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How to Find the Best Dropship Products to Sell on Shopify Store

Drop shipping as a business model can be a very profitable endeavor once you can identify a suitable niche. Drop shipping has a lot of pros and cons attached to it. The good sides of drop shipping are that you can set up your business with very little overhead costs. You can perform a thorough dropship clothing and experiment with your business strategies to identify what’s best for your business. Overall, this discount clothing websites and its  business model offers convenience over anything else. With that being said, one of the major downsides of drop shipping as a business is that you will have very little control over the entire process. Now that you have gained an overview of drop shipping, below you will find a couple of tips to find products to sell on Shopify store and the items that you can sell like hotcakes on the site.

Drop shipping is unlike any kind of conventional business model where you need to keep an inventory of your products in order to sell them. Just test out the market by selling products without keeping inventory and easily change your product catalog if you feel like the current model is not giving the desired results for you.

A quick fix for your wholesale dresses solution might be to try out the most popular products on Shopify, but keep in mind that if you do so, you might face stiff competition and you might not get enough sales from your drop shipping business. That is why a smarter decision will be to select a profitable niche that is not popular, thus you will face less competition. Employing this strategy might prove to be your cash cow, and there are plenty of great products on Shopify that is not much popular but offer great value to customers.

After you have figured out your niche, it is important to price your products from wholesale suppliers accurately so that your products can easily attract consumers. The ideal profit margin is around 30%, and once you figure out a killer niche and put together an affordable price tag along with your products, your drop shipping business will be ready to take off!

A great thing about Shopify is that they offer Oberlo as a drop shipping agent for free, which is a very trusted site among its users. Always choose a trusted drop shipping partner to ship your products as that will take out the uncertainty from your business and let you focus solely on your products.

Step 1: Starting the 14-day Free Trial on Shopify

The first step in the dropshipping business is to start the free 14-day trial on the Shopify store become drop shipping wholesalers. Once you are set up on the site, you are ready to start your business!

Step 2: Installing the Oberlo App on the Shopify Store

As Oberlo is fully owned by Shopify, it is completely integrated inside the store. Once you enter the Oberlo page, you can search for products in the ‘Search for Products’ Tab.

Now you can search for potential products to start your dropshipping business inside Oberlo.

Step 3: Selecting Products to Sell in the Shopify Store

You can search for the ‘Search for products’ tab by using specific keywords such as ‘horse’ or ‘bracelet’ to look for products to sell on your store.

Step 4: Importing Products from Oberlo into the Shopify Drop Ship Store

Once you zero down on your products, you can import the product list into your drop ship store on Shopify.

It usually takes 2-3 weeks for the imported items to arrive at your inventory warehouse. You also have the option to edit product titles and descriptions on your dropship site.

Step 5: Categorizing the Oberlo Products

You now need to categorize your products into relevant lists in order to make it easier for your customers to navigate through your dropship site.

Step 6: Finish the Setup Process of the Drop Ship Site

Now you need to set up a theme for your Shopify site.

There are a lot of free themes on the Shopify site to choose from.

You also need to set up the store navigation from Main Menu, to the Contact us page.

After you complete the site navigation setup, you need to set up the Payment, Tax & Shipping Information for your dropship store. Once you complete all these steps, you need to connect your drop ship site to your Shopify domain name.

Another tip in doing dropship product research is to sell things that you share a personal experience with. This will help you to identify the various pros and cons associated with that product and assist you in dealing with your consumers. This will also give you an extra edge over your competitors as you can share the technical aspects of the product in question with your customers. For example, you are selling a drone in Shopify and if you are able to list all the pros and cons and the various technical aspects of that drone, it is more likely that people would buy from you as you can give an in-depth knowledge of that drone based on your personal experience.

Once you zero down on the price and the other technical aspects regarding your drop shipping business, you now have to take care of the most pivotal part of your journey: How to find the right kind of supplier for your business? You can either try the quick way which is to use Oberlo as your supplier and reap the benefits of being on Shopify, or you can try the tedious procedure of going to AliExpress and find a range of suppliers for different kinds of products. Oberlo might be quick and easy to operate from, but if you are able to use AliExpress and get your products from there, you can find cheaper products that can rake in more profits for your business. AliExpress is a lot less reliable than Oberlo, so it is important that you carefully vet your suppliers and contact them before you decide to make them your primary supplier.

As drop shipping is a very promising business model, once you are able to identify trending products and able to locate vendors from where you can get cheap and reliable products, your business will be ready to explode. Trending products are very easy to sell and you can also make a hefty profit from listing those products as people are ready to pay top dollar when a product is going through a trend.

The last part of your drop shipping business is how you deal with delivery times of your products. A downside of operating a drop shipping business is that you need to face long delivery times of your products. There is a high chance that most of your products are sourced from China, thus taking a long time to ship them and reach your shores. A trick to counter these long delays is to use the e-Packet option during shipping. This method is suitable for delivering lightweight products which only weigh a couple of pounds and it allows for faster delivery of your products. This method of delivery allows for shipping high-quality products in a relatively short amount of time and is essential to satisfy your buyers, as no one likes to wait for such a long time for delivery of their products.

These are some of the tips to find products to sell in Shopify store along with the top trending products of 2019. As this is a very simple business to start with, once you are diligent and patiently perform dropship product research, you too can find a whole bunch of great products to sell. Then it’s all about figuring a great price for your products and identifying a suitable niche, after which you can start experimenting with your products and see what the ideal product for your drop shipping business is.

Steven Madden's Strategies & Wholesale Business Bode Well

Steven Madden, Ltd. (SHOO - Free Report) is likely to benefit from solid gains in international markets and strong wholesale nfl jerseys business. Also, the company’s e-commerce business is improving significantly. In addition to this, its focus on enhancing jewelry making supplies wholesale portfolio is commendable.

All these factors helped the company to deliver robust third-quarter 2018 results, wherein the company continued with its positive earnings streak. Also, both the top and bottom line grew year over year. Moreover, management provided an encouraging full-year sales and earnings projection.

In a month’s time, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock has gained approximately 12% compared with its industry’s 3.4% growth. Let’s delve deeper.

Factors Driving Steven Madden’s Performance

Steven Madden is focusing on expanding its business globally. In the third quarter, the company saw 24% revenue growth worldwide. Its directly-owned subsidiaries in Canada and Mexico, SM Europe JV and the distributor business also posted solid results. Backed by strategic investments, the company expects international business to sustain its momentum. The company is optimistic about growth in the Middle East, Italy and India as well. In fact, Steven Madden expects Asia to be a major contributor to net sales.

Further, the company’s wholesale beauty products and business witnessed sturdy performance during the third quarter, wherein net sales rose 3.1%, reflecting gain from wholesale accessories business. Notably, net sales in silk flowers wholesale market in mumbai business climbed on the back of Steve Madden handbags and private label accessories business, including contribution from Anne Klein handbags and new license. Also, the company’s Steve Madden handbag and special make up businesses continue to gain traction.

Following the third-quarter performance, the company raised its lower end of expected net sales growth from 5-7% to 6-7% for the full year. The company envisions full-year adjusted earnings in the range of $1.76-$1.78, mirroring an improvement from $1.49 in 2017. Notably, the company’s projection includes a negative impact of 2 cents due to imposition of tariffs on hand bags and other accessories.

Although rising operating expenses, stiff competition and concerns related to trade war remain major concerns. Imposition of tariffs on additional consumer goods imported from China is likely to undermine business prospects of the company. This is because a greater percentage of the company’s handbags are made in China. However, to lower its dependency on China, Steven Madden is contemplating to shift more of its handbag production to Cambodia.

Nevertheless, Steven Madden’s sturdy performance in wholesale business provides visibility for impressive growth in the future and might drive the stock higher. .This is further supported by the company’s long-term earnings growth rate of 10.7%.

3 Stocks to Watch

G-III Apparel Group, Ltd. (GIII - Free Report) outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a wide margin in the trailing four quarters. It has a long-term earnings growth rate of 15% and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Lululemon Athletica Inc. (LULU - Free Report) delivered average positive earnings surprise of 19.5% in the trailing four quarters. It has a long-term earnings growth rate of 19.3% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Under Armour, Inc. (UAA - Free Report) delivered average positive earnings surprise of 27.1% in the trailing four quarters. It has a long-term earnings growth rate of 22.8% and a Zacks Rank #2.

