individualistic style in categories ranging from apparel, eyewear, jewelry, home, and everything in between. By joining forces with the LOGO™ brand, Xcel Brands plans to expand on this opportunity by tapping into the stylist turned designer’s world of experience listening, connecting to and designing for all women.

LOGO by Lori Goldstein joins Xcel Brand’s portfolio of brands including Isaac Mizrahi, Judith Ripka, Halston, C. Wonder and Longaberger.

Xcel Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:XELB) is a media and consumer products company engaged in the design, production, marketing, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sales of branded apparel, footwear, accessories, jewelry, home goods and other consumer products, and the acquisition of dynamic consumer lifestyle brands. The company has sold in excess of USD 3BB US in retail sales through live streaming on TV. Xcel was founded by Robert W. D’Loren in 2011 with a vision to reimagine shopping, entertainment, and social media as one. Xcel owns the Isaac Mizrahi, Judith Ripka, Halston, and C. Wonder brands, and it owns and manages the Longaberger brand through its controlling interest in Longaberger Licensing LLC, pioneering a ubiquitous sales strategy which includes the promotion and sale of products under its brands through interactive television, brick-and-mortar retail, e-commerce and peer to peer channels. Headquartered in New York City, Xcel Brands is led by an executive team with significant livestream production, merchandising, design, production, marketing, retailing, and licensing experience, and a proven track record of success in elevating branded consumer products companies. With an experienced team of professionals focused on design, production, and digital marketing, Xcel maintains control of product quality and promotion across all of its product categories and distribution channels. Xcel differentiates by design.

Lori Goldstein helped the fashion industry recognise the value and influence of a visionary stylist by telling powerful, transformative, and authentic stories through the static image. After 35 years behind the camera, Lori ventured in front of it in 2009 when she launched LOGO by Lori Goldstein. An exclusive collection for QVC, LOGO was born from Lori’s lifelong passion for layering clothes and her “anything goes with everything” approach to fashion. LOGO is a sophisticated lifestyle brand that embraces Lori’s aesthetic and speaks to everyday women. LOGO draws inspiration from the beauty of women of all ages and sizes and gives them the tools and fashion pieces to be their most fabulous selves.

A pioneer in the field, Lori Goldstein was one of the s world’s first stylists, whose interpretations of fashion and beauty have produced some of the most groundbreaking and iconic images in fashion and popular culture over the last four decades. She began her career as a fashion stylist in the early 80s working with Annie Leibovitz. Throughout their 20-year partnership, they collaborated on the American Express “Portraits” campaign, which was named “Campaign of the Decade” by Advertising Age and the Gap’s “Individuals of Style” ad campaign, one of the first ad campaigns dedicated to celebrating the style of celebrities and leaders from the arts and culture community. A longtime contributor to Vanity Fair, Lori worked with Leibovitz on many memorable covers, including the culture-jolting cover of a nude and pregnant Demi Moore. In the 90s, Lori started working with leading fashion photographer Steven Meisel. Their creative collaboration has produced nearly 70 covers of Italian Vogue. Goldstein and Meisel’s Valley of the Dolls-inspired campaign for Versace in 2000 was an epic piece that led to an exhibition of the classic photo series titled “Four Days in L.A.: The Versace Pictures.” Her work with Madonna on the music video “Take a Bow” won her a VH1 Fashion and Music Award for Best Stylist. Lori authored Style Is Instinct, an anthology of her work including over eighty astounding images that she created in collaboration with the world’s finest photographers, published in 2013.


7th ITMF Corona-Survey Global turnover 2020 dropped -9% on average vs. 2019 – Companies see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel

Between January 25th and March 10th, 2021, ITMF has conducted the 7th ITMF Corona-Survey among ITMF members and affiliated companies and associations about the impact the Corona-pandemic has on the global textile value chain. In total, 196 companies from around the world participated. The 1st ITMF Corona-Survey was conducted in March 2020 when the first lockdowns were announced in Europe.

The 7th survey revealed that actual turnover in 2020 was -9 % lower compared to 2019 (see Graph 1). While this decrease is significantly better than the expected drop of -33% in the 3rd survey at the height of the first Corona- wave in April 2020, the year 2020 will go down into history as one of the worst years for the global textile and apparel industry.

In comparison to the expectations expressed in the 6th ITMF Corona-Survey (November 20th – December 14th, 2020), actual turnover for 2020 compared to 2019 has improved by 3 percentage points from -12% to now -9% (Graph 1).

As could be expected the entire textile value chain was hit hard by the pandemic including textile machinery producers. Practically all segments under review were impacted negatively to different degrees in 2020 (see Graph 2). The two segments standing out positively are the producers of nonwovens (+/-0 %) and of fibres (+10 %). It can be assumed that those two segments have benefitted from the extraordinary demand for masks during 2020, which compensated to a significant extent for the loss in other areas like automotive or apparel.

For 2021 and the following years up to 2024, turnover expectations are positive (see Graph 3) and have overall not changed compared to previous surveys. On a global level, turnover expectations are especially strong for 2021 and 2022, an indication that companies are expecting a strong recovery. For 2023 and 2024 companies’ growth expectations are weaker. Looking at the various regions the most striking result is the positive expectations of companies in Africa (+31% by 2024), compared to the other regions that range between +12 and +21%.

College Scholarships

Duck® Brand’s 21st Annual Stuck At Prom® Contest Challenges Creative Teens To Win College Scholarships

Don your DIY Duck Tape® promwear for the chance to win nearly USD 25000 in scholarships and prizes.

Whether you’re celebrating prom night in-person or from your couch (and looking for cool Insta-worthy photo-ops), Duck® brand’s 21st Annual Stuck at Prom® Scholarship Contest is your opportunity to design fashion-forward Duck Tape® prom looks (and matching accessories) and share them virtually with the world. Nearly USD 25000 in scholarships and prizes will be awarded to the winners, so grab your bestie or date and have some fun taking pics in your masterpiece.

Beginning March 31, creative, college-bound teens who are enrolled in high school or home school are invited to begin snipping and stitching their Duck Tape® creations.

“Last year, students across the country used their extra time at home to get crafty and flex their artistic skills. Despite the pandemic and uncertainty of proms, we had more Stuck at Prom entries than ever before—their creativity was astonishing. In fact, one of our 2020 Stuck at Prom winners made a coronavirus-themed ball gown,” said Ashley Luke, senior product manager at Shurtape Technologies, LLC, the company that markets the Duck® brand. “This year, we look forward to seeing the creative spirit and style of teens from America and Canada.”

How It Works:

During the entry period, participants are invited to submit photos and video of their finished Duck Tape® dress or tux at

A panel of judges will then select 10 finalists—5 from the dress category and 5 from the tux category—based on the following criteria: use of color, workmanship, originality and how Duck Tape® was used in the design.

The public will vote online to crown two Grand Prize winners—one dress and one tux. The top two designers will each receive a USD 10000 scholarship. The eight runners up receive USD 500 scholarships and Duck® brand prize packs worth USD 100. 

Dates to remember:

  • Entry Period: March 31 through June 9, 2021
  • Judging Period: June 10 through June 18, 2021
  • Community Voting on Finalists: June 30 through July 14, 2021
  • Grand Prize Winners Announced: On or around July 21, 2021

For more information about the 21st Annual Duck® Brand Stuck at Prom® Scholarship Contest and this year’s rules, visit     

An American original, Duck Tape® brand duct tape is the fix-all to help with everyday repairs, projects or crafts. Duck Tape® offers a vast array of innovative, forward-thinking solutions that help everyone – from makers and creators to do-it-yourselfers and professionals – bring their ideas to life. The brand sets trends with its wide variety of colors and designs, inspires creativity and leads the way in DIY or jobsite projects, crafting, and more, by providing the tools consumers need to make or repair anything. Duck Tape® brand is marketed by Shurtape Technologies, LLC, an industry-leading manufacturer of adhesive tape and consumer home and office products, with facilities worldwide. Visit  for additional product information as well as for a source of everyday inspiration, imagination and creativity.

The Duck® brand offers an array of tapes, moving and packing supplies, shelf liner and home products that provide simple, imaginative and helpful solutions for a variety of tasks around the home, school, office and jobsite. Duck® brand is marketed by Shurtape Technologies, LLC, an industry-leading manufacturer of adhesive tape and consumer home and office products, with facilities worldwide. Visit for additional product information.


Swiss Nestlé Professional to deploy pioneering anti-viral screen protection on coffee machines

Nestlé Professional, the global leader in out of home branded hot and cold beverage and food solutions, is deploying anti-viral and anti-bacterial self-disinfecting screen protectors for its out of home coffee machines.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are looking for more reassurance on safety and hygiene when they have a coffee on-the-go, at work or a convenience store.

In an effort to provide solutions adapted to the current sanitary situation, Nestlé Professional teamed up with Nanoveu, a leading technology research company to customize its NanoshieldTM anti-viral and anti-bacterial screen protector for Nestlé Professional’s Nescafé and We Proudly Serve Starbucks® coffee machines.

“We want to be able to support our customers in any possible way, to assist them to serve their consumers in a safe and reliable manner,” said Reinhold Jakobi, Head of Nestlé Professional’s Strategic Business Unit. “Offering tools to help our customers to be able to continue serving coffee to their consumers in challenging times is of the utmost importance.”

The state-of-the-art self-disinfecting NanoshieldTM film is composed of a PET foil with a special resin layer, containing an active copper component. The films have undergone rigorous scientific testing to prove its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

The self-disinfecting properties of the NanoshieldTM film remain active under various practical use cases, such as high frequency touching and daily cleaning.

Ensuring the safety and quality of its products is a key priority for Nestlé. The company leveraged its R&D expertise in virology and food safety at the Nestlé Institute of Food Safety and Analytical Sciences located in Lausanne, Switzerland to scientifically validate different anti-viral solutions. A scientific study which includes the NanoshieldTM product results, will be published in a peer reviewed journal soon.

Zenon Mandralis, Head of Research and Development for Nestlé Professional, added: “We continue to explore a wide range of novel solutions such as ordering through apps, touchless machines, and screen protectors to support our customers. The screen protections are a great solution because they can be easily used on current beverage machines and complement existing enhanced hygiene measures we already have in place for our coffee solutions.”

The customised NanoshieldTM films are designed to precisely fit the Nescafé touch screen and touch pad coffee machines, which are available around the world. Specific Nanoshields will also be available for We Proudly Serve Starbucks® coffee in selected markets.

