Global Business Development

Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 112, Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CFE, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)

Commentary about the 112th Issue: The world’s most livable cities, the countries preferred by expats, the world’s richest countries, the corporate tax rates for the G20 countries (the USA is near the bottom!) and European’s are the happiest in the world. Which young consumers are the most optimistic in the world. Greece starts 6 day work weeks. Pan Am Airlines is making another comeback. The young and rich in China are trying to leave. And we are adding a book review to each newsletter going forward.


Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CEO & Global Advisor, Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), Irvine, California, USA. Contact Bill with any questions, comments and contributions.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896

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The mission of this newsletter is to use trusted global and regional information sources plus our network of 20+ in-country Associates to update our global readers on key global and local trends that can impact the success of their businesses at home and abroad. We subscribe to about 40 international information sources to keep our readers up to date on the world’s business.  Some of the information sources that we provide links to require a paid subscription for our readers to access.  

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First, A Few Words of Wisdom From Others For These Times

“For the only way in which a durable peace can be created is by world-wide restoration of economic activity and international trade.”, James Forrestal

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”, Otto von Bismarck

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”, Yogi Berra

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Highlights in issue #112:

  • Brand Global News Section: Burritobar®, Little Caesars®, Mod Pizza® and Tim Hortons®

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Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

State of the Consumer 2024: What’s now and what’s next – Amid massive shifts in the consumer landscape, companies can’t afford to rely on yesterday’s consumer insights. Here are nine trends that merit close attention. Middle-income consumers are feeling the squeeze and worrying about inflation but aren’t holding back on splurges. Rather than sticking to tight budgets in retirement, aging consumers are splurging too. Speaking of older shoppers, it turns out that the brand loyalty they’ve long been known for is a thing of the past. And young consumers in Asia and the Middle East are more likely than those in Western markets to switch to higher-priced brands.”, McKinsey, June 10, 2024

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The world’s richest countries in 2024 – Sorting Countries into rich and poor can be difficult. Measures such as GDP are affected by population size (more people generally mean more output). But adjusting for population alone is not enough. Dollar income per person does not account for differences in prices between countries (a Big Mac, for example, will set you back more in some places than in others, even after converting into dollars). Nor does it account for productivity (overall output per hour worked). To get a fuller picture, The Economist therefore ranks countries by three measures: dollar income per person, income adjusted for local prices (known as purchasing-power parity, or PPP) and income per hour worked.  Take America first. Its GDP has been the largest at market exchange rates for over a century. But by income per person it falls to sixth, behind Luxembourg (first) and Switzerland (second). The results for China—the world’s second-largest economy in nominal terms—are even starker: it falls to 69th by GDP per person, 75th at local prices and 97th after accounting for hours worked.”, The Economist, July 4, 2024

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Which Countries Have the Highest Corporate Tax Rates in the G20?– In the wake of the 1999 Asian financial crisis, government representatives from the 20 largest economies in the world decided to informally gather to coordinate policy on trade. Thus began the G20. Together the bloc accounts for more than 85% of the world economy and has been credited with unified policy action in response to world events. However, despite this shared affiliation, this group is still made of fundamentally different economies with varied policies towards their business entities.”, Visual Capitalist, June 26, 2024

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Top 10 most expensive cities for expats in 2024 – Hong Kong retained its pole position as the world’s most expensive city for expats in 2024, according to Mercer. Asia’s biggest financial hubs have once again clinched the top spots for being the costliest cities for international workers to live in, according to Mercer.  Hong Kong was ranked as the most expensive city for expats to live in, followed by Singapore and Zurich, according to the Cost of Living City Ranking 2024. Cities in Switzerland — Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern — snagged four out of 10 spots. New York City ranked No. 7. The top five spots had no change from the year before, but London climbed 9 positions from No. 17 to 8. The survey compared the costs of more than 200 items in each of the 226 cities studied — including the price of housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. New York City was used as the benchmark and currency fluctuations were measured against the U.S. dollar.”, June 18, CNBC

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Global Supply Chain, Energy, Commodities, Inflation, Taxes & Trade Issues

Dollar Dominance Monitor – The US dollar has served as the world’s leading reserve currency since World War II. Today, the dollar represents 58 percent of the value of foreign reserve holdings worldwide. The euro, the second-most-used currency, comprises only 20 percent of foreign reserve holdings. Over the past twenty-four months, the members of BRICS (a grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa that recently added Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates; Saudi Arabia is considering joining) have been actively promoting the use of national currencies in trade and transactions. During this same time, China has been expanding its alternative payment system to its trading partners and seeking to increase international usage of the renminbi. But in recent years, and especially since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Group of Seven (G7)’s subsequent escalation in the use of financial sanctions, some countries have been signaling their intention to diversify away from dollars.”, Atlantic Council, July 7, 2024

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Global & Regional Travel & Living

The world’s most liveable cities – Which city is the most liveable in the world? Hint: it’s the historic capital of the Babenberg dynasty and the birthplace of the snow globe. This week EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit), our sister company, crowned it the world’s most liveable city for a third consecutive year.  EIU’s index measures liveability using criteria like good schools, access to health care and so on. These are all relevant factors if you’re considering a move. But if you ask me, some important qualities of a city can’t be easily quantified. The general buzz and unpredictability can be what makes it exciting. “, The Economist (LinkedIn post), July 3, 2024

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Dream of moving abroad? This Central American destination is the No. 1 country for expats – Panama was named the No. 1 country for expats out of 53 countries in this year’s report, which surveyed more than 12,500 people in February about how satisfied they feel with their lives in a foreign country. The InterNations report ranked 53 global countries across five indices: quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, personal finance and an “expat essentials” index, which covers housing, administration, language and digital life. These are the top 10 countries for expats to live and work abroad, according to InterNations data: Panama, Mexico, Indonesia, Spain, Colombia, Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam, Philippines and the United Arab Emirates. (The USA ranks 35th).”, CNBC Make It, July 4, 2024

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Marriott International opens its 100th Sheraton Hotel in China – Marriott International is accelerating investment in China’s booming hospitality industry with the announcement of more than 40 new upper upscale hotels by the end of 2025. Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s global portfolio of more than 30 hotel brands, announced the opening of Sheraton Lanzhou Anning in Lanzhou, northwest China’s Gansu Province, on Monday, which marks the 100th Sheraton Hotel in China, where the brand made its market debut 50 years ago. Marriott International operates nearly 270 upper upscale hotels in China at present.”, Shine, July 3, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto

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New Pan Am Soars, Reviving The Golden Age Of Air Travel – Under new ownership, Pan American World Airways has announced the first in a series of planned themed journeys that harken back to its heyday. For decades, the Pan Am brand and its distinctive blue and white logo symbolized the excitement and elegance of air travel’s golden age. Even after the airline ceased operations in 1991, memories of its attentive service, gourmet meals, impeccably dressed crew, and spacious seating endure. Now, Pan Am is ready to take flight once more. Its inaugural journey will be a 12-day commemorative voyage limited to 50 guests. Craig Carter, CEO of Pan American World Airways and owner of Pan Am Brands, will host the trip, which will fly round-trip to Europe from New York City with stops in Bermuda, Lisbon, Marseille, London, and Foynes in Ireland.”, Forbes, July 7, 2024

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Book Review – New Section

’No One Left: Why the World Needs More Children’ by Paul Morland – A population calamity is unfolding before our eyes. It started in parts of the developed world and is spreading to the four corners of the globe. There are just too few babies being born for humanity to replace itself. Leading demographer Paul Morland argues that the consequences of this promise to be calamitous. Labour shortages, pensions crises, ballooning debt: what is currently happening in South Korea – which faces population decline of more than 85% within just two generations – threatens to engulf us all, and sooner than we think. In the developed world we may be able temporarily to stave off the worst of its effects with immigration, but many countries, including those the immigrants come from, will get old before they get rich. ‘No One Left’ charts this future, explains its causes and suggests what might be done.”, Hachelle Australia, July 4, 2024

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Country & Regional Updates

Canada

For the first time in more than 150 years, Alberta’s electricity is coal free – At 10:57 p.m. on Sunday, June 16, Alberta’s last coal plant went offline. An official announcement shortly followed, quietly signalling the end of coal-fired electricity in Alberta. Coal accounted for 80 per cent of Alberta’s electricity grid in the early 2000s and it still amounted to 60 per cent just 10 years ago. Rapidly growing, low-cost renewable energy further supported the phase-out, along with companies investing in gas-fired electricity. All these actions accelerated the transition away from coal at a faster rate than anticipated.”, The Globe and Mail, July 6, 2024

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China

Decathlon, Lululemon and other sportswear brands accelerate store openings and adjust China store strategies – Sports fashion brands are considering opening larger stores or upgrading services as brand upgrading strategies. Since the beginning of this year, many sports and fashion brands such as Decathlon, lululemon, Zara, and Arc’teryx have opened large stores or upgraded store services, such as creating sports communities, in order to enhance user experience and improve brand positioning. On June 27, yoga wear brand Lululemon opened its first store in North China in Beijing Sanlitun Taikoo Li. The brand’s store in this business district was originally very small and located on the underground floor of the shopping mall. After the upgrade, it became a large street-side store covering three floors.”, Caixin, July 5, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto

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China’s Population Density Visualized Using a 3D Map– For seven decades, China’s population was the world’s largest until India took that particular crown in 2023. Still, 1.4 billion people live in the country that stretches across 3.7 million square miles (9.6 million km²). However, as seen in the map above, 94% of the Chinese population lives east of the Heihe-Tengchong line, which is only 43% of the country’s area. Here are all of China’s cities with at least one million residents, from the 2020 census. Clearly noticeable are the provinces they are found in—on the eastern edge of the country, matching the population spikes seen above.”, Visual Capitalist, July 3, 2024

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Young, Rich and Restless in China – Economic conditions and draconian regulatory campaigns have led to record breaking levels of emigration. China is at the top of the list, having already seen an exodus of millionaires thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic discontents – not to mention President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. All told, H&P estimates that China is set to lose some 15,200 of its most wealthy people this year, up from 13,800 the year before. (According to one estimate, there were in 2023 roughly 1.7 million people in China with personal wealth worth over 10 million yuan, or $1.4 million.) Importantly, young Chinese are starting to follow suit.”, Geopolitical Futures, June 28, 2024

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Egypt

Cairo Inks $72.4 Billion in Agreements and MOUs at Egypt-EU Investment Conference – Following the expanded agreement between Cairo and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in which Egypt has largely aligned with IMF recommendations, investor confidence in Egypt has increased and will continue to draw in similar agreements and MOUs. Gaining additional investment is essential for boosting private sector growth and expanding jobs in Egypt. The Egypt-EU Investment Conference follows a March 2024 agreement between the European Union and Egypt in which they agreed to a financing package worth 7.4 billion euros ($8.1 billion) between 2024 and 2027 to support Egypt’s economic reforms, boost energy exports from Egypt to Europe and curb irregular migration through Egypt.”, Worldview Stratfor, July 1, 2024

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European Countries

Europeans feel the happiest and most respected in the worldWill the threat of an aging population change everything? When it comes to a life well-lived, there’s no beating Europe.  For years, its countries have ranked among the highest in many lifestyle metrics. In 2024 and for the six years prior, Finland has held the crown as world’s happiest country, according to the World Happiness Report. Its other European peers followed—such as Denmark, Iceland, and the Netherlands. There’s more—Europeans felt respected and well-rested at varying degrees, pointing to an overall higher living standard and stronger social networks around people, according to Gallup’s Global Emotions Report. That scale varied from country to country—for instance, 97% of Portuguese respondents said they felt respected, while that figure dropped to 58% in Romania. Meanwhile, 75% of those in Ireland felt well-rested compared to just 53% in Greece.”, Fortune, July 5, 2024

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Crushing Debts Await Europe’s New Leaders – Planned largess by election winners in Britain and France is on a collision course with soaring debts and deficits. Public debt is close to multidecade highs on both sides of the English Channel, where voters this week were electing new parliaments. In both France and the U.K., government spending and budget deficits as a share of gross domestic product are significantly above prepandemic levels. Economic growth remains lackluster, borrowing costs have surged, and demands on the public purse are rising, from defense to old-age pensions. All that means fiscal restraint—less spending or higher taxes—will be necessary, economists say. But politicians haven’t prepared electorates for that. On the contrary, they have signaled bold new spending plans.”, The Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2024

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Eurozone inflation slows to 2.5% – Lower rises in energy and fresh food costs are offset by persistently high services prices. Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. The figure for the year to June marked a slowdown from 2.6 per cent in the previous month. It was in line with economists’ forecast of 2.5 per cent in a Reuters poll. Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Economists said the figures made it likely that the ECB would keep its benchmark deposit rate at 3.75 per cent at its next meeting on July 18 and further reductions in borrowing costs could hinge on how quickly services inflation comes down.”, The Financial Times, July 2, 2024

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Greece

Greece starts six-day working week for some industries – New legislation, which came into effect at the start of July, allows employees to work up to 48 hours in a week as opposed to 40.  It only applies to businesses which operate on a 24-hour basis and is optional for workers, who get paid an extra 40% for the overtime they do. However, the move by the Greek government is at odds with workplace culture elsewhere in Europe and the US, where four-day working patterns are becoming more common.”, BBC, July 3, 2024

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India

Accenture taps Indian talent to take on the Big Four in consulting – Amid a downturn in the sector, using highly qualified Indian staff for complex tech work allows the consultancy to cut its prices when pitching to clients. There was a time when companies outsourced only their simpler work to India, but now Accenture is using the growing number of people there with MBAs and PhDs to do its highest-level advisory work for British and European clients. The consultancy is turning to top-ranking workers in India so it can cut its prices when pitching to clients, especially for IT-based work. In some cases, where the firm is bidding to transform or upgrade companies’ IT systems, up to 95 per cent of the skilled consultancy teams are based in India.”, The Times of London, June 23, 2024