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China will overtake the US as the world's biggest retail market this year

China's economy may be slowing down, but the country is still set to eclipse the United States as the world's top retail market include aliexpress wholesale for the first time.

Wholesale vases bulk sales in China will reach more than $5.6 trillion this year, about $100 billion more than in the United States, according to a report published Wednesday by research firm eMarketer.

The Chinese population's growing wealth and the rapid development of e-commerce have driven the country's epic wholesale mirrors boom.

"In recent years, consumers in China have experienced rising incomes, catapulting millions into the new middle class," said Monica Peart, senior forecasting director at eMarketer. "The result has been a marked rise in purchasing power and average spending per person."

The firm's prediction highlights China's increasing importance as a market for global brands even as growth overall cools. The country is already the world's largest market for cars and smartphones.

This coffee company thinks it can beat Starbucks in China

The gap between the Chinese and US retail markets is set to widen in the coming years, with China's growing more quickly through at least 2022, according to eMarketer.

China's biggest e-commerce companies, Alibaba (BABA) and JD.com (JD), have played a key role in the industry's explosive growth. More than 35%, or almost $2 trillion, of Chinese wholesale luggage spending is expected to take place online this year, eMarketer said, compared with just 11% in the United States.

China is home to Singles Day, Alibaba's annual online spending blitz that regularly racks up bigger sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Alibaba accounts for more than half of all online sales in China, but it faces increasing competition from smaller rivals like Pinduoduo, according to eMarketer.

Like Amazon (AMZN) in the United States, China's internet giants have moved into the brick-and-mortar retail industry and best shopify stores, as well.

Tencent (TCEHY), the owner of top messaging app WeChat, and three other companies invested $5 billion in Wanda Commercial Properties, China's biggest mall operator, a year ago. Tencent is also a major shareholder in JD.com.

In 2017, Alibaba paid $2.9 billion for a 36% stake in Sun Art Retail Group (SURRY), widely considered the Chinese equivalent of Walmart (WMT).

A customer shopping for clothing at a mall in Beijing. Growth in shopify app store sales is slowing in China, but it's still outpacing the United States.

Slowdown fears overdone?

Chinese consumers are feeling the effects of the country's slowing economy and trade war with the United States. Retail sales growth is expected to weaken to 7.5% in 2019, from around 8.5% last year, according to eMarketer.

Apple (AAPL) alarmed investors earlier this month by warning that its sales in China were lower than anticipated for the holiday quarter. CEO Tim Cook said in a letter to investors that the company had been blindsided by "the magnitude of the economic deceleration" in China.

Spending on products like cosmetics and jewelery is suffering as consumers feel the pinch from cooling growth in the real estate market and rising debt, according to Michelle Lam, an analyst at investment bank Societe Generale.

Chinese tourists are spending less at Tiffany's. That's a worrying sign

"As China's growth has been losing momentum, consumer spending has also exhibited clear signs of weakness," she wrote in a note to clients this week.

But other analysts are more optimistic.

"While we expect consumption growth to slow, we think that the anxiety about China's consumers is largely overdone," Tianjie He, a senior economist at research firm Oxford Economics, wrote in a note on Wednesday.

"We do not expect a significant slowdown in 2019," he wrote, adding that China's consumers will remain "a key driver of economic growth."

Retail Tech Trends To Watch For 2019

Tech to compete against a disruptive Amazon will continue to be central to the wholesale gifts play of 2019. But it isn't the only thing driving what will makes retailers’ tech shopping list.

While you can expect to see more holographic 3D images at malls and stores to wow you, these six trends from last week's National Retail Federation’s annual "Retail's Big Show" will have a more lasting impact.

More cloud-connected machines, part of the IoT (Internet of things) buzz, are coming to stores.

As Starbucks baristas gave out free samples at a makeshift coffee station inside a Microsoft booth, screens behind them displayed data like how many cups the machines had brewed. This arrangement was no coincidence: Starbucks has teamed up with Microsoft to connect its coffee and other machines to the cloud via Microsoft's Azure Sphere IoT system.

Why is this initiative relevant? When Starbucks introduces a drink recipe, it would now be able to remotely update all of its connected devices, a faster alternative to manually delivering a USB drive that's inserted into the machine hardware before a barista can make that new espresso drink, for instance, a Microsoft spokesperson said at the booth. Starbucks also can instantly track and aggregate sales and other data and see what’s popular with consumers when and where.

Yes, Amazon Go is about to change the way we shop.

Amazon Go has received generally very positive consumer feedback, as detailed in this article, forcing the rest of the industry to play catch up. At the Intel booth, for instance, a cashierless store concept and a smart vending machine the chip giant developed with China’s e-commerce retailer JD.com for that market were showcased. A JD.com spokesperson said the company traveled to the show with the intention to explore licensing its cashierless technology to U.S. and other wholesale distributors.

On shopping floors, drones join robots as new store employees.

2019 will continue to be the year when retailers seek to use technology to free store employees from menial tasks so they can spend time instead servicing customers. Retailers also want to use tech to help track what’s missing and misplaced on shelves and better keep inventory in stock. At the Intel booth for instance, Pensa Systems showcased drones that track store-shelf inventory for customers including beverage giant AB InBev.

“The retail shelf is like a black hole,” Pensa Systems president and CEO Richard Schwartz said.“There is no automation knowing what is on the shelve. We are trying to change that.”

Drones to track in-store shelve inventoryANDRIA CHENG

Meanwhile at Giant Food Stores, the supermarket chain this year will deploy a “googly-eyed” robot, which it named Marty, to all of its 172 stores after a successful pilot that had Marty inspect its floors to make sure there are no “hazards” like spills. “We want to free people to focus on customer engagement,” Nicholas Bertram, the chain's president, said at an NRF talk. "This is the largest deployment of robotics in supermarkets."

With increased online spending, delivering on experience when shoppers actually visit a brick-and-mortar store is more crucial than ever. Just ask Stacey Shulman, Intel retail solutions unit’s chief innovation officer: The question she told me she gets most from Intel’s retail customers? “What keeps my physical store relevant?”

Your local store shelves are getting digital, and it’s not just about cutting paper tag costs.

While more retailers are looking to turning their shelves digital to save the time and paper tag costs on traditional price promotions updates, Kroger is working with Microsoft to give its digital shelves more bells and whistles. At two Kroger test stores, the shelves will connect with Kroger’s scan-and-go shopping app to guide customers through their shopping list. They can also flash lights to give employees visual cues to help them pick and fulfill curbside delivery orders quickly. Kroger also plans to turn its shelves into digital advertising space for CPG brands.

Kroger, through its own Sunrise Technology unit, has said it also is seeking to license its in-house built digital shelf and other technologies to even fellow rival retailers.

“We want to commercialize to the retail world,” Peter Thelen, president of Kroger’s Sunrise Technologies, said in an interview. We are creating “automated platform to buy ad space on our shelves and working with CPG companies to reallocate their ad spending and help convert in-store spend with data.”

With Amazon—and fickle consumers—keeping retailers on their toes, thinking outside of the box for new growth opportunity will be the new industry norm.

Strong booking growth for Hotelbeds North American source market

Hotelbeds, the world’s leading bedbank, has confirmed today strong growth for its North American source market wholesale business from wholesalers online during the 2017/18 financial year2

Throughout the year, the Hotelbeds wholesale direct business has increased the number of hotel room nights sold in the North American market, comprised of the United States and Canada, by almost 25% on a year-on-year basis.

Since the acquisition of the Tourico Holidays and GTA bedbank brands in 2017 by Hotelbeds, the North American source market has emerged as the second largest for the company worldwide.

This strong growth and the number two source market status has been achieved by focusing on two core factors that differentiates the Hotelbeds offering. Firstly, Hotelbeds’ commitment to driving mutual incremental sales growth and boosting margins for partners by offering the most attractive and unique hotel content at the best possible prices; and secondly by providing partners with cost effective and cutting edge, revenue generating technology such as APItude, the Hotelbeds API that offers faster response times to drive conversions.

The Hotelbeds wholesale dresses uk business line works with tour operators, airlines, points redemption programmes, loyalty schemes, MICE operators, and online travel agencies to provide them with accommodation and ancillary solutions via API connectivity.

