Thursday, July 24, 2008

Style and Focus News Bites

** Economy: Jobless Claims Surge Above 400,000. The number of newly laid off people filing claims for unemployment benefits bolted past 400,000 last week as companies trimmed their workforces to cope with a slowing economy. The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of new applications filed for these benefits rose by a seasonally adjusted 34,000 to 406,000 for the week ending July 19. The snapshot of layoffs was worse than economists were forecasting. They were expecting claims to rise to 375,000 according to economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR. (USA Today) - Economy

** Beauty: Aveda Reformulates Make-up Line With Natural Pigments. Leading natural cosmetics provider Aveda has updated and expanded its Uruku make-up collection, opting for natural annatto pigment instead of synthetics. The range now includes a new bronzer, an updated and reformulated lip pigment line, together with a new eye accent and cheek/lip crème, all benefitting from the use of the annatto, which is a powdered pigment derived from urukum and mica, and is a light reflecting mineral. Aveda says that this pigment delivers lasting color for all skin types, with the added benefit of being naturally derived, reducing the risk of toxicity and other drawbacks associated with synthetic pigments. (Cosmetic Design) - Beauty

** Publishing: NYT to Raise Newsstand Price to $1.50. The New York Times Co. will increase the Monday-Saturday newsstand cost of its flagship paper by 25 cents to $1.50. Times CEO Janet Robinson said the price increase for The New York Times will take effect Aug. 18. The last increase came a year ago. The company recently announced a 4.5 percent increase in home delivery prices for the paper that takes effect this month, the second bump in a year. (The Associated Press) - Publishing

** Business: Amazon Sales Brisk Despite U.S. Economy. Inc. reporting Wednesday that its second-quarter profit more than doubled and surpassed analyst expectations. The Internet retailer also raised full-year revenue projections. Sales were strong in several sections of Amazon's massive marketplace. (Los Angeles Times)

** Fashion: Gucci Loses Out to Vuitton as Brand Starts to Fade. "Gucci may be squandering its high-end credentials for more mainstream growth", says Rita Clifton, chairman of London-based Interbrand consulting company. "There's a real danger zone at Gucci at this moment," Clifton said. "It's easy in these high-pressure times to drive growth by keeping your foot on the accelerator, but they've got to make sure they keep reinvesting in top-end luxury." "With the slowdown in US consumption, Gucci's flaws are beginning to show", says Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan, adding that the label has "lost its personality". Gucci's first-quarter sales growth slowed to 2.5 percent from 11 percent in the fourth quarter.

"Gucci has disappointed the market and LVMH has surprised," said Scilla Huang Sun, who runs a luxury fund for Julius Baer Holding AG in Zurich. Julius Baer cut its stake in PPR by 25 percent this year, while buying LVMH, the world's biggest luxury-goods maker.

Gucci accounts for 36 percent of PPR's operating profit and 11 percent of sales. A recent effort by Gucci to design a lower-priced handbag to compete with Vuitton's Neverfull tote also gave a down-market image to the brand, critics said. Canvas GG Joy purses and bags, introduced last year, are emblazoned with printed GG logos and cost about 350 euros for a small doctor-bag model. (China Daily) - Fashion

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