“We are fortunate to be working with Nestlé, such a great global partner who understands the importance of NanoshieldTM and its efficacy in protecting against viruses – particularly against the COVID-19 virus,” commented Alfred Chong, Nanoveu’s Executive Chairman and CEO. “Together both organizations have a strong desire to develop solutions which enable better health and safety outcomes for consumers in the new environment in which we are all now living.”

Walmart’s CMO on the Power of Intentional Moves and “No Look Backs”

William White talks the evolving role of the CMO, shoppable livestreams, DEI and more

By guest author Heide Palermo of Adweek

William White CMO at Walmart

When William White took on the role of chief marketing officer at Walmart, he considered it not only an honor to be working for the No. 1 Fortune 500 company, but also a dream job at a brand that comes with much responsibility. Not to mention, he just so happened to start his first-ever CMO role right at the start of a global pandemic.

“To join during that time, I was able to build relationships potentially in ways that would have taken much longer…because we were really rolling up our sleeves and digging in to help,” William said. 

And although he could have never planned to start a dream job during a crisis, the moves he has made throughout his career have been shaped by being very intentional. From deciding to take his first agency job in New York City because it was in the largest media market to almost leaving his brand role at The Coca-Cola Company but deciding to stay, which proved to be “training ground” during his nine years there. Even his decision to from CPG to retail for Target where he served as SVP of marketing was made because he felt having experience in both would help set up his plans for the future.

William explained “When I have made a move, there’s no look back. … I felt like I got everything out of the company and the experience before going.”

n this episode of CMO Moves, William discusses the power and potential of the brand’s membership program Walmart+, the brand’s partnership with TikTok and how they brought the first shoppable live stream to the U.S., and how they are positioning themselves to be a leader in the space.

Tune in to hear about his road to becoming the CMO of Walmart, the evolving role of the CMO, how he’s tackling DEI as a leader and of course, what he would be if he wasn’t a CMO.

In this episode of CMO Moves, William discusses the power and potential of the brand’s membership program Walmart+, the brand’s partnership with TikTok and how they brought the first shoppable live stream to the U.S., and how they are positioning themselves to be a leader in the space.

To hear:

Credit Suisse takes USD 4.7 Billion hit on Archegos Meltdown

Swiss banking giant slashes dividend and shuffles top executives

By guest author Margot Patrick from the Wall Street Journal

Swiss Credit Suisse Group AG reported a USD 4.7 billion hit from the meltdown of Archegos Capital Management, slashed its dividend and said its investment banking and risk chiefs would leave the bank.

The Swiss lender has been the hardest hit by the collapse late last month of Archegos, a U.S. family investment firm, suffering a major loss in its unit that services hedge funds. The Archegos crisis emerged just weeks after Credit Suisse froze USD 10 billion in investment funds connected to now-insolvent finance company Greensill Capital.

Chief Executive Thomas Gottstein will stay in his job, but his chief risk officer, Lara Warner, is leaving the bank Tuesday and head of investment banking Brian Chin will depart at the end of April.

Christian Meissner, a Bank of America Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. veteran, will become head of the investment bank, Credit Suisse said. It hired Mr. Meissner last year to lead a new unit connecting its wealthiest clients to its investment bank. It put its former chief risk officer, Joachim Oechslin, temporarily back in that job and named a temporary head of compliance.

The double blow of Archegos and Greensill represents the bank’s biggest test in years and comes at a time of leadership transition. Mr. Gottstein took over a year ago after his predecessor, Tidjane Thiam, was forced out after the bank was caught spying on a recently departed executive.

Later this month, the bank’s longtime chairman, Urs Rohner, is set to retire. He will be replaced with an outsider, Lloyds Banking Group PLC Chief Executive António Horta-Osório.

Credit Suisse has struggled through a series of mishaps in recent years, causing surprise one-off charges that have dented its earnings and undermined its reputation as a safe place for the world’s rich to store their wealth. Mr. Gottstein has promised to run a tighter ship and avoid surprises.

To shore up capital, Credit Suisse said it would suspend a share buyback program and pay a reduced dividend through a mix of capital and retained earnings. Mr. Gottstein and the rest of the executive board won’t receive any 2020 bonuses. Mr. Rohner is giving up part of his pay.

Credit Suisse shares have fallen by nearly a quarter since March, but edged only slightly lower on April 6, 2021.

While the hole created by the Archegos crisis is substantial, an otherwise strong performance at the bank in the first quarter offset some of the damage. The bank said it expects a pretax loss in the quarter ended March of 900 million Swiss francs, equivalent to about USD 960 million.

Credit Suisse said its dealings with both Archegos and Greensill need “substantial further review and scrutiny.” It said its board formed a crisis team and hired outside help to investigate.

The crises have triggered a fundamental re-evaluation among board members and Mr. Gottstein about how the bank should operate. The outcome of the investigations could prompt the bank to alter its mix between its more reliable wealth management franchise and still-volatile investment bank.

The investigations will also examine how the bank, after pouring huge amounts of investment into risk controls and oversight in recent years, allowed itself to get deeply involved in both situations. In the case of Greensill, the bank reviewed the relationship multiple times in recent years but continued to expand its business with the company.

Credit Suisse suspended its Greensill funds March 1, after credit insurance that Greensill was in charge of arranging ran out. The insurance made the funds safer and let Credit Suisse market them as an alternative to money-market funds, even though many of the underlying investments were sub-investment grade.

It demoted Eric Varvel, the head of the asset management unit that ran the funds, in March and named a new head to the division.

Part of the recent decline in Credit Suisse’s share price has been linked to worries that the bank will have to at least partially compensate investors in the Greensill funds. The funds could take years to claw back money from insurers and the underlying Greensill borrowers. Preliminary estimates inside the bank peg the fund losses up to USD 1.5 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Three weeks after the Greensill crisis, more bad news for the Swiss lender emerged. Credit Suisse was one of at least six banks that had to unload large stock positions when Archegos imploded. The New York-based family office had built up stakes in individual stocks with heavy borrowing from banks. Archegos couldn’t keep the positions going when one of the stocks fell sharply.

Credit Suisse was one of the last banks to exit, The Wall Street Journal reported. Some analysts had estimated it would lose between USD 3 billion and USD 4 billion from the fire sale.

Schoeller trusts in solar energy

Schoeller Textil AG is consuming its own energy, generated on the roofs of its production facility in Sevelen, where 2838 solar modules currently cover 4800 m2 of space. Producing 950000 kWh of solar energy in the first year in operation, Schoeller has used 85 percent of that energy for its own operations.

Schoeller’s Solar Installations

The first annual operating figures for the photovoltaic plant, installed in 2019 on the roofs of Schoeller Textil in Sevelen, were just made available in February 2021. “At 950000 kWh, we have exceeded the anticipated average annual output of 865000 kWh by around 10 percent,” reports Rolf Landolt, head of engineering at Schoeller, with evident pride. The annual production of the 2838 solar modules equates to the average energy consumption of approximately 238 households (at 4000 kWh per household).

85 percent for the company’s own requirements of the 950000 kWh/year produced, Schoeller is able to consume 85 percent for its own needs and can thus able to enter around CHF 85000 per year in its books. The remaining 15 %is fed back into the electricity grid and used by external consumers. The calculations show that not only does the use of solar energy benefit the environment, the plant will have paid for itself within seven to eight years.

“The intention behind the rather substantial investment of approximately CHF 700000 Swiss francs was to reduce the high electricity costs with the aid of a sustainable energy source,” explains Siegfried Winkelbeiner, CEO of Schoeller Textil AG. “The decision to invest in a more ecological future was taken as far back as November 2018, but a partial refurbishment of the roof was brought forward before the solar panels were installed.” The professional installation of the photovoltaic plant was carried out by the local specialists Heizplan from Gams.

Nestlé champions plant-based food with investment in Asia

Nestlé on April 7, 2021, doubled down on its plans to champion plant-based food in Asia with the inauguration of a production site for plant-based burgers, schnitzels, mince and more in Shah Alam, Malaysia.

The new facility has the capacity to produce 8000 tons of plant-based food a year and will supply both food service and retail with the new Harvest Gourmet brand.

With production for plant-based food now online in China as well as Malaysia, Nestlé is looking to help lead the ‘quiet food revolution’ happening in Asia. More people are choosing plant-based options for a healthier lifestyle with less impact on the planet.

In a recent survey by GlobalData, over 40 % of respondents in countries across the Asia and Oceania region said they were shifting towards more plant-based food. Eleven percent are now opting for a purely vegetarian or vegan diet, and a third are cutting down on their meat consumption by going ‘flexitarian’, centring their diets on plant-based foods without eliminating meat entirely.

Harvest Gourmet has already inked deals to supply global and regional restaurant chains including Element Fresh in China, KyoChon in Malaysia and Carl’s Jr in Singapore. It will also supply growing demand in retail, starting in China with Tmall and Hema.

Giving people familiar flavors and dishes is really important to get more people to try meat alternatives, which is why Nestlé is making sure local products are designed for the Asian taste and local cuisine applications such as dumplings, stir fry, braising, katsudon, and more. In retail, first prepared dishes in China include plant-based versions of local classics like Gong Bao Chicken and Braised Meatballs.

Chris Johnson, Nestlé CEO for Asia, Oceania and Africa: “We’re really going ‘beyond the bun’ to capture local tastes and convince people to try plant-based options. We believe that the more people embrace plant-based food, the better for them and the planet. That’s why we are at the forefront of this shift and investing for the future.”

Nestlé has invested strongly in Asia to support the growing interest in plant-based proteins. That includes the production facilities in Tianjin, China and Shah Alam, Malaysia, with the latter certified halal.

Globally, Nestlé has around 300 R&D scientists, engineers, and product developers dedicated to the research and development of plant-based products. To adapt the products to Asian consumer needs, the company leverages its R&D centers in Singapore, Beijing, China, as well as Manesar, India.

Food technologists, scientists, and chefs tailor the meat and dairy alternatives to local preferences through using regionally sourced ingredients and simplified recipes inspired by favorite dishes across Asia. Using proprietary technologies, they ensure the right texture, taste, and a superior nutritional profile. Working alongside food service experts, they also tailor out-of-home products for use in professional kitchens, taking into account their specific cooking and serving requirements.

Thomas Hauser, Head of Global Product and Technology Development at Nestlé: “We are continuously exploring new technologies and recipes to deliver a wide range of great-tasting, nutritious, and sustainable plant-based products for both our retail and out-of-home business. Our local innovation capabilities in Asia enable us to accelerate the innovation of outstanding plant-based alternatives that Asian consumers love.”

