The iPhone maker has long struggled to gain traction in the world’s second-largest smartphone market. A MUSIC-FILLED CELEBRATION ON SEPTEMBER 26, FEATURING A LINE-UP OF OUTSTANDING ARTISTS HOSTED BY BEBE NEUWIRTH & PHIL BAYLY SPECIAL APPEARANCES BY SHERYL CROW AND ALI MACGRAW CHATHAM, NY – On Saturday, September 26th at 6 PM EST, Equine Advocates will present Willie Nelson with the 2020 Safe Home Equine Protection Award for his work and… CHICAGO — When Ben Meeder bought a new ride from a bicycle shop earlier this summer, his employer footed the bill. The biggest European clothing retailers Inditex and Hennes & Mauritz both demonstrated that demand for fast-fashion is stronger than expected as consumers try to return to some semblance of normality.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been trying to expand its presence in India over the past decade, but faced numerous setbacks related to local regulations. Back in 2012, India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion relaxed rules around foreign ownership of single-brand retail stores, although companies still needed to meet local sourcing requirements. The company has since invested heavily in the world’s second-most-populous country, moving some iPhone production as it diversified its supply chain outside of China.
It seemed like Apple would finally kick off direct sales last year after the Indian government tweaked those local sourcing requirements, but there was still more work to do. At long last, Apple has announced that its online store in India will launch this week.
Image source: Apple.
The Cupertino tech giant will open its digital doors on Wednesday, Sept. 23, for the first time in India. All products will be available for Indian consumers. Up until now, virtually all of Apple’s business in India was conducted through third-party resellers and other distribution channels, which presents unique challenges for a company known for wanting control over the entire customer experience. Apple is partnering with Blue Dart, a local logistics and courier service, for free shipping and contactless delivery.
“We’re proud to be expanding in India and want to do all we can to support our customers and their communities,” retail and HR chief Deirdre O’Brien said in a statement. “We know our users are relying on technology to stay connected, engage in learning, and tap into their creativity, and by bringing the Apple Store online to India, we are offering our customers the very best of Apple at this important time.”
In an interview with The Indian Express, O’Brien added that the latest Apple Watches and iPads unveiled last week would also be available. “[W]e have been working in India for quite some time with our network of reseller partners and so we really have a good understanding of doing business in India and really enjoy it,” O’Brien told the local outlet.
Apple isn’t quite ready to open a brick-and-mortar retail store yet. At the company’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this year, CEO Tim Cook confirmed that the first physical Apple Store in India is set to open in 2021. Reaffirming Apple’s preference for control, Cook commented at the time that he didn’t “want somebody else to run the brand for us” and that Apple likes “to do things our way.”
The annual meeting was in February, and since then the COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked physical retail, so there’s no rush to set up shop in the real world.
In addition to retail and distribution hurdles, Apple has long struggled to gain a foothold in India due to its high prices. In early 2019, Cook provided the first disclosure for revenue in India: Apple generated $2 billion in sales in 2018, or just 0.7% of revenue that year. The company has not provided any meaningful updates since.
India is now the second-largest smartphone market in the world behind China, but most consumers can’t afford iPhones. Apple was able to grow iPhone shipments in India by 80% in the first quarter, albeit off a small base. But Indian smartphone volumes in Q2 were cut in half by the coronavirus outbreak. Apple has a long way to go before sales in India are meaningful, but commencing online sales is a step in the right direction.
Author: Evan Niu, CFA
Feel Good Sunday: EQUINE ADVOCATES TO HONOR WILLIE NELSON FOR HIS WORK TO END HORSE SLAUGHTER AT VIRTUAL GALA & TELETHON
HOSTED BY BEBE NEUWIRTH & PHIL BAYLY
SPECIAL APPEARANCES BY SHERYL CROW AND ALI MACGRAW
CHATHAM, NY – On Saturday, September 26th at 6 PM EST, Equine Advocates will present Willie Nelson with the 2020 Safe Home Equine Protection Award for his work and dedication to end the slaughter of America’s horses during a special online event to be broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Equine Advocates website. Nelson will be the 19th recipient of this award, which was first given out in 2002.
Nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer/song writer, Sheryl Crow will be making an appearance during the broadcast with a special message for her good friend and fellow horse lover, Willie Nelson. They recently recorded the song, “Lonely, Alone” together. The music video for the song includes footage of Nelson with some of his rescued horses.