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India’s big fat wedding industry is a US$130 billion gold mine for the economy – While many Indian weddings are elaborate affairs, there has been a notable shift in the scale of such ceremonies in recent years, according to industry observers. More couples are opting for intimate affairs that involve increased spending per guest. The sector is worth US$130 billion annually and is an immense driver of economic activity, according to a recent market report by the brokerage and investment research firm Jefferies. India holds more wedding ceremonies each year than any other country, with between 8 million and 10 million – or nearly 25 per cent of the global total. In comparison, about 2 million weddings and 8 million weddings take place annually in the United States and China, respectively. The value of India’s wedding industry is about twice that in the US, according to the report.”, The South Morning Post, July 6, 2024

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Indonesia

Not enough jobs’: Indonesia’s 10 million Gen Z face looming unemployment crisis – With so many young Indonesians neither working nor studying, experts warn of a demographic challenges in the coming years……..according to a recently released report by Statistics Indonesia (BPS), unemployment among those aged 20 to 24 had been on the rise in recent years, climbing from 12.86 per cent in 2015 to 17.02 per cent in 2022. This figure is significantly higher than the country’s average unemployment rate, which in February 2023 stood at 5.45 per cent, meaning that unemployment is particularly high for the younger age bracket. Jakarta is hoping to reach the status of a developed country in the next two decades, under its “Golden Indonesia 2045” vision, and the government is counting on young people to drive economic growth.”, (Edited for length), The South Morning Post, July 5, 2024

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The Philippines

Philippines overtakes China and Indonesia to be most dependent on coal-generated power – The Philippines’ dependency on coal-fired power surged 62% last year, overtaking China, Indonesia and Poland, according to London-based energy think-tank Ember. The Philippines was also the most coal-dependent country in Southeast Asia in 2023, as adoption of renewable electricity generation remained low. The share of electricity generated from coal in the country climbed to 61.9% last year compared to 59.1% in 2022. ‘Indonesia and the Philippines are the two most coal dependent countries in Southeast Asia and their reliance on coal is growing fast,’ the report said, adding that the Southeast Asian region saw a 2% uptick in coal reliance from 31% in 2022 to 33% last year.”, CNBC, July 3, 2024

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South Korea

South Korea Hikes Growth Forecast Sharply as Demand for AI Booms – South Korea revised its economic growth forecast sharply higher as booming global demand for artificial intelligence drives its semiconductor exports to record levels. The government sees gross domestic product expanding 2.6% this year, an upward revision from its previous forecast of 2.2%, according to a statement Wednesday from the Finance Ministry. The inflation forecast has been kept unchanged at 2.6%, matching an estimate by the Bank of Korea. The pick-up in economic projections underscores optimism about an economy that has bounced back from last year’s slump in semiconductor demand even as interest rates have stayed elevated.”, Bloomberg, July 2, 2024

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Turkey

Turkish inflation cools for first time in 8 months – Consumer prices increased 71.6 per cent in June from the same month in the previous year, a slower rate than expected and down from a nearly two-year high of 75.5 per cent in May, according to official data. The decline in inflation is one of the strongest signs to date that Turkey’s pivot away from unconventional monetary policy following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s re-election in May last year is starting to bear fruit. The centrepiece of the new programme, which is slowly drawing back foreign investors who deserted the market in recent years, has been huge increases in borrowing costs. The central bank raised its main interest rate from 8.5 per cent in June last year to 50 per cent by March in an attempt to stomp out runaway price growth.”, The Financial Times, July 3, 2024

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United Kingdom

U.K. tech overtakes China, cementing its position as the world’s second-largest ecosystem by funding – China may be the world’s second-largest economy, but when it comes to startup funding, the U.K. is punching above its weight. Startups in the U.K. raised $6.7 billion in funding during the first half of 2024, helping dethrone China and propelling the U.K. to second place globally for funds raised, according to a new report. While the overall U.K. figure was down 2% year on year, according to data from global market intelligence platform Tracxn, it remained more robust than that of China, whose funding sat at $6.1 billion in H1 2024, helping the U.K. move into the No. 2 spot globally.”, Fortune, July 5, 2024

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United States

Empty Offices Risk Wiping Out $250 Billion in Commercial Property Value – US office vacancy rate is forecast to hit a peak of 24% by 2026. Nearly one-quarter of all US office space will be vacant by 2026 as working from home persists, slicing commercial-property values by as much as $250 billion, according to a report from Moody’s.  Office-vacancy rates are expected to rise to 24% from 19.8% in the first quarter of this year in the US, reducing revenue for office landlords by between $8 billion and $10 billion when combined with the impact of lower rents and lease turnovers, the authors of the report said.”, Bloomberg, June 27, 2024

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American stocks are consuming global markets– That does not necessarily spell trouble.  America’s share of the world’s stockmarket capitalisation has climbed pretty consistently over the past decade and a half, and sharply this year. It now stands at 61%. That is astonishing dominance for a country which accounts for just over a quarter of global gdp. The extent of market concentration is all the more extreme given what is happening within the American stockmarket itself. Just three companies—Apple, Microsoft and Nvidia—make up a tenth of the market value of global stocks.”, The Economist, June 27, 2024

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Brand & Franchising News

Leveraging AI in franchising: opportunities and legal considerations – In the context of franchising, AI presents opportunities to streamline operations, automate tasks and promote data-driven decision-making. The following are examples of several current and potential use cases of AI in franchising: Automation, Supply chain, Customer support and Personalized marketing. Franchisees are increasingly leveraging AI to tailor marketing strategies, optimize product assortments and create targeted promotions that would improve consumer conversion rates and bolster the bottom-line profitability of the franchise system.”, Osler law firm. July 5, 2024

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63 years of progress distilled into one eye-opening video – What fascinated me was observing the constant churn. Brands rose, fell, and then completely disappeared over the decades, a harsh reality of how brutal the food industry can be.  But among this sea of change, a few exceptional companies thrived and fought their way to the top. That meteoric rise wasn’t pure luck – it was the result of a laser focus on quality, an uncanny ability to tap into evolving customer tastes, and treating their people as the cornerstone of their success.  Today, let’s recognise that an unwavering drive for excellence and a willingness to adapt can transform even the simplest ideas into enduring legacies.”, From a LinkedIn post by Akshay Jatia, with the video by Justin Fischer, July 2, 2024.

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2024 AFDR Data – The Use of Social Media with (U.S.) Franchise Recruitment – Franchise Update Media has been researching franchise lead generation and franchisee recruitment processes for more than a decade. An annual in-depth online survey queries franchise development professionals about a number of issues related to their lead generation and recruitment strategies. All the responses are collected, aggregated, and analyzed to produce a detailed look into the recruitment and development practices, budgets, spending allocations, and strategies of a wide cross-section of franchisors. The results are presented each year in the Annual Franchise Development Report (AFDR), which can be ordered online at afdr.franchiseupdate.com. The 2024 AFDR report is a valuable resource that can provide crucial insights on franchise development lead generation and recruitment best practices. It’s the kind of information that can help brands assess what they are doing right, and what needs improvement.”, Franchising.com, July 8, 2024

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Fast-Growing (Canadian) Burrito Chain Plans to Open 750 Restaurants In the U.S. – Burritobar, a Toronto-based Tex-Mex chain that offers classics like burritos, tacos, and bowls, just announced a franchise agreement with U.S. partners in New Jersey, planning for 93 new franchised restaurants across the state within the next two decades. The new agreement follows similar franchise plans in Michigan, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, Iowa, Nebraska, North Texas, Illinois, and Ohio, totaling 750 Burritobar restaurants planned for opening in the United States in the near future. Known as BarBurrito in Canada, the chain first opened in Toronto in 2015, quickly becoming a go-to for fast-casual Tex-Mex food across Canada. With 325 restaurants, the brand is Canada’s fastest-growing Mexican food franchise. In 2020, BarBurrito changed its name to Burritobar for its debut in the American market, with new franchise agreements opening two locations in Michigan and one in Delaware.”, Eat This, Not That!, July 5, 2024

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National pizza chain based in the Northwest reportedly on brink of bankruptcy– A national fast-casual pizza chain is exploring a potential bankruptcy filing as the company looks for a buyer, according to several report…..people familiar with MOD Pizza say the Seattle chain with 512 locations across the country has hired legal and financial advisers to work on a possible sale of the business or bankruptcy filing. ‘We’re working diligently to improve our capital structure and are exploring all options to do so. Since this is an ongoing process, it would be inappropriate to speculate about an outcome,’ a MOD representative shared with Nation’s Restaurant News in a statement. MOD was founded in 2008 as part of a wave of build-your-own pizza places. It currently has 32 locations in Oregon.”, Oregon Live, July 6, 2024

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Q&A with Little Caesars International Franchisee Leo Gonzalez – Was the process of acquiring a franchise in another country more difficult than in the United States?  No, it wasn’t more difficult to build a franchise in Mexico. It’s actually easier to find the space to build out new franchise locations and also more cost effective. Mexico has a lot more space to franchise with restaurants that are bigger in size. About 65% of our Little Caesars there are free-standing with drive-thrus. These tend to do well with our guests and provide the convenient dining experience the brand is known for at all hours of the day.”, Franchising.com, July 2024

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Tim Hortons’ parent company inks two deals to bolster presence in China – Restaurant Brands International says it’s spending up to $45 million on two deals intended to boost its presence in China and spur growth in what the company sees as a promising market. The parent company behind Tim Hortons, Burger King, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Firehouse Subs says the first deal will see it acquire Popeyes China from Tims China, which operates Tim Hortons franchises in the country. RBI values the purchase at $15 million, noting Popeyes China has opened 14 restaurants in Shanghai since initially launching in August 2023.”, CTV, July 2, 2024

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Our Mission, Information Sources & Who We Are

Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the worldthat impacts new trends, health, consumer spending, business investment, the franchise sector, economic development, and travel. We daily monitor 30+ countries, 40+ international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing business environment. And our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covering 25+ countries provide us with updates about what is actually happening in their specific countries.   We do not get involved in or report on politics!

William “Bill” Edwards: Global Advisor Is Uniquely Qualified to Steer Sr. Executives Successfully Through the Complex Waters of Going Global.  With four decades of successful international business experience spanning virtually every corner of the world and many business sectors, Bill Edwards understands the global business landscape like no other.  He has been a County Master Franchisee in five countries in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; the Senior VP for a franchisor operating in 15 countries and a full-service consultant since 2001 taking 40+ franchisors global.

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to take your business into new countries and make money doing it, click on the QR code for a complimentary call with Bill Edwards at bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or +1 949 224 3896.  

www.edwardsglobal.com

And download our latest chart ranking 40+ countries as places to do business at this link:

Our latest GlobalVue™ 40 country ranking


Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 111, Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CFE, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)

Commentary about the 111th Issue: The USA now gets a third of all global capital flows while China inbound investment craters. Birth rates in rich countries halve to hit record low. Norway discovers a huge source of rare minerals. The Philippines becomes the world’s hottest luxury housing market. The new owner of the chicken Big Mac trademark will expand into Europe. Southeast Asia is the go to place for companies leaving China. Managers around the world are learning Gen Z is different. Starbucks® and Hilton® ‘marry’. The top 20 tech companies control almost 20% of the world’s stock market value. India will need 100 million new homes in the next decade. India’s stock market out grows China. And KFC® is selling panini sandwiches, wagyu burgers and hot bagels in their new ‘healthy’ brand in Shanghai.


Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CEO & Global Advisor, Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), Irvine, California, USA. Contact Bill with any questions, comments and contributions.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896

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The mission of this newsletter is to use trusted global and regional information sources plus our network of 20+ in-country Associates to update our global readers on key global and local trends that can impact the success of their businesses at home and abroad. We subscribe to about 40 international information sources to keep our readers up to date on the world’s business.  Some of the information sources that we provide links to require a paid subscription for our readers to access.  

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First, A Few Words of Wisdom From Others For These Times

“The biggest threat to your organization is the lack of imagination in your leadership” Hari Abburi .

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.”, Paul Coelho

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”, T. S. Eliot

Highlights in issue #111:

Brand Global News Section: Guzman y Gomez®, Hilton®, KFC®, Mathnasium®, McDonalds®, Quiznos®, Starbucks® and Supermac®

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Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

The 20 Biggest Tech Companies by Market CapThe world’s 20 biggest tech companies are worth over $20 trillion in total. To put this in perspective, this is nearly 18% of the stock market value globally. This graphic shows which companies top the ranks, using data from Companiesmarketcap.com. Market capitalization (market cap) measures what a company is worth by taking the current share price and multiplying it by the number of shares outstanding. Here are the biggest tech companies according to their market cap on June 13, 2024.  It’s clear from the biggest tech companies that involvement in AI can contribute to investor confidence. Among S&P 500 companies, AI has certainly become a focus topic. In fact, 199 companies cited the term “AI” during their first quarter earnings calls, the highest on record. The companies who mentioned AI the most were Meta (95 times), Nvidia (86 times), and Microsoft (74 times).”, Visual Capitalist, June 17, 2024

Europe’s EV Battery Plans Are Getting Crushed by China, US – As electric-vehicle sales slow, companies including Volkswagen, Stellantis and Mercedes-Benz are scaling back or refocusing battery projects. Chinese manufacturers are slashing costs and the US is drawing away investment with lucrative subsidies. China already has excess battery-making capacity, can make cells at a fraction of the cost it takes in Europe, and has a head start on the next generation of cell technology.”, Bloomberg, June 20, 2024

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Number of Children Per Woman

“Birth rates in rich countries halve to hit record low – Steep decline in fertility will ‘change face of societies’ and affect growth prospects, says OECD Steep decline in fertility will ‘change face of societies’ and affect growth prospects, says OECD. The average number of children per woman across the 38 most industrialised countries has fallen from 3.3 in 1960 to 1.5 in 2022, according to a study by the OECD published on Thursday. The fertility rate is now well below the “replacement level” of 2.1 children per woman — at which a country’s population is considered to be stable without immigration…”, The Financial Times, June 20, 2024

