Zalando Might Be Opening Stores

If you’re a fan of the online fashion retailer Zalando, you may be able to shop with them in person soon. That’s because they are thinking about opening stores in major cities. As the co-chief executive Rubin Ritter told Germany’s Manager Magazin,
 “We have proper fans in the metropolises who spend much time with us and order a lot. It could be interesting for them to also experience the brand offline.”
Zalando has grown rapidly since it was founded in Berlin in 2008 and has become one of Berlin’s biggest employers. 

800 Losing Job with Caterpillar Inc.

800 employees of Caterpillar Inc. are going to lose their jobs soon when the Aurora, Illinois plant closes. As Lisa Miller, the Caterpillar spokeswoman explained to Reuters,
“Out of about 800 production positions, about 500 positions would likely be added to Decatur and about 150 positions would be added in North Little Rock.”
This is only a small piece of the slashes that the company has had to take with the economy as it is. They have slashed over 16,000 jobs and they have said as recently as January that they are thinking of closing two major production facilities, one of which is in Aurora.
See more details and the full article.

3 Recent President Trump Nominations

Many new nominations have been getting attention in the Trump administration and are certainly worth noting and learning about in more detail.

Last week, President Trump nominated Patrick Shanahan to be the deputy Defense secretary. Shanahan has, most recently, been Boeing’s Senior Vice President for Supply Chain and Operations. Prior to this, he was the Senior President of Airplane Programs at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, where he was in charge of overseeing the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs. He was also the Vice President and General Manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems.

Thursday, Trump also nominated David Joel Trachtenberg to be the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. He is currently the President and CEO of Shortwaver Consulting which is a national security consultancy. In the past, he was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy and he was also a staff member with the House Armed Services Committee.

In other news, James Donovan from Goldman Sachs was asked by President Trump to be Deputy Treasury Secretary. As number two at the Treasury Department, Jim Donovan will assist Steven Mnuchin in carrying out the economic policies put forth by the administration. Donovan joined Goldman Sachs in 1993 and has spent his entire career there, becoming a partner in 2000. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Credit Card Wars

Credit card companies are facing off in a potential war to try to keep their customers – and to keep them happy. American Express Co. will be offering $200 a year in Uber rides to their customers, along with other perks, on their Platinum charge cards. They are hoping to keep their high-end customers happy and keep them away from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc.

Other perks will include access to airport lounges, special dining and entertainment choices and more. The charge rate will be raised from $450 to $550 starting March 30.

JPMorgan started off this card war when they introduced their $450 a year Chase Sapphire Reserve card with a sign-up bonus that was worth as much as $1500. It also includes $300 in annual travel credits and high credits for spending. They bank even switched to making these cards out of metal so they have a heavier and more significant feel to them.

Interestingly, the card war has helped out sites like and wich compare card costs and help consumers to know where the best benefits are to be found.

Change in Prices at Disney

Bad news for those of you who love going to Disney. Walt Disney Co. is raising the admission price for all of its theme parks by as much as $5 for some of the single-day tickets.
Now, a single-day pass to the Magic Kingdom will cost between $107 and $124 depending on the time of year. Last year, Disney started to use a three-tier system charging more during the peak period to try to spread out the crowds.
Now, the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim will have a single-day price ranging from $97 to $124. 
The price hikes aren’t a surprise, as they have become an annual activity for the Disney parks.

Luxottica and Essilor Merging

In a fascinating move worth watching, Italy’s Luxottica and France’s Essilor have agreed to a merger deal worth 46 billion euro ($49 billion). This deal should create a powerhouse in the eyewear world and should bring in revenues of more than 15 billion euros.
With this merger, Leonardo Del Vecchio, who started Luxottica, will have a stake of between 31-38% in the merged group. This will make him the biggest stakeholder in the company. Del Vecchio will be the CEO and the executive chairman of the company when it’s merged. The new company will be called EssilorLuxottica and be listed in Paris.

Whipped Topic Crisis Looms As Holidays Approach

For many, this will be no laughing matter. The ready-made whipped cream that you’re used to getting on top of your hot chocolate or specialty coffee drink may not be there for you this holiday season. That’s because the whipped topping is in short supply after an explosion at an Airgas Inc. facility in August actually shook up the supply of nitrous oxide.
As Stephanie McVaugh, VP of Natural Dairy Products Corporation, said, “The timing is really unfortunate.” She explained that the company actually had no supplies for a few months. The expectation this year was that the whipped cream market would reach $505.3 million in 2016 according to research firm Euromonitor International.
Many true chefs, however, don’t see the problem. The problem is only if you buy manufactured whipped cream, not if you make it from scratch.
But for those who are in a panic, Airgas has reassured consumers that it will make “all possible efforts to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.” And while you may not have your holiday treat, you should have that whipped topic back in full supply by February. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Black Friday Didn’t Bring in More Green

While stores were certainly hoping for a major holiday shopping weekend, the National Retail Federation is reporting that shoppers spent, on average, 3.5% less than a year ago. The NRF surveyed 4330 consumers on Friday and Saturday and found that shoppers spent $289.19 during the four-day weekend. This was compared to $299.60 last year.

Interestingly, they found that more people made purchases this year. It’s possible that the downturn is a result of the holiday season expanding. Black Friday is no longer the kickoff period for the sales, since more retailers are starting their holiday promotions as early as October.

The NRF Chief Executive Officer Matt Shay said, “Consumers know they can get good deals throughout the season and these opportunities are not a one-day or one-weekend phenomenon and that has showed up in shopping plans.” Shay pointed out that a fourth of consumers haven’t even started shopping yet for the season, so those sales are yet to happen.

San Francisco Soda Tax Passes

Voters in San Francisco, California have passed a tax on sugary beverages. The goal to target soda in order to stem the rise in obesity and diabetes has been gathering support.
The World Health Organization has recently recommended that governments introduce taxes of this sort in a bid against obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases.
Those who oppose these taxes argue that they really hit the lower income populations the hardest. Certainly, the soda companies are fighting the taxes as soda consumption is falling. The San Francisco measure passed with 62% to 38%.
Learn more about these initiatives and others like them around the country.

Amblin Partners & Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd. Joins Forces

In an interesting move towards partnership, Steven Spieldberg’s Amblin Partners is joining forces with Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd., the film studio section of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. They plan to co-produce and finance films for both global and Chinese audiences.

In a joint statement, they also said that they plan to collaborate on the marketing, distribution and merchandising of Amblin Partner films in China.

Alibaba Pictures has not, yet, released any films. But if they join with Amblin Partners, which creates films, television and digital content under the Amblin Entertainment, DreamWorks Pictures and Participant Media brands.

Alibaba Pictures has actually invested already in some Hollywood films including “Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation” and “Star Trek Beyond.”