Well known for its retail brands, Nestlé also has a strong business for restaurant and food service customers, from major chains to smaller cafés and bars. In collaboration with industry chefs, Nestlé in-house chefs develop menu applications in local cuisines to enable customers to delight their diners.

Tahira Shiraz-Longden, Vice President, Food – Nestlé Professional (Asia, Oceania and Africa): “With over 40 per cent of consumers in Asia choosing to eat less or no meat in their diet, the demand for plant-based foods is no longer a food trend, it is a social shift. Whether it is motivated by personal health or for a more sustainable planet, we are excited to bring our plant-based knowledge and expertise to this region and adapt to local tastes. We are confident that with its sensational tastes and textures, Harvest Gourmet will make the region fall in love with plant-based food.”


Life expectancy decreased in 2020 across the EU

Life expectancy at birth has been increasing over the past decade in the EU: official statistics reveal that life expectancy has risen, on average, by more than two years per decade since the 1960s. However, the latest available data suggest that life expectancy stagnated or even declined in recent years in several EU Member States.

Moreover, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, life expectancy at birth fell in the vast majority of the EU Member States with available 2020 data. The largest decreases were recorded in Spain (-1.6 years compared with 2019) and Bulgaria (-1.5), followed by Lithuania, Poland and Romania (all -1.4).

This information comes from recently published provisional estimates on life expectancy in 2020.

The number of Swiss debt collections and bankruptcies declined in all regions in 2020

n 2020, the total number of bankruptcy proceedings opened against businesses and individuals declined by 6.6 % compared with 2019. Among the regions, the greatest decrease was seen in Ticino (–18.2 %). The number of bankruptcy proceedings closed were part of the same overall dynamic. During the same period, debt collection proceedings declined the most. These are some of the latest findings from the debt collection and bankruptcy statistics from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Population change and vital statistics in 2020: provisional figures – The Swiss population is growing despite the rise in deaths

According to the provisional figures for 2020 from the population and households statistics of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), Switzerland’s permanent resident population increased by 0.7 % compared with 2019 reaching almost 8.7 million inhabitants at the end of 2020. The number of deaths increased with 76000 cases registered while the numbers of marriages, births and divorces decreased. Switzerland’s permanent resident population comprised 8667100 persons as at 31 December 2020, compared with 8606000 on the same date in 2019 (+61100 persons, +0.7 %). This demographic growth is among the lowest seen in the past ten years and corresponds to that seen in 2018 and 2019.

The changes in the age distribution of the deceased persons are significant. The proportion of deaths occurring before the age of 65 has decreased significantly. On the other hand, the proportion of deaths among those aged 75 and over has increased significantly. In the over 84 age group, this increase is particularly pronounced.

February 2021 Euro Area unemployment at 8.3 %, EU at 7.5 %

In February 2021, the Euro Area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 8.3 %, stable compared with January 2021 and up from 7.3 % in February 2020. The EU unemployment rate was 7.5 % in February 2021, also stable compared with January 2021 and up from 6.5 % in February 2020. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Eurostat estimates that 15.953 million men and women in the EU, of whom 13.571 million in the euro area, were unemployed in February 2021. Compared with January 2021, the number of persons unemployed increased by 34000 in the EU and by 48000 in the Euro Area. Compared with February 2020, unemployment rose by 1922 million in the EU and by 1507 million in the Euro Area.

Youth unemployment

In February 2021, 2967 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed in the EU, of whom 2394 million were in the Euro Area. In February 2021, the youth unemployment rate was 17.2 % in the EU and 17.3 % in the Euro Area, compared with 17.4 % in both areas in the previous month. Compared with January 2021, youth unemployment decreased by 34000 in the EU and by 9000 in the Euro Area. Compared with February 2020, youth unemployment increased by 230000 in the EU and by 177000 in the Euro Area.

Unemployment by gender

In February 2021, the unemployment rate for women was 7.9% in the EU, stable compared with January 2021. The unemployment rate for men was 7.1% in February 2021, also stable compared with January 2021. In the euro area, the unemployment rate for women increased from 8.7% in January 2021 to 8.8% in February 2021 and the unemployment rate for men remained stable at 7.9%.

Additional labour market indicators

These estimates are based on the globally used International Labour Organisation (ILO) standard definition of unemployment, which counts as unemployed people without a job who have been actively seeking work in the last four weeks and are available to start work within the next two weeks. The COVID-19 outbreak and the measures applied to combat it have triggered a sharp increase in the number of claims for unemployment benefits across the EU. At the same time, a significant part of those who had registered in unemployment agencies were no longer actively looking for a job or no longer available for work, for instance, if they had to take care of their children. This leads to discrepancies in the number of registered unemployed and those measured as unemployed according to the ILO definition.

To capture in full the unprecedented labour market situation triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak, the data on unemployment have been complemented by additional indicators, e.g. underemployed part-time workers, persons seeking work but not immediately available and persons available to work but not seeking, released together with LFS data for the third quarter of 2020.

Geographical information

Euro area (EA19): Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland.

European Union (EU27): Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden.

Methods and definitions

Eurostat publishes harmonised unemployment rates for individual EU Member States, the euro area and the EU. These unemployment rates are based on the definition recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The measurement is based on a harmonised data source, the European Union Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Based on the ILO definition, Eurostat defines unemployed persons as persons aged 15 to 74 who:

  • are without work;
  • are available to start work within the next two weeks;
  • and have actively sought employment at some time during the previous four weeks.

The unemployment rate is the number of people unemployed as a percentage of the labour force.

Series have been seasonally adjusted using the seasonal factors estimated in the period up to December 2019 included. Those seasonal factors will be kept unchanged (‘controlled concurrent adjustment method’) until the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak can be integrated in seasonal adjustment models.

The labour force is the total number of people employed plus unemployed. In this news release unemployment rates are based on employment and unemployment data covering persons aged 15 to 74.

The youth unemployment rate is the number of people aged 15 to 24 unemployed as a percentage of the labour force of the same age. Therefore, the youth unemployment rate should not be interpreted as the share of jobless people in the overall youth population.

When data for the most recent month are not available for a Member State, EU and EA aggregates are calculated using the latest data available for that Member State.

Country notes

Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Iceland: the trend component is used instead of the more volatile seasonally adjusted data. For Austria, February 2021 data are estimated using previous series from January 2004 until December 2020.

Denmark, Estonia, Portugal and Norway: 3-month moving averages of LFS data are used instead of pure monthly indicators. Italy and Portugal: the data are provisional up to February 2021 included.

Germany: due to the introduction of the new German system of integrated household surveys, including the LFS, the monthly unemployment rate for February 2021 is an estimation based on the figures recorded in previous periods, taking into account current developments.

Revisions and timetable

The data in this News Release can be subject to revisions, caused by updates to the seasonally adjusted series whenever new monthly data are added; the inclusion of the most recent LFS data in the calculation process; update of seasonal adjustment models with complete annual data.

Compared with the rates published in News Release 28/2021 of 4 March 2021, the unemployment rate for January 2021 has been revised from 8.1 % to 8.3 % for the Euro Area, and from 7.3 % to 7.5 % for the EU. Among EU Member States, the rate has been revised by more than 0.1 percentage points (pp) downwards for Portugal (by 0.3 pp) and Estonia (by 0.2 pp, December 2020 data). The rate has been revised by more than 0.1 percentage points upwards for Italy (by 0.8 pp, December 2020 data) and Slovenia (by 0.4 pp).

EU trade in COVID-19 related products in 2020

To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, countries around the world took a variety of restrictive measures, which negatively affected international trade in goods, with a few noteworthy exceptions.

Among these are goods used in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic: sterilisation products (incl. disinfectants), medical vehicles and furniture, protective garments, diagnostic testing equipment, medical devices, oxygen equipment and medical consumables, or so called ‘COVID-19 related products’.

In 2020, extra-EU imports of COVID-19 related products increased by 10 % and exports by 6 % compared to 2019. In contrast, the trade in ‘other similar products’ dropped by 4 % for imports and by 7 % for exports.

When looking at 2020 in more detail, growth rates for trade of COVID-19 related products were higher in the first half of the year than in the second. Similarly, decreases in the trade of other similar products were more pronounced in the first half of the year, reflecting the disruption to trade in goods due to the first lockdown policies.

This information comes from recently published data on international trade in goods. This news item presents only a handful of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article.

OECD annual inflation picks up to 1.7 % in February 2021

Annual inflation in the OECD area picked up to 1.7 % in February 2021, compared with 1.5 % in January. The decrease in energy prices moderated to (minus) 0.1 %, from (minus) 3.9 % in January, while food price inflation hardly slowed and stood at 3.0 %, compared with 3.1 % in January. OECD annual inflation excluding food and energy slowed slightly, to 1.6 % in February, compared with 1.7 % in January.

In February 2021, annual inflation increased in the United States (to 1.7 %, from 1.4 % in January), Germany (to 1.3 %, from 1.0 %), Italy (to 0.6 %, from 0.4 %) and Canada (to 1. 1%, from 1.0 %). Annual inflation slowed in the United Kingdom (to 0.7 %, from 0.9 %), while it was stable in France at 0.6 %. In Japan, overall price deflation continued in February (minus 0.4 %), but at a slower pace than in January (minus 0.6 %).

In the Euro Area, overall inflation (as measured by the HICP[1]) was stable at 0.9 % in February 2021. Excluding food and energy, Euro Area inflation slowed to 1.1 %, compared with 1.4 % in January. Eurostat’s flash estimate for the Euro Area points to annual overall inflation picking up to 1.3 % in March 2021, with inflation excluding food and energy slowing to 0.9 %.

Annual inflation in the G20  area as a whole increased to 2.4 % in February 2021, compared with 2.2 % in January. Among non-OECD G20 economies, annual inflation increased in Argentina (to 40.7 %, from 38.5 %), India (to 4.5 %, from 3.2 %), Brazil (to 5.2 %, from 4.6 %) and the Russian Federation (to 5.7 %, from 5.2 %). On the other hand, annual inflation decreased in Saudi Arabia (to 5.2 %, from 5.7 %), South Africa (to 2.9 %, from 3.2 %) and Indonesia (to 1.4 %, from 1.6 %). In China, overall prices continued to fall in February (minus 0.2 %), but at a slower pace than in January (minus 0.3 %).


*The present publication presents time series, which extend beyond the date of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union on 1 February 2020. In order to maintain consistency over time, the “European Union” aggregate presented here excludes the UK for the entire time series. Interested readers may refer to the Eurostat website for further information on Eurostat’s plans for disseminating EU aggregates and to the Eurostat database for the actual series.