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Top 10 most expensive cities for expats in 2024 – Hong Kong retained its pole position as the world’s most expensive city for expats in 2024, according to Mercer. Asia’s biggest financial hubs have once again clinched the top spots for being the costliest cities for international workers to live in, according to Mercer.  Hong Kong was ranked as the most expensive city for expats to live in, followed by Singapore and Zurich, according to the Cost of Living City Ranking 2024. Cities in Switzerland — Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern — snagged four out of 10 spots. New York City ranked No. 7. The top five spots had no change from the year before, but London climbed 9 positions from No. 17 to 8. The survey compared the costs of more than 200 items in each of the 226 cities studied — including the price of housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. New York City was used as the benchmark and currency fluctuations were measured against the U.S. dollar.”, June 18, CNBC

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Global Supply Chain, Energy, Commodities, Inflation, Taxes & Trade Issues

This Mexican Port Is Angling to Be a Nearshoring GatewayThe Guaymas Port in Mexico is looking to reposition itself as a transport hub that officials say will accelerate nearshoring in the region. Sonora Governor Alfonso Durazo announced this week that the port in the northwest region of Mexico would be revamped under a deal signed with the Port of Antwerp-Bruges International in Belgium and backed by a $220 million investment from the federal government. Ford Motor is one of the first companies looking to take advantage. The carmaker will kick off a pilot out of Guaymas starting this week— some 2,000 cars will make their way out of the port to Chile by the end of the year. Ford estimates that switching to exporting from Guaymas will reduce highway transport by 3,300 kilometers (2,050 miles) per vehicle.”, Bloomberg, June 19, 2024

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Ocean Shipping Prices Are Pushing Toward Pandemic-Era Highs as Congestion SwellsDisruptions from the diversions around the Red Sea violence are backing up vessels with the peak shipping season still looming. The Port of Singapore, a global hub for container lines, has been swamped, leading to long wait times for a berth and increased shipping costs. Ship backups that plagued seaports during the Covid pandemic are making a comeback, as vessel diversions because of attacks in the Red Sea trigger gridlock and soaring costs at the start of the peak shipping season. Flotillas of containerships and bulk carriers are growing off the coasts of Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and China while ports in Spain and other parts of Europe look to dig out from container piles. Houthi rebel attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, which have effectively closed the Suez Canal since the end of last year, are being felt at faraway ports as the disruptions extend voyage times, throw ships off schedule and strand sea containers. T he average worldwide cost of shipping a 40-foot container hit $4,119 the week ending June 14, according to Freightos, more than triple the cost in June last year and the highest rate since September 2022.”, The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2024

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Is nearshoring in fashion? Nearshoring—locating production close to consumer markets—has been a top priority for US and European apparel executives since 2016, according to McKinsey surveys. But in practice, nearshoring has remained flat, senior partner Karl-Hendrik Magnus and colleagues find. Although apparel companies are shifting sourcing away from China, production has moved primarily to other Asian countries.”, McKinsey & Co., June 12, 2924

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Norway just loosened China’s stranglehold on rare minerals critical to the global economyand it’s a huge win for Europe and the U.S. Norway just struck a gold mine. Well, a rare mineral mine – The Norwegian mining company, Rare Earths Norway, just uncovered the largest deposit of rare earth elements in Europe. The discovery has major implications not just for the company, which is certainly poised for a windfall, but for global geopolitics. Norway’s discovery would finally make Europe a player in the industry.   In January, the Norwegian parliament voted 80–20 to allow offshore, deep-sea mining of rare minerals in remote waters to the north of the country. Norway, which is already a major producer of oil and natural gas, would become the first country to allow its seabed to be mined for rare minerals.”, Fortune, June 11, 2024

We’re in a new era’ of supply chain disruption, HSBC analyst saysAfter a series of COVID-19 pandemic disruptions, ongoing geopolitical conflicts, and now a historic year in which more than 60 countries are holding elections, supply chain managers face a growing number of challenges. ‘I would actually say that we’re in a new era,’ HSBC Americas head of global trade solutions Marissa Adams told Yahoo Finance in a video interview. ‘I don’t think that there is a normalization anymore. I think that what companies are now facing is that supply chain disruption is the new norm.’ Supply chain disruptions have always been a part of global trade, even dating back to the Silk Road, which connected trade routes in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. However, companies in the current market are more exposed to unexpected global events, which impacts their ability to trade effectively.”, Yahoo Finance, June 16, 2024

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Global & Regional Travel

Thailand is still attracting fewer visitors than before COVIDBut its tourism sector is thriving thanks to AI, savvy marketing, and Season 3 of ‘White Lotus’. “There are three reasons for the slow recovery,” says Bill Barnett, founder and managing director of C9 Hotelworks, a Phuket-based hospitality consultancy: “China, China, and China.” The country was the largest source of tourists for Thailand in 2019, sending 11 million. But just 3.5 million Chinese visited in 2023, mostly because of China’s gloomy economy. Hotels have also cut costs by choosing not to restore positions slashed during COVID. They’ve automated repetitive tasks like check-ins. Chatbots can answer many guest inquiries, and existing staff have learned to multitask.”, Fortune, June 17, 2024

Country & Regional Updates

BRICS Countries

Malaysia, Thailand Declare Intentions to Join BRICS Ahead of Russia Summit(Malaysia) Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim declared his intention to apply to the bloc after it doubled in size this year by luring Global South nations — partly by offering access to financing but also by providing a political venue independent of Washington’s influence. 

Thailand — a U.S. treaty ally — last month announced its own bid to join BRICS, named after members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The bloc “represents a south-south cooperative framework which Thailand has long desired to be a part of,” Foreign Minister Maris Sangiampongsa told reporters last week. For countries seeking to mitigate the economic risks of intensifying U.S.-China competition, joining BRICS is an attempt to straddle some of those tensions. In Southeast Asia, many nations depend economically on trade with China while also simultaneously welcoming the security presence and investment Washington provides.”, Caixin Global, June 21, 2024

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Brazil

Market conditions drive international airlines away from Brazil, Airbus saysAirbus executive Gilberto Peralta said in an interview last week that the reluctance from international airlines to enter Brazil was mainly due to judicial uncertainty, citing a high number of legal actions taken by Brazilian customers against airlines, as well as high fuel prices. ‘Capital barriers are gone, a foreigner could come and set up a company in Brazil, but they don’t… It’s a lot of trouble,’ he said. Brazil’s strong consumer protections make it easy for flyers to sue carriers for a range of issues, including delayed or canceled flights.”, Reuters, June 17, 2024

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Canada

What managers are getting wrong about early career Gen Z talent – Generation Z, the demographic cohort born between 1997 and 2012, may be the most misunderstood generation in the work force. Despite their dynamic capabilities and intelligence, Gen Z professionals have gained a reputation for being ‘difficult.’ Consider a recent survey by online resume platform Resume Builder, 40 per cent of hiring managers self-reported a bias against hiring Gen Z workers. But to address these issues, a recent panel of experts at the University of British Columbia found Gen Z needs empowerment that meets their needs as individuals, rather than criticism. In this case, generational prejudice, may, more than anything, be a sign that this is a cohort of early career workers unlike any the workplace has seen before.”, The Globe and Mail, June 18, 2024

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China

How China’s Human Capital Impacts Its National Competitiveness – China’s efforts to maintain economic growth, strengthen supply chains, develop strategic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) sectors, and secure a modern military edge hinges on the ability to cultivate and utilize human capital. China’s ability to cultivate, attract, and retain human capital—or as Beijing more commonly puts it, national “talent”—will shape its competitiveness vis-à-vis the United States as a global power and impact the future of innovation and talent on the world stage. Inequality between urban and rural populations in China presents a critical challenge to the country’s economic productivity and opportunities to develop human capital.”, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 17, 2024

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India

India Beats China in Stock PerformanceIndia’s market has boomed while China’s has slumped, and their wide valuation gap seems justified. Not many stock markets can hold a candle to the red-hot Nasdaq. India is an exception. Strong profit growth, geopolitical tailwinds and favorable demographics have presented a compelling investment case for the country. From the end of 2019 through Tuesday, the MSCI India Index surged 110%, ahead of the U.S. tech-heavy index’s 99% gain. Even more surprising, though, is how well India has fared compared with what is—for now, at least—the world’s largest emerging stock market: MSCI China is down by 30% over the same period.”, The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2024

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India Will Need to Build 100 Million Homes This Decade Amid Rising Household IncomesThe nation’s property market has heated up since the pandemic. About 70 million Indian households will turn eligible for home ownership over the next 10 years, which, along with people seeking to upgrade their apartments, should create requirement for as many as 100 million new houses. Real estate consulting firm Knight Frank expects the demand for homes created by rising income levels to translate into $906 billion of economic output over the next ten years.’, Bloomberg, June 12, 2024

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Malaysia

Malaysia is emerging as a data center powerhouse amid booming demand from AIOver the past few years, the country has attracted billions of dollars in data center investments, including from tech giants like GoogleNvidia and Microsoft.  Much of the investments have been in the small city of Johor Bahru, located on the border with Singapore, according to James Murphy, APAC managing director at data center intelligence company DC Byte. ‘It looks like in the space of a couple of years, [Johor Bahru] alone will overtake Singapore to become the largest market in Southeast Asia from a base of essentially zero just two years ago,’ he said.”, CNBC, June 16, 2024

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The Philippines

Philippines Becomes World’s Hottest Luxury Housing Market As Developers Push Million Dollar Homes – Major real estate companies are accelerating the development of luxury residential projects in the Philippines and introducing more million dollar homes to tap resilient demand from both affluent local and foreign buyers in the world’s best-performing prime housing market.Prime residential prices in the Makati financial district and nearby towns climbed 26% in the 12 months through March 2024, the biggest jump among 44 cities tracked by Knight Frank in the Prime Global Cities report published in May. The growth can be attributed to the Philippines’ robust economic performance (among Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies), as well as significant infrastructure investments in and around Metro Manila, according to the British property consultancy.”, June 11, 2024

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South Africa

South Africa’s Big Chance to Move Beyond Its PastSome South Africans are prone to saying that the country has a habit of rushing to the cliff’s edge, staring into the abyss and then stepping back.  Avoiding a civil war and negotiating the end of Whites-only rule in 1994 was one such moment. This month’s unlikely alliance between the African National Congress and its most implacable critic, the Democratic Alliance, may be another. The magnitude of the ANC’s decline in popularity means the only alternative would have been an alliance with one or both of its large populist rivals.  Negotiations over cabinet positions have only just started, and compromises need to be made in areas where the ANC and DA remain diametrically opposed.”, Bloomberg, June 22, 2024

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Southeast Asia

Fortune Southeast Asia 500The region’s GDP grew more than 56% to nearly $4 trillion between 2015 to 2023, according to the International Monetary Fund. The Fortune Southeast Asia 500 debuts right as global business is starting to pay closer attention to the region. Southeast Asian economies are benefiting from supply chain diversification as rapid domestic development builds the next wave of global middle-class consumers. Our new ranking reflects the rise and fall of energy markets, multinational supply chains, and tourism in some of the world’s most dynamic economies.”, Fortune, June 22, 2024

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Southeast Asia is a top choice for firms diversifying supply chains amid U.S.-China tensions – Southeast Asia has emerged as a top beneficiary of the “China Plus One” strategy where businesses seek to reduce the risks associated with full reliance on China’s market or supply chain. Companies, even as they maintain a presence in China, have been diversifying manufacturing operations by expanding into other countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia. ‘Southeast Asia is well-placed to benefit significantly from the China+1 phenomenon as both foreign and Chinese companies diversify their supply chains and operations,’ said Kuo-Yi Lim of Monk’s Hill Ventures. ‘Geopolitical [tensions have] accelerated these activities, which started during the Covid lockdowns’ Lim added. The ‘China Plus One’ strategy seeks to reduce the risks associated with total reliance on China’s market or supply chain through diversifying manufacturing operations, expanding into other countries even as companies’ maintain a presence in China.”, CNBC, June 23, 2024

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United Kingdom

UK inflation hits Bank of England’s 2% target in MayThe figure marks a milestone for the UK economy after the worst inflationary upsurge in a generation. The Bank of England last hit its 2 per cent inflation target in July 2021. The Office for National Statistics data, which was in line with forecasts by economists polled by Reuters, means that headline inflation in the UK is now below that of the US and Eurozone. Core inflation, which strips out food and energy, fell to 3.5 per cent in May, down from 3.9 per cent in April but still relatively high.”, The Financial Times, June 19. 2024

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United States

How the US Mopped Up a Third of Global Capital Flows Since Covid – De-dollarization narrative swept aside by overseas investors Key question is whether policies shift, upending the dynamic. In the face of calls around the world to diversify out of the dollar in recent years, the US has nabbed almost one-third of all the investment that flowed across borders since Covid struck. An International Monetary Fund analysis sent by request to Bloomberg News shows that the share of global flows has climbed — not fallen — since a shortage of dollars in 2020 spooked global investors and the 2022 freezing of Russian assets stoked questions about respect for free movement of capital. The trend marks a major shift from the pre-pandemic days when capital poured into emerging markets, including a rapidly growing China. The big US geopolitical rival has seen its share of gross global inflows more than halve since the pandemic hit.”, Bloomberg, June 16, 2024

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California restaurants have lost traffic since the minimum wage increaseAccording to new data from Placer.ai, traffic patterns in California shifted to negative compared to the national average after the minimum wage increase went into place April 1. It’s probably still way too early to understand the full impact of California’s minimum wage increase to $20 an hour on April 1. But for now, we do know several chains have raised their prices in response to that 25% increase and, so far, those increases have led to lower foot traffic. It has also led to a perception shift among consumers, 78% of whom now think of fast food as a “luxury,” according to recent Lending Tree data. As such, several brands have adjusted their strategy to be more value focused and that value is defined differently depending on market.”, Nation’s Restaurant News, June 14, 2024

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Vietnam

Vietnam F&B industry in 2024 continues growth with new trendsThe value of the Vietnamese F&B market is expected to grow by 10.92% this year compared to 2023. In 2024, the value of the food and beverage (F&B) market in Vietnam is expected to increase by 10.92% compared to 2023, generating revenues of over VND655 trillion (US$26.1 billion). Despite the economic challenges, the survey found that around 80% of businesses in Vietnam remain positive and have the resources to grow in the future, with nearly 52% planning to expand.”, VF Franchising, Ho Chi Min City, June 2024