Lauren Volcheff Atlass, who was confirmed as earlier this year as Regional Director of wholesale cell phones distributors sales in the Americas, commented “It has been a very exciting journey over the last 18 months as we have overcome many challenges to create the world’s leading bedbank for the benefit of our partners everywhere.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be able to offer partners our expanded portfolio of unmissable deals – with over 170,000 hotels now available, most directly contracted – and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This strong growth acts as confirmation of the faith our partners have placed in us and I’d like to thank them for that trust, as well as everyone in the North American sales and global sourcing teams who have worked so hard to make this happen.”

This news also follows the recent announcement that Hotelbeds will acquire HolidayTaxis Group, a leading provider of high quality, cost-effective transfer and wider mobility solutions. The acquisition emphasizes the company’s commitment to growing its ancillary offering for its Beyond the Bed business line, the area of Hotelbeds that includes the sourcing and distribution of transfers, activities, tickets, theme parks, car hire, travel insurance, and specialist tours.

In October, the company announced the consolidation of all wholesale boutique clothing distributors and brands, GTA, Tourico, and Hotelbeds under the Hotelbeds name, ultimately phasing out the Tourico Holidays and GTA brands. Moreover, Hotelbeds Group and its commercial wholesale brand will both simply go by the name of ‘Hotelbeds’.

New CEO looking to fashion a turnaround for Ferragamo

Style was a word that could have been invented for the last generation of Italian business people. For half a century, we saw it on the catwalks, on the motor racing circuits, in restaurants and even in football stadiums.

The Asia-Pacific region is a particularly good market for Ferragamo and it currently contributes over one-third to group revenues. Europe and the US both account for one-quarter each of group revenues, but last year both markets struggled. The remaining sales came from Japan and South America. The company's retail channel is responsible for almost two-thirds of Ferragamo's revenues but its wholesalers online channel is under pressure. As might be expected given its history, the footwear divisions at 42pc and leather goods at 37pc are the largest contributor to sales and profits.

Hopefully, the style will continue, even if it's too much to expect a whole lot more from the generation of entrepreneurs that included Giorgio Armani, who is 84, or Leonardo Del Vecchios (of eyewear group Luxottica) at 83, or Rosita Missoni of knitwear fame who is in her 87th year.

Along with ageing tycoons, Italian business faces the same difficulties as the rest of us, namely globalisation and a dramatically changing landscape. The company we are looking at this week is a good example of what happens when a leader is not around anymore. It is the Florentine shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo SPA.

Ferragamo has a peerless pedigree, founded by Salvatore Ferragamo, who had migrated to America and shod Hollywood's legends of the silent silver screen but returned to set up his footwear label in Florence in 1928. He'd established a decent client base because he continued to make shoes for the stars like Greta Garbo and Gloria Swanson and later Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren.

The business prospered after WWII but when Salvatore died in 1960, his wife Wanda, then aged 38, was left with six young children and a near bankrupt company.

Wanda was undeterred and she became a hero of Italian capitalism. She was part of a group of female entrepreneurs such as the Fendi sisters, Miuccia Prada, and Donatella Versace that were the post-war engines of the Italian economy and also transformed global fashion.

Over the years, 'Signora' Wanda turned Ferragamo into an iconic global footwear group based on Italian craftsmanship, later adding handbags, apparel, accessories and perfumes to the portfolio.

Today the company operates in 90 countries mainly through its own stores, specialty, department stores and its internet operations.

Wanda died recently and her loss has prompted speculation that her heirs may sell their 40pc shareholding. The company is an attractive target with a high-end branding position and exposure to lucrative categories such as shoes, leather goods and fragrances. There are plenty of possible suitors, such as the cash rich French luxury groups LVMH, Kering and Hermes. The Swiss-based Richemont is also a candidate, as are a number of Chinese groups who are actively seeking European brands.

In addition, speculation as to mid-size luxury goods companies has heightened since Michael Korrs purchased Milan-base Versace. However Ferrucio Ferragamo, the chairman, has vetoed any proposed sale.

In recent times, Ferragamo has struggled to maintain its sales and profitability, with returns on investment and sales both falling.

While its revenues, at €1.4bn, were down 3pc on the year, net profits plunged a whopping 40pc due to the negative impact of foreign exchange movements, revenue declines in the wholesale mens shoes channel, and the rise in operating costs and taxes.

To arrest its faltering position, the group recently hired a former Gucci executive, Micaela Le Divelec, as CEO to implement a turnaround plan with the objective of transforming the company.

Ferragamo shares, which trade at €20.61, are on a lofty price earnings multiple of 36, and investors will be rewarded if the new CEO is successful or if the family agrees to a takeover.

If I owned the stock (I don't), I'd sit still.

 

Sustainability Helped Allbirds Take Flight in 2018

Allbirds has been named FN’s Brand of the Year and will be honored Dec. 4 at the 2018 FN Achievement Awards (watch the livestream here). Below is an article from the magazine’s Dec. 3 print issue about the successful Silicon Valley startup.

In March, Allbirds hit a big milestone, announcing it had sold 1 million pairs of its signature wool sneakers in two years. But co-founders Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger weren’t resting on their laurels: The same day of that announcement, they had a new eco-friendly product ready to go: wholesale shoes china made with tree fiber. And in August, Allbirds added another environmental innovation with its SweetFoam soles, which are made from renewable sugarcane sourced in Brazil.

Allbirds made a quiet entry into the sneaker market in 2016, launching its eco-friendly label under the direct-to-consumer model and finding a following among the Silicon Valley crowd. However, the brand turned up the volume this year, transforming from a company with a cult fan base to a leader in sustainable footwear.

Zwillinger told FN that Allbirds’ relentless investment in research and development is made possible by keeping its greater business model simple. For instance, the brand’s shoe assortment is slim, and transactions are done directly with consumers. “The focus of selling only one shoe in the first 14 months of our business was a real advantage; there was no pressure to constantly change,” added Brown.

However, the company did introduce a new facet to its business in 2018: brick-and-mortar retail. With a solid e-commerce foundation already in place, Allbirds opened its first branded stores this year in two of its best-performing regions stateside, New York and San Francisco. The label also opened a door in London along with an online store to support the market.

“It was the first time we launched with both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. We learned that in some markets, having that physical presence is a statement saying, ‘Hey, we’re here,’ in a much more significant way than just opening an e-commerce platform,” explained Zwillinger.

“They want to create shopping experiences that are most convenient for shoppers. Some prefer to shop purely online, some prefer to go to stores, and some prefer both,” said Warby Parker co-CEO Neil Blumenthal, who serves on Allbirds’ board. “The beauty of a direct-to-consumer business is that they’re able to design all of those experiences for all the customer preferences.”

Allbirds and other brands focused on sustainability are well-positioned for the future, according to NPD.

CREDIT: COURTESY OF BRAND

Moving forward, Allbirds’ expansion will be fueled by $50 million in Series C funding led by T. Rowe Price Investment Management that the company secured in October. (Prior to this, Allbirds had received a total of $27.5 million from other investors, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio.)

Despite its rapid progress, Allbirds (which employs 175 people) is still a small brand in a marketplace dominated by major athletic and designer players. Recognizing this, the company linked up with retail giant Nordstrom on a pair of limited releases this year, including holiday Wool Runner colorways available now exclusively in the department store.

“We felt like the tradeoff was great — Nordstrom gets to share a new, up-and-coming brand that no other retailer gets to showcase, and on the flip side, we get access to and raise awareness with their whole customer base,” Zwillinger said.

But he said there are no plans to further venture into wholesale shoes suppliers. Instead, the duo is eyeing additional Allbirds-branded brick-and-mortar expansion in 2019. Now that the brand has a physical presence in the U.S. and the U.K, the company has plans for eight more stores next year, with Chicago and Boston set to open in the first half of 2019, followed by doors in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

 

The Key to Taco Bell's Tone?

Party Packs. Happier Hours. Fourth Meals.

Name one project you’re particularly excited about.

