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Levi’s Embraces Brand History
After struggling against the new athleisure trend and fast fashion brands, Levi Strauss is having a renaissance moment. Levi’s gained fame as being the first denim brand and is today using it’s 165 year history as a way of standing out in a crowded fashion marketplace. US sales over the past year have increased 5% a return after several years of decline. Reacting to customers preference for comfort, Levi’s has introduced more stretch materials to it’s denim and offered a more diverse range of styles. Still these changes are not enough in an age where customers are spending less on clothes and more on technology and experiences. In light of these changes Levi’s is highlighting it’s storied history and implanting the idea that customers are buying a part of that history with their purchase. Millennial and Gen Z shoppers value authenticity more than anything. While younger shoppers are having fewer pieces in their closets, they expect the items they place their to be versatile, authentic and have lasting value. Attributes that Levi’s has chosen to highlight and so far the results seem to be effective.   Source:The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/17/levis-denim-blue-jeans-company-retail-levi-strauss  
Information Service
Food Delivery Apps Change The Restaurant Scene
With the ubiquity of food delivery apps such as DoorDash, Postmates, GrubHub and UberEats, people are eating restaurants foods but they are doing so at home rather than going out to eat at the restaurant itself.  Ordering food via an app is becoming easier and easier for restaurant customers. Food delivery apps downloads have increased 380% compared to 3 years ago, and it is predicted that delivery sales in the US will rise an average of 12% a year to $76 billion in the next 4 years. In response to this shift, restaurants are changing how they do business. Restaurants are adjusting their locations to accommodate the increased demand for delivery or pickup orders. New restaurants are foregoing in house dining all together. Instead restaurants are leasing space with kitchens purely to prep food for delivery orders. These kitchens only restaurants are known as ‘cloud kitchens’ and rely entirely on food delivery apps to serve their customers. Large fast food chains are taking notice of this shift in customer’s demand for deliver via apps. In August 2018, McDonald’s announced a $6 billion redesign of the company’s US restaurants. Included in this update is designated parking spots for mobile order pickups. Showing that food delivery apps are the future of the restaurant industry.   Source : Bloomberg https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-29/restaurants-shrink-as-food-delivery-apps-get-more-popular?srnd=checkout  
General
Web Based Stores Move to Suburban Malls
Brands that came to prominence as online only such as Warby Parker, Bonobos, and Casper are moving into brick and mortar locations in suburban malls left empty from the recession. In a trend known as ‘‘clicks to bricks’” big named online retailers like Amazon as well as more niche startups like Madison reed are opening over 600 physical stores across the US. At the beginning of this movement online stores were opening brick and mortar locations as a way to improve their brand awareness and receive some publicity. Though not much was initially expected for the physical locations, but a traditional store front is becoming increasingly prominent in stores long-term growth plans. Furthermore, the stores are increasingly being located in areas throughout the south and Midwest. These retailers are finding online advertising more expensive, they are also experiencing an increasingly crowded marketplace where it is difficult to grab the attention of customers scrolling through their Instagram feeds. Simultaneously the cost of opening a physical location is cheaper than ever before. As department and chains stores close, there is a mall vacancy rate of 9.1% in the last quarter. Meaning that online stores can snatch up prime mall locations at the lowest rates since the heights of the great recessions. Mall owners are also adapting to the needs of online retailers. Appreciating that online retailers do not carry stock and require less space, mall owners are also offering shorter leases accommodating the popular trend of pop up locations. As a way of reducing risks for online retailers some mall owners are evening accepting a small percentage of the store sales eschewing the traditional monthly rent. Other malls owners are seeing online startups as investment opportunities. Online retailers are cautious about investing too much into physical locations, but have the benefit of observing the lessons that retailers have learned over the last century. Armed with the hard learned lessons of other retailers  and an unparalleled levels of data, online retailers think they know how to be successful in the virtual world and the real world.   Source: By Matthew Townsend Bloomberg Businessweek https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-22/warby-parker-and-casper-are-coming-to-a-strip-mall-near-you?srnd=checkout
Energy
Rulings in Renewable-Energy Battle in Spain to Test Arbitration Power
The clouds may finally be lifting over a series of multiyear legal battles involving soured investments in Spain’s renewable-energy market. In the past 18 months, international arbitrators ordered Spain to pay compensation to several investors for losses incurred after the Spanish government revoked incentives designed to attract capital to the nation’s renewable-energy market. As Spain seeks to annul the rulings, the dispute is testing the strength of international arbitration to enforce certain investor rights. “It’s the very legitimacy of international arbitration that’s been challenged,” said Fernando Mantilla-Serrano, a partner and global co-chair of the international arbitration practice at law firm Latham & Watkins LLP. Mr. Mantilla-Serrano represented some investors in their claims against Spain. Dozens of renewable-energy investors claimed a total of at least €7.86 billion ($8.96 billion) in more than 35 arbitration cases filed against Spain since 2011, according to a document the Spanish government issued late last year. The document appears to be the only public tally of the claims. These investors—which include private-equity firms, asset managers and global power companies—were attracted to Spain by a package of incentives the Spanish government introduced in 2007 to encourage electricity generation from renewable sources. However, electricity consumption in the country declined in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, making the subsidies more costly for local electricity companies. Concerned about increasing deficits, the Spanish government in 2009 began a rollback of the incentives that culminated in 2013 and that drastically reduced the revenue of renewable-energy plants, private-equity executives said. Investors that had poured capital into renewable-energy projects during the late 2000s and early 2010s saw their returns deteriorate without the incentives. Many now seek compensation for the losses they suffered. “That’s a huge number of cases arising out of basically one policy decision,” said Joseph Profaizer, a partner and global head the of international arbitration practice at law firm Paul Hastings LLP. Spain has prevailed in two of the six cases international arbitrators have ruled on so far. But a series of four consecutive decisions in favour of investors tipped the scale against the Spanish government.   