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Brand & Franchising News

Gen Z demand makes Guzman y Gomez the hottest (Australian) retail stockGuzman y Gomez accounted for nearly a third of all trades on some of the country’s most popular retail platforms after it hit the ASX on Thursday, as investors rushed to buy as many shares as they could in the Mexican-themed restaurant group. Guzman y Gomez has set a target of 1000 stores in Australia.”, Australian Financial Review, June 21, 2024

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‘Big Mac’ trademark win increases appetite for Supermac’s – as inquiries from potential franchisees in Europe flood in.  Supermac’s, the fast-food restaurant chain founded by entrepreneur Pat McDonagh, received around 50 enquiries from potential franchisees across Europe after winning a trademark case against McDonald’s. Any expansion into Europe or Great Britain would be Supermac’s first foray outside the island of Ireland.”, Irish Independent, June 15, 2024

KFC explores new KPro store type in Shanghai focusing on healthy light meals with single items priced at 30 yuan (US$4) per person – It is reported that the menu of the Shanghai store mainly promotes five staple foods: panini, wagyu burger, energy bowl, hot bagel, and toto rolls. It also provides snacks such as chicken wings, and drinks such as yogurt shakes, coffee, cola, and lemon tea. Most of the single products are priced at more than 30 yuan, and some products are more than 40 (US$5) yuan. There are already many players in the healthy light food market, including Wagas, Super Bowl FOODBOWL, and Shaye Light Food, all of which have advantages in different price ranges. The new KPro store in Shanghai focuses on “five signature energy staple foods, all-time, easy”, “high-quality protein, frying and grilling, cooked to order”., Industry Caiking, June 17, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto

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What Actually Caused The Downfall Of QuiznosThe reasons are complicated — while it does seem that sub sandwiches have declined in popularity, the reason for Quiznos’ precipitous downfall seems to be more about poor management rather than changing tastes. A big issue was that it expanded too fast — its initial decade was tame, starting from one Denver store in 1981, and only growing to 18 by 1991. Then it went public in 1994, and started expanding faster: Franchisees complained that there were too many locations too close together. The stores simply weren’t selling that many sandwiches: At the chain’s peak, Restaurant Business reports that the average per-restaurant revenue was $400,000 per year, a little over $1,000 per day.”, Chowhound, June 10, 2024

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McDonald’s scraps AI drive-thrus after customer complaintsThe automated system struggled with accents and served the wrong food. McDonald’s partnered with IBM in 2021 to introduce the system, which promised to simplify and speed up operations with voice-activated ordering. It has been used in more than 100 restaurants in the US. There have been reports that the technology has struggled to differentiate between different accents, leading to incorrect orders. Customers shared videos online of the wrong orders, including the machine adding nine orders of sweet tea to one woman’s bill and adding bacon to another’s dessert. McDonald’s did not comment on accuracy or technology challenges. In a statement, IBM said its automated technology ‘is proven to have some of the most comprehensive capabilities in the industry’”., The Times of London, June 18, 2024

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Mathnasium Expands into Romania with New Master Franchise AgreementMathnasium, a prominent name in math education, is set to launch in Romania following the announcement of a master franchise agreement. Led by Ms. Dana Bănică, this agreement aims to establish a minimum of 25 Mathnasium Learning Centers across Romania within the next six years, marking a significant expansion into a new market for the brand.”, VF Franchising, June 2024

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Starbucks and Hilton marry (in mainland China) – Although they did not join the price war they rolled in the membership system. On June 20, Starbucks China announced that the Starbucks Rewards Club membership system has been upgraded. For the first time, Starbucks has joined hands with Hilton Group to jointly innovate the membership experience. From now on, members of both parties can join each other’s membership system through their respective apps and other channels to enjoy special benefits. Although it has its own rhythm, it is not difficult to see that Starbucks faces very fierce competition in the Chinese market. In the first fiscal quarter of 2024, Starbucks China’s same-store sales increased by 10% year-on-year, but the average customer spending decreased by 9% year-on-year.”, Yical. June 29, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto

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Our Mission, Information Sources & Who We Are

Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the world that impacts new trends, health, consumer spending, business investment, the franchise sector, economic development, and travel. We daily monitor 30+ countries, 40+ international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing business environment. And our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covering 25+ countries provide us with updates about what is actually happening in their specific countries. 

William “Bill” Edwards: Global Advisor Is Uniquely Qualified to Steer Sr. Executives Successfully Through the Complex Waters of Going Global.  With four decades of successful international business experience spanning virtually every corner of the world and many business sectors, Bill Edwards understands the global business landscape like no other.  He has been a County Master Franchisee in five countries in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; the Senior VP for a franchisor operating in 15 countries and a full-service consultant since 2001 taking 40+ franchisors global.

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to take your business global successfully, click on the QR code or contact Bill Edwards at bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or +1 949 224 3896. 

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Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 110, Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CFE, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)

Comments About This 110th Issue: Countries – other than the USA – begin to cut interest rates.  McDonald’s loses the right to call a chicken Big Mac, a Big Mac.  The almost continually strong US$ is not helping US exports of products and services. Heathrow is like a Second World War airport (but we knew that!). The world’s biggest shopping center is getting bigger. A query into ChatGPT requires about 10 times as much electricity to process as a Google search


Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CEO & Global Advisor, Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), Irvine, California, USA. Contact Bill with any questions, comments and contributions.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896



First, A Few Words of Wisdom From Others For These Times

“Technological advancements are vastly overrated in the short term, and vastly underrated in the long term. All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.” ― Arthur C. Clarke

“Risk-taking is the cornerstone of empires.” — Estée Lauder

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey


Highlights in issue #110:

The Dollar Is at Its Strongest Since the 1980s. Can It Last?

The Great Global Rate Cut Cycle Is Going to Be a Bumpy Ride

China economy gathers pace on back of services growth

Asia and Mideast Dominate Latest Port Performance Ranking

The world’s largest shopping mall is about to get even bigger

Irish fast food chain’s victory over McDonald’s to use Big Mac name

Brand Global News SectionAnthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings®, Jimmy Johns®, McDonalds® and Starbucks®


Interesting Data, Articles, and Studies

The state of AI in early 2024: Gen AI adoption spikes and starts to generate value – As generative AI adoption accelerates, survey respondents report measurable benefits and increased mitigation of the risk of inaccuracy. A small group of high performers lead the way. If 2023 was the year the world discovered generative AI (gen AI), 2024 is the year organizations truly began using—and deriving business value from—this new technology. In the latest McKinsey Global Survey on AI, 65 percent of respondents report that their organizations are regularly using gen AI, nearly double the percentage from our previous survey just ten months ago.”, McKinsey & Co., May 30, 2024

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The Great Global Rate Cut Cycle Is Going to Be a Bumpy Ride– After the steepest interest-rate tightening cycle in decades and a long holding cycle, how fast to unwind such settings is now a dominant theme. The Bank of Canada and European Central Bank both cut rates by 25 basis points in the Group of Seven’s first easing moves since the pandemic. They joined officials in Switzerland and Sweden who moved earlier this year.”, Bloomberg, June 7, 2024


The U.S. Global Food Security and Global Water Strategies: Increasing Coherence and Navigating Challenges – Adequate supplies of clean water and nutritious food are vital to human well-being. They are also increasingly important to U.S. foreign policy. Globally, 71 percent of all the water withdrawn from the Earth’s rivers, lakes, and aquifers is devoted to agriculture. Worldwide, food production will have to rise 50 percent by 2050 to meet the increasing demands of growing populations, prospectively requiring global water withdrawals 30 percent greater than today.”, Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 30, 2024

Global Supply Chain, Energy, Commodities, Inflation, Taxes & Trade Issues

Costs of Economic Fragmentation Include Moving to Hard-to-Work Places – Global supply chains are realigning through geopolitically neutral economies to boost resilience and hedge dependencies on the US and China. In some cases, though, shifting to new places comes with a costly drawback: extra red tape. Four of nine so-called bridge nations — a grouping Bloomberg dubbed “connectors” in an analysis last year — were among the world’s top 20 most complex jurisdictions in which to start and operate a business, according to TMF Group….Greece ranks as the most complex jurisdiction, according to TMF Group. The gauge, which ranks 79 economies based on 292 business indicators like the speed of obtaining a business license…..The ranking shows how re-globalization, while necessary to diversify sourcing in a world of geopolitical fragmentation, often moves operations to markets where companies might sacrifice productivity gains and back-office efficiencies.”, Bloomberg, May 30, 2024


The mounting strains on global shipping – Pirate attacks, Middle East instability and drought are causing disruption and congestion at the world’s ports.  The problems follow many shipping lines’ decisions, at the end of 2023, to reroute voyages away from the waters off Yemen after facing attacks from Iran-backed Houthi militias. Container ship arrivals in the Gulf of Aden, at the entrance to the Red Sea, are down 90 per cent on the same period last year according to data from Clarksons, the shipping services provider. Diverting vessels from Asia and bound for Europe around the Cape of Good Hope adds an additional nine to 14 days to voyage times.”, The Financial Times, May 27, 2024


Asia and Mideast Dominate Latest Port Performance Ranking – Global container ports got a breather in 2023 as the pandemic’s hit to supply chains eased and trade volumes stabilized after a few turbulent years. But even in a so-called normal year, labor issues, extreme weather and attacks on vessels near Yemen complicated operations at marine gateways all over the world. Despite that, more than 100 ports improved their efficiency ranking from the year before, according to a new report.”, Bloomberg, June 5, 2024


Global & Regional Travel

Hyatt reaches record global pipeline of 129K rooms – Hyatt Hotels Corporation has revealed that its pipeline has grown by nearly 85% since 2017, reaching a record 129,000 rooms. The company said it has doubled its luxury rooms, tripled its resort rooms and quintupled its lifestyle rooms since 2017. Additionally, the World of Hyatt loyalty program has quadrupled its membership since 2017 and was up 22% as of the end of the first quarter compared to the same period last year, reaching 46 million members globally.”, Hotel Business, June 3, 2024

Heathrow like a Second World War airport, laments Emirates chief – Airline president Sir Tim Clark says the airport is lagging behind in terms of customer experience. The president of Emirates airlines has likened Heathrow to a dilapidated Second World War airport in terms of the experience it offers customers.  Sir Tim Clark, the boss of the UAE flag-carrier, said the airport put its shareholders and paying dividends before running a world-class business. Clark said the terminal needs to be redesigned, with the plaza reduced in size to allow more room for security and check-in. He said: ‘It’s an old airport. I’m afraid it’s very difficult. You need to open up the whole terminal. Where we are based, new airports are being built employing the latest technologies to streamline the process of all the customer-facing elements. That is not the case at Heathrow.”, The Times of London, June 3, 2024


Country & Regional Updates

Canada

Canada first major central bank to cut rates ahead of ECB – The Bank of Canada became the first major central bank among the Group of Seven countries to cut interest rates, opening the door for others to follow suit before the US Federal Reserve. While the Canadian central bank’s decision to cut its cash rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.75 per cent was widely expected, BoC governor Tiff Macklem flagged further reductions which bolstered market sentiment. Inflation in Canada has slowed this year to hit a three-year low of 2.7 per cent in April. While inflation has stayed below 3 per cent for four straight months, it is still above the central bank’s 2 per cent target.’, Australian Financial Review, June 6, 2024


China

Hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio says benefits of investing in China outweigh risks  – ‘Diversification and investment in China is desirable,’ Dalio said in a virtual presentation at the Greenwich Economic Forum in Hong Kong on Wednesday. ‘Chinese assets are very attractively priced.’  There are concerns among international investors about potentially being penalised by their governments for investing in the country, with anti-China policies set to gain bipartisan support in the US election this year, he said. Meanwhile, China’s own economic problems, including its protracted real estate crisis, debt issues and the knock-on effects of those, are also making investors anxious.”, South China Morning Post, June 5, 2024


China economy gathers pace on back of services growth – Caixin services sector purchasing managers’ index for May jumped to 54, the highest reading since July 2023. Interest rates have been lowered, borrowing increased to lift public investment and taxes cut, all as part of a concerted effort to reverse slowing economic activity. The International Monetary Fund recently raised its GDP growth projection for China this year to 5 per cent from 4.6 per cent on the back of more policy support, matching Beijing’s 5 per cent annual target. The IMF urged the CCP to focus future policy on stimulating domestic demand rather than prioritising strategic industries.”, The Times of London, June 5, 2024


Euro Zone

The Eurozone Has Come a Long Way Since the 2009 Debt Crisis, but Risks Remain – In the face of the quasi-existential debt crisis, the euro area has seen major institutional reform, which have helped make the single currency more resilient. Although the euro area proved resilient in the face of recent shocks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the current institutional architecture continues to make it vulnerable to severe shocks.”, Stratfor Worldview, June 6, 2024


Saudi Arabia

Aramco Sale Set to Raise at Least $11.2 Billion for Saudi Arabia – Saudi Aramco’s mega stock offering is set to raise at least $11.2 billion, the biggest such deal globally in three years that will help fund the government’s multitrillion-dollar push to transform the kingdom’s economy. The proceeds will help Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s ambitious plans to revamp the economy with investments including in sports, artificial intelligence, tourism and the desert project of Neom. The kingdom’s budget has been in a deficit for six quarters, and it has raised over $40 billion from local and international markets this year to fill the gap.”, Bloomberg, June 6, 2024

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United Arab Emirates

The world’s largest shopping mall is about to get even bigger – United Arab Emirates real estate developer Emaar Properties announced Monday plans for a 1.5 billion dirham ($408 million) expansion of Dubai Mall. The 12-million-square-foot mall is already the largest shopping center in the world by total area, and the expansion will add a further 240 luxury stores, along with new food outlets. Last year, Dubai welcomed a record number of tourists, and the mall says it received 105 million visitors last year, up 19% from 2022.”, CNN, June 5, 2024