We’re piloting something called Party by Taco Bell. It’s a natural evolution of the Taco Bell wedding. How do we transfer that to select stores across the nation? We’ve created special-edition party supplies that you can order. We’re thinking of Taco Bell as more of a fast-food destination, a lifestyle. We’re doing this in 10 stores to start. We have an online reservation system. You can book a store, decide what the menu will be, and order party supplies from party supplies wholesale distributors that have an absolute charm and whimsy. Party hosts will have a whole new place to throw their parties.

That Taco Bell, the popular Tex-Mex food chain, sounds and feels different than its quick-serve restaurant peers is no accident. The chain is playful—silly, even—and always self-aware.

Driving that strategy is Marisa Thalberg, global chief brand officer for the company. Fortune caught up with the executive earlier this month to discuss the ins and outs of Taco Bell’s voice and explain why someone might want to get married in one of its stores. (Yes, really.)

Fortune: Before joining Taco Bell in southern California, you were a marketing executive at Estée Lauder in New York. That’s quite a change, on several levels.

Thalberg: Yes, it is. I joined the company about three and a half years ago from a completely different industry, luxury beauty. Brands sit in an interesting place in culture. At Taco Bell, there was a lot of opportunity to take it and play with it and make it bigger, brighter, and more vibrant than it already was.

At Taco Bell, everything is incredibly creative, crave-able, and affordable. I love this idea that we create access to food people want, not just what they can afford. And I love not feeling particularly wedded to any industry’s playbook. As a marketer, I’ve really gravitated to brands and businesses that have a certain cachet in people’s hearts and minds. After eight years at Estée Lauder Companies, I was ready for a change. Taco Bell and I made a bet on each other.

Surely there are similarities, though.

In some ways, we’re the fast fashion of food. We have an incredible product calendar, an incredible pipeline of ideas. You go from imagination to commercializing it to be made in close to 7,000 restaurants. We’re always innovating and bringing out limited products that create excitement for consumers and employees. But certain things are not up for negotiation. We have to be safe, fast, convenient, with incredible value. Cheap food is not hard to find, but food with taste, flavor, gratification—that’s what makes Taco Bell unique as an accessible food concept.

You’ve got your hands on the wheel of an already-buzzy brand. Where do you focus your effort?

The brand has a salience in culture. It has a past. We’ve been blowing a lot of wind on that to allow this big brand to feel more indie, more cult, more “in it” with fans. That’s really important as consumers look to brands for connection and trust. We may have the scale of a big brand, but we never think of ourselves in that way. We think of ourselves as an underdog and a challenger.

What delights me is being able to take the brand to places that no one really saw coming and having it make sense—completely surprising and whimsical, but makes sense. For example, we opened what could be considered our flagship location on the Las Vegas Strip—our Cantina concept, which serves alcohol. This is Vegas, so we asked: What about weddings? We already had enough real behavior of people going to Taco Bell on their wedding day. And you know what? We’ve had more than 100 weddings at that location.

We’re not just living culture, but creating it. There’s a little bit of intelligence with the wit. It’s really important that you know your place in the universe.

Marketers are drowning in software and tools promising better relationships with customers. What’s your take?

Well, I was really early in digital. If you think about what e-commerce is solving for—speed and convenience—quick-service restaurants already have that baked into the process. In a funny way, this industry I’m in has been on the later end of adoption of e-commerce and delivery. Thanks to our parent wholesale lighting company Yum! Brands, we have a deal with GrubHub, and we’ve been working with mobile delivery and ordering to make that possible. But you’ve got to make sure you deliver up-to-date access points. How do you make the experience uniquely yours?

Taco Bell's latest eye-winking exercise: Party by Taco Bell, which features "reserved seating" and "a breathtaking view of tacos." Courtesy Taco Bell

 

Michigan Christmas tree farmers anticipating 'the best year'

Christmas tree farmers across Michigan are anticipating that 2018 will be the best sales year in a while.

A tightening in other markets led Michigan farmers to see increases in wholesale farmhouse decor sales, and there is an upswing in people wanting cut their own tree, Michigan Christmas Tree Association Executive Director Amy Start said.

"If you grow up with a real tree you tend to want that for your family," Start said.

The Michigan tree farmers' optimism about this selling season is justifiable, National Christmas Tree Association spokesman Doug Hundley said, noting that the farmers are probably getting in orders from other states like North Carolina where the supply was low.

Nationally, if there is an uptick in sales it will be slight, Hundley said. Farmers sold 27.4 million real Christmas trees were sold in each of the last two years, according to theNational Christmas Tree Association's consumer survey conducted by Nielsen/Harris. The nine-year average is 27.8 million. The association represents growers across the U.S.

"We feel like there’s a lot of interest in young families to try out real trees if they haven’t used them before," Hundley said.

It's definitely about tradition, both ongoing and new, at Wilson's Tannenbaum Farm, at 13769 N Drive North in Battle Creek, where Cindy and Bruce Wilson have grown and sold trees for 30 years.

"We actually have had more people every year since we started," Bruce said. "It’s not as if people are just kind of going away with it. The people we started with now, their kids are doing it and their grandkids are doing it."

Bruce and Cindy took to tree farming after their neighbors decided to sell their farm. They didn't know much about trees, but, with the help of their neighbors, learned over time.

"We knew them really well, and we helped them plant a few trees," Bruce said. "I have learned about as much as you can about a tree. You know, we trim them, and we plant them, and we are going to start irrigation next year."

On average, farmers sell about 2 million trees a year in Michigan and other wholesale home decor markets,according to the The Michigan Tree Association, which represents more than 125 tree farmers out of 500 in the state,

"We have seen an uptick," Start said.

Michigan trees don't just stay in Michigan. The state ranks third for the number of trees it harvests and exports.

"We provide trees for all over the U.S. and other countries," Start said.

Start thinks more people just want to enjoy the experience of going to a tree farm and that the movement to be more environmentally conscious has helped sell more trees since they are biodegradable.

They also provide a habitat for wildlife and help with watershed quality and air quality, since they release oxygen, said Bert Cregg, a Michigan State University professor of horticulture and forestry.

When looking at sustainability in environmental, social and economic terms, Cregg says, the real trees take the cake for most sustainable.

"The thing I like to focus on more is supporting the local economy," Cregg said. "You are supporting local communities."

A recent study by the American Christmas Tree Association, which represents the artificial tree manufacturers, concluded that artificial trees "have a more favorable effect on the environment if reused for at least five years"

Under certain circumstances, Cregg noted, artificial trees could make less of a carbon footprint, like when someone keeps a tree for 20 years and isn't using the gas to drive and get a new tree every year.

"People can slice and dice this different ways," he said.

Wilson's Tannenbaum Farm opened on Black Friday with thousands of trees for customers to choose from for this holiday season. (Photo: Kalea Hall/The Enquirer)

The roughly 60-acre Wilson's Tannenbaum Farm has between 15,000-20,000 trees, species including Fraser fir, white pine, white spruce, blue spruce, concolor fir, balsam fir, Norway spruce and Serbian spruce.

The Fraser fir is the most popular.

It's $35 for a cut-your-own blue spruce and all the other trees are $7 per foot.

"We take care of all the roads so you can drive back and take a saw and go cut on your own," Bruce said.

Wilson's also sells live potted trees and has pre-cut trees, wreaths, decorative pieces and accessories.

Opening day at the farm was the day after Thanksgiving, — also known as Black Friday in the retail world — and the place was busy. The farm typically sells 1,200 to 1,500 trees through Christmas Day.

The Hollander family, Noah and Laura and their daughters, Gretta, 6, and Lyza, 4, from Battle Creek ventured out to Wilson's for a second year on Black Friday.

Laura and Noah Hollander took their daughters, Gretta, 6, and Lyza, 4, to Wilson's Tannenbaum Farm to get a tree for this holiday season. (Photo: Kalea Hall/The Enquirer)

"It was a tradition for me growing up," Laura Hollander said of getting a real tree. "It’s nice to start your own family traditions when you have your own kids."

Richard and DarShan Goodman from Marshall and their two-year-old daughter Naomi continued their family tradition on Black Friday of getting a real Christmas tree.

DarShan and Richard Goodman took their daughter, Naomi, 2, to pick out a tree at Wilson's Tannenbaum Farm on Black Friday. (Photo: Kalea Hall/The Enquirer)

"I think it's a good experience for our children," Richard said. "It's just a fun experience for them."

When people leave their farm, they leave happy, the Wilsons say.