Actress Ali MacGraw, who appeared in such iconic films as “Love Story,” “The Getaway” and “Goodbye Columbus,” will be presenting Andrea Eastman with the 2020 Equine Savior Award for her decades of work and activism on behalf of America’s wild and domestic equines. Eastman, who had an illustrious 27-year career as a high-powered agent for ICM, was personally responsible for Robert Redford’s signing of the Voter Card in California in 1998 in support of the first state initiative in the nation to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption. That initiative, “Prop 6” passed by more than 60% of the vote.
The program will be hosted by two-time Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress, Bebe Neuwirth, who was the recipient of the Safe Home Equine Protection Award in 2009. Co-hosting will be author and former news anchor, Phil Bayly, who was the morning news anchor for WNYT, the NBC affiliate in Albany for 15 years.
An amazing line-up of artists will be performing during this celebration and telethon. They include: (In alphabetical order)
Tom Chapin – In a career that spans five decades, 26 albums and three Grammy awards, the multi-talented Tom Chapin has maintained two long and productive parallel careers, both as a respected contemporary folk artist and a pioneer in the field of children’s music. Chapin has appeared on Broadway, television, radio and film, and has long been a strong advocate on behalf of a variety of charitable organizations, focusing on hunger, the environment, and music and the arts in our public schools.
The Gibson Brothers – Bluegrass royalty Leigh and Eric Gibson have been delighting audiences around the world with their popular albums and live performances for thirty years. They were named Entertainers of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2012 and 2013 and in 2015, and have received many other accolades for their work, including receiving SUNY honorary degrees of doctor of fine arts. In 2018, they branched beyond the bluegrass world with a sound dubbed more “country soul,” on an album produced by Dan Auerbach. No matter what format they play, their brother harmonies shine through.
Cathy Grier – When Cathy Grier was 17, she had a chance encounter with John Lee Hooker that became an inspirational turning point in her life. Cathy spent 20 years in New York mostly performing under the name NYC Subway Girl as part of the Music Under New York Program. Her four decade-long career is a rich musical tapestry with numerous career highlights. In 2016, she traveled to Wisconsin for the Steel Bridge Songfest and fell in love with the Sturgeon Bay music scene so much that she moved to Wisconsin. Within the three years of arriving, Cathy won the Paramount Music Association Blues Challenge. Her latest album entitled, “I’m All Burn,” recorded with her group, The Troublemakers, is by far one of her best. It has been well received by critics and listeners, who all agree Cathy Grier surely can sing and play The Blues!
Brooke Moriber – This young and exciting up-and-coming country singer/song-writer got her start in show business at the age of eight on Broadway when she was cast in the part of Cosette in Les Miserables. Inspired by Linda Ronstadt and Billy Joel, Brooke’s song, “Cry Like a Girl” was reviewed by Parade Magazine as “… a high-powered country-infused track with an empowering message. Brooke Moriber makes a compelling case for sharing raw emotion with strong vocals and a spot-on delivery.” That song will be included on her first album that she is working on in Nashville.
Livingston Taylor – From top-40 hits “I Will Be in Love with You” and “I’ll Come Running,” to “I Can Dream of You” and “Boatman,” the last two recorded by his brother James, Livingston Taylor has been performing and writing songs for more than 50 years. He is known for mastering a wide range of musical genres from folk, pop, gospel, jazz— to upbeat storytelling and touching ballads to full orchestra performances. Taylor is also a full professor at Berklee College of Music, where he has taught a Stage Performance course since 1989.
The broadcast will begin at 6 PM Eastern Standard Time on Saturday, September 26th. Please check your time zone for the start of the program in your area. Also, please visit our Equine Advocates website and official Facebook page for more details and updates.
Equine Advocates, a national, non-profit equine protection organization based in Chatham, NY, will be celebrating its 25th birthday on February 27, 2021. Its mission is to rescue, protect and prevent the abuse of equines through education, investigation, rescue operations, the dissemination of information to the public and through the operation of a horse sanctuary for slaughter-bound, abused and neglected equines.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation.
No contribution is too small!
Thank you so very much!
You can now text “LOVE4HORSES” to 44-321 to donate in support of our equine residents.
