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Levi stock price hits record low after Goldman Sach retail warning



Goldman Sachs has concerns about the US retail sector.

Levi Strauss & Co. fell more than 5% to a record low on Wednesday after the bank downgraded the company and two other retailers to a sell rating due to uncertain outlook for US apparel.

“Recent results were evidence that the company is not immune from headwinds in the US wholesale channel,” Goldman said in the report.

The report said some apparel companies were too optimistic with springs orders which has left some major retailers with excessive inventory and slowing ordering as they head into the back-to-school and holiday seasons.

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“While brands that have been investing in building strong direct-to-consumer omnichannel commerce are likely to be more insulated, we take a more cautious view on non-athletic apparel brands whose direct-to-consumer businesses are skewed towards outlet stores,” the report said.

Along with Levi’s, PVH and Ralph Lauren were also downgraded in the report due to their high vulnerability to department stores.

Goldman also cited consumer’s shifting toward online ordering and off-price products as additional risks for the three retailers.

“For the longer term, we retain our cautious stance on the outlook for department store retailers and our positive stance on the trajectory of online, DTC and off-price retailers.” Goldman said.

Trading at $18.83, Levi is still above its initial public offering price of $17.

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Panera Bread hires Kraft-Heinz marketing vet as chief brand officer



  • Panera Bread has hired Eduardo Luz, the former US chief marketing officer and global brand officer of Kraft Heinz, as its chief brand and concept officer.
  • Luz started at Panera Bread in May, less than a year since becoming CEO at health supplement brand 8Greens and after six years at Kraft Heinz.
  • The marketing vet joins Panera Bread as it’s adapting its business to the coronavirus pandemic. It recently launched a grocery delivery service as the restaurant industry gets walloped by the coronavirus. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Panera Bread has hired Eduardo Luz, the former US chief marketing officer and global brand officer of Kraft Heinz, as its chief brand and concept officer.

Luz started at Panera Bread in May, according to his LinkedIn profile, less than a year after he became the chief executive at health supplement brand 8Greens. Panera CMO and SVP Chris Hollander will report to Luz.

8Greens did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. Panera Bread confirmed the news to Business Insider.

“Eduardo is a highly experienced and creative business leader with a proven track record of success with building global brands,” Panera Bread CEO Niren Chaudhary said. “We look forward to his innovative and action-oriented brand leadership that will help us take Panera into the future.”

Panera Bread is adapting its business to the pandemic

The marketing vet joins Panera Bread as the company, like others, rethinks its business in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Panera recently launched Panera Grocery, allowing customers to order grocery staples along with its salads, soups and sandwiches.

It has also rolled out curbside pickup and is focusing on drive-through, meal kits and dark kitchens that sell meals for delivery only, Chaudhary recently said.

Luz spent six years at Kraft Heinz prior to 8Greens. He left the global food conglomerate in May 2019 during a tumultuous time in which its longtime CEO Bernardo Hees also left after a $15 billion write down of its Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands and its stock tumbling 27% in February 2019. The problems also shone light on the practice of “zero-based budgeting,” which requires companies to justify individual expenses every year.

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Hong Kong bank survey reveals state of fintech growth



A new report identifies the opportunities and challenges associated with collaborating with fintechs, in addition to how banks expect the Hong Kong fintech space to grow over the next decade, per Crowdfund Insider. The report was released by the Hong Kong Institute for Monetary and Financial Research (HKIMR), and the findings are based on a survey of Hong Kong’s traditional banks and the newly licensed virtual banks.

Challenges of partnering with fintechs

Business Insider Intelligence

Partnerships between banks and fintechs could lead to a more distributed model for Hong Kong’s banking industry, though regulatory and technical obstacles currently hinder this.

More than half of respondents believe the banking system could become more distributed over the next decade. The survey revealed that 51% of incumbents and 38% of virtual banks have formed partnerships with fintechs, such as through internal accelerators, innovation labs, or incubator programs. As the fintech ecosystem continues to grow, boosted by government initiatives, the provision of financial services may be increasingly shared between banks and fintechs.