"It’s a wonderful time because everyone is a good mood to come out here and get their trees. It’s a happy occasion," Cindy said. "Everybody is pretty jolly and happy to be here and it’s nice to see the same people come. I mean we've had people coming here for 30 years."

 

HIGH PERFORMANCE APPAREL MARKET OVERVIEW

High Performance Apparel Market specialists and experts evaluate the makers in the market and convey understandings to clear present and coming business sector patterns, purchaser desires, development, and focused powers, CAGR, working capital, venture esteem. High Performance Apparel Market likewise gives the knowledge of aggressive investigation, geological locales and conditions, type, applications, income, deals, utilization, and providers of Mobile Business Intelligence.

Overview of the High Performance Apparel Market

High Performance Apparel, simply defined, are the garments that perform or function for some purpose. These performance clothing help athletes and active people keep cool, comfortable and dry through moisture management and other techniques. High Performance Apparel consist of two sections- Sports wear and Protective Clothing. High Performance Apparel is sold to both, individual consumers as sportswear at retail prices, and as business-to-business protective wholesale women's boutique clothing at wholesale prices. For real, they have the same characteristics working to meet the needs of the wearers circumstances, and to defeat the risks of the outside environment. There are many methods to make an apparel perform. They include making of garment in specified ways, fabric and trim specification, or fiber and chemical treatments.

Scope of the High Performance Apparel Market Report: This report focuses on the High Performance Apparel in global market, especially in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, South America, Middle East and Africa. This report categorizes the market based on manufacturers, regions, type and application., High Performance Apparel is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global textile industry. This growth of High Performance Apparel market can be attributed to the changes in the life style of the majority of people today.

Active sports such as aerobics, athletics, running, cycling, hiking, mountaineering, swimming, sailing, windsurfing, ballooning, parachuting, snowboarding, and ski-ing are preferred today, over any other recreational activities. With the increasing risks in the industries due to the exposure to hazardous materials such as chemicals, polluting wastes etc. and due to increased risky events like fire, terror attacks etc. High Performance Apparel has all the more become important. The corporate wear sector is also growing with demands for more functionals clothing.

Not only functionality, it also needs to be fashionable and stylish. As such, high tech fabrics and apparel that are made for high performance has become a necessity. Apart from representing status and sophistication, today, clothing is about being fit for purpose, fashion dropshippers that performs. Although sales of sportswear bring a lot of opportunities, the study group recommends the new entrants who just have money but without technical advantage, raw materials advantage and downstream support, do not enter into the sportswear field hastily.

The worldwide market for High Performance Apparel is expected to grow at a CAGR of roughly 9.5% over the next five years, will reach 10600 million US$ in 2023, from 6140 million US$ in 2017, according to a new GIR (Global Info Research) study.

Region Segmentation:

North America (USA, Canada and Mexico)

Europe (Germany, France, UK, Russia and Italy)

Asia-Pacific (China, Japan, Korea, India and Southeast Asia)

South America (Brazil, Argentina, Columbia etc.)

Middle East and Africa (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa)

Report Coverage:

High Performance Apparel market report provides comprehensive analysis of the market with the help of up-to-date market opportunities, overview, outlook, challenges, trends, market dynamics, size and growth, competitive analysis, major competitors analysis.

Report recognizes the key drivers of growth and challenges of the key industry players. Also, evaluates the future impact of the propellants and limits on the market.

Uncovers potential demands in the market.

High Performance Apparel market report provides in-depth analysis for changing competitive dynamics

Provides information on the historical and current market size and the future potential of the market.

Key questions answered in the report:

What will the market growth rate of High Performance Apparel market in 2023?

What are the key factors driving the global High Performance Apparel market?

Who are the key manufacturers in High Performance Apparel market space?

What are the market opportunities, market risk and market overview of the High Performance Apparel market?

What are sales, revenue, and price analysis by types and applications of High Performance Apparel market?

What are sales, revenue, and price analysis by regions of High Performance Apparel industry?

The next part also sheds light on the gap between supply and consumption. Apart from the mentioned information, growth rate of High Performance Apparel market in 2022 is also explained. Additionally, type wise and application wise consumption tables and figures of High Performance Apparel market are also given.

 

Empty Stocking Fund ushers in changes in 35th campaign raising money for the needy

In its 35th year, The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking Fund kicks off Thursday, pairing a legacy of giving with several wholesale websites changes aimed at keeping the holiday campaign going well into the future.

Back is the same mission to raise money for 20 nonprofits across the Pikes Peak region, and a commitment by two foundations to match hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations through Jan. 18, when this season's campaign ends. But, new this year is a larger, more holistic strategy to turn the Empty Stocking Fund into a year-round endeavor — one that aims to push its fundraising into record territory for years to come.

"With a milestone like 35 years, we thought we should take a minute to think about the future," said Dan Steever, The Gazette's publisher. "And sustaining what we’re doing for 35 more years, is going to get harder without a dedicated focus and leadership.”

"Our 20 agencies tell us they’re serving more people than they ever have before, and they still could serve more if they just had the funding for it,” Steever added. "One check, one donation, helps cradle the whole continuum of services.”

Chief among the changes coming this year is the arrival of a full-time director and us dropshippers to oversee the campaign throughout the year — not just when the holidays arrive, the temperatures dip and the spirit of giving is at its greatest.

Deb Mahan, who most recently chaired the Indy Give! campaign, was hired in July as the fund's first-ever director, thanks largely to donations by The Anschutz Foundation, with help from El Pomar Foundation. Her job: push the fund to new heights by attracting more donors and hosting more fundraisers throughout the year.

For example, new fundraisers are being planned well into 2019, with each donation going to the next season's campaign. The fund's website was redesigned, making it easier to donate. And an agency advisory committee was created last year to ensure that nonprofits are getting the help they need.

And Mahan sees ample opportunity for growth. For several years, the campaign's organizers kept their fundraising goal at $1 million. And for years, the community responded.

Last holiday season, the Empty Stocking Fund topped $1 million for the 11th consecutive year, bringing in $1,176,984 and pushing its 35-year total to $20 million. It's a fundraising streak without precedent in the Pikes Peak region.

But still, there were signs that more needed to be done, campaign organizers said. In recent years, donations seemed to plateau, often ending up just shy of $1.2 million. Same goes with the number of donors contributing every year.

"It’s been around 35 years, and we want to make sure it’s still around 35 years from now,” Mahan said. "We have a 2,000-donor database. I think it should be about 50,000, given the size of this community."

There are several events planned for the community to get involved, she said, including several movie nights at The Broadmoor hotel and a bowling tournament.

Already, this year's campaign is starting off with more money than ever before. The fund has more than $118,000 in the bank from fundraisers earlier this year, including the Steve Scott Golf Classic and the tapping of FH Beerworks' Blackberry Paws brew.

The campaign began in 1984 as an attempt to offer Colorado Springs' neediest families toys and the basic necessities that many people take for granted. One person donated eight Cabbage Patch dolls – an impressive feat considering how popular they were back then. A family received birthday presents for a year from members of St. Patrick's Catholic Church, while the parents were treated to a wedding anniversary dinner, archives show.

They arrived alongside more valuable donations: Food, medicine and money for rent and utility bills. All told, that initial campaign raised $45,716 in cash donations, along with almost $7,000 in food, clothing, furniture and toys, Gazette archives show.

From that humble beginning, the giving only grew.

El Pomar Foundation became a partner in 1997, and shortly thereafter, the Bruni Foundation added its financial heft.

And in that same spirit, several traditions will continue this year.

El Pomar will still match $1 for every $3 donated to the Empty Stocking Fund, up to $200,000. And the Bruni Foundation still plans to match $10,000 for every $100,000 donated, up to $70,000.

Should enough donations come in, El Pomar is expected to top $4 million in total donations to the fund. Only a couple years ago, the Bruni Foundation alone topped $1 million in overall contributions.

"It’s a very simple, direct way for people in the community to give people who are less fortunate than themselves," said Thayer Tutt, El Pomar's vice chairman. "You couldn't ask for more than that."

And, just like every other year, every penny will go to those nonprofits, because administrative costs are covered by Wells Fargo, ADD STAFF, El Pomar Foundation, The Anschutz Foundation and The Gazette.

