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Juan for the road

Colombia

Soon Europeans may become acquainted with Juan Valdez, a moustachioed man with a poncho and a mule.

Juan Valdez, the iconic brand of the Colombian Coffee Federation, is hoping to conquer the world’s gourmet coffee market. Over the next five years, the Federation, owned by 500,000 Colombian coffee-growers, plans to open 300 shops in Scandinavia.

Since launching in 2002, Juan Valdez has become a chain of 121 coffee shops, including 12 in the US and eight in Spain. Next month a third Juan Valdez store opens in Chile’s capital, Santiago.

Surrounded by pictures of rolling coffee plantations, patrons at Juan Valdez cafés sit on wooden chairs rather than comfy sofas. Instead of being a meeting place where customers are encouraged to lounge, the Federation is betting that customers will frequent Juan Valdez because of its focus on fair trade, which gives back coffee farmers up to five US cents for every cup sold.

However, the company’s Nordic venture seems flawed: the region is not keen on giant coffee chains and has its own high-quality competitors.

Bean count: Juan Valdez facts

01 On average three Juan Valdez coffee shops open in Colombia every month. 02 Colombia is the world’s third biggest coffee exporter after Brazil and Vietnam. 03 Juan Valdez also has a popular clothing line sold in its shops.`

Fat cheque

Switzerland

As the world gets richer, it gets thicker around the waist – so much so that banks are asking if there’s money to be made from fat people. In 2007, 1.6 billion people globally were overweight and that number is set to balloon. Credit Suisse estimates that 28 per cent of the world’s population is overweight and that this will expand to 40 per cent by 2020. So investors could profit by buying stocks in companies that treat obesity or encourage people to eat better. Credit Suisse has set up a “healthier living index” where investors can buy stocks in sportswear brands through to gastric bands and diabetes treatments.

Maharaja Mecca

India

Cartier, erstwhile outfitter to opulent maharajas, is arriving in India in grand style.The company opened its first India boutique in August in the DLF Emporio, a gleaming new 9,300 sq m mall in Vasant Kunj, south Delhi, also housing Dior, Hermès,Tiffany & Co, and more. Rival group LVMH cracked the Indian luxury goods market with the 2002 opening of a Tag Heuer outlet in Delhi. Over the past two years the French behemoth’s India revenues have soared 50 per cent in a market now worth an estimated €270m.

Relocation, relocation

Australia

Sydney hopes to take advantage of its location and the credit crunch to rival Hong Kong and Singapore as a global financial hub.

Sydney is the first major market to open each day, and straddles the US and European trading hours, and New South Wales already has a sizeable financial sector, which contributes more than €18bn annually to the economy.

Now, the national government has formed a panel to examine ways to make Australia a more attractive investment, including tax breaks – currently 30 per cent, Australia’s corporate taxes are sig- nificantly higher than those in Hong Kong (17.5 per cent) and Singapore (20 per cent).

The government also plans to run roadshows in the region, touting the country’s stable financial system and quality infrastructure.

At the same time, the government is expanding East Darling Harbour’s Barangaroo development, adding more office space and sprucing up the site’s technological infrastructure to attract US and UK firms looking to cut costs and re- locate as a result of the global credit crunch.

Frocks and formaldehyde

Damien Hirst retail saviour? The arrival of the art set at London’s Frieze Art Fair (in October) triggers one of the busiest trading weeks for the city’s high-end fashion stores. It’s a close call in the John Currin vs Marc Jacobs battle.

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