United Kingdom

“UK Survey of Executives Finds Confidence at Highest Since 2021 – UK businesses entered the general election campaign at their most optimistic in over 2 1/2 years after the economy quickly bounced back from recession, according to the Institute of Directors. The business lobby group said “green shoots” of recovery are “clearly visible” after its economic confidence index rose to minus 3 in May. It was up from minus 10 the previous month and the highest since September 2021 just after the economy emerged from lockdown. Business sentiment has moved into a ‘neutral phase’ after being relatively pessimistic for much of last year, said Roger Barker, director of policy at the IOD. ‘Green shoots are clearly visible, and the direction of travel is positive.’”, Bloomberg, May 31, 2024


United States

The Dollar Is at Its Strongest Since the 1980s. Can It Last? – The greenback is historically very expensive amid a recovery in global growth and a fraught election campaign. The U.S. dollar has defied analysts’ expectations and appreciated again this year relative to a basket of other currencies. For a decade now, currency markets have been ruled by the strengthening dollar….. Contrary to what many on Wall Street expected, the U.S. dollar has gotten a fresh wind this year, as bumpy inflation data has prompted investors to dial back bets on rate cuts.  Perhaps more important, economic growth is accelerating beyond America’s borders. Recent economic data suggests that the eurozone and Japan are finally turning up, and China’s recovery seems to be building momentum. Beijing is actively intervening to push up the yuan. A fall in the dollar usually greases the wheels of global growth.” The Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2024


Data Centers Are Driving An Electricity Demand Surge From AI Platforms Like ChatGPT – Did you know that every time you type a query into ChatGPT, it requires about 10 times as much electricity to process as a Google search? Did you know that every time you type a query into ChatGPT, it requires about 10 times as much electricity to process as a Google search? To help put things in perspective, ChatGPT currently has over 180 million users, but there are around 5.3 billion internet users around the world. Imagine if each of them became a regular user of energy-intensive ChatGPT, whose servers are located in the U.S., according to owner OpenAI.”, Forbes, June 3, 2024


Brand & Franchising News

Irish fast food chain’s victory over McDonald’s to use Big Mac name – Galway-based Supermac’s hails ‘David v Goliath’ legal win after European court backs its fight to use the name on chicken products. “McDonald’s loses the EU trademark Big Mac in respect of poultry products,” judges ruled. “McDonald’s has not proved genuine use within a continuous period of five years in the European Union in connection with certain goods and services,” they said. Supermac’s chicken burger, which can now be sold as a Big Mac in Europe.”, The Times of London, June 5, 2024


China’s Luckin Coffee Is Back From the Brink and Beating Starbucks – Consumers are getting hooked on cheap caffeine hits and coconut lattes, helping the chain overcome a scandal. Once derided as a cheap imitation of the Seattle-based giant, it’s now being emulated by other Chinese chains and even Starbucks appears to have taken a page or two from its playbook. The company’s focus on cashless, takeout kiosk counters, originally designed to save costs, paid off during the Covid years as strict lockdown policies restricted in-person exchanges.”, Bloomberg, June 6, 2024


Jimmy John’s global expansion continues with Korea! Today Inspire announced an international franchise agreement with YeokJeon FnC — an experienced food and beverage operator and the number-one pub franchise in the Korean market. We are thrilled to work with such a strong operator to bring Jimmy John’s quality, convenience and delicious sandwiches to the Asian market for the first time. Many thanks to our VP of Asia, Paolo Nicolas, his team and our development team for making this happen. Korea is Jimmy John’s third international market. We kicked off the brand’s global journey earlier this year with the announcement of deals in Canada and Latin America.”, LinkedIn, June 5, 2024


Another popular fast-food chain considers Chapter 11 bankruptcy – The fast-food brand’s sister company, a pizza chain, is also fighting for its survival. BurgerFi International (BFI) runs two brands: Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings and its namesake burger chain. The company markets BurgerFi as being a superior product to traditional fast food (without directly calling out any competitors). Anthony’s currently has 60 locations; the company owns 59 and a franchisee runs one. BurgerFi has 102 locations, 75 franchised and 27 corporate-owned. The company said that it had filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission that acknowledge that there are situations where the company could not be able to survive.”, The Street, June 5, 2024


To receive our biweekly newsletter in your email every other Tuesday, click here – 

 https://insider.edwardsglobal.com

Our Mission, Information Sources & Who We Are

Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the world that impacts new trends, health, consumer spending, business investment, the franchise sector, economic development, and travel. We daily monitor 30+ countries, 40+ international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing business environment. And our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covering 25+ countries provide us with updates about what is actually happening in their specific countries.  

William “Bill” Edwards, Global Business Advisor Is Uniquely Qualified to Steer Sr. Executives Successfully Through the Complex Waters of Going Global.  With four decades of successful international business experience spanning virtually every corner of the world and many business sectors, Bill Edwards understands the global business landscape like no other.  He has been a County Master Franchisee in five countries in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; the Senior VP for a franchisor operating in 15 countries and a full-service consultant since 2001 taking 40+ franchisors global.

“To his many clients who are going global, Bill oversees overseas.” — Franchise Times magazine

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to take your business global successfully, click on the QR code or contact Bill Edwards at bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or +1 949 224 3896.  

www.edwardsglobal.com

And download our latest chart ranking 40+ countries as places to do business at this link:

Our latest GlobalVue™ 40 country ranking


EGS Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 109, Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CFE, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)

Comments About This 109th Issue:  This extended issue covers trend and happenings in Argentina, Australia, China, Europe, Germany, the GCC countries, India, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. Scroll down to find out how ‘Swiftonomics’ seems to have helped the Singapore economy. Who are the world’s most valuable soccer (football) teams? Should airlines stop meal service when the seatbelt sign is on? Emerging markets are pushing back at China’s subsidized exports. And for us world travelers, what are the most dangerous cities in the world?


Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CEO & Global Advisor, Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), Irvine, California, USA. Contact Bill with any questions, comments and contributions.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896



First, A Few Words of Wisdom From Others For These Times

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.” ― Leon C. Megginson

“All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.” ― Max McKeown

“The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.”, Tibetan Proverb


Highlights in issue #109:

  • Brand Global News Section: Burger King®, Carl’s Jr®, Dominos®, KFC®, McDonalds® and Wendy’s®

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Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

The Top 6 Economies by Share of Global GDP (1980-2024) – Over time, the distribution of global GDP among the world’s largest economies has shifted dynamically, reflecting changes in economic policies, technological advancements, and demographic trends. To see how this has played out in recent decades, we visualized the world’s top six economies by their share of global GDP from 1980 to 2024. All figures were sourced from the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (April 2024 edition) and are based on using current prices.”, Visual Capitalist, IMF, May 14, 2024


Google Is About to Change the Whole Internet — AgainThe company’s all-in investment in AI. Will search engines be replaced by AI chatbots? In May, the company offered some clarity: ‘In the next era of search, AI will do the work so you don’t have to,’ according to a video announcing that AI Overviews, Google’s new name for AI-generated answers, would soon be showing up at the top of users’ results pages. The popular notion that the AI boom represents a disruptive threat to the internet giants deserves more skepticism than it’s gotten so far — the needs of the tech industry past, present, and future are neatly and logically aligned.”, New Yorker, May 19, 2024


The world’s economic order is breaking down – Critics will miss globalisation when it is gone. The dysfunction at the WTO (World Trade Organization) is emblematic of a world where the institutions and rules intended to foster international trade and investment are falling into abeyance. Every day brings alarming new headlines. The European Union, although supposedly both more supportive of free trade and more determined to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions than other economic powers, is on the verge of imposing duties on Chinese electric vehicles. The proliferation of subsidies and sanctions is one of the most obvious signs of the unravelling of the “international rules-based order”, as policy wonks like to call it.”, The Economist, May 9, 2024


The World’s Most Valuable Soccer Teams 2024 – The average team is now worth $2.3 billion, a 5.1% increase from a year ago—despite headwinds in TV rights across Europe. When Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder and CEO of the Ineos chemical group, bought 27.7% of Manchester United in February for an enterprise value of $6.5 billion, it was the richest price ever paid for sports team in which the buyer also got operating rights. Real Madrid generated the most revenue ($873 million) of any team and has won the Champions League five of the past nine years.  Despite the speed bump in European broadcasting revenue, the average soccer team is now worth $2.3 billion, a 5.1% increase from a year ago.  Forbes, May 23, 2024

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Global Supply Chain, Energy, Commodities, Inflation, Taxes & Trade Issues

A New Trade War Offers No Easy Way Back for Old Global Order – Rules-based trade fades as policies cement protectionism. Once a free-market cheerleader, US borrows from China playbook. The world’s three dominant economies are entering a new, combative phase as the US increasingly uses trade weapons borrowed from China’s playbook. That’s threatening to deepen international fractures and to challenge decades of free-market orthodoxy — and it leaves Europe with big decisions to make. The $31 trillion arena of international commerce has withstood a series of shocks in recent years, including the US-China trade war. This time, the linchpin is the European Union — caught between preserving its self-styled role as defender of multilateral rules and fearing the loss of millions of jobs and tens of billions in investment while the US and China wield market-distorting subsidies and tariffs.”, Bloomberg, May 23, 2024

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Shipping rates spike as businesses expect more Red Sea attacks – Companies prepare to ship goods for festive season early as attacks by Yemen’s Houthis force ships to take longer route. The average cost of shipping a 40ft container between the Far East and northern Europe at short notice, the figure that is most sensitive to market prices, hit $4,343 last week, roughly three times higher than the same period last year, according to freight market tracker Xeneta.”, The Financial Times, May 25, 2024

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US East Coast Ports Are Spending Billions to Profit From Asia’s Shifting Exports– Savannah and Brunswick in Georgia are looking to win business away from Pacific Coast rivals. As more export production destined for the US migrates to South Asia from China, the geographic edge is tilting toward the East Coast, which boasts quicker deliveries through the Suez Canal and across the Atlantic from such countries as India and Sri Lanka. Savannah also stands to benefit from a host of domestic factors, including the US population shift to Sun Belt boom states.”, Bloomberg, May 14, 2024

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Global & Regional Travel

Singapore Airlines turbulence: stopping meal service may not reduce risk to passengers, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific union says – Paul Weatherilt, chairman of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association, told the Post on Saturday tightening cabin service rules could bring about undesirable results and the best way to prevent injuries during flights was to require passengers to keep their seat belts fastened at all times.

‘I’m not convinced that stopping the [meal] service will necessarily change anything, and I think it is possible that it could have a counterproductive effect,’ he said. Weatherilt said Singapore Airlines’ rule revisions could make cabin crew hesitant to put the seat belt sign on, while meal service might not be halted quickly enough as it took time to retrieve the food carts.”, The South China Morning Post, May 25, 2024

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Most Dangerous Cities in the World 2024 – You can yield a little less caution in some of the world’s safest countries, such as IcelandNew Zealand, and Portugal. With over 4,416 cities in the world, there are seemingly endless places to travel to and cultures to experience around the world. The world’s 50 most dangerous cities are located in 11 countries: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Africa, the United States, and Venezuela. Brazil has the most cities on the list with 17, followed by Mexico with 12. Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela are the only countries with cities in the top ten most dangerous cities. Mexico has five cities, Brazil has three, and Venezuela has two.”, World Population Review, May 2024

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Country & Regional Updates

South Africa

South African Assets Primed for Post-Election Rally, but Old Challenges Persist – Rally has room to run after poll, Bloomberg survey finds Most investors overweight or neutral on South Africa. There’s a widespread belief among investors that stocks, bonds and the rand will keep soaring after the May 29 election, especially as record-hitting commodity prices boost the exports that South Africa’s economy relies on. In a Bloomberg survey of 26 emerging-market investors, most were overweight or neutral on South Africa, and said they preferred the country over investing in Egypt or Nigeria, Africa’s two other powerhouses.”, Bloomberg, May 23, 2024

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Argentina

The State of Argentina’s ‘Transformation’ – Milei’s government has been more pragmatic than it said it would be. One of the public’s biggest complaints is the decline of purchasing power, which owes to inflation brought on by the government’s decision to lift market controls. Private employees fared significantly better than public employees, with respective decreases of 11.2 percent and 21.3 percent. More concerning is that in the past six months, the country’s minimum wage has lost 29 percent of its purchasing power, pushing more people into poverty. Argentina’s Pontifical Catholic University estimates that the poverty rate now stands at 57 percent. While better insulated from economic shock, even the country’s upper class has started to feel the pinch as inflation outpaces favorable exchange rates and a sharp decline in disposable income.”, Geopolitical Futures, May 24, 2024


Australia

Australian wine pours back into China as tariff-free shipments surge to over US$10 million in April – With import tariffs removed for the first time in three years, shipments of Australian wine to China surged in April, with analysts expecting producers to jump back into the lucrative market “quite quickly”. China imported US$10.4 million of wine from Australia in April, up from US$126,045 a year earlier, representing a roughly eightyfold increase, according to Chinese customs data. Imports by volume, meanwhile, increased more than sevenfold year on year to 462,518 litres (813,918 pints).”, The South China Morning Post, May 23, 2024

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China

Brazil, India and Mexico are taking on China’s exports – To avoid an economic shock, they are pursuing a strange mix of free trade and protectionism. ‘The biggest threat of Chinese overcapacity is to developing countries,’ says Jorge Guajardo, Mexico’s former ambassador to China. In his country, which is proud of its car industry, the market share of Chinese-made vehicles has grown from next to nothing in 2016 to a fifth. Emerging economies are thus introducing import restrictions on Chinese goods, while accelerating a push for free trade elsewhere. This emerging-market attempt to lower trade barriers with the West is happening at the same time as they are being raised with China. Officials see this as necessary to protect domestic manufacturers until China’s subsidy wave subsides.”, The Economist, May 24, 2024

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The United States used to have cachet in ChinaNot anymore. ‘Soft power’ is even more important during times of sharp words and military bluster, but the cultural appeal of American culture and ideas has waned in China. America, which is called “Meiguo” or “beautiful country” in Chinese, was the bastion of wealth and ease. Now, Chinese media and commentators mockingly refer to the United States not as “Meiguo” but as “Meidi” — “the beautiful imperialist.” And Chinese shoppers are more likely to be sipping a drink from Luckin, a Chinese coffee chain, than Starbucks or lining up all night to buy Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro than the latest Apple device. “, The Washington Post, May 25, 2024