"One-hundred percent of what you give goes straight to the causes," said Jerry Bruni, president of the Bruni Foundation. "But really, it’s more than 100 percent. Because of the matching, it’s 100-plus. And it’s hard to match that someplace else.”

It's a unique gift, because nonprofits are granted flexibility in how to spend it.

For nonprofits such as Tri-Lakes Cares, that's a tremendous blessing. When grants come in lower than expected, money from the Empty Stocking Fund can help backfill — ensuring that programs go uninterrupted, said Haley Chapin, the nonprofit's executive director.

At Tri-Lakes Cares, for example, the $32,252 received from last season's campaign helped backfill funding for a day care offered through its self-sufficiency program, gas vouchers for residents needing transportation to school or work, and school supplies for children in low-income families.

"Being nimble in being able to assist our clients is really the best benefit of being part of the Empty Stocking Fund,” Chapin said.

But none of that happens without everyone pitching in, Mahan said.

"These kinds of campaigns only succeed if it's a collaborative effort," she said. "It's really a team thing."

 

The UK Rail Supply Chain

Without doubt, the Railway Industry Association (RIA) represents a significant membership of companies engaged in supplying the rail industry, covering a multitude of different engineering disciplines. Darren Caplan, the chief executive of RIA, stated at its recent annual conference that the industry contributes £36 billion to the economy with over 300,000 employees, both of which are impressive numbers.

Scotland recognises that a steady workload to avoid peaks and troughs yields a secure industry employment base, which in turn leads to an alignment of customer and china wholesale supplier. Developing new projects with Network Rail in CP6 is proving something of a challenge.

A short introductory video showcased a number of companies that contribute with design, project and implementation activities and demonstrated the need for a pro-active and innovative supply chain to meet the increasing technological demands of an expanding and busy railway. However, as Darren explained in his opening address, four factors make these uncertain times.

Firstly, the big message coming across from RIA member companies is the problem of ‘boom and bust’ with project funding. Not having a steady work stream leads to recruitment uncertainty and the knock-on effect of having to acquire the right calibre of people when contracts are awarded only to make them redundant again when contracts are completed, all causing an increase in cost and delivery delay.

Secondly, whilst prestige projects such as HS2, Crossrail, National Electrification, Digital Railway and others are welcome, there is little in the way of co-ordination between them to ensure the available resources and skills are effectively distributed.

Thirdly, whilst funding is given to R&D for infrastructure innovation, no equivalent money is available for rolling stock development. The goal of decarbonisation by 2040 will require continued investment in electrification (although the cost of achieving this has to be brought down) and innovative new rolling stock – not only bi-mode of electric/diesel but battery technology and hydrogen as well. Some companies are already engaged in this, but very much as a speculative venture with no certainty of end-user acceptability.

Fourthly, a satisfactory Brexit is crucial for the rail industry to continue close ongoing technical co-operation with Europe. Around 20 per cent of the UK workforce is made up of mainland European employees and their expertise must not be lost. The UK has excellent export potential and frictionless trade is essential.

The political dimension

The compere for the conference was David Begg, now the chief executive of Transport Times but well known for his transport thinking at Edinburgh University over many years. He recalled the success of the ‘Save our Railway’ campaign in the 1990s, when retrenchment of the network was a real threat. Privatisation has brought an increase in ridership and the resulting big investment projects. HS2 to Birmingham is just about assured, but David suggested that doubts may still exist with stage 2b to Leeds and Manchester.

Having the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, as a speaker was a real bonus in these uncertain times. His enthusiasm for transport in general came across, but he is adamant that value for money has to be achieved. No more so is this reflected than in electrification projects, where both costs and timescale have spiralled out of control, on the Great Western in particular.

Chris Grayling was pleased that many good things are coming out of the industry, as witnessed by UK showings at the recent InnoTrans exhibition in Berlin. However, more new thinking is required for the whole railway. New propulsion methods cannot be ignored, witness hydrogen and hybrid train projects in Germany, which could be ideal for the East – West Railway from Oxford to Cambridge, essentially a commuter railway in the making.

Digital railway techniques should provide a solution to many of the current capacity problems. The money is there – but the processes for spending it must be speeded up to ensure investment in new technology and innovation is spent wisely.

The forthcoming Rail Review, whilst concentrating on the franchising model, will aim to produce a joined-up railway, something that has to be a team effort. The industry will change shape and the supply chain must be part of that, and there is a danger that the customers – the travelling public and freight users – have become forgotten with too much focus being placed on engineering for its own sake. The Trans Pennine upgrade from Leeds to Manchester is predicting line closures of 39 weeks per year for the next five years, which is unacceptable.

The clamour for ‘boom and bust’ removal is noted but the industry should not expect safe and secure business for all time from government. While there is no shortage of work in the UK at present, with many schemes underway (Trans Pennine, Ely Junction, Dawlish consolidation, East-West rail to name but a few), huge opportunities also exist in other countries around the world and the government will support companies that engage with this – Chris Grayling even offered to make ministerial visits if the situation merited it. Despite the problems of 2018 – electrification delay, timetable introduction, Crossrail – all caused by ‘it will be alright on the night’ thinking – more opportunities exist for rail than at any time in the past with considerable private investment adding to central funding of £48 billion for CP6.

HS2 is crucial, but it should be viewed as a series of bypasses to free up space on the existing railway rather than having high speed as its primary aim. The industry has to be better at making the case for HS2, where state of the art technology and increased speed is only sensible. The project will not be micromanaged by government and it is up to big companies to support smaller firms down the supply chain.

Calls for a vertically integrated railway will be considered in the current Rail Review, led by Keith Williams, but wholesale nationalisation like wholesale from china will only suck private investment out of the industry. Greater employee participation in the industry’s future will help de-militarise the present conflicts.

Alternative politics

Andy McDonald, the shadow secretary for transport, exposed some of the myths about the opposition’s view on rail. Nationalisation will only apply to the TOCs, and only then on franchise expiry. He claimed that the evidence in support of this is overwhelming, using Virgin East Coast and the forthcoming bailout of Anglia to demonstrate that the system is not fit for purpose.

The announced Rail Review will not look at Network Rail, existing franchises or the ORR, and Andy MacDonald doesn’t believe it is needed to show up the main shortcomings. Labour has no intention to nationalise any part of the supply chain, indeed a strong supply industry is recognised as vital. A joined-up railway is the prime objective, with timetable compilation and regular asset maintenance being the mainstay of this.

A Labour government will create a public company to run the railways, with the remit of less expensive fares, easier through-journeys and close co-operation with local authorities. Control periods will be of seven years duration, with planning for the next period taking place two years before expiry of the existing one to ensure the relevant feedback and lessons are understood.

The ceasing of the electrification schemes is viewed as a major error, although the cost for new projects must be reduced. Key to part of this is the continuance of the National Skills Academy for Rail with measures put in to retain skilled staff within the industry.

On Brexit, Labour respects the referendum result despite the appalling handling of subsequent negotiations, but would maintain a customs union with the rest of Europe.

Whilst not advocating a return to British Rail, that era of industry did achieve results with minimum money. Some lessons from the past need re-learning. Railways need less political interference and should be left to the rail experts. Network Rail is far from perfect, with costs being too high, not helped by the industry fragmentation. The Digital Railway vision is supported, but the digital platforms must be much more than just the roll out of ETCS.

Conference attendees reflecting on the two political viewpoints might even consider that they are not so very different, at least for the longer-term vision.

Regional considerations

Regional clamour for a less London-centric investment approach is often vocal, but is this factual, or even fair? Four speakers from different parts of the country gave their view.

Bill Reeve, the director of rail for Transport Scotland and an engineer by background, had perhaps the easiest task as the results of Scottish rail investment are there for all to see. New lines, improved journey times, reduced emissions, better accessibility and affordability are all part of this. The electrification of the Shotts line is running ahead of time and within budget.

Whilst Scotland is only 11 per cent of the UK railway, it has 358 stations and 93.8 million passenger journeys each year, demonstrating how a devolved government can succeed.

Wales is different, as the Welsh Assembly does not have the same devolved powers as Scotland. Nonetheless, James Price from Transport for Wales stated that 100 per cent of the trains in Wales will be renewed by 2023, 50 per cent of them being assembled in the province. Coupled with 600 new jobs and £194 million of investment, this will yield 65 per cent more capacity.