As a consequence of measures put in place by governments to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), many statistical agencies are facing unprecedented collection, compilation and methodological challenges to develop indicators across a number of domains. To address these challenges, the statistical community is developing guidance, both conceptual and practical, to help ensure the continued delivery of timely and reliable statistics. However, in some cases, there will inevitably be an impact on quality and, as such, the statistics included in this press release may be subject to larger than normal uncertainty.

Top EU trading partners visualised

Eurostat’s interactive data visualisation on trade in goods in the European Union (EU), Member States and EFTA countries has been updated with 2020 data. Select the country of your choice and the pie charts will show you the top 5 trading partners for imports and exports.

The tool allows you to easily discover interesting facts, such as that in 2020, the EU imported more goods from China (22 % of imports of goods) than anywhere else and exported most to the United States (18 % of exports of goods). Which are the top trading partners of your country? Check it out and travel the world with our trade statistics!

Access to EU and EFTA datasets

For more information


Texworld Evolution Paris – Le Showroom returns from July 5 – 9, 2021

Better, bigger, stronger, Texworld Evolution Paris – Le Showroom will be back this summer in this new format adapted to the health crisis that proved its worth last February. A new edition of the Showroom will take place in Paris from July 5 to 9, 2021 to allow the protagonists of the fashion industries to carry out their textile research.

This physical event for the fashion industry professionals will therefore be held in Paris the first week of July. This format, successfully developed by Messe Frankfurt France, allows to maintain exchanges with fabrics and finished products manufacturers, while respecting sanitary regulations.

Faced with the uncertainties related to the COVID-19 crisis and the restrictions imposed on major international events, Messe Frankfurt France has decided to renew the Texworld Evolution Paris – Le Showroom formula, in Paris, from July 5th to 9th. Inspired by the concept developed with great success in February, this new edition is a must-attend rendez-vous to meet the expectations of international fashion players. This convivial event, imagined as a trade show in the heart of the fashion capital, will focus on a selection of trendy products from the textile trade shows Apparel Sourcing, Avantex, Leatherworld and Texworld Paris, chosen to allow buyers to build their collections and exhibitors to present their know-how.

Touch and feel the fabrics

This appropriate and innovative business solution has already seduced buyersfrom major ready-to-wear brands, young talents and many fashion designers to whom it has brought a fresh breath of creativity while offering a real meetingplace to discover, hold fabrics in hand, get inspired and talk business. Praised by the European press, the first edition allowed several hundred buyers and fashion designers to discover physically and in optimal conditions of comfort and security, more than 2500 samples selected by the teams of Messe Frankfurt France from 75 international manufacturers from a dozen countries.

During five days, buyers were able to exchange 3235 requests related tocollection projects or orders.

A wider selection of products and brands

This unique event held in Paris will present an expanded offer compared to the previous edition, with an even wider selection of finished products from Apparel Sourcing and fabrics from Texworld exhibitors. This array of products will express the full creative potential of the fall-winter 2022 season. As in February, buyers will be welcome upon invitation in order to ensure an adequate flow ofattendees. From the moment they arrive at the showroom, buyers will be provided with a digital tool specifically developed to facilitate direct contact with manufacturers for expressing interest, requesting samples or quotations, while enjoying an exceptional setting.

And for those who are not able to visit the showroom, the experience continues online through the digital sourcing platform developed by Messe Frankfurt France with its partner Foursource.

Providing maximum convenience for visitors, Apparel Sourcing, Avantex, Leatherworld and Texworld Paris belong to the cluster of related trade shows organised by Messe Frankfurt France, held in one and the same location, on the same dates and where entry is free upon presentation of professional credentials.

Messe Frankfurt is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organiser with its own exhibition rounds. The Messe Frankfurt Group employs around 2500* people in a total of 30 subsidiaries. Thecompany generated annual sales of approximately EUR 250* million in 2020 after having recorded sales of EUR 738 million the previous year. Even in difficult times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we are globallynetworked with our industry sectors. We have close ties with our industry sectors and serve our customers’ business interests efficiently within the framework of our Fairs & Events, Locations and Services business fields. One of the Group’s key USPs is its closely knit global sales network, which extends throughout the world. Our comprehensive range of services – both onsite and online – ensures that customers worldwide enjoy consistently high quality and flexibility when planning, organising and running their events. We are expanding our digital expertise with new business models. The wide range of services includes rentingexhibition grounds, trade fair construction and marketing, personnel and food services. Headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, the company is owned by the City of Frankfurt (60 %) and the State of Hesse (40 %).

Note: * preliminary figures 2020

For more information, please visit our website at:

Shanghai SpinExpo

One of the ongoing challenges for brands is finding ways to check the box on sustainability –  while also offering apparel that has consumer appeal, added performance and meets often brutal price points – with razor sharp lead times.

There’s also growing concerns about greenwashing and certificate fraud.

To find out how brands are tackling this, I, Jane Singer, Managing Director, reached out to Veronica Pagani.

Veronica spent 15 years as VP of Raw Materials Sourcing at Ralph Lauren, before leaving last year to start her consulting business.

 [Click to Listen]  The Complex Balancing Act that’s Challenging Many Brands

You’ll learn …

  • The real key to more sustainable materials
  • Why Greater ‘Knowledge’ is a Critical Investment
  • A Looming Risk for Brands

Whether you are a brand wrestling with the same conundrum – or a supplier trying to better understand what brands really want – this 35 minute podcast episode will provide you with valuable insights.

PS. If you missed any of our previous episodes, you can find them here

The conference on The Future of Food (June 15-17, 2021)

This virtual business conference will assess how leading food and beverage brands can adapt practices to drive more sustainable and resilient food systems. We’ll focus on the practical steps companies can take to deliver effective climate action, regenerative agriculture and best practice in responsible sourcing.

Some agenda highlights include:

  • Tesco, Metro and Walgreens Boots Alliance debate whether consumers will shop their way to sustainability
  • What does ‘climate positive food’ actually mean in practice? Unilever, PepsiCo and Quantis highlight leading practices and the roadmap towards climate targets
  • Morrisons and Ab InBev share how brands can implement regenerative agriculture and effectively measure the impact of current programs
  • Mondelez International and Ipsos assess how we can sustainably close the income gap for farmers and ensure a living income
  • We’ll explore how Science Based Targets are being used towards water stewardship with Danone, Alpro and Diageo
  • How to get farmers to focus on biodiversity without worrying about yield with Louis Dreyfus Company
  • Farmer perspectives into the current trends, challenges and opportunities in sustainable and regenerative agriculture
  • Mars, Rainforest Alliance and La Isla Network highlight leading company approaches to child labour monitoring and remediation
  • Implementing value chain SBTs: How can companies communicate targets and engage the supply chain in real, verifiable emissions reductions?
  • How the financial sector can demonstrate impact on sustainable food issues with ING, FMO and FAIRR

Plus additional focused sessions that assess leading practices to reduce food waste, ensure animal welfare, access farmer data, build ‘material’ transparency, and many more.

You can see the full agenda here.

We look forward to welcoming over 200 senior sustainability professionals to take part in these discussions and make connections with the others in the ‘room’. We have designed our virtual platform to be simple and effective to ensure you make new and meaningful connections with other attendees. You can do this through several functions:

  • Schedule private 1:1 and group meetings
  • Join speed networking sessions to connect with a variety of stakeholders
  • Engage in practical debate within our live working groups

Discounted tickets are currently available. Register your place before next Friday, 9th April to save £100 on your pass.

Full registration details can be found here.


U.S. Exporting Mechanics Webinar Series III

The NCBFAA Educational Institute (NEI) has partnered with the U.S. Commercial Service, the export promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, to present a third exporting mechanics webinar series focused on advanced topics.  The series will provide U.S. small and medium size businesses with more advanced exporting information that they need to help them increase exports abroad, while increasing employment and jobs in the United States. Each webinar will be worth 1 CES credit (unless otherwise noted).

The content for all topics will last within an hour, but sometimes, the question and answers session last beyond the hour based on the number of participants on the webinar. If needed, credit will be given based on participation for the hour (i.e., 1.5 credits versus 1 credit).

Please view the schedule of webinars below; registration is open now for all six webinars in the series. Individual webinar eBlasts with additional details will be sent out as the events get closer. Webinar login information will be sent 1-2 business days before the webinar and again the morning of the event. For questions about the series please email

Event:  Embargoes and Sanctions

Date:  April 20, 2021

Time:  1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET

Cost:  USD 25 per participant

This webinar will provide an update on the current U.S. embargo and sanctions programs in international trade.  This webinar is for the advanced exporter. 

Register here

Event:  Incoterms

Date:  May 18, 2021

Time:  1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET

Cost:  USD 25 per participant

Learn the most current Incoterms for 2021 and how to best use them for your shipment.  This webinar is for the advanced exporter.

Register here

Event:  Digital Services as an Export – Global Technology Export Controls

Date:  June 21, 2021

Time:  1:00- 2:00 p.m. ET

Cost:  USD 25 per participant

This webinar will explain digital services and how export controls are implemented over the Internet.  It will also focus on the importance of a digital strategy.  This webinar is for the advanced exporter.

Register here

For more information, go to NCBFAA

Ready to begin or expand exporting? can help.
View our free video series or contact your nearest U.S. Commercial Service office.   

Fashion Tech

Inside the French fashion-tech bubble

French investment in digital innovation is on a roll. Everyone’s involved, from the big luxury groups to VC firms and the French government. What’s going on?

By guest author Laure Guilbault from Vogue Business

Station F, in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, bills itself as the world’s biggest startup campus. But it’s been very quiet of late following new government measures to curb a third wave of Covid-19 sweeping the country. Station F’s usually busy Italian restaurant La Felicità has been closed for months, while most workstations are unoccupied.

However, it would be wrong to judge by appearances. The French fashion tech scene is on fire, notwithstanding the restrictions of a pandemic. There’s a cultural shift in progress, according to Sebastien Fabre, founder of upcoming platform and former CEO and chairman of Vestiaire Collective, which he co-founded. “Funds are seeking the next nugget,” he says. “Startups are no longer struggling to pitch.” Before, investments at the seed stage were between EUR 500,000 and EUR 1.5 million. Now, they’re in the EUR 2.5 million to EUR 4 million range, he says.