Equine Advocates is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) equine protection
organization founded in 1996. In 2004, we moved our base of operations
to a 140-acre horse sanctuary in Chatham, NY which is home to
approximately 80 rescued horses, ponies, donkeys & mules and
Charlotte, Jakey & Cello, our three adorable goats. We have
a Humane Education Center on the sanctuary grounds
where we welcome visitors of all ages throughout the year.
Please visit our website for more information on our work.
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Author: R.T. Fitch
Some companies paying for work-from-home perks amid pandemic
CHICAGO — When Ben Meeder bought a new ride from a bicycle shop earlier this summer, his employer footed the bill.
The purchase was part of a $700 stipend software company ServiceNow gave its employees to improve their well-being during the isolating and seemingly unending pandemic.
ServiceNow’s stipend increased from $500 in July, right around the time it became clear to many companies that employees would remain remote until at least 2021. ServiceNow is not alone.
Six months into the coronavirus pandemic and with no return to the office in sight, employers are realizing that working remotely through a global health crisis requires more than helping employees pay for a comfy office chair. They are investing in intangibles that can help with mental wellness, like exercise, online tutoring for kids, or sessions with a life coach.
Not every company is pouring money into their employees’ remote work setups. In the midst of an economic downturn and an ongoing unemployment crisis, the investments are a luxury not all can afford.
T-Mobile, which merged with Sprint earlier this year to create an 80,000-employee telecommunications company, offers employees five free sessions each with life coaches, personal counselors and money experts, as well as access to tutoring referrals and child care options. Use of virtual counseling sessions in 2020 increased 21 times over 2019.
“I know we have not even hit the bulk of the iceberg of what our people actually really need,” said Deeanne King, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at T-Mobile. “We learn more every day.”
The perks have been part of job offer discussions for some time, said Junaid Karim, director of talent acquisition. But Karim said that during the pandemic, he’s been recommending the free counseling during conversations with his employees.
“I can just tell the wear and tear of the environment that we’re in is really getting to people,” he said. “Especially since it [the pandemic] has been extended.”
If any semblance of novelty around working from home remained for Payton Campbell, a performance marketing manager at Chicago-based GoHealth, it wore off when he started thinking about the year’s end.
The busiest time for employees at the online health insurance marketplace is the end of year, when everyone is signing up for coverage. Campbell knew his own remote work situation just would not do.
“I had set up kind of a standing desk on my girlfriend’s dresser with a stack of books. I’m 6-foot-5,” he said. “I had just kind of succumbed to the fact that this was going to be my new normal.”
In June, the 3,000-employee company gave employees varying amounts of money to spend on an online shop that offered hundreds of home office equipment options. Stipend amounts were based on the employees’ tenure, with $250 going to employees who had been there less than 18 months and $400 for those there longer.
“If you wanted to go out and spend all of your money on a really high-end chair, you could do so,” said Mark Monitello, chief human resources officer. “If you wanted to get a nice chair but also get a headset and a heated floor mat because your feet are cold all day, you could do that also.”
MENTAL WELLNESS FOCUS
Campbell bought a desk, a standing desk riser and a chair. Now when he’s done working, he leaves his second bedroom-turned-office — filled with equipment paid for by GoHealth — and goes into his living space.
“That was really big for me mentally,” Campbell said. “It allowed me to get back to that feeling of, ‘I’m waking up, I’m eating breakfast and I’m going to work,’ versus everything being one fluid motion of living and working.”
To find out what perks will help employees the most, Chicago-based Maestro Health frequently surveys its roughly 400 workers, said CEO Craig Maloney.
The health and benefits company has invested more than $500,000 into employee benefits during the pandemic, focusing on mental wellness. It gave employees extra days off, increased the number of personal days they can roll over to next year, and enhanced medical benefits to include an expanded mental health element.
“Trust me, they’re not easy decisions, and they’re give and take,” Maloney said. “We want to understand what’s most impactful and most important to our employees, so it’s some pretty hard-core listening.”
It’s paying off, Maloney said. Employee performance, productivity and retention are up.
“There are little mini-business cases tied to these,” he said. “A lot of our investments are repaying benefits on retention. That saves us quite a bit of money annually.”
The cost of investing in employees’ well-being can add up, said John Dooney, an adviser at the Society for Human Resource Management.