Novel ideas will be free travel for under-11s, half fare for 12-18 year olds and free travel for up to 16 year olds off peak.

The big project will be the development of the Cardiff Metro operation, with a minimum of four services per hour on all routes, vertically integrated as much as possible and with better-value electrification. Improvements to information systems and closures of level crossings will be progressed.

Maria Machancoses, a director on the Midlands Connect body, explained the vision for much improved integration between east and west, from Hereford through to Nottingham. Foreseen is a £575 million boost in annual investment to achieve six million more passengers per year and many more freight paths. Connectivity with HS2 will be vital, but it needs to be influenced and integrated.

The North is perhaps the most vociferous of the regions with Barry White, the chief executive of Transport for the North, wanting increasing devolution. Current expansion is mainly rolling stock-based plus the Leeds-Manchester upgrade. More is needed, but this will need simplified procurement rules and an avoidance of projects going wrong so as to build a track record for future work.

All agree that funding for CP6 will be different, with Network Rail no longer pulling down debt. Scottish-style devolution would be welcomed, although it is recognised that Metro operation in the North and Midlands has already achieved this. Neither of these regions has seen major improvement to inter-city routes, maybe because the Network Rail situation restricts the freedom to act.

 

Celsius Holdings Reports Third Quarter Revenue Increased 54% to $16.6 Million

Celsius Holdings, Inc., maker of the leading global fitness drink, today reported financial results for the three and nine month periods ended September 30, 2018.

Non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA* loss of $2.9 million. Excluding the $5.1 million of market investment expenses related to the company's product launch in China and distribution expansion in Hong Kong, Net-Non-GAAP adjust EBITDA reflected a positive $2.2 million which translates to an improvement of $1.1 million when compared to the year ago quarter

Currently in over 33,000 locations and over 15,000 key accounts in China market with regional distribution through partnership with Qifeng Food Technology (Beijing) Co. Ltd, a national wholesale distributor and wholesale websites of foods and beverages.

Third Quarter 2018 Financial and Business Highlights:

Revenue of $16.6 million, up 54% from $10.8 million in the year ago quarter

Domestic revenue increased 92% to $11.4 million, up from $5.9 million in the year ago quarter

International revenue increased 7% to $5.2 million, up from $4.9 million in the year ago quarter

Gross profit of $6.9 million, up 47% from $4.7 million in the year ago quarter

Net loss to common stockholders was $4.2 million compared to $1.7 million in the year ago quarter

Announced national expansion into Target and CVS stores, significantly increasing product availability

Launched two new flavors: Coconut and Cranberry Lemon, in convenient on-the-go powdered sticks

Introduced new distribution with cold vault placement in over 590 chain convenience stores

Obtained national placements in over 5,000 healthy vending and micro-market locations

Invited to the Russell 3000® and Russell Microcap® Indices

"Our performance in the third quarter reflects growing demand and the continued, solid execution of our strategy to increase placements for our products where our customers live, work and play, through a diversity of channels and geographic locations, including broadening our retail footprint in high-profile retailers and convenience stores such as Target, CVS and Wawa, as well as the continuation of our highly anticipated launch in China with our partner Qifeng Food," said John Fieldly, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We delivered a 54% increase in revenue year-over-year in Q3 results, setting another quarterly record, and reinforcing our distribution footprint to increase the availability of products to a number of markets globally."

"Demand is strong and we are capitalizing on today's health and wellness trends, consumers globally are adopting Celsius to be part of their healthy active lifestyle," continued Fieldly. "The Asia market demonstrated continued new penetration and re-orders with now over 33,000 locations. With our investment in the region to date, we have established an infrastructure, including distribution, sales, marketing and operational logistics that will support exponential growth as brand awareness increases and we continue to strengthen our foothold in the region. As we look into 2019 we are exploring further opportunities to partner with local Asian influential strategic partners to further leverage our established operations and existing networks capitalizing on today's health and wellness trends in the region."

Fieldly added, "Our wholesale from china business also delivered record revenues of $11.4 million, which was up 92% year over year for Q3 as a direct result of the work we are doing to increase brand awareness through strategic investments in sales and marketing to reach our target consumers in a variety of locations. We remain at record levels of production and this, coupled with a strong network of routes to market puts us in a premier position for a strong finish to 2018."

 

Dubai economy tracker signals slowest overall growth

 

The report contains the latest release of data collected from a monthly survey of business conditions in the Dubai non-oil private sector. Sponsored by Emirates NBD and produced by IHS Markit, the survey provides an early indication of operating conditions in Dubai. The headline Emirates NBD Dubai Economy Tracker Index is derived from individual diffusion indices which measure changes in output, new orders, employment, suppliers’ delivery times and stocks of purchased goods.

The survey covers the Dubai non-oil private sector economy, with additional sector data published for travel & tourism, buy wholesale from china and construction.

While the latest data signaled an improvement in the health of Dubai’s non-oil private sector, the rate of growth weakened to a 31-month low. Slower improvements in activity, new work and another contraction in employment contributed to the slowdown. Contrary to the general trend, the construction sector saw a stronger expansion in the latest survey.

The seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD Dubai Economy Tracker Index – a composite indicator designed to give an accurate overview of operating conditions in the non-oil private sector economy – posted at 52.5, down from 54.4 in September, and the weakest figure since March 2016. Nonetheless, it remained above the critical 50.0 mark in October, thereby stretching the current phase of expansion to 32 months.

Travel & tourism was the weakest performing sector in October at 49.6, followed by wholesale websties (53.7) and construction (55.5).

Output across the non-oil private sector increased at the slowest rate since December 2017. The expansion was below the historical average. The travel & tourism sector saw the weakest improvement during the latest survey period.

October data signaled a modest fall in employment in Dubai’s non-oil private sector. The rate of contraction matched the record pace recorded in the preceding survey. Some firms cited cost cutting as a reason behind job shedding.

Businesses reported a further increase in incoming new work during October, thereby extending the current phase of growth to 32 months. That said, the latest expansion was the weakest in two-and-a-half years. Whilst the increase was solid overall, it scored well below the historical average amid reports of slowing client demand growth in the non-oil private sector.

Despite the slowdown in output and new business, future growth prospects rose to a record high since this index began in 2012. Firms expressed optimism towards new project wins and developments surrounding Expo 2020.

Average cost burdens in Dubai’s non-oil private sector increased for the seventh month running in October. Furthermore, the rate of inflation accelerated to a three-month high.

Output charges fell once again in the latest survey. Some firms linked lower selling prices to promotional activity. The rate of decline was modest overall, however.

At 52.4 in October, down from 53.6 in September, the seasonally adjusted Business Activity Index for the travel & tourism sector fell to a ten-month low. The pace of expansion has slowed for five successive months.

Adjusted for seasonal factors, the Employment Index reached a record low during the latest survey period. The deterioration in employment levels was modest overall, however.

Travel & tourism companies across Dubai reported a fall in incoming new work during October. The fall was only the second in the survey history. Around 29% of firms noted a decline, compared with 24% that reported an increase in new business.

Despite contracting new work, firms continued to express optimism towards future business activity. The overall degree of positive sentiment reached a four-month high in the latest survey period.

At 54.0 in October, the seasonally adjusted Input Costs Index accelerated to a three-month high. The figure was indicative of a marked increase in average cost burdens faced by businesses in Dubai’s non-oil private sector.

Output charges fell once again in the latest survey period. The finding thereby streched the current phase of price discounting to four months.

October data signalled another slowdown in the rate of business activity growth across the wholesale & retail sector. Nonetheless, the figure remained well above the neutral 50.0 threshold and signalled a solid overall expansion.

At 50.4 in October, the seasonally adjusted Employment Index indicated a return to job creation in the latest survey period. The rate of growth was marginal, however.

Adjusted for seasonal influences, the Incoming New Work Index registered above the 50.0 no-change mark at 56.2 in October, thereby indicating a solid expansion in new order books. That said, the expansion was weaker than the long-run average.

Business confidence towards future growth prospects hit its highest level since the series began in March 2015. According to anecdotal evidence, marketing efforts are anticipated to lead to stronger inflows of new business over the upcoming year.