Europe

Has Europe already reached its demographic tipping point? – The EU’s population is shrinking faster than expected, putting strain on government finances and the bloc’s long-term prospects.  The EU population rose in the year to January 2023, helped by an influx of displaced persons from Ukraine, after a temporary two-year dip that reflected the impact of the pandemic. Last year, Eurostat forecast that the population would peak at 453mn in 2026. But the 2023 numbers came in below expectations as EU births fell to levels Eurostat had not forecast for another two decades, suggesting the peak may come before 2026. What is becoming clear is that the EU’s long-predicted demographic inversion appears to be coming sooner than many experts predicted.”, The Financial Times, May 23, 2024


Europe’s New Power Map, From ASML to the Arctic – Places other than Paris, Brussels and Berlin are wielding economic influence. The power wielded by ASML (the Netherlands) from its campus in Veldhoven is one example of how Europe’s geographyis changing. French munitions factories and Italian shipyards are whirring as the war in Ukraine forces defense matters to front of mind. Chip factories are being built in cities that still bear the scars of World War II. Kalundborg, production hub for Ozempic maker Novo Nordisk A/S, is turning Denmark into a one-company country. Sweden is tapping raw-material deposits essential for the green transition; Finland is converting paper mills into supercomputers.”, Bloomberg, May 14, 2024


Germany

German economy expands slightly in first quarter of 2024 – The final estimate for Germany’s quarter-on-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) report for Q1 2024 came out on Friday morning. It revealed that GDP grew by 0.2%, according to the Federal Statistical Office. This was a surge from the previous quarter’s -0.5% and in line with analyst estimates. This increase was mainly due to a jump in gross fixed capital formation, which rose to 1.2% in the first quarter of the year, from -2.1% in Q4 2023, primarily driven by advances in construction investment.”, Euronews, May 24, 2024


Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries

Industries with huge potential: Saudi and the Gulf – As the world rapidly evolves, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman, are actively diversifying their economies and investing in innovative industries poised for growth. From harnessing renewable energy to pioneering artificial intelligence (AI) and architecting awe-inspiring structures, these nations are carving their paths toward a prosperous and sustainable future. Here are some of the industries that are poised to thrive in the future.”, Middle East Sunday Pages, May 19, 2024. Compliments of Corina Goetz


India

Global firms are tapping India’s workers like never before – They want their brains more than their brawn. Back in the 1990s global firms such as General Electric, a once-mighty conglomerate, began to rely on Indian workers to perform tedious tasks such as filling in forms and patching software for mainframe computers. More recently, technologies such as cloud computing and video conferencing have made it less cumbersome to tap India’s vast pool of brainy workers. Having learned how to supervise employees remotely through the covid-19 pandemic, plenty of bosses will have now pondered whether some roles could be done from farther afield.”, The Economist, May 23, 2024

Japan

How Japan Thinks about Energy Security – Energy security is a significant challenge for Japan. As an import-dependent country, Japan has sought to protect itself from fossil fuel supply disruptions and shocks by cultivating strong relationships with exporting countries and investing throughout the energy value chain. When the Biden administration “paused” approvals of new U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects, the strongest international reaction was not in Europe—the destination for most U.S. LNG cargoes since 2022—but in Japan. Japanese officials registered concerns about potential restrictions on future gas supply.”, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), May 22, 2024

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Singapore 

“Taylor Swift and Coldplay concerts may have saved Singapore’s economy from shrinking last quarter – ‘Swiftonomics’ could have helped drag Singapore’s economy across the finish line. The Southeast Asian country banked on several high-profile events—most notably concerts by superstar Taylor Swift—to jump-start tourism spending.  Some 4.36 million visitors arrived in Singapore in the first three months of the year, according to data from the Singapore Tourism Board. The average hotel occupancy rate for that period was 81.49%, compared with 77.8% for the same period in 2023. Half the audience for both the Coldplay and Taylor Swift concerts came from overseas, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

United Kingdom

The five key business issues the next government needs to address – Whether Labour or the Conservatives win the election, they will have momentous decisions to take. With Rishi Sunak having fired the starting gun for a snap general election for July 4, business is moving quickly to lobby the political parties on key reforms that boardrooms want from the next government. During the next six weeks of campaigning, leading business groups representing large parts of the economy will promote their own manifestos, having consulted with member companies, including some of the country’s biggest employers. The British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, UK Finance and Make UK are all due to publish blueprints.”, The Times of London, May 24, 2024

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United States

“ (U.S.) Consumer Confidence Dips In April – Consumer confidence was down in April. Consumers expressed concerns about the job market, nonessential spending, and their ability to make ends meet, according to the Numerator Consumer Sentiment Tracker that captures more than 6,000 responses a month and provides a comprehensive monthly view of consumer confidence, spending and saving considerations, and future financial outlook. The April Consumer Confidence Score was 56.9 (-0.4 vs. March), which is an average of how consumers feel about the job market, their household finances, and their spending comfort levels.”, Franchising.com, May 25, 2024

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“ (U.S.) Small Business Owners Feel Inflationary Pressures – New survey data from Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Voices finds that business owners across the country are reporting significant inflationary impacts on the costs of doing business. Compared to three months ago, 71% say inflationary pressures have increased on their businesses, and 49% say they’ve had to raise the prices on their goods or services over that period.”, Franchising.com, May 24, 2024

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Brand & Franchising News

Burger King-parent RBI completes Carrols acquisition – Company buys largest U.S. franchisee and plans $500M investment in reimaging 600 restaurants. Restaurant Brands International Inc. has completed its acquisition of Carrols Restaurant Group Inc., its largest Burger King franchisee in the United States, for about $1 billion and plans to invest an additional $500 million to reimage 600 Carrols restaurants, the company said Thursday. Toronto, Canada-based Restaurant Brands International, which offered $9.55 a share in the all-cash transaction that was announced in January, said the $500 million reimaging was part of its “Reclaim the Flame” plan, announced in fall 2022.”, Nation’s Restaurant News, May 16, 2024


Carl’s Jr. to Expand into the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland under a New Master License Agreement with Boparan Restaurant Group – Under this agreement, BRG will open, operate, and franchise restaurants throughout the territory as the exclusive Carl’s Jr. developer. This partnership further solidifies Carl’s Jr.’s European presence which includes nearly 100 restaurants across Spain, France, Denmark, Turkey, and Switzerland.”, PRNewswire, May 22, 2024


Wendy’s sold to global restaurant management firm Flynn – The New Zealand business of burger restaurant chain Wendy’s has been sold to US franchise operator Flynn Group, marking the company’s first change in ownership in more than three decades. The Lendich family, which has operated the franchise since 1988, put it up for sale in June 2022. The franchise includes 22 restaurants with 12 stores in Auckland, eight in other parts of the North Island, and two on the South Island.”, InsideRetail, May 21, 2024


Anti-Israel Boycotts Hurting McDonald’s, KFC in Asia, Mideast – McDonald’s saw impact in Middle East, Muslim countries Pakistani can maker to Coca Cola, Pepsi had 11% sales dip. The situation has inflamed tensons in the Middle East that has led to an outpouring of support for Palestinians. Many Muslims in the region changed their consumption habits since the war started, slashing demand for fast food from American retailers. More than 100 KFC outlets in Malaysia were forced to close temporarily. Malaysian operator QSR Brands (M) Holdings Bhd. appealed to its large Muslim consumer base that it has over 18,000 team members in the country, of which, approximately 85% were Muslims.”, Bloomberg, May 24, 2024


Jubilant FoodWorks Poised for Massive Expansion – Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd (JFL), the master franchisee of Domino’s Pizza in India and several other markets, with a market capitalization of INR 31,517 crore, announced plans on Wednesday to significantly expand its store network. The company aims to increase its Domino’s Pizza outlets from 2,793 to over 5,500 across six global markets in the medium term.  JFL operates in India, Turkey, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Last year, its subsidiary, Jubilant Foodworks (NS:JUBI) Netherlands BV (JFN), acquired DP Eurasia, the master franchisee of Domino’s in Turkey and Georgia, thus expanding JFL’s footprint beyond Asia.”, Investing, May 22, 2024


The Food Court Is Back – Attention, mall shoppers: Restaurants are taking up more retail space. It’s good news for fixtures like Cinnabon and bubble tea shops.  Floor space in malls as in-store shopping declines and consumers seek experiences rather than goods, says Emily Arft, an analyst at Green Street, a real estate research firm. Formats are changing: “A lot of landlords are thinking about making a more cohesive retail experience where you have dining throughout, not just in one dedicated center,” Arft says. Still, that’s been good for food court newcomers and stalwarts, including everyone’s favorite auntie.”, Bloomberg, May 17, 2024


To receive our biweekly newsletter in your email every other Tuesday, click here –  https://insider.edwardsglobal.com

Our Mission, Information Sources & Who We Are

Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the worldthat impacts new trends, health, consumer spending, business investment, the franchise sector, economic development, and travel. We daily monitor 30+ countries, 40+ international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing business environment. And our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covering 25+ countries provide us with updates about what is actually happening in their specific countries.

William “Bill” Edwards: Global Advisor Is Uniquely Qualified to Steer Sr. Executives Successfully Through the Complex Waters of Going Global.  With four decades of successful international business experience spanning virtually every corner of the world and many business sectors, Bill Edwards understands the global business landscape like no other.  He has been a County Master Franchisee in five countries in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; the Senior VP for a franchisor operating in 15 countries and a full-service consultant since 2001 taking 40+ franchisors global.

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to take your business global successfully, click on the QR code or contact Bill Edwards at bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or +1 949 224 3896. 

www.edwardsglobal.com

And download our latest chart ranking 40+ countries as places to do business at this link:

Our latest GlobalVue™ 40 country ranking


EGS Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 108, Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CFE, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)

Comments About This 108th Issue:  When AI capabilities will rival those of humans. Who walks, drives cars or rides buses around the world. An interesting look at rapidly changing women’s sports in the Middle East. The immense impact of vaccinations on children around the world. Renewables are now 30% of the world’s electricity. Positive news on the economies of Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. How America’s U.S. stocks have dominated global investing, as measured by market capitalization, for most of the past 125 years. And how life expectancies have changed over time around the world.

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CEO & Global Advisor, Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), Irvine, California, USA. Contact Bill with any questions, comments and contributions. Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896

======================================= The mission of this newsletter is to use trusted global and regional information sources plus our network of 20+ in-country Associates to update our global readers on key global and local trends that can impact the success of their businesses at home and abroad. We subscribe to about 40 international information sources to keep our readers up to date on the world’s business.  Some of the information sources that we provide links to require a paid subscription for our readers to access.

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CEO & Global Advisor, Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), Irvine, California, USA. Contact Bill with any questions, comments and contributions.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896


First, A Few Words of Wisdom From Others For These Times

“I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless, and it isn’t of much value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.” Boris Pasternak

The best way to predict the future is to create it – Peter Drucker

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you,”, Jim Rohn


Highlights in issue #108:

  • Brand Global News Section: Luckin Coffee®, McDonalds®, Nothing Bundt Cakes®, Pret A Manger®, Planet Fitness®, Yum China

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Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

Life Expectancy by Region (1950-2050F)At the beginning of the 19th century, no country had a life expectancy exceeding 40 years, with much of the global population enduring extreme poverty, limited access to medical care, and a lack of sanitation.

By 1950, newborns in Europe, North America, Oceania, Japan, and parts of South America were seeing life expectancies surpassing 60 years, while in other regions, newborns could only anticipate a lifespan of around 30 years. For instance, individuals in Norway had a life expectancy of 72 years, while in Mali, it was merely 26 years. On average, Africa had a life expectancy of only 38 years. Since then, life expectancies have substantially grown worldwide. Notably, between 1950 and 2000, significant progress was observed in Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.”, Visual Capitalist and the United Nations, May 6, 2024


Japanese angst as India set to become 4th largest economyOnce an economic powerhouse that was the envy of much of the world, there is deep concern in Tokyo that the economies of China and Germany have already surpassed Japan’s — and that India’s will do so next year. The announcement that in 2025 India will overtake Japan in nominal gross domestic product in dollar terms has shocked Tokyo, which had until 2010 been the undisputed second-largest economy in the world but is now on the brink of slipping to fifth place. In estimates released in late April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicated that India’s nominal GDP will reach $4.34 trillion (€4.03 trillion) in 2025, surpassing Japan’s $4.31 trillion.”, Deutsche Welle, May 10, 2024

Vaccines have saved 150 million children over the last 50 years – Every ten seconds, one child is saved by a vaccine against a fatal disease. Vaccination against measles has had the biggest impact, saving 94 million lives over the last 50 years — more than 60% of the total. This has been a truly global effort, with more than 5 million children saved in every region, including over 50 million in Africa and 38 million in Southeast Asia. Infant mortality rates have plummeted over the last 50 years. Globally, they’ve fallen by over two-thirds, from around 10% in 1974 to less than 3% today.”, Our World In Data, May 6, 2024



What’s the future of AI? AI is here to stay. To outcompete in the future, organizations and individuals alike need to get familiar fast. We’re in the midst of a revolution. Just as steam power, mechanized engines, and coal supply chains transformed the world in the 18th century, AI technology is currently changing the face of work, our economies, and society as we know it. We don’t know exactly what the future will look like. But we do know that these seven technologies will play a big role.” McKinsey & Co., April 30, 2024


Women’s Sports in the Middle EastFor centuries, women in the Middle East have faced significant cultural and societal barriers when it comes to participating in sports. However, times are changing, and a growing movement of passionate female athletes, advocates, and organisations are paving the way for greater inclusion and opportunities in the world of sports across the region. In this post we will have a look at how things have changed and how things are improving. With the Olympics around the corner and so many great sports initiatives in the Gulf region, let’s have a look at some of the Women Athletes making waves in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region….”, Middle East Sunday Pages, May 12, 2024. Article by Corina Goetz, Middle East Sunday Pages