“Companies are also laying people off, and they may have had people on furloughs,” he said. “Though they may have employees left, as survivors, they’re not in a position to really provide extra.”
Still, some third-party platforms that offer virtual services to consumers — be it online tutoring or workout classes — say they are being inundated by companies that want to buy those perks for their employees.
Before the pandemic, online tutoring platform Wyzant catered mostly to individual consumers who needed a tutor for their school-age child, or extra help prepping for the LSAT or SAT. But recently, corporations started reaching out, wanting to subsidize the online tutoring services for their employees’ families, CEO Andrew Geant said.
“It’s not even historically a real part of our business,” Geant said. “Now it’s like we’re getting several (companies) a day that are reaching out.”
Companies in other industries have shifted to focus on the work-from-home crowd, too.
LulaFit, which manages workout centers and other amenities in commercial buildings, shifted most of its wellness programming online by late March, said founder and CEO Colleen Werner.
The virtual workout classes quenched Devon Strand’s thirst for normalcy.
The senior meetings and event planner for the American Hospital Association was an avid gymgoer pre-pandemic. She loved the trainers at her work gym, which LulaFit ran, and now works out with them virtually from her apartment in the Lakeview neighborhood.
“It just reminds me of being in the gym before the world broke,” Strand said. “You get those similar feelings and it’s just nice to have something comforting right now.”
Author: Tribune News Service
Analysis: Retailers think you can’t work in sweatpants forever
Consumerism is back in fashion in spite of the enduring COVID-19 pandemic.
The biggest European clothing retailers Inditex and Hennes & Mauritz both demonstrated that demand for fast-fashion is stronger than expected as consumers try to return to some semblance of normality. The good news has driven up the Stoxx Europe 600 Retail Index 4% this week.
While Spanish retailing giant Inditex still reported a net loss in the first half of its financial year, it was less than analysts had feared. Chairman Pablo Isla called the second quarter a “turning point” as the owner of the Zara, Oysho and Pull & Bear chains returned to profitability. The company’s prowess in getting garments from design room to stores within weeks allowed it to cut its stock levels by 19%, a remarkable feat during the unprecedented coronavirus lockdowns.
But the most telling indicator is how sales have developed through the year. After plunging 44% in the first quarter, and staying down 31% in the second one, the decline was just 11% between Aug. 1 and Sept. 6. It’s a sign a recovery may be on the cards for the back-to-school — and for some back-to-the-office — season.
The pandemic has turbocharged e-commerce, and both Inditex and H&M have helped themselves weather the storm by bolstering their online operations. Other digital retailers have also benefited. Underlining the enthusiasm, shares in the online seller of cosmetics and protein shakes THG Holdings rose more than 30% on Wednesday, their first morning of trading.
But it’s not just internet and mobile orders that are thriving. Associated British Food Plc’s cheap chic Primark has also traded strongly since stores reopened, even as the chain continued to stubbornly buck the online trend.
So what’s behind the retail recovery?
With travel abroad on the back burner for now, it’s freeing up more disposable income to spend on sporting the latest fashions or buying themselves other treats. On Tuesday Ocado Group said it felt the difference in July and August with people staycationing. A year earlier, more were going away for their holidays, so they weren’t putting bottles of wine or barbecue fare into their online grocery baskets.
As people’s social lives pick up, they are more eager to get out to splurge and dress up again. Just glance at people walking in parks and promenading along seafronts. It may be a case that with so much time spent working in sweatpants, leaving home is now an excuse to put on a floaty dress.
But however strong the rebound, retailers shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security. While consumers are prepared to return to suburban retail outlets, which are often in open-air spaces with convenient parking, city-center stores remain quiet. ABF said it expected Primark’s U.K. same-store sales to be 12% lower than a year ago between reopening in June and the end of its financial year on Sept. 12. But the decline would be just 5% when excluding the chain’s four large destination stores in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Unless there is a large-scale return to work, or consumers become more confident about traveling on public transport and visiting what they perceive to be crowded locations, it’s hard to see this division between destinations changing.
Meanwhile, other risks remain, including the potential for second wave of the virus. And of course, the economic effect of the pandemic may not be fully felt yet. Rising unemployment, or fears of job losses, could cause consumers to become more cautious.
But for now, retailers should rejoice in the uptick in spending, particularly as it may not last for much longer.
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Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.