Thursday 20 July 2017 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 20/7/2017

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy


On a pedestal

Since launching in Berlin in 2008, Zalando has boomed to become the biggest online fashion retailer in Europe. Yet this week the company announced its growth has slowed and its share price consequently plummeted 8 per cent – its biggest drop in three years. Some have attributed the fall as a sign of problems with Zalando’s model. But others in the industry think that’s an overreaction. “I don’t sense any problem with Zalando as it’s still growing incredibly fast. You’d expect some sort of slowdown as it gains market-share,” says Richard Perks, director of retail research at Mintel. Other factors at play in Zalando’s slowing growth include the increased competitiveness of the online-retail industry, which this year has seen Amazon move into the sector. Ultimately, though, Perks attributes the company’s recent fate to a problem with market expectations being “massively” over-inflated. “I think there’s a section of the investing fraternity that thinks online walks on water.” While Zalando may sell impressive footwear even it can’t pull off that trick.

Image: Getty Images


A blueprint for smarter cities

The French are known for proudly defending their way of doing things but the country is turning to a US organisation for guidance on how to more effectively run its cities. For its first programme in Europe, Bloomberg Philanthropies – set up by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg – has teamed up with French innovation lab La 27e Région to work with cities around the country and provide them “with support to better diagnose problems [and] develop and test solutions”, says Katie Appel Duda, senior programme officer for Philanthropies’ government innovation programme. Yet it’s not just US wisdom that will be put to use here, she adds. “They will join a community of 20 city governments, from Tel Aviv to Detroit to Los Angeles, to learn and share best practices.” Bloomberg Philanthropies joins a growing list of US foundations, from Ford to Rockefeller, which are increasingly shaping the debate about creating better cities.

Image: Getty Images


Hyper Japan

Regional relations might be testy but tourism to Japan from China and South Korea showed a huge increase in the first six months of 2017, with both the number of foreign visitors and their spending hitting record highs. The number of foreign tourists arriving in Japan between January and June rose 17.4 per cent to 13.76 million. Visitors from South Korea – up 42.5 per cent to 3.4 million visitors this year, mainly thanks to an increase in deals from budget airlines – made up the largest group. Visitors from China numbered 3.28 million (up 6.7 per cent) followed by Taiwan with 2.29 million visitors (up 6.1 per cent). The Japan Tourism Agency also reported that spending by tourists hit a new high of just over ¥2trn (€15.5bn) in the first six months of the year. It’s a busy time for hoteliers – luckily a new crop of luxury hotels is in the works.

Image: Getty Images


All aboard

When city governments go shopping for transport solutions they often end up with some expensive and slow-to-build ideas – who doesn’t love a new subway line? But often light rail is a cheaper and faster solution. That’s why this week saw Malaysia complete its first ever Mass Rapid Transit line that will fill a yawning gap in the capital’s public-transport network. With the new route, Kuala Lumpur will boast a sweeping web of 110 stops; including its nimble inner-city monorail. But there is still a local PR battle to be won as many residents think that public transport is unreliable and still head for their cars every morning – even if their journey may involve snarls and toll charges. But it’s a step in the right direction in a region where car remains king.

Do one thing well

Years ago former advertising copywriter David Hieatt left London with his family for the Welsh town of Cardigan, once home to the largest jeans factory in Britain. Since then, he and his wife Clare sold their popular T-shirt company Howies, built the much-loved brand Hiut Denim and created a three-day rural retreat in their old cow barn called The Do Lectures. This week on The Entrepreneurs David shares the secrets to building long-lasting brands and the big takeaways of his purpose-driven career.


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