Continuing the sequence of input price inflation seen since April, businesses in the wholesale & retail sector noted another increase in average cost burdens during the latest survey period. The rate of inflation eased to a seven-month low, however.

At 43.8, the seasonally adjusted Prices Charged Index registered a sharp decline in selling prices across the wholesale & retail sector. Some firms linked falling charges to increasing competition.

October survey data signalled a sharp upturn in business activity growth. The latest expansion was steep overall and the strongest recorded since June. Anecdotal evidence linked the improvement to government projects.

Employment Index scored above the critical 50.0 mark once again. The figure was indicative of a modest level of job creation in Dubai’s construction sector.

The seasonally adjusted Incoming New Work Index hit a three-month high during October. The rate of growth was sharp overall and above the series’ long-run average. Some firms linked higher inflows of new business to government contracts.

Future growth prospects in Dubai’s construction sector matched September’s survey-record high in the most recent survey period. Anecdotal evidence suggested that developments surrounding Expo 2020 are forecast to lead to higher output over the next 12 months.

Input cost inflation faced by firms in Dubai’s construction sector eased to a three-month low in the latest survey period. The rate of inflation was only slight overall.

At 48.6 in October, the seasonally adjusted Prices Charged Index remained below the neutral 50.0 threshold for the second month running. The rate of price discounting was modest overall and broadly in line with that registered in September.

 

HOPE seeks £2m investment as it reinvents fashion for older women

 

After three years of selling directly online and dropship companies with no membership through an expanding network of independent small shops, the Berkshire-based company grew 86 per cent this quarter and expects around a £1m turnover for 2018.

Targeting the 40-plus age female, a group of 3.3 million in the UK alone, Hope sits between the high street mainstream and designer high end.

It has, says co-founder Nayna McIntosh “proved its concept that there is a market for a capsule collection of wardrobe staples using the best fabrics and yarns available.

“The relaxed pieces we produce wrap, drape and flatter women’s bodies so they feel confident and beautiful. For many it’s been a long time since they have felt that way about themselves.”

A recently updated report by marketing agency J. Walter Thompson found older women, who by and large control household spending, are the vanguard of a major social change where age no longer dictates the way people live.

Yet they regard the style of best wholesale clothing aimed at them as outdated and consider advertisers treat them as stereotypes not individuals.

McIntosh equally aware of the disconnect in 2014 spotted a gap in the market. Her insights and expertise came from two decades with M&S working to director level.

“I knew the customers because they were like me,” she says. “It was a now-or-never moment to start my own business.”

Five friends and her accountant husband Harvey Ainley bought in and Hope Fashion was born.

It now employs six, almost all of females aged 20 to 62 and including two trainees who decided on the world of work rather than university, plus a wider pool of consultants.

All design is in the UK with the majority of its exclusive, feel-good stretch fabric sourced from Italy and 10 per cent from a factory in Sheffield. Manufacture is similarly split.

Hope’s sizing descriptions are notably uplifting. Dresses float from ‘freesize’ to ‘dual curvy’ while trousers stride from ‘super slim’ to ‘super curvy’.

The company’s best-selling core is its starter Foundation Collection.

In many ways similar to the immaculate construction of performance sportwear, it offers “the wearer support, freedom of movement, breathability, freshness and comfort. The garments won’t pill and are easy to wash and wrinkle-free, so ideal for travelling,” says McIntosh.

The latest, next generation Power Foundation range builds on that, fusing together two fabric layers for more special occasion separates and pieces.

“This has doubled selling expectations,” adds McIntosh. “We find many women buy Foundation pieces as base layers then layer again with our knitwear.”

Another unexpected but very positive consequence has been the wholesale channel, helping independent shops diversify and high street footfall revive in smaller and market towns, where the keep-trade-local ethos remains strong despite the digital onslaught.

“There’s more innovative thinking happening now among retailers – for example one café owner in Devon has started selling our pieces,” explains McIntosh who aims to have 100 on board in future.

With orders from the US, Europe and New Zealand increasing, expansion is essential.

And it will happen McIntosh is in no doubt. After all the business’s name, also her mother’s, says it all.

Her grandfather was part of Jamaica’s Windrush generation who left their families to come to work in the UK and save enough to build a better life for them.

“They have passed on their determined work ethic and love of family to me,” says McIntosh. “It’s what makes Hope the company it is today.”

 

Starting An E-Commerce Store?

 

If you’re looking to become an internet entrepreneur, you may be tempted to get into e-commerce. After all, it’s easier than ever today with simple website templates, third-party fulfillment and the ability to sell inventory that you never even buy until you make your first sale. If you’re interested in e-commerce, here are five fabulous niches that are ready for big profits:

1. Jewelry & Accessories

The jewelry and accessories market online is one of the hottest markets today and is projected to grow to over 250 billion (GBP) by the year 2020. One main reason why consumers love to buy jewelry and accessories online is that jewelry dropshippers is a more impulsive buy than in a retail store — online, both men and women believe they may not see the same style anywhere else and that if they don’t buy it now, they will miss out.

Jewelry and accessories are also relatively easy to advertise through digital marketing. Here are a few things to keep in mind. First, I recommend focusing on either men’s or women’s styles, to help you focus on the mindset of your target audience. Second, avoid selling clothing due to international differences in sizing. Third, try not to sell anything generic like a necklace; instead, sell a specific set of items like a “heart” necklace, a “Paris-themed” necklace and so on, because these specific items are easier to find for someone searching for those unique terms.

2. Household Goods

One of my household goods e-commerce businesses has generated over eight figures and counting because of this trendy niche. Consumers love to spend money on their homes: Home décor, cooking and gardening are great places to start.

If you can showcase a product or product line that gives your customers a wow factor or a unique experience, your sales will skyrocket. “Wowing” people with your household product means it saves either time or money (or both). Products that wow consumers typically surprise them by showing them how to do an everyday task much faster or much cheaper, making the purchase a no-brainer in the minds of your prospects. From my experience, your household goods store will attract primarily female baby boomers, who hold incredible spending power in today’s economy.

3. Consumer Gadgets

Remember the fidget spinner craze and the fidget cube? These two products have generated hundreds of millions of dollars online — and each month, there are new gadgets on the rise. They can be anything from novelty corkscrews to portable electronics.

To gauge your potential market demand, check out Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Any products that surpass their funding are sales-worthy because people love them. Get in touch with those product owners and lock in a contract with one or two hot sellers to enjoy the ride.

If you’re going to reach out to a product owner, do your homework first so you understand what their mission and vision are. Armed with some background information, your opening email or call to them can really speak to how you will help them sell more products, which is the bottom line for any new product creator. Then, if you want to claim an exclusive contract with a highly in-demand seller, try to be flexible on payment terms and wholesale pricing — just as long as you are only paying on demand as you sell.

4. Phone Accessories

Every year, a new phone comes out and consumers need to upgrade their screen protectors, phone cases and even wireless chargers. One student of mine sold magnetic charger cables and banked over $500,000 in sales simply because of “right place, right time.”

Let’s take the iPhone X as an example. According to Fortune.com, iPhone X has sold 29 million units in a single quarter, which means nearly 30 million people suddenly need new accessories. However, not every phone accessory will sell, so make sure that the accessories you choose solve a real problem, are fashionable and appeal to a narrow segment of the market so they can find you (for instance, an iPhone X case is great, but an iPhone X case with unicorns on it is much better!).

5. Sports & Outdoors Gear

Sports lovers are always crazy about their products, rather than cheap clothing websites, whether it be golfing, fishing, hiking, snowboarding or even badminton. Sports enthusiasts spend money on their hobbies, and that means there’s plenty of room for profit.

Take recreational fishing as an example. It’s a very narrow niche within the sports and outdoors market, but according to the 2016 census report, fishing expenditures topped $46 billion in the United States alone. Taking a mere fraction of this market share can easily help you build a six- to seven-figure business.

If you decide to get into the sports and outdoors niche, here are some tips to consider. First, find a niche within a niche where there’s a need with no competition to bother you. Second, if you choose a sport you know well, you’ll be well positioned to intimately know the pain points and the problem you’re solving so you can woo prospects into becoming customers.

With these five niches, you’ll be in great shape to capitalize on big trends happening in the e-commerce space. Just make sure you fidn your niche down far enough to fill a unique need, and you’ll be steps ahead of your competition.