Spain should pay  In the latest decision, the Washington, D.C.-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, which is part of the World Bank Group, ruled in June that Spain should pay €112 million, net of interest, in damage compensation to Antin Infrastructure Partners, less than the at least €148 million the European private-equity firm claimed, according to case documents. Antin in 2011 invested alongside asset manager DWS Group in two concentrated-solar-power plants located in the Spanish province of Granada, the documents showed. DWS is seeking compensation from Spain through a separate arbitration case it filed with ICSID. Spain has requested an annulment of Antin’s award. The request is pending. Antin declined to comment for this article, while the Spanish government didn’t reply to requests seeking comment.  One investor still waiting for an arbitration decision is Foresight Group. The London firm in 2008 launched a retail fund dedicated to investment in solar projects, raising €35 million for Foresight European Solar Fund, said Federico Giannandrea, a partner at Foresight who leads the firm’s infrastructure investments in continental Europe. The firm made two investments in Spain from that fund, he said. In 2009, it acquired a nine-megawatt photovoltaic plant in the Castilla-La Mancha region. A year later, Foresight formed a joint venture with a Spanish company, which today is part of renewable-energy operator Athena Investments, to buy another photovoltaic plant in Cordoba. “The tariffs were very attractive,” Mr. Giannandrea said. “We spotted the opportunity of a market that was nascent at the time, which was the solar market.” Foresight has sold its stake in the two plants, but kept the rights to the legal claims as it still wishes to return more capital to investors, he added. Several other investors are in the same situation, according to people familiar with the matter.   Charter violation  In the four cases decided in favour of investors so far, ICSID and the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce ruled that the changes Spain made to its renewable-energy incentives violated the Energy Charter Treaty, an international agreement aimed at fostering cross-border investments in the energy industry. Spain is one of the 53 current members of the treaty. Spain is fighting the claims and the awards by bringing the European Union into the picture. The Spanish government has argued that the EU law takes precedence over the Energy Charter Treaty to resolve disputes between EU-based investors and EU states. Another Spain argument is that paying awards to investors would amount to state aid, which only the EU could approve. The main question, international arbitration experts said, is how far the Spanish government is willing to go to avoid paying the awards. Adding to the pressure on Spain, Antin and the other three investors that won their cases requested the U.S. courts enforce the awards granted to them. The arbitration institutions are expected to rule on more cases in the coming months, and they likely will award more compensation to investors, the experts said. “There’s a tendency to try to follow what has been decided in previous cases,” said Carmen Otero García-Castrillón, a professor of private international law at Complutense University of Madrid. “When the facts are much alike, it would be shocking if the cases were decided in a different way.” It is much less clear, however, if investors will ever get paid. “I really hope so,” Mr. Giannandrea said. “We don’t think it would be fair if states were allowed to breach promises without consequences.”   Source: Private Equity News https://www.penews.com/articles/rulings-in-renewable-energy-battle-in-spain-to-test-arbitration-power-20181105  
Information Service
Customer Satisfaction Awards Help Automakers Advertise
Any US consumer who spends time watching television is probably familiar with the JD Power and Associates as a means of ranking customer satisfaction with cars. It appears in many car commercials and while most consumers would say they’ve heard of it, few would say they actually knows what it means. JD Power and Associates began in 1968 when James David Power III and his wife began conducting detailed market research through mailing surveys to car customers and asking consumers what “problems” they experienced within the first 90 days of their car purchase. The survey consists of over 200 questions in eight categories – exterior, interior, features/controls/displays, audio/entertainment/navigation, seats, climate controls, powertrain and driving experience. The answers to these questions are intended to represent the customer’s voice and reflect their satisfaction with a particular car. However, this measure is not without its issue. The customer’s survey answers include concrete factors but also the customers opinion. In other words, a faulty component in the car is given the same weight as a feature the customer did not understand or disliked. Nevertheless, the results of these surveys are extremely beneficial to car manufacturers. Using the feedback from the survey Kia was able to make changes and reach No 1 in the customer satisfaction rankings. Luxury carmaker Porsche has also turned to the JD Power and Associates data to perfect their cars and achieve high ratings with customers. However, car companies that use the data to improve their cars often do not use their high rankings in advertising once they are achieved as they do not want to draw customers attention to their prior low rankings. Still other car companies do us their JD Power and Associate rankings because consumers see value in it. First the name of the survey and rankings sounds substantive and meaningful. Though it is the name of a real person it almost sounds like it was the expertly designed to be the name of a car ranking service. Secondly, it impresses people by being the real reactions of real customers, something that holds a great deal of weight with consumers.  Despite consumers not knowing much about the JD Power and Associates process, it sounds official and gives significant reassurance that they are making a smart choice when they purchase a car with a high ranking.   Source :https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/11/27/18105479/jd-power-car-commercials  
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