According to the survey, 57% of incumbents consider an eventual distributed model where they operate as joint ventures or partners with fintechs to be “possible.” By contrast, half of virtual banks consider the distributed scenario, or that incumbents will be replaced by technologically driven banks, as “highly possible,” suggesting that they expect fintech to have a larger impact on the banking industry.

However, fundamental differences between banks’ and fintechs’ respective business models mitigate successful partnerships. A bank may be uncertain as to whether its fintech counterpart is fully compliant, for example, because although banks have specific license regimes, there’s no fintech-specific framework in Hong Kong.

The fact that the fintech regulatory landscape is also constantly evolving exacerbates this further, with 73% of incumbents and 88% of virtual banks citing this as a challenge to partnering. In addition, 78% of incumbents state cybersecurity risks as a hurdle, as they’re concerned that fintechs’ IT security is inadequate. Notably, only 38% of virtual banks agree, which could be because they’re less likely to rely on legacy IT systems and are thus more confident in their cyber resilience and interoperability with fintechs.

For fintechs to benefit from an increasingly distributed banking model, they’ll need to both overcome the current hurdles and prepare for increased regulatory oversight. For example, fintechs could develop initiatives with banks within the Fintech Regulatory Sandbox, which enables partners to launch pilot trials for limited customers without having to achieve full compliance.

This environment would alleviate banks’ concerns regarding regulatory uncertainty. To mitigate cybersecurity concerns, Hong Kong fintechs should look to harness the local open banking framework by working with banks to develop security standards for the sharing of customer data. They could also propose to help banks upgrade their IT systems to ensure full interoperability.

These initiatives would promote further partnerships with incumbents and virtual banks, with fintechs increasingly involved in the distribution of financial services, enabling them to scale and reach wider customer bases. However, fintechs should also prepare for more stringent requirements, as their growing role in the banking system will mean increased oversight from financial supervisors.

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10 things in tech you need to know today, May 26



Bill Gates


Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Tuesday.

  1. The UK will review the role of China’s Huawei in its 5G networks. Huawei had been given a limited role in providing equipment for the superfast mobile network, but that could now change.
  2. Australia’s Covidsafe app has faded into insignificance just one month after launch. The contact tracing app reportedly only helped identify one person with Covid-19 and has diminished in importance as the country’s economy re-opens, according to The Guardian. 
  3. More than 40% of Republicans in a new poll say they think Bill Gates wants to use COVID-19 vaccines to implant location-tracking microchips in recipients. Gates, who has donated $300 million to coronavirus vaccine efforts, has become the target of online conspiracy theorists and conservative pundits over his coronavirus vaccination efforts.
  4. Elon Musk’s Boring Company has finished the tunneling for its Tesla-powered people mover in Las Vegas. The Boring Company completed the second of two tunnels underneath Las Vegas’ convention center. 
  5. Chinese tech company Qihoo 360 slammed the US government for ‘politicizing business’ after it imposed export sanctions on 33 more Chinese companies and government institutions. Anti-virus software company Qihoo 360 said it opposed the action.
  6. Doctors in UK hospitals are using headsets from Microsoft to reduce the amount of staff coming into contact with COVID-19 patients. The HoloLens headsets allow doctors to share their point of view with colleagues remotely, while also showing holographic projections to the doctor wearing the headset.
  7. A robot barista that takes orders, makes coffee, and delivers drinks to customers is being used in South Korea to help with social distancing. The new robot can take orders, make 60 different types of coffee, and serve drinks to customers at their seats.
  8. Drones will help to supply protective equipment to a hospital on a remote Scottish island. The 10-mile journey between mainland Oban and the Isle of Mull usually involves a road trip and a 45-minute ferry, should take only 15 minutes.
  9. A 5G mast in Derbyshire, England was set on fire just days after it was erected. Attacks on 5G masts have been fuelled by a conspiracy theory wrongly linking 5G and coronavirus.
  10. A Canadian e-commerce startup raised $2 million entirely over Zoom to offer try-before-you-buy fashion during coronavirus. The try-before-you-buy fashion startup has fast-tracked its launch process with Covid-19 closing physical clothes stores across North America.

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