Fundraising is moving at pace. One startup catching the eye is Replika Software, operating both in New York and Paris. Within the Station F campus, it’s housed at LVMH incubator La Maison des Startups. Replika Software enables brands to activate a network of social sellers to sell online: the sellers can download the Replika app and receive commission for their online sales. In January, the company completed a Series A financing round with LVMH Luxury Ventures and L’Oréal Bold, both investment arms of their parent companies.

In March last year, LVMH stores were abruptly forced to close and its sales people were sitting around at home, recalls Laetitia Roche-Grenet, LVMH Open Innovation director. “Replika resonated in this context as it is able to turn any sales person into an influencer on social media without damaging brand equity because they are provided with brand content.” The startup works with LVMH’s beauty retailer Sephora. Dior is using the platform for its beauty advisors to sell online. L’Oréal has activated its network of hair stylists to sell products.

Also of interest is Tekyn, a startup focusing on production automation to combat overproduction, which has raised EUR 5.5 million from French investment bank Bpifrance and Otium Capital. And then there’s Arianee, a Paris-based tech project that uses blockchain as a tool to fight counterfeiting, raising EUR 8 million from a host of investors including Bpifrance and Isai. Meanwhile, Stockly, which connects e-commerce websites with a global inventory so that they won’t run out of stock, raised EUR 5.1 million on 24 March in a financing round led by French funds Idinvest Partners and Daphni.

The current surge in activity has been boosted by a variety of factors. The two most important are the race by luxury groups to step up digital innovation and the support of the French government for tech startups via Bpifrance as part of an initiative boosted by President Emmanuel Macron.

Valuations tend to be lower in France than in the US because the market is smaller, notes Fabrice Jonas, founder of Myfashiontech, a French consulting firm that creates bridges between fashion brands and startups. “For a French startup, targeting clients in other European countries requires effort and investment,” Jonas says. “In the US , you have access to 50 states from the beginning.” He cites the examples of Watsize, Fitle and Fitizzy, French startups that tackle the perennial issue of e-commerce returns. They have all struggled to scale up, he says, and Watsize has ceased activity.

Also, until recently Silicon Valley was considered a rather more innovative location by investors. “Innovation in Silicon Valley is embracing the fact that you only achieve amasing results if you have an opportunity to partner with your customers and test and learn together,” says Zornitza Stefanova, founder of BSPK, a startup in Silicon Valley and Paris that focuses on clienteling to connect sales advisors and their clients. BSPK raised a Series A round of funding in California in October 2020. “For the startup in Silicon Valley, this is an agile way to develop. From the customer side, there is much stronger openness to embrace a new player that solves a real business problem.”

However, the dynamic is improving in France. “In French culture, customers [brands] expect to have a perfect product from the start rather than make it evolve together with the startup,” says Sebastien Fabre. “But this is changing. This philosophy to enter the market, called minimum viable product, is now common in France too and certainly embraced by investors.”

The pandemic crisis appears to be speeding up the process, driven by investment from French luxury fashion houses seeking to beef up their e-commerce capabilities and digital knowhow. “Covid-19 has had an accelerating effect,” acknowledges Delphine Le Mintier, senior investment director for fashion and luxury at Bpifrance.

For Tekyn, the Covid-19 crisis has led to explosive growth. Store closures highlighted the issue of overstocking, according to its co-founder Donatien Mourmant. “In crisis time, CFOs look back on the expenses, and realise the impact of unsold products on their balance sheet,” he says.

Sales at Le New Black, an online fashion showroom, are expected to grow 50 per cent year-on-year in its current fiscal year ending in June. Benefiting from a pandemic-induced shift to digital, it signed more than 100 new clients in 2020, including French fashion governing body Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode as well as Seoul Fashion Week and Lagos Fashion Week. “We bring solutions during a time of crisis,” says Romain Blanco, Le New Black managing director.

“All these startup companies have scaled up tremendously,” says Fabre. “Funds have never been richer and never has there been so much money to pour into startups. It’s the virtuous mechanics of the maturity of an ecosystem.”

Vestiaire Collective, the luxury resale platform co-founded by Fabre in 2008 and now valued at more than EUR 1 billion, is one major French success story, highlighted by the sale of a 5 per cent stake to luxury conglomerate Kering in early March. Besides Kering, US investment firm Tiger Global Management also participated in Vestiaire Collective’s latest EUR 178 million financing round.

LVMH is now in what it terms “Season 5” of its La Maison des Startups incubator, which nurtures around 25 startups a season, or 50 a year. A typical example is Cleed, which provides tailored white label chatbots using AI. A total of 160 deals have been signed since the opening of La Maison des Startups in 2018, including 60 between May and August 2020. And what differentiates Paris? “The proximity to luxury houses,” says Roche-Grenet.

Partnerships are happening at impressive speed. Kering plans to partner with La Caserne, an upcoming incubator dedicated to sustainable fashion. Richemont is a corporate partner of the Plug and Play brand and retail incubator in Paris.

Since early 2020, French investment bank Bpifrance (created in 2012) has had a fund of EUR 100 million to invest in tech creative industries including fashion tech, including Bpifrance investments in Tekyn and Arianee. This commitment to invest was part of a package of measures promised during Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaign in 2017. “There’s a global ambition of Bpifrance to inject more means in creative industries, what we call the French Touch plan,” says Le Mintier. “At stake is France’s economy, competitiveness and influence. Paris has a real legitimacy in terms of creativity.”

Overall, Bpifrance has injected some EUR 1.45 billion into the cultural and creative industries, including EUR 492 million in fashion in 2020. The corresponding figures for the year before were EUR 1.23 billion overall and EUR 340 million for fashion. Bpifrance has supported fashion brands such as Ami and Officine Générale as well as Vestiaire Collective and Launchmetrics.

Global ecosystem

The investment drive has come at the right time. “France was lagging behind,” says Celine Lippi, an early enthusiast for fashion tech who co-founded Fashion Capital Partners in 2013. “For a long time, I received projects mainly from the US, UK, Germany, Great Asia… Events like Luxury Forward, Paris fashion-tech incubators and the digital transformation of fashion industrials have really contributed to the emergence of a startup ecosystem. The current pandemic and drastic changes in consumption behaviours [helped] to create massive opportunities for emerging startups to disrupt traditional business models.” Among Lippi’s funds: Luxury Tech Fund, Cuir Invest for materials, and Provoke Ventures, a new fund dedicated to beauty, wellness and innovation.

Investors think beyond borders. France is now part of a global ecosystem. “What interests funds is to find the next nugget, wherever it is. There are no more frontiers when it comes to the early stage,” says Fabre. “Similarly, entrepreneurs have a global vision from the beginning, which creates competition between funds.”

Balderton Capital, based in London, and Index Ventures, headquartered in London and San Francisco, have both invested in early-stage French startups. Think global, says LVMH’s Roche-Grenet. “In the beginning we were seeking startups that had headquarters or a subsidiary in Paris. Today, we no longer need that,” she says, pointing out that around 45 per cent of the LVMH-backed businesses in La Maison des Startups at Station F have international operations.

What can the French do better? BSPK’s Stefanova is frank: “In France, companies and holding groups often invest to learn but they have no intention to adopt. In fashion and luxury, there is still an idea that tech is a back-office IT function where you can take a long time and bring various pieces together on your own or with a consultant.”

The funds for investment are certainly there. Now, it’s about changing mindsets. Stefanova would like to see more dynamism and practical applications. She wants to see Paris-based fashion brands take the necessary next steps, replicating the “ability of tech-savvy platforms such as Farfetch, Amazon or Alibaba to put technology at the core of the customer experience”.


Modern Luxury Media relaunches Watches International With New Editor in Chief

The world’s largest luxury media company reimagines Watches International’s 20 year old legacy of demystifying and storytelling for the timepiece category to attract next generation of consumers.

On April 6, 2021, the editors of Modern Luxury Media, the nation’s largest luxury media company, are thrilled to officially announce the relaunch of Watches International, the ultimate luxury timepiece destination.

The timepiece category centers around the belief that each watch is a piece of treasured history.

Each high-end watch is a testament to incredible craftsmanship, engineering and centuries-old traditions. Watches International has always been the true authority in bringing brand equity, and industry connections to the category. The relaunch of Watches International is not only a testament to the brand’s history of identifying and conveying premium pieces, but tells a larger story of its continued investment in creating innovative experiences to entice the next generation of timepiece enthusiasts.

While the new and improved Watches International will be anchored in this rich legacy, the publication will be attracting a new generation of timepiece consumers by focusing on enriching its platform and publication to include more lifestyle content. Specifically, the content will focus on bringing inclusivity, rather than exclusivity, to the storytelling experience.

To bring the reimagined Watches International to life, Modern Luxury has selected Stephen Watson as Editor in Chief. Watson is not only a watch enthusiast but seasoned journalist who has worked at major luxury fashion publishers including Vogue, Men’s Vogue, Surface, Watch Journal, and Revolution.

“I am thrilled to take on the role as the new editor in chief of Watches International, especially after a year when time became more precious to us than ever.”

Watson has also contributed watch articles for Town & Country and Esquire for the US and is a Foundation du Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genéve academy member.

Caroline Childers, founder of Watches International within Modern Luxury Media who has been Publisher of Watches International for the past twenty years is no stranger to the luxury watch and jewelry arm of Modern Luxury media.  Childers will again be the publisher of the reimagined Watches International.

“I am thrilled to be part of the relaunch of Watches International and watch it grow within the Modern Luxury Media portfolio,” says Caroline Childers, Publisher of Watches International. “We feel there is a massive opportunity to bring the legacy and history of luxury timepieces and inject it with a fresh approach with innovative digital thinking and cross-channel platform strategies.”

Official launch partners for Watches International are Hublot, Richard Mille, and Omega.

With a carefully targeted distribution strategy to the most affluent luxury consumers and watch enthusiasts across the country, Watches International is set to launch with a bi-annual edition in June across 20 markets nationally. In the past, the Watches International print book had primarily been distributed via retail in Europe. Now this re-launch also includes an enhanced distribution of Watches International in the U.S, with direct-to-consumer and retail channels. Within the reimagined platform, Watches International will be the innovative digital destination covering news, launches and more within the luxury watch vertical.

At Modern Luxury, connection and community define who we are. Reaching an audience of more than 16 million, we are the nation’s largest luxury media company offering leading brands access to the most affluent audiences in the most prominent cities across the U.S. Through the power of the Modern Luxury Media ecosystem including 85+ brands across 22 markets, we deliver powerful marketing solutions allowing luxury brands to connect with their audiences in the places and ways that matter the most.  Visit 

Looking at the watch industry through the lens of fashion, design, and culture, Watches International is a luxury lifestyle publication and platform for everyone from the style-conscious connoisseur to the inveterate collector. Published bi-annually for spring and fall, the print edition of Watches International puts perceptive and engaging writing alongside compelling imagery, to create a new watch title with authority to educate as well as entertain.