Global Supply Chain, Energy, Commodities, Inflation, Taxes & Trade Issues

Renewable energy passes 30% of world’s electricity supply – Report says humans may be on brink of cutting fossil fuel generation, even as demand for electricity rises. Solar was the main supplier of electricity growth, according to Ember, adding more than twice as much new electricity generation as coal in 2023. Solar was the main supplier of electricity growth, according to Ember, adding more than twice as much new electricity generation as coal in 2023. The first comprehensive review of global electricity data covers 80 countries, which represent 92% of the world’s electricity demand, as well as historic data for 215 countries. The surge in clean electricity is expected to power a 2% decrease in global fossil fuel generation in the year ahead, according to Ember.”, The Guardian, May 7, 2024

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Global & Regional Travel

How People Get Around in America, Europe, Asia – This chart highlights the popularity of different transportation types in the Americas, Europe, and Asia, calculated by modal share.  Data for this article and visualization is sourced from ‘The ABC of Mobility’, a research paper by Rafael Prieto-Curiel (Complexity Science Hub) and Juan P. Ospina (EAFIT University), accessed through ScienceDirect. The authors gathered their modal share data through travel surveys, which focused on the primary mode of transportation a person employs for each weekday trip. Information from 800 cities across 61 countries was collected for this study.”, Visual Capitalist, May 8, 2024

Country & Regional Updates

China

The Debate Is Heating Up Over China’s Factory OutputChina’s exports rose more than expected in a boost for the economy. A growing number of countries are complaining that China produces too much cheap stuff in its powerhouse factories, and should do something about it soon. They’d better not hold their breath……..China’s economic planning agency had released a detailed rebuttal of claims about “overcapacity,” arguing that Chinese electric cars and solar panels are cheap because their producers are efficient, not because they’re subsidized.”, Bloomberg, May 9, 2024

EU Firms’ Appetite for China Investment Sinks to Record LowCompanies invest in Asean as China’s appeal fades: survey Overcapacity observed across industries, deflating prices. China is losing its luster as a top country to invest in as firms seek to avoid geopolitical risks and turn to Southeast Asia and Europe, according to a survey by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.Only 13% of firms surveyed earlier this year saw the country as a top destination for investments, the lowest level since records began in 2010 and down from 27% in 2021. Companies are now shifting investments to mitigate the impact of “decoupling” between China and other countries as well as to find opportunities elsewhere….”, European Union Chamber of Commerce, may 8, 2024

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Egypt

Fitch revises Egypt’s outlook to positive on reduced external financing risks – In March, the International Monetary Fund approved an expanded financial support of $8 billion for the North African country. The IMF’s loan programme with Egypt should help the country gradually reduce its debt burden, an IMF official said last month. In February, the country also secured a $35 billion real estate investment from the United Arab Emirates to develop its Mediterranean coast stretch. Foreign investors have poured billions of dollars into Egyptian treasury bills since the country announced the IMF loan programme.”, Reuters, May 3, 2024

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Indonesia

Indonesia Economy Expands Steadily at Start of Year, But Challenges PersistSoutheast Asia’s largest economy grew 5.11% on the year in the first quarter. Household consumption and investment, along with government spending, were among the main drivers of growth. Manufacturing—the sector that makes up the biggest share of GDP—grew 4.1% on the year in the first quarter, while the agricultural industry, which accounts for about 12% of GDP, contracted by 3.5%.”, The Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2024

Indonesia taps influencers to convince people to move to its new, under-construction capital – Social media stars are downplaying fears of deforestation and boredom in Nusantara. Four years after Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that he would move the nation’s capital from the main island of Java to Borneo, he led a tour of dozens of influencers through Nusantara, the new capital under construction. The influencers, wearing hard hats, stood in front of a giant glass-and-chrome building in the shape of a bird — the mythological garuda or golden eagle — which will be the new presidential palace. On TikTok, Jerhemy Owen told his 3 million followers: “Nusantara will be the smartest and most eco-friendly city in the world! It will be 65% forest and 25% urban area.”, Rest Of World, April 19, 2024

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South Korea

South Korea prepares support package worth over $7 billion for chip industrySouth Korea is readying plans for a support package for chip investments and research worth more than 10 trillion won ($7.30 billion), the finance minister said on Sunday, after setting its sights on winning a “war” in the semiconductor industry. Finance Minister Choi Sang-mok said the government would soon announce details of the package, which targets chip materials, equipment makers, and fabless companies throughout the semiconductor supply chain. The program could include offers of policy loans and the setting-up of a new fund financed by state and private financial institutions, Choi told executives of domestic chip equipment makers at a meeting, the finance ministry said in a statement. South Korea is also building a mega chip cluster in Yongin, south of its capital, Seoul, which it touts as the world’s largest such high-tech complex.”, Reuters, May 11, 2024

Turkey

S&P upgrades Turkey’s credit outlook on rebalanced economic strategy – Ankara is expected to take measures to streamline fiscal, monetary and incomes policies in 2024. The country’s long-term rating was raised one notch up to “B+” from “B”, with a positive outlook, the New York-based ratings agency said on Friday. A “B+” rating, which is “highly speculative”, is four levels below investment grade, according to S&P’s ratings scale. Non-investment grade makes it more difficult for a country to access capital markets and raise funding that it needs when it wants to borrow. S&P expects Ankara will take measures to streamline fiscal, monetary and incomes policies, which would include cuts to current non-wage expenditures in 2024. A return to a more orthodox policy has led S&P to ‘believe the co-ordination between monetary, fiscal, and incomes policy is set to improve, amid external rebalancing.’ ”,  The National News, May 4, 2024

United Kingdom

UK economy ‘going gangbusters’ after coming out of recession with fastest growth in two years, say expertsWe’re seeing the fastest growth for two years – the joint highest in the G7. We’ve got inflation down from over 11% to just over 3%. Mortgage rates are down from their peak. Food prices are coming down. And we’ve seen wages growing in real terms for nine months in a row. The numbers on business investment don’t lie either.  This follows major investments from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Nissan and Tata Group. It’s a huge vote of confidence in the UK.”, The Sun, May 10, 2024

Heineken to refresh hundreds of pubs with £39m (US$49m) upgradeStar Pubs reopenings and revamps expected to create more than 1,000 jobs, with new lighting and sound systems introduced to broaden their appeal. Ninety-four pubs are set for makeovers costing an average of £200,000 (US$250,000). The revamps, which come as pubgoers remain eager to go out despite the cost of living crisis, enable pubs to cater for numerous occasions and maximise events, Heineken said.  Updates planned include overhauling cellars with state-of-the-art dispense equipment and launching energy-efficiency measures such as heating controls, insulation and low-energy lighting. Heineken says these changes will cost about £12,500 (US$16,000) per pub but reduce energy use by 15 per cent.”, The Times of London, May 6, 2024

United States

“An American Century (and more) for Stocks – EVERY YEAR, CHINA GETS CLOSER to catching the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy. When it comes to their stock markets, however, there’s no contest. Since 1992, China’s GDP has grown 6.5 times as fast as America’s—but U.S. stock returns have been 3.5 times as high. Indeed, U.S. stocks have dominated global investing, as measured by market capitalization, for most of the past 125 years. For that, you can partly thank New Deal–era regulations that tamed the Wild West of U.S. markets, making them attractive to risk-averse investors worldwide. And compared with China, where state-owned companies drive the economy, the U.S. gets more growth from publicly traded companies. But supremacy can be fleeting. Just ask Japan, whose markets soared in the late 1980s, only to nose-dive amid asset bubbles and massive overborrowing. In other words: Don’t get too cocky, U.S. stock bulls.”, Fortune and UBS, May 12, 2024

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There’s Not Enough Power for America’s High-Tech Ambitions – (The state of)Georgia is a magnet for data centers and other cutting-edge industries, but vast electricity demands are clashing with the newcomers’ green-energy goals. Georgia’s main utility, Georgia Power, has boosted its demand projections sixteen-fold and is pushing ahead on a hotly contested plan to burn more natural gas. Critics warn it will yield higher bills and unnecessary carbon emissions for decades. Some companies are scrambling to secure bespoke renewable-energy deals to power their development. One major source of disruption is data centers. The facilities are ballooning in size as people spend more of their waking hours online and companies digitize everything from factory processes to fast-food drive-throughs.”, The Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2024

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Brand & Franchising News

McDonald’s is betting on its mobile business with new franchisee digital marketing fund – McDonald’s will require its U.S. operators to pay into a new digital marketing fund starting next year, according to a memo viewed by CNBC. The switch is meant to modernize the company’s marketing strategy and widen its competitive advantage as it doubles down on mobile ordering and its digital business. U.S. franchisees will start paying into a digital marketing fund next year as the fast-food giant looks to expand its booming digital business, according to a memo viewed by CNBC on Thursday. The change is meant to modernize the company’s marketing strategy and widen its competitive advantage, according to the memo, which was written by U.S. Customer Experience Officer Tariq Hassan and Chief Information Officer Whitney McGinnis.”, CNBC, May 9, 2024

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Planet Fitness is raising prices even as it warns customers are growing cost-consciousPlanet Fitness said it’s hiking its base-level membership prices for new customers for the first time since 1998, even as the gym operator warns that customers are growing increasingly cost-conscious.Classic card membership will be priced at $15 per month for new members starting this summer. Current members will continue to pay $10 per month “for the duration of their membership,” Planet Fitness said Thursday alongside its quarterly earnings report. The change comes after months of price testing in several markets countrywide.”, CNBC, May 90, 2024

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“Luckin Coffee s revenue surged by 40 percent in the first quarter but the ongoing price war is eating away at profits – The price war that has lasted for nearly a year has an increasingly obvious impact on coffee companies. According to the announcement, in the first quarter of 2024, Luckin Coffee opened 2,342 stores, including 2 Singapore stores, bringing the total number of Luckin Coffee stores to 18,590, including 12,199 self-operated stores and 6,391 jointly operated stores……. According to the announcement, in the first quarter of 2024, Luckin Coffee opened 2,342 stores, including 2 Singapore stores, bringing the total number of Luckin Coffee stores to 18,590, including 12,199 self-operated stores and 6,391 jointly operated stores.”, Yical News, May 2, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto

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Edinburgh and Dundee set for six new Pret a Manger outlets as Scottish franchisee expands – The new store openings are expected to create at least 150 jobs. Two Scottish cities are set for three new Pret a Manger sandwich and snack outlets apiece after a franchise funding deal was agreed. Glasgow-based Joup Group has received a seven-figure financing package from HSBC UK to acquire three existing stores and open the six new ones – three in Edinburgh and three in Dundee. Joup Group already owns six Domino’s pizza franchises across Dundee and Angus.”, The Scotsman, May 10, 2024

Cake Company Seeks $240 Million Selling Franchise-Backed BondsNothing Bundt Cakes has added nearly 200 stores since 2021 Whole business securitizations already outpaced 2023’s totals. The Texas-based cake maker is borrowing in the whole-business asset-backed securities market for the third time after its initial foray in 2021, when it sold $355 million in bonds. This time, proceeds from the bond sale led by Barclays Plc will be used to refinance all of the company’s 2023-1 Class A notes and possibly to fund a payout to shareholders, according to a person familiar with the matter.”, Bloomberg, May 10, 2024

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Yum China had a good start in the first quarter it has more than 15 000 stores and capital expenditures for mini stores in small towns are as low as 500 000 yuan (US$69,000). This quarter, Yum China added a net of 378 stores , passing the 15,000-store milestone . The total number of stores reached 15,022, including 10,603 KFC stores and 3,425 Pizza Hut stores. It is expected that by 2026, the total number of stores will reach 15,020,000 homes (in China).”, Caijing, April 30, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto

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Our Mission, Information Sources & Who We Are

Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the worldthat impacts new trends, health, consumer spending, business investment, the franchise sector, economic development, and travel. We daily monitor 30+ countries, 40+ international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing business environment. And our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covering 25+ countries provide us with updates about what is actually happening in their specific countries. 

William “Bill” Edwards: Global Advisor Is Uniquely Qualified to Steer Sr. Executives Successfully Through the Complex Waters of Going Global.  With four decades of successful international business experience spanning virtually every corner of the world and many business sectors, Bill Edwards understands the global business landscape like no other.  He has been a County Master Franchisee in five countries in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; the Senior VP for a franchisor operating in 15 countries and a full-service consultant since 2001 taking 40+ franchisors global.

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to take your business global successfully, click on the QR code or contact Bill Edwards at bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or +1 949 224 3896. 

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EGS Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 107, Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CFE, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)

Comments About This 107th Issue:  AI tools, global patents and developments around the world. Political stability in Italy. Global coal production continues to rise. International business travel is definitely back.  And business news from Argentina, Canada, China, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the USA.

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CEO & Global Advisor, Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), Irvine, California, USA. Contact Bill with any questions, comments and contributions.

