October 16, 2018

The Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo has steadily grown into an international brand known for its inexpensive but stylish designs. As you might expect, maintaining this image requires the company to strike a delicate balance between creating interesting products and keeping costs low. That’s why Uniqlo recently announced that robots have replaced 90 percent of the staff at one of its warehouses.

Along with drastically cutting costs, the company’s newly automated warehouse will also be able to operate 24 hours a Continue reading

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August 14, 2018

In June, the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer paid $63 billion to acquire Monsanto, one of the biggest names in agricultural technology. The idea behind the deal was to merge Bayer’s pesticide business with Monsanto’s dominance in genetically modified crops to create the world’s largest seed and agrochemical company. Along with these valuable assets, however, Bayer also acquired a lot of legal baggage. Over the years, Monsanto has faced thousands of lawsuits from consumer and environmental advocates who claim that the Continue reading

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August 9, 2018

Last year, Apple sold more than 280 million iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers to customers around the world. And judging by the tech giant’s ever climbing stock price, the sales tally for 2018 appears to be going strong as well. In fact, last week the price of an Apple share climbed above $207. Besides being good news for investors, reaching this milestone meant that Apple became the first publicly traded company to achieve a market capitalization above $1 trillion.

To Continue reading

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August 3, 2018

A few months ago, we looked at why our subject for the Chapter 8 profile in Understanding Business was leaving her position as CEO of the Campbell Soup Company. As the video below shows, however, Campbell’s problems began long before Denise Morrison took the top job.

Questions:

  1. Why has Campbell’s struggled to grow steadily in recent years?
  2. What do you think Campbell’s should do to start winning over young consumers who don’t like canned soup?
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July 31, 2018

Although people sometimes use “vanilla” as a byword for “boring,” the complicated global industry that surrounds this flavor is far from dull. 80 percent of the world’s vanilla crop is grown in Madagascar, which has the perfect climate for vanilla orchids. These plants only bloom one day a year and must be pollinated by hand, followed by another 9 months of waiting for the fruit to mature into pods. Then comes another weeks-long process of curing the plants using steam, Continue reading

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June 21, 2018

After a lot of legal wrangling, AT&T and Time Warner recently received permission to proceed with a long-awaited corporate merger. But they aren’t the only media companies looking to combine forces: Disney plans to buy Fox, so long as Comcast doesn’t beat them to the punch. This video takes a look at what these mergers mean for the companies themselves as well as consumers.

Questions:

  1. Why are major media companies starting to join forces through corporate mergers?
  2. How do you Continue reading
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With more than 28,000 locations around the globe and a valuation of $44 billion, Starbucks ranks as the second-most-valuable brand in fast food. Along with its many cafes, the chain also sells a range of retail products from beans and coffee pods to pre-packaged versions of its bestselling drinks. In fact, Starbucks’ line of consumer goods does so well that the Swiss food conglomerate Nestle recently purchased the rights to the company’s retail division for $7.15 billion.

According to analysts, Continue reading

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From picking up apples to distressing jeans, automation is spreading to almost every business you can imagine. And if you happen to live in the Boston area, you could swing by the new restaurant Spyce today and have your lunch prepared by robots. This automated eatery is the result of a partnership between a group of young engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and renowned chef Daniel Boulud. Together these intrepid entrepreneurs claim they have created “the world’s Continue reading

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With more than 26,000 locations nationwide and thousands more around the globe, Subway ranks as the world’s largest restaurant chain. Despite its size, though, the sandwich giant has shown some signs of decline recently. Along with three consecutive years of falling sales (including a 4.4 percent drop in 2017), foot traffic in Subway restaurants has plummeted by 25 percent since 2012. In fact, insiders estimate that as many as one-third of the company’s locations are not profitable.

To combat this Continue reading

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Famous for its sugary Slurpees and Big Gulp soft drinks, 7-Eleven allows people to grab a quick snack and get back on the road without a second thought. Although this business model has served the chain well since the 1940s, recent changes in consumer behavior have executives worried that 7-Eleven could be falling behind its competitors. According to the leading trade association of the convenience industry, the nation’s more than 155,000 convenience stores sold $53.3 billion worth of prepared foods Continue reading

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