Payment Systems

Afterpay unveils Sustainable Shopping for Earth Month

Just in time for spring shopping, Afterpay (ASX:APT) the leader in “Buy Now, Pay Later, introduces sustainable shopping to help consumers build a more mindful and eco-friendly wardrobe and give back to the environment. 

Starting April 5, 2021, Afterpay is offering its “top-up” programme, which allows customers to add USD 1 donation at check-out to benefit Magpies & Peacock, a non-profit design house that is disrupting the cycle of waste in the fashion industry,  and Surfrider, a non-profit environmental organization focused on protecting clean water and healthy beaches. For every donation made, Afterpay will match consumers’ donations.

Magpies & Peacock, and Surfrider are leaders in fighting against the cycle of waste. Magpies & Peacocks is dedicated to the collection and sustainable reuse of post-consumer clothing, scrap textiles and accessories diverted from landfill – in order to disrupt the cycle of waste in the fashion industry and mitigate its enormous environmental and social impact. Surfrider is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.

Sarah-Jayne Smith, CEO of Magpies & Peacocks said: “At Magpies & Peacocks we always ask ourselves how we can look at a solution from the perspective of People, Planet and Profit – how can we tackle something head on sustainably by doing right by it socially, environmentally and economically. It is a mindset we apply to all things, no matter how small – everything from the products we create or buy, and how we teach a skill, through to our carbon footprint as a non-profit organization. It can create a tremendously influential ripple, not only in winning hearts and minds, but in affecting real change. We are thrilled to partner with Afterpay as part of that process and are humbled to be part of their Top Up Donation program.”

Live Shopping – Building a Better Wardrobe

Afterpay will launch its first-ever live shopping experience featuring sustainable brands that create a more circular economy with eco-friendly fashion and beauty. Afterpay’s sustainable shopping event supports Millennial and Gen Z shoppers who prefer to shop in a more ethical and mindful way.

Starting in mid-April, Afterpay will integrate a live shopping technology platform in partnership with MagicLinks, the only B-Corp Certified social commerce company, to inspire viewers to shop more consciously. The integrated shopping experience will live on Afterpay’s site – giving shoppers the opportunity to build better, more sustainable wardrobes and clean beauty regimens. Customers will be able to watch their favorite influencers, shop live for their favorite eco-friendly brands and pay in four interest-free installments.

Melissa Davis, Head of North America at Afterpay said: “We are thrilled to offer our customers the option to shop from fashion-forward brands in a responsible and sustainable way, while also giving back to these incredibly important organizations. Gen Z and Millennials are conscious shoppers who make mindful choices when they shop and we are proud to put the spotlight on organizations that are helping to tackle the complex issues facing our planet.”

Afterpay’s live shopping integration will launch for its 13 million consumers in mid-April, with plans to offer additional live shopping events in the coming months.

Afterpay Limited (ASX: APT) is transforming the way we pay by allowing customers to receive products immediately and pay for their purchases over four installments, always interest-free. The service is completely free for customers who pay on time  – helping people spend responsibly without incurring interest or fees when you pay on time.1 As of December 31, 2020, Afterpay is offered by nearly 75,000 of the world’s favourite retailers, and is used by more than 13 million active customers globally.2  

Afterpay is currently available in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain, where it is known as Clearpay.  Afterpay is on a mission to power an economy in which everyone wins.


1 Late fees may apply. Eligibility criteria apply. See for full terms.

2 Source: Afterpay data, December 2020

Jurllyshe has supported Quadpay as a Payment Method: Buy Now, Pay Later for Apparel

Jurllyshe has worked with Quadpay, customer can have a payment in 4 installments with no interest for purchase fashion clothes.

Jurllyshe, the newborn online fashion brand has announced that Quadpay has already become their new payment method recently. Buy now and pay over weeks can be used for their clothes and other categories now.

Almost all the people have probably had this experience: when finally find the perfect two piece sets or the cute rompers someday, but the salary has already been spent for the house rent, the food, and other things. Or the day they want to purchase fashion like biker short set or corset top is just one day earlier than the payday, and sometimes it will be sold out, so the one-day difference is absolutely a big difference. After the research, Jurllyshe found that Quadpay suits us and our customers best, so we cooperated with Quadpay finally.” said the operation manager of Jurllyshe.

The rules:

1. Quadpay is available for all the products on Jurllyshe, no matter the clothes, accessories, or sexy swimwear.

2. Only if the order is over USD 35 can the customer choose Quadpay to pay.

3. Customers can only choose the 4-installments option, the four installments are the same, and customers should pay every 2 weeks.

4. Customers should be the one who is already 18 years old, live in America and have a valid phone number.

5. Customers should use a US debit card to pay.

6. The late fee depends on the seriousness of the case, it can be USD 5, USD 7, or USD 10. But the late fee is for Quadpay, Jurllyshe will not receive the late fee, Jurllyshe will only be paid the bill of the products by Quadpay.

How to use Quadpay on Jurllyshe

1. Add more than USD 35 products into your Jurllyshe cart and check out.

2. Choose Quadpay as the payment method after typing the personal information.

3. Then it will transfer to Quadpay automatically, type the phone number and receive a code.

4. After typing the code, the bill is paid. And then you need to pay the installment every 2 weeks.

5. If the customer hasn’t had the Quadpay account, it will change to the page to let the customer sign in after typing the code. After signing in to Quadpay, the payment will be successful.


Old Navy responds to first-grader who asked for jeans with real pockets

By guest author Rachel Trent, from CNN

A first-grader in Arkansas is quickly learning the power of persuasion.

Kamryn Gardner, whose class recently learned how to write persuasive letters, used her new skills to pen a request to Old Navy. The 7 year-old asked the retailer to create jeans with real pockets.

“Dear Old Navy,” Gardner wrote. “I do not like that the front pockets of the girls jeans are fake. I want front pockets because I want to put my hands in them. I also would like to put things in them. Would you consider making girls jeans with front pockets that are not fake. Thank you for reading my request.”

Old Navy’s response

Old Navy responded to first grader’s letter and sent her four pairs of bottoms with real pockets, according to Evening Star Elementary’s Facebook post.

Old Navy responded with a letter of its own.

“Thank you so much for taking the time to write us about pockets on girl’s jeans,” the retailer wrote. “The Old Navy kids product team appreciate your information. It’s great feedback for us as we develop new product.”

The company sent Gardner four pairs of jeans and jean shorts with real pockets.


Fred David (Como Diffusion, Inc.) Signs Deal to Launch Sealy® Sleepwear, Loungewear, and Accessories

The iconic bedding brand extends into the apparel market to offer ease and comfort in and out of bed.

Fred David (“Como Diffusion, Inc”) announced today that it has signed a long-term licensing agreement with Tempur Sealy International, Inc (“Tempur Sealy”) to extend the Sealy brand into the sleepwear, loungewear, and accessories categories, in a deal brokered by IMG. Sealy Sleepwear is slated to launch in Spring 2022 and will be sold in select department stores, e-commerce channels, and specialty retailers throughout the United States and Canada.

The Sealy Sleepwear and Loungewear collections will include sets, coordinates, separates, robes, and accessories to encompass the brand’s ethos. They are designed with ease, comfort, and quality for the sleep you need to have a healthy & balanced life. The collections will be made of core essential fabrics, specially selected to improve sleep by maximizing cooling and breathability. Each style is specially engineered to increase airflow and comfort while in the bed. Premium, sustainably sourced fabrics will be available to support the goal of a more sustainable future.

“Sealy is the number one bedding brand in the US and a leader in the sleep industry. Sealy represents our focus to grow with the best and most influential partners. As we continue to deepen our brand assortment, we view the addition of Sealy as a step towards strengthening our licensed business,” says Andy Kirstein, President and CEO at Fred David.

The assortment will quickly expand to include Mens and Womens loungewear and sleep accessories by Fall/Holiday 2022.

Fred David (Como Diffusion Inc.) is a leading, full service global apparel and accessories company that designs, produces and distributes a full range of private label, branded, and licensed products. With strong manufacturing capabilities and a deep retail distribution network, Fred David has become a key supplier to the largest private label brands in the world. Their long list of in-house brands can be found at most major apparel retailers throughout the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Tempur Sealy is committed to improving the sleep of more people, every night, all around the world. As a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of bedding products, we know how crucial a good night of sleep is to overall health and wellness. Utilizing over a century of knowledge and industry-leading innovation, we deliver award-winning products that provide breakthrough sleep solutions to consumers in over 100 countries. Our highly recognized brands include Tempur-Pedic®, Sealy® and Stearns & Foster® and our non-branded offerings include value-focused private label and OEM products. Our distinct brands allow for complementary merchandising strategies and are sold through third-party retailers, our Company-owned stores and e-commerce channels. This omni-channel strategy ensures our products are offered where ever and how ever customers want to shop. Lastly, we accept our global responsibility to serve all stakeholders, our community and environment. We have and are implementing programmes consistent with our responsibilities.

IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events and media. The company manages some of the world’s greatest athletes and fashion icons; owns and operates hundreds of live events annually; and is a leading independent producer and distributor of sports and entertainment media. IMG also specialises in licensing, sports training and league development. IMG is a subsidiary of Endeavor, a global entertainment, sports and content company.


Avient highlights Sustainable Solutions to enable Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) Content in Packaging

Consumers are demanding improved sustainability in the products they buy and from the companies who make those products.  Those sustainability demands also extend to the product packaging, and Avient Corporation (NYSE: AVNT) continues to launch material solutions that are meeting the challenge.

“The interest and activity for our sustainable solutions used in packaging has never been higher,” said Walter Ripple, Vice President of Sustainability, Avient.  “Brand owners for all types of consumer products are setting sustainability goals to increase the amount of post-consumer recycled content (PCR) used in their packaging and improve the recyclability of that packaging at end of use.  Avient’s innovation enables both.”

Most large consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have made commitments to increasing recycled content up to 100%. In response, Avient has formulated unique materials that are helping these companies meet those ambitious sustainability targets. Recent Avient innovations have included:

•             Rejoin™ PCR Masterbatch colorants for polyolefin packaging applications, launched earlier this year, are made with post-consumer recycled (PCR) polyolefin as a carrier resin. This material was developed in response to growing customer demand and is already being utilized in one of the world’s largest CPG companies to achieve 100% PCR packaging on multiple personal care product lines.