Bedwards@edwardsglobal.com, +1 949 375 1896



First, A Few Words of Wisdom From Others For These Times

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”, Stephen Hawking and Daniel J. Boorstin

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”, Winston Churchill. Compliments of Neil Sahota

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis


Highlights in issue #107:

  • Brand Global News Section: Red Lobster®, Snap Fitness® and Tropical Smoothie®

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Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

“Vistage U.S. Small Business Index – Each month, we share the insights of small businesses with the understanding that the sentiment captured in the WSJ/Vistage Small Business CEO Confidence Index predicts economic changes. This month, we see a slight decline in the overall Index, but the trend remains above last year.”, Vistage, April 24, 2024


I Tried These AI-Based Productivity Tools. Here’s What Happened – Hoping to make life easier, I tested six AI-powered tools meant to help me write better and work smarter. Every writer I know is talking about AI tools and whether they’re ethical to use. But what’s just as interesting to me is why we’re so enamored with them even if they produce outrageous or below-average results. Why do we chase the shiny new thing even if it’s not better, faster, or cheaper? This year my LinkedIn feed has been full of posts touting the best new AI tools for doing absolutely everything, and I’ve already fallen for too many new thing even if it’s not better, faster, or cheaper?”, Wired magazine, April 2024


Where Women Are Most Likely To Be Your Boss – The latest data from 2022 and 2023 shows that in Burkina Faso and Nigeria, between 67% and 70% of all managers are women. Jamaica and Botswana are the only other countries with available data listing more female than male managers, at around 60% and 52%, respectively. More countries with a high share of women in managerial positions are the Philippines and Caribbean island nation Saint Lucia as well as Jordan and Zambia. The share of female managers is also high in Eastern Europe at almost 42% as of 2022, North America at around 40%, Southeast Asia at around 39% and Northern Europe at approximately 38%. The MENA region had the lowest share of managers who are women at just over 15%. Yet, Jordan is featured among the countries with the most female managers, again due to female-centric fields.”, Forbes, April 23, 2024


AI Patents By Country – This infographic shows the number of AI-related patents granted each year from 2010 to 2022 (latest data available). These figures come from the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), accessed via Stanford University’s 2024 AI Index Report. From this data, we can see that China first overtook the U.S. in 2013. Since then, the country has seen enormous growth in the number of AI patents granted each year. In 2022, China was granted more patents than every other country combined.  While this suggests that the country is very active in researching the field of artificial intelligence, it doesn’t necessarily mean that China is the farthest in terms of capability.”, Visual Capitalist, April 24, 2024


How People Are Really Using GenAIThere are many use cases for generative AI, spanning a vast number of areas of domestic and work life. Looking through thousands of comments on sites such as Reddit and Quora, the author’s team found that the use of this technology is as wide-ranging as the problems we encounter in our lives. The 100 categories they identified can be divided into six top-level themes, which give an immediate sense of what generative AI is being used for: Technical Assistance & Troubleshooting (23%), Content Creation & Editing (22%), Personal & Professional Support (17%), Learning & Education (15%), Creativity & Recreation (13%), Research, Analysis & Decision Making (10%).” Harvard Business Review, March 19, 2024

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Global Supply Chain, Energy, Commodities, Inflation, Taxes & Trade Issues

Global operating coal power capacity increased 2% in 2023 and 11% since 2015. 2,130 gigawatts (GW) operating coal power capacity. An increase of 217 GW coal power capacity since 2015. And 578 GW new coal power capacity currently under development.”, Global Energy Monitor, January 2024


Asia Has a Strong Dollar Problem Stretching Far Beyond Japan – Strong dollar means Asian central banks likely to delay easing Swaps suggest dovish bets for Korea, Malaysia scaled back. Investors are looking for the next policy domino to fall in Asia amid an escalating campaign against a resurgent dollar, after Indonesia used a surprise interest rate hike to defend the rupiah. The currencies of Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and India are all trading within sight of multi-year lows, raising the odds for local authorities to take firmer action to stem the slide. Won and ringgit swaps, for example, are already pricing in a less dovish stance by the two local central banks.”, Bloomberg, April 24, 2024


Suez trade plunges after war forces ships to reroute – Containers’ trip round Cape of Good Hope adds 20 days to journey. A substantial share of containers pass through the Red Sea, carrying everything from commodities to consumer goods. An escalation in tensions in the region prompted carriers to reroute their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope. The ONS said there had been an annual 57 per cent increase in the number of ships passing through the alternative and longer trade route……the average price of a container has leapt to $2,719 in April from $1,390 in early October, although that is down from a recent peak of nearly $4,000 in January and nowhere near the levels hit in the aftermath of the pandemic.”, The Times of London, April 25

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Global & Regional Travel

Hilton Sees Full Corporate Travel Rebound in Hotel Stays in 2024 Hilton has ridden high on a surging wave of vacationers. But executives at the hotel giant now see the return of corporate trips and conferences as powering the next phase of its growth. Executives predicted Wednesday that occupancy by corporate road warriors and conference-goers would fully recover to pre-pandemic levels soon. ‘By the end of the year from a demand point of view, we think there’s an awfully good chance that BT [business travel] will get there, too,’ said Christopher Nassetta, president and CEO. ‘Just given continued growth in the big corporates and very resilient SMB [small-and-medium-sized] businesses.’”, Skift, April 24, 2024


Welcome Back, Road Warriors: Business Travel ReturnsAirlines, hotels say work trips are rebounding to near prepandemic levels—‘they’re hungry to meet in person’. Videoconferencing hasn’t made in-person meetings obsolete. Scattered workforces have in some cases resulted in more trips, not fewer. Companies are sending employees back on the road again, driving business travel closer to prepandemic levels. The banks, tech companies and consultants who are among the travel industry’s most lucrative customers are hitting the road again.  Airlines reported big increases in revenues from corporate accounts in the first quarter, with Delta and United both reporting a 14% bump from a year ago.”, The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2024


India’s Hotel Boom: Latest Investments from Marriott, Hilton and Other ChainsThe world’s biggest hotel chains are doubling down on India, betting that the country’s rising affluence will fuel a surge in travel demand for years to come. In the past six weeks, all the global hotel groups — including Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide — have unveiled ambitious expansion plans in India. They see a golden opportunity to establish a bigger foothold on the subcontinent in what may become the world’s third-largest economy as soon as 2027.”, Skift, April 27, 2024

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Country & Regional Updates

Africa

For Multinationals, Africa’s Allure Is Fading – After decades of optimism about the region, global giants such as Bayer, Nestlé and Unilever are cutting back. Drawn by rapid growth, youthful populations and increasing wealth, legions of top multinationals rushed into Africa in recent decades. But lately, the difficulties of doing business there—cratering currencies, overweening bureaucracies, unreliable power and congested ports—have dimmed the allure. ‘It doesn’t justify the effort,’ says Kuseni Dlamini, a former chairman of Walmart Inc.’s African unit who now heads the American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa.”, Bloomberg, April 16, 2024


Argentina

Argentina President Announces First Quarterly Fiscal Surplus in 16 YearsArgentina reached a fiscal surplus of 0.2% of gross domestic product due to severe spending cuts and the halting of public works, marking the country’s first quarterly fiscal surplus since 2008. Since taking office in December 2023, Milei’s government has focused on spending cuts and freezes to reduce the country’s very high inflation rates. While the plan is working, inflation is falling at the cost of a severe reduction in Argentines’ purchasing power, leading to a contraction in economic activity.”, Stratfor Worldview, April 23, 2024


Canada

Canada’s per capita output drops 7% below trend – To return to trend over the next decade, real gross domestic product per capita would need to grow at an average annual rate of 1.7 per cent – similar to the robust expansion in the United States in recent years.  Real GDP per capita has fallen to levels seen in 2017. For decades, Canada has struggled with lacklustre capital investment. A Statscan report published in February noted that investment per worker in 2021 was 20 per cent lower than in 2006.”, The Globe and Mail, April 24, 2024


China

China’s consumers seek security in ‘the only safe asset’ as gold purchases remain strong – Consumers in China bought 308.9 tonnes (10.9 million ounces) of gold in the first quarter, representing a 5.9 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2023, according to data released by the China Gold Association on Friday. ‘Gold represents the only safe asset for [Chinese consumers] to protect their wealth against domestic inflation, asset price declines as well as against geopolitical risks,’ said Chen Zhiwu, the chair professor of finance at the University of Hong Kong. ‘I expect Chinese household demand for gold to rise more in the future. And the Chinese central bank will also continue to purchase more gold to prepare for more geopolitical turmoil ahead.’”,  The South China Morning Post, April 29, 2024


Why China Keeps Making More Cars Than It NeedsChina has the capacity to produce roughly two times as many cars as it sells at home each year. Despite overcapacity, government officials keep supporting automakers. China has a long history of auto overcapacity, with more than 100 domestic brands churning out more vehicles than the country’s drivers buy each year. China currently has the capacity to produce some 40 million vehicles a year, though it sells only around 22 million cars domestically, according to capacity data from Shanghai-based strategy firm Automobility and sales figures from the China Passenger Car Association.”, The Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2024


Italy

Political stability gives Italy a chance to step into the spotlight Historically, Italy’s political scene has been highly mercurial. But is it possible that politics in Rome is, dare it be said, boring now? Not exactly. Still, today’s political dynamics in Italy are not what international observers, or even Italians, may be used to. True, the country’s economic prospects remain weak, but Italy is living through a period of relative political stability under the government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. This stability makes Italy well placed to push forward its foreign policy priorities and leadership.”, The Atlantic Council, April 24, 2024


Mexico

Why tech firms are investing in MexicoAs the US seeks to decrease its dependence on China, investments in Mexico are making the country a hot destination for AI hardware. Amidst an ongoing chip war between the US and China, investments in Mexico are making the country a hot destination for hardware manufacturing in the AI space. At the request of AI companies in the US, Taiwan-based companies are ramping up production efforts in Mexico….A 2020 free-trade agreement between the US, Mexico, and Canada has brought in billions from manufacturing companies “aiming to move operations from China to Mexico.”, IT Brew, April 24, 2024


Turkey

Turkey’s ‘Orthodox’ Pivot Makes Lira a Favorite for HSBC – Turkey’s return to a more conventional approach to monetary policy is boosting investor confidence, setting the stage for capital inflows and underpinning HSBC Holdings Plc’s bullish stance on the nation’s assets. Raising the benchmark interest rate and “normalizing” monetary policy have been at the center of a policy overhaul. Officials have previously said they see Turkish headline inflation peaking at around 75% in the coming months.”, Bloomberg, April 24, 2024


United Kingdom

Canary Wharf dangles £150m to convince Morgan Stanley to stay put – After exits of high-profile companies, owner of financial district agreed to pay towards refurbishment costs to keep US bank as a tenant.  In return, the US bank has removed a break clause, in effect committing to its European headquarters until 2038; its lease had originally been due to expire in 2028.  Canary Wharf has become a poster child for the turmoil in the office market, which has been hit hard by rises in interest rates and fears over the impact of flexible working. The decisions of both HSBC and law firm Clifford Chance to ditch their offices at Canary Wharf for buildings in the City have handed more negotiating power to the estate’s remaining tenants.”, The Times of London, April 27, 2024


UK Recovery Gains Pace as PMI Beats ForecastPMI composite gauge rises to 11-month high of 54 in April Pound rises as traders reduce wagers on scope for rate cuts. The UK economy’s recovery from recession unexpectedly gathered pace at the start of the second quarter as private-sector firms reported the strongest growth in almost a year.

S&P Global’s purchasing managers’ index rose to a stronger-than-expected 54 in April, an 11-month high and a jump from 52.8 the previous month. The pound rose. Firms responded by boosting hiring by the most for nine months. They also reported the strongest cost pressures in 11 months, particularly from staff wages after a near 10% in the minimum wage took effect in April.”, Bloomberg, April 23, 2024


United States

The US is one of the least trade-oriented countries in the world – despite laying the groundwork for today’s globalized system – In 2022, the U.S. trade-to-GDP ratio was 27%, according to the World Bank. That means the total value of U.S. imports and exports of goods and services combined equaled 27% of the country’s GDP. That’s far below the global average of 63%.  In fact, of the 193 countries examined by the World Bank, only two were less involved in international trade than the U.S. Those were Nigeria, at 26%, and Sudan at 3%. Most world economic powers scored considerably higher, with Germany at 100%, France at 73%, the U.K. at 70%, India at 49%, and China at 38%.”,  The Conversation, April 25, 2024


US Goes From Soft Landing Back to Sticky InflationWhile the economy is still humming along by most metrics, gross domestic product slowed in the first quarter and the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of underlying inflation—the core personal consumption expenditures price index—rose in March (though in line with expectations). The Fed’s expected delay in cutting rates is rippling across world economies and markets—from equities to bonds and forex.”, Bloomberg,  April 27, 2024

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Brand & Franchising News

Blackstone to buy Tropical Smoothie Cafe in $2B dealLevine Leichtman agrees to sell Atlanta-based 1,400-unit fast-casual brand. Blackstone said the deal for Atlanta-based fast-casual Tropical Smoothie Café LLC would be ‘the first transaction from Blackstone’s most recent vintage of its flagship private-equity vehicle’. Tropical Smoothie Cafe was founded in Destin, Fla., in 1997, and has grown to more than 1,400 locations in 44 states. It added 175 new restaurants in 2023, with 70% of those from existing franchisees, Blackstone said.”, Nation’s Restaurant News, April 24, 2024


Fair deal for franchisees as Government announces visa changesA change to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme announced today will mean the special franchisee accreditation category will be disestablished. Franchisees will be able to apply to bring in workers from overseas through the standard, high-volume, or triangular employment accreditation. The change, effective immediately, means that franchisees will no longer pay more for accreditation under the AEWV scheme. The previous scheme, introduced in July 2022, meant that franchisees had to pay up to five times the cost to employ the same employees as independently-owned businesses.”, Franchise New Zealand, April 7, 2024


The bounceback is always stronger than the setbackRecent data at Snap Fitness 24/7 show that membership numbers are up across the globe. Over the past two years we’ve seen membership numbers rise by an average of 22% across our global footprint of Snap Fitness locations. It seems the entire industry is experiencing a boom. A new report from Deloitte and EuropeActive has revealed that revenue and membership numbers topped pre-pandemic numbers for European operators in 2023. The numbers speak for themselves, with fitness memberships up to almost 68 million in 2023 compared to 62.9 million in 2022, and operators experiencing a 14% rise in revenue as a result.”, LinkedIn post, April 29, 2024


Red Lobster seeks a buyer as it looks to avoid bankruptcy filing – The company has considered filing for bankruptcy to help it restructure its debt and get out of a number of costly and lengthy leases, but it’s also sought a buyer in recent months, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.  For the past decade amidst ownership changes, Red Lobster has taken on debt and entered into a number of long-term leases across its 700-plus locations, which have weighed on its balance sheet.”, CNBC, April 25, 2024


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Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the worldthat impacts new trends, health, consumer spending, business investment, the franchise sector, economic development, and travel. We daily monitor 30+ countries, 40+ international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing business environment. And our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covering 25+ countries provide us with updates about what is actually happening in their specific countries. 

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