•             ColorMatrix™ Optica™ Toners & Colors, when added to PET and recycled PET (rPET) materials, correct and reduce the color variations and yellowing that occurs during the recycling process. Formulations also improve downstream manufacturing and reduce costs for converters, bottle blowers, and ultimately, CPG companies.

•             ColorMatrix™ rePrize™ IV Builder is a patented, liquid additive for the manufacture of rPET that increases the quality and performance of the recycled material, while reducing the energy needed to produce it. This results in the ability to increase recycled content without sacrificing packaging performance.

“The ability to use recycled content is a priority for our customers and for our world,” Mr. Ripple said.  “We are proud to utilize our material science expertise to advance more widespread adoption of PCR usage and contribute to creating a truly circular economy.”

This is the first in a series of communications that will highlight the many ways that Avient is enabling customers’ sustainability goals through the company’s expanding sustainable solutions portfolio of products and services.  Future topics will include other timely focus areas, such as formulating with bio-based materials, lightweighting and improving recyclability.

Avient Corporation (NYSE: AVNT), with 2020 pro forma revenues of USD 3.8 billion, provides specialized and sustainable material solutions that transform customer challenges into opportunities, bringing new products to life for a better world. Examples include:

•             Barrier technologies that preserve the shelf-life and quality of food, beverages, medicine and other perishable goods through high-performance materials that require less plastic

•             Light-weighting solutions that replace heavier traditional materials like metal, glass and wood, which can improve fuel efficiency in all modes of transportation

•             Breakthrough technologies that minimize wastewater and improve the recyclability of materials and packaging across a spectrum of end uses

Avient employs approximately 8,400 associates and is certified ACC Responsible Care®, a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and certified Great Place to Work®.

Three Entertainment marks its fourth year in the industry

The Mumbai-based, women-led startup, Three Entertainment celebrates four years in the business. What started out as a passion project, has blossomed into one of the most profitable ventures in their space. 

With a dream and no funding to back them, Saanya Sharma, Sanjana Shah, and Aashna Lalwani started Three Entertainment in 2017 from their homes. They started off small curating events for friends and family and soon expanded their expertise into doing so for luxury brands like The Reliance Group, Four Seasons, Notandas Jewellers, Bastian, Soho House, and Ministry Of Crab, amongst others. Three Entertainment has been the go-to event curator for the who’s who of Bollywood, notably the likes of Ibrahim & Sarah Ali Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Anshula & Arjun Kapoor, Pooja Makhija, and Yasmin Karachiwala. Their approach is extremely hands-on and with their lean team of ten to support their vision, they have been able to make events more personable.

“At inception, everyone was doing everything. From running errands, approaching vendors and cold calling clients, to doing our accounts and posting on social media, there was no method to the madness. We were constantly learning on the job, in an attempt to ‘fake it till we made it’. We had in us a hunger to create and when we came together to ideate, our creative energies just sparked. The concept of turning nothing into something was thrilling. Even today, despite having divided roles and departments, we collectively mood board event flows and themes, as a trio. Piece by piece we watch our vision come to life and by the end of it, we have our BIG showstopper idea”, says Operations Head & Co-founder, Aashna Lalwani-  Three Entertainment.

In the midst of the nationwide pandemic, in an effort to sustain the company through turbulent times, they launched The Box Party Club, which featured all the elements to make your special day even more memorable without setting foot outside your home. This ingenious concept was lauded and they were able to sell over 1600+ boxes in a span of 8 months. The simple idea of people not being able to celebrate special days with their friends and family is what motivated them to curate a kit of party essentials to make sure every celebration is a grand and memorable one.

“One of our best sellers was Netflix in a box. We found that customers would ship the boxes out to their friends and family and celebrate their personal achievements virtually. What really worked for us was the amount of customization we could do, no two boxes looked the same and that tremendously worked in our favour”, says Sanjana Shah- Creative Head & Co-founder, Three Entertainment, “We used our unique value proposition to start upscaling the box and eventually became popular in the virtual wedding space”.

The Box Party bridesmaids boxes were an absolute winner with bride squads. They were able to commercialize the idea and pitch the concept to companies looking to connect with their customers, remotely. They worked closely with the likes of Autocar India, Yalo, Anaqa Jewels, Pogo, and Bollywood celebrities like Jacqueline Fernandez and Sonakshi Sinha to curate kits for their friends, employees, and customers. Some of the more popular collaborations include associating with fashion influencer Sonam Babani and celebrity stylist, Nikita Jaisinghani to curate unique offerings for their At their very core, their expertise lies in being a one-stop-shop for everything decor and production. The team prides itself on curating everything down to the very last detail to ensure that no event looks or feels the same. They go back to the drawing board countless times to ensure that each element works in tandem with the other. customers.

Business Head and Co-founder of Three Entertainment, Saanya Sharma asserts, “Suddenly it feels like every third person you meet is into events. In an industry that is flooded with event planners and some great ones might I add, I believe it’s super important to keep ideating and innovating to create an experience out of an event. The more detailed and customized it is, the higher up on the ladder you are! More so, every event should be different than the former, and I believe that’s where our USP lies. There’s a tiny place between being disciplined and letting loose, we call that place Three Entertainment!”

Three Entertainment is a Mumbai-based Event management and Decor company spearheaded by Saanya Sharma, Sanjana Shah, and Aashna Lalwani. Their roster of clients includes luxury brands, celebrities, socialites, influencers, and business personalities. From conceptualizing the decor for weddings, events, and parties, through the lockdown to curating customized gift boxes to allow individuals to celebrate their special days virtually, the trio has carved out a niche in curating memorable experiences. They celebrate four years in the business in 2021.

Retail Event

Introducing NRF Retail Converge . NRF’s new virtual event offers the depth of a workshop within the breadth of a conference

The relevant video can be had here:

NRF’s newest virtual event, NRF Retail Converge, is coming your way this June, and it’s unlike any event NRF has hosted before. Designed with cross-functional teams in mind, the event will focus on disciplines across all major facets of retail, from marketing, digital and data analytics to supply chain, cybersecurity technology and more.

This holistic educational approach means attendees can go broad across the industry as well as deep into their field, whether that’s diving into topics that directly impact the day-to-day, understanding insights about working with other departments in an organization, or gaining broader leadership strategies.

The event features speakers from some of the industry’s most dominant organizations like Walmart, CVS Health, Qurate + Zulilly, Crate & Barrel, and Amazon; innovators such as Spotify, Stitch Fix, thredUP and Wayfair; and agile startups including Guesst, ByReveal, Nimbly and Recurate, which represent retail’s “next normal” across multiple retail disciplines.

Main stage inspiration

The main stage is where top CEOs, presidents and thought leaders in the retail ecosystem will share their insights in 15 main stage sessions. Each day begins and ends with discussions including socio-economic impacts on global retailing; collaborative partnerships as growth opportunities; business transformation challenges and success stories; retail’s role in health, wellness and a safer population; the power of diverse, equitable and inclusive workforces; and leadership principles for the next era of capitalism.

Feature focus

Diving more deeply, Feature Stage sessions will incorporate a “track” approach. Attendees can both select topics relevant to their unique roles and those where other functional areas might intersect with their area of responsibility.

We’ve taken the expertise and content planning regimen from NRF’s summer events and applied that thinking to tracks covering loss prevention and asset protection, cybersecurity, supply chain and sustainability, and technology leadership. Sessions in these tracks will complement marketing and data analytics, store operations, customer experience, ecommerce and digital, along with corporate-level strategy.

Connecting the dots

We’re also scheduling retailer-only product demos in the NRF Retail Converge Marketplace, roundtable discussion groups for peer-level conversations, sponsor-produced lunch-and-learn educational sessions, and Exhibitor Big Ideas sessions. There is something meaningful and substantive for everyone, and we encourage you to join us either individually or as a team.

We look forward to seeing you virtually at NRF Retail Converge, June 21-25.

Online registration is available here


A look at the Easter consumer

Retail Gets Real episode 213: As vaccinations pick up, people are planning gatherings and celebrations.

NRF’s annual Easter consumer survey shows Americans will spend USD 21.6 billion during this year’s holiday as progress continues on vaccinating millions across the country. We examine the data and take a closer look at what’s driving holiday spending with Katherine Cullen, NRF’s senior director of industry and consumer insights.

“The consumer was in a good place before the pandemic and we’re starting to get back there,” Cullen said. “As the economy gets back on track, we’re seeing vaccinations really pick up. Our latest survey from March shows that 21 percent of consumers have gotten at least one shot. That goes up to about half among those over the age of 65. So, progress is being made.”

As confidence in the vaccine grows, consumers are beginning to plan vacations, family gatherings or Easter celebrations. Consumers in the South say they are more likely to celebrate Easter activities outside while Midwest consumers say they will likely plan a meal for the holiday this year.

Consumers also plan to continue shopping locally, with one in five planning to purchase Easter items from a local business. As people got used to dressing casually while working from home during quarantine, Easter fashions are also following a comfort trend this year.

Listen to the full episode to learn more about NRF’s Easter consumer data survey.


AI Motion Pictures

Beko Harnesses the Evocative Power of AI Motion Pictures

New advert from Beko uses digital technology and the power of nature to promote the business’s commitment to sustainability.

Beko logo

Leading European home appliance brand Beko, is utilising AI technology in a new way to combine this powerful digital tool with the beauty of nature for their new advert – “Connections“.

Beko Connections

This year, Beko will focus on empowering future generations to live healthier lives – which is only possible by living more sustainably and working towards a healthier planet. All of our actions and every product we use has an impact on nature. With technologies that are more sustainable for the environment, Beko is striving to reduce our carbon footprint, one step at a time.

To deliver this message, a sixty-second consumer advert was created and produced by Seyhan Lee, an artistic development and production company. Its ambition is to strengthen Beko’s brand messaging, communicate the business’s sustainability initiatives and how Beko is incorporating highly advanced technology and supply chain management in its factories around the world.

The video employs Artificial Intelligence to create a feeling of ‘connectedness’. Not only does it represent a stylistic leap for Beko but is also one of the business’s first marketing projects that doesn’t feature any products.

Seyhan Lee crafted tens of thousands of frames from objects like shells, leaves and others natural items, to build a foundation for the AI program to draw from and create its own interpretation of scenes from nature. This resulted in a succession of transitions showing the AI-created images of flowers blooming, seashells, crashing ocean waves and a series of objects morphing into one another, creating a distinctive motion image.

Zeynep Yalım Uzun, Chief Marketing Officer at Arçelik, says, “At Beko, sustainability is at the heart of our business. We wanted to create an impactful film that articulates our vision, whilst provoking thought and engagement. Our ambition was to create a piece of content that engages, encourages, and motivates people to join us on our sustainability journey.”

Speaking about the project, Creative Director, Pinar Seyhan Demirdağ says: “One of most wonderful things about AI Motion Pictures is that AI does not make a distinction between objects, as people do. Humans see and acknowledge themselves as separate from their environment. However, unless you define it, an algorithm sees the overall visual picture. Hence why it can generate imagery in which elements transition into and become each other, which would be impossible for a human imagination.”

The advert closes with a call to action directing viewers to a dedicated Beko Connections web page where they can find out more information.

Beko is the international home appliance brand of Arçelik operating in more than 130 countries. It offers product lines that include major appliances, air conditioners and small appliances. Beko is the leading freestanding home appliances brand in Europe in the white goods sector and no.1 large home appliances brand in the UK. The brand is Main Partner of FC Barcelona, naming partner of Fenerbahçe Men’s Basketball Team and Official Supplier of European League of Legends Championship (LEC).

With 32000 employees throughout the world, 12 brands (Arçelik, Beko, Grundig, Blomberg, ElektraBregenz, Arctic, Leisure, Flavel, Defy, Altus, Dawlance, Voltas Beko), sales and marketing offices in 34 countries, and 22 production facilities in 8 countries, Arçelik offers products and services in almost 150 countries. As Europe’s second largest white goods company by market share (based on volumes), Arçelik reached a consolidated turnover of EUR 5 billion in 2019. With almost 70 % of its revenues coming from international markets, Arçelik is the R&D leader in Turkey – holding more than 3000 international patent applications to date with the efforts of 1,600 researchers in 15 R&D and Design Centers in Turkey and R&D Offices across five countries. Arçelik is named the “Industry Leader” in Durable Home Appliances category for the 2nd year in a row in Dow Jones Sustainability Index 2020 and in accordance with PAS 2060 Carbon Neutrality Standard, became carbon-neutral in global production plants in 2019 and 2020 fiscal years with its own carbon credits.

Seyhan Lee, founded in January 2020, is a creative production company which creates and produces A.I. motion pictures and other 21st-century image technologies. Whether film, music, fashion, theater, motion graphics, gaming, or beautiful interpretations, our work represents the future of storytelling. Stories that are visually relevant and socially significant. The way Pixar was founded through the early adopters of CGI, we are founding Seyhan Lee with early adopters of A.I. motion pictures.

Sustainable Chocolate

Values-based leadership: raising the (chocolate) bar

In a world where chief executives talk the language of purpose, Henk Jan Beltman of Dutch chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely shows how to run a successful business based on high principles.

By guest author Oliver Balch from Raconteur

Henk Jan Beltman is not your average CEO. In fact, the very term unsettles him. The head of the fastest-growing chocolate brand in the UK, America and Germany prefers to go by the title of chief chocolate officer.

It is just one of the 47-year-old Dutchman’s many apparent eccentricities. He doesn’t have his own desk, for example, let alone his own corner office. His take-home pay is a mere six times that of an entry-level graduate. And he happily admits he is “not the best manager”.

Strangest of all, perhaps, Beltman spends much of his time thinking about life after Tony’s Chocolonely, an upstart Dutch chocolate manufacturer set up in 2005 with the stated goal of eradicating slavery from cocoa farms.

“I don’t want to walk away with an awful lot of money. I want to walk away with the feeling that I can have a smile in my rocking chair when I’m sitting in the elderly people’s home,” he says.

So, what does put a smile on his face? It’s a good question for any CEO to ask themselves. If not a big house and fat pension, then what? Is it beating off the competition? Growing the business? Winning public recognition?

For Beltman, who took the helm at Tony’s Chocolonely in 2010, it’s all the above and more. Despite his company’s ethical mission, he insists he’s “not running an NGO”. When it comes to building market share and boosting revenues – up 27 per cent last year to EUR 88.4 million – he’s as laser focused as the next CEO. 

What gets him really smiling, however, is the sense of making the world a “little bit nicer”. For “nice”, read less poverty, fewer emissions but, above all, slave free.

It’s an uphill task. A 2018 report suggests as many as 30,000 people could be experiencing forced labour in the cocoa farms of Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s main cocoa-producing countries.

Widen the lens to child labour and the figure jumps to a staggering 1.56 million, according to a recent landmark study commissioned by the US government.

The size of the task doesn’t seem to faze Beltman. People don’t choose to run a mission-minded business because it’s easy, he argues. In truth, trying to solve a knotty social or environment problem and make money presents a CEO with twice the usual challenges.

He says: “You have to really dig deep into your heart and ask yourself, am I doing the work that makes me proud?”.

That question is easier for him to ask than other CEOs, Beltman concedes. His mandate, after all, is to use profit as the means to an end, namely social impact, rather than an end in itself.

For a mega-corporation, the equation is typically reversed; profit is the end itself, while making a positive difference is, at best, a nice to have.

Not that juggling profit and purpose is easy even for an explicitly impact-oriented company. Beltman has been asked several times over the years to tone down his brand’s slave-free marketing, for instance. He has always refused, losing potentially lucrative contracts in the process.

“It hurts me if the customer says ‘no’. But then the principle of keeping the phrase [marketing] wins over my commercial heart, which says we have to get the customer in,” he reflects.

If Beltman has one word for CEOs looking to grow a values-based business, it’s “belief”. Belief in the cause they expound, most obviously. Passion can’t be faked. It’s what drives Beltman to work crazy hours, to accept a comparatively low wage and to “live out of a rucksack” (he visits Africa at least half a dozen times a year).

As importantly, however, is that it is belief in business as a legitimate vehicle for change. This takes some faith, he accepts. With inequality on the rise and the environment in freefall, the world is not in good shape, a reality for which profit-hungry corporations are not without blame.

Yet, Beltman is a born-again believer that the opposite can be true. In terms of resources, innovation and knowhow, businesses are uniquely placed to make a difference, he maintains.

Plus, they have an incentive to do so. Smart people want to work for impactful companies, he argues, and customers want to buy from them. Six year olds get that, he says; it’s the over-sixties who seem to struggle.

His wish for tomorrow’s cohort of CEOs: “To have the feeling that the company is an enabler of the world we would like to see.”

Tony’s Chocolonely’s steady growth under Beltman’s leadership has taught him two other profound lessons about leadership.

The first is a willingness to go against the flow. Take the boldness of the brand’s communications. Like many challenger firms, this ethical Dutch chocolate brand wears its values on its sleeve, from calling out racism to denouncing deforestation.

But it’s about injustices in its own industry where it shouts the loudest. Ghana and the Ivory Coast recently introduced a mandatory living income, for instance, set at USD 2.10 and USD 2.20 per kilo. The response of Tony’s Chocolonely? Great, but let’s not get “too patty on the backy”: farmers still can’t live on it.

Laying down the gauntlet or raising the bar is another tactic. Beltman is currently spearheading a petition calling for “Big Choco” to be held legally accountable for human rights abuses in their supply chains. The online petition has more than 62,000 signatories and climbing.

Provocative as ever, Beltman expresses an intense dislike for the in-vogue descriptor “social enterprise”. As he reasons: “We’re an enterprise. And all other companies are anti-social enterprises. So, don’t put us in a niche. We are normal. They are wrong.”

Unlike many ethical brands, however, Beltman isn’t above mixing with the big boys when he must. At the firm’s outset back in 2005, for instance, Tony’s Chocolonely opted to partner with the giant Swiss cocoa processor Barry Callebaut. The rationale was to show that its own strict sourcing principles, including long-term contracts and fair prices, could apply just as easily to a huge multinational.

The relationship hasn’t been without its challenges. Allegations of abuses in Barry Callebaut’s supply chain recently saw Tony’s Chocolonely removed from a widely referenced list of ethical chocolate factories.

The experience bears out Beltman’s second lesson in leadership: openness and honesty. The whys and wherefores of the firm’s tie-in with Barry Callebaut have never been hidden; they’re on the brand’s website for all to see. So too are conditions in the seven West African co-operatives from which Tony’s Chocolonely sources its cocoa beans.

For example, want to know how many children have been found working illegally in its supply chain? Just go to its annual audited report and you can find out; the answer, incidentally, is 387 of which 221 have been “remediated”.

Transparency is easy when you have a good story to tell. The tough part is admitting your mistakes, Beltman concedes. But no one is perfect. If a CEO makes bad decisions, but with the right intentions, then people “get that”, he says. “That is what normal people do at home, it’s what they do in the pub, but no one does it at work.”

The idea that a CEO needs to leave their private values at the office door is anathema to Beltman. His merging of the personal and the professional, the

Textile Theft protection

Cut-Tex® PRO calls for fashion designers to help protect from theft as lockdown lifts

Robert Kaiser, CEO of PPSS Group and brains behind world-leading cut-resistant fabric Cut-Tex® PRO advises “personal protection from theft could become increasingly important as lockdown lifts.”

He invites British fashion designers to join him in protecting the public, ensuring that the country is prepared for every eventuality.

He continues: “swapping your regular backpack or handbag with a theft-proof bag, one made of cut-resistant materials, is a great place to start.

“I want to see more of these bags in the market, made to a high standard using materials that people can trust, while remaining fashionable enough for everyday use.”

Reasoning: “there is a risk of rising cases of personal theft because of loss of earnings faced in the UK since March 2020.”

This concern is based on the 25 % surge in personal thefts recorded in the first set of official quarterly crime figures following the 2009 recession.

This rise in ‘stealth and snatch thefts’ came with a 5 % increase in robberies at knifepoint, when comparing October to December 2008 with the same period in 2007.

In 2008 unemployment rates were at 5 %, but by the end of 2011, almost 2.7 million people were unemployed. The quarterly unemployment rate reached 8.4 %.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 693000 fewer people were in payrolled employment in February 2021, in comparison to February 2020 with unemployment at 5 % with potential for increase.

Robert continues: “As people head back out, they could face a perfect storm of partying and opportunistic crime because of pandemic-related unemployment.

“It is essential that the public are prepared for all potential risks, so that they can celebrate with confidence. We urge designers to contact us to support us in this.”

Cut-Tex® PRO is a globally renowned cut, tear, and abrasion resistant fabric. With over 10 years of research, development and testing its trusted to protect those at risk from workplace injury and knife attacks, worldwide.