• U.S. Sizzler Restaurants Close as Consumer Trends Demand Change
  • New Product Picks That Capitalize on Global Market Trends
  • Rising Olive Oil Prices for 1996
  • The Bikini Turns 50 Years Old in July
  • Packard Bell and NEC Merge to Form One of the Largest PC Companies in the World
  • Rubber Industry Anticipates Change and Volatility
  • Daewoo Sees Opportunity for Home Appliances in Indonesia
  • Whirlpool Strikes Deal with Japanese Retailer Daiichi
  • Air France Establishes Global Alliance Network
  • Satellite Market Growing in Asia
  • Vietnam's First American Fast Food Restaurant
  • Germany's Bicycle Boom
  • Country Update -- Mexico
  • Country Update -- Brazil
  • check back for more news this month!
  • Crack the Safe!
  • .....check back for more news this month!
  • LOS ANGELES, USA -- Sizzler International, a US-based quick-service steak house chain closed 130 US restaurants and filed for bankruptcy earlier this month. The chain is expected to re-enter the market with its new Sizzler American Grill concept by early next year, redesigned to meet the growing health-related concerns of its customer base. The restaurant chain was born in the 1950's and appealed to the traditional, mid-scale steak-house market at the time. Responding to changing consumer tastes and preferences of the '90s, the new Sizzler American Grill plans to revamp the menu choices to include foods that are perceived as healthier, such as smoked chicken, pasta and grilled seafood. Their plan is to move away from the fast food budget-conscious restaurant style fare into a more service-oriented, higher image establishment -- back to a '90s-style mid-scale level. This comes at a time where the gap between lower-end fast food restaurants and higher-end service-oriented restaurants are seeing widening gaps; consumers in the US are eating out more and looking for healthier alternatives. Still the desire for value is strong among diners. Sizzler's 215 U.S. operated restaurants posted operating losses of about $8 million this year. They also operate 92 Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants and one The Italian Oven restaurant in Australia. Sizzler has 87 Sizzler franchises in Australia and Asia. Those operations are reported to be profitable.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)

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    USA and JAPAN -- Three new product introductions caught our attention as they exemplify key trends in developed markets around the world -- an increasing emphasis on portability, personal space and isolationism all grounded in technology -- digital and scientific enhancements -- that bring us closer to others remotely.
    • Kodak offers a new digital camera for under US$350
    • Eclipse brand Smokeless cigarettes were introduced in the US by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
    • Sony introduces a Walkman-style movie-screen in Japan

      (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)
    SOUSSE, Tunisia -- Olive oil prices are expected to rise worldwide due to decreased production. The reduced crop output resulted from ongoing drought in the Mediterranean, where the majority of olive oil is produced. High olive oil demand can be partly attributed to noted trends in health-related concerns associated with aging populations, increasing focus on fitness and well-being, and a resurgence of eating and cooking with more natural ingredients in major markets like the US. Over 90% of the world's olive oil is produced and exported from the European Union, Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. Supplies from the new crop are not expected to satisfy market demand. Olive oil production for 1995/96 was estimated to be 1.548 million metric tons, down from 1.859 million in 1994/95, while consumption was forecast to be 1.785 million tons, a drop of 5.35% from 1.882 million in 1994/95.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)
    PARIS, France -- The bikini was first introduced to the world by Louis Reard, fifty years ago, at a French fasion show held at a Paris swimming pool in July of '46. It took nearly a decade for ``the smallest bathing suit in the world'' (a then trademarked slogan) to reach mass appeal, when it was popularized by French actress Brigitte Bardot's appearance in Roger Vadim's 1956 film ``And God Created Woman.'' By the mid-'60s, the bikini became de rigueur in fashion swimwear. Certainly, the bikini has undergone a number of fashion iterations, from lycra to "string" and then a resurgence of the one-piece suit. But like most fashion trends, the bikini is making a come-back, and smaller than ever they say, with Chanel's dot bras and Paco Rabanne's string.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)
    CALIFORNIA, USA -- The announced merger of Packard Bell and NEC's operations outside of Japan will form a new company called Packard Bell NEC with anticipated annual revenues of US$8 billion, a 15.1% US market share and an 11.4% share worldwide. Compaq Computer currently ranks #1 in terms of market share in the US. The deal is valued at US$300 million and expected to be completed by July 1. Packard Bell, of Sacramento, California, specializes in low cost PCs and bears a reputation for discounting; it is also credited as being one of the first PC companies to sell to mass retail outlets. 1995 sales for Packard Bell were reported to be about $4.6 billion; NEC's overall annual revenues were approximately $41 billion. According to a UPI report, Packard Bell's Chief, Beny Alagem, will serve as Chairman/CEO and President of Packard Bell NEC. Alagem said that the new company's mission "is to deliver value-driven solutions." NEC's expertise in electronics will enable the new company to expand development of multimedia technology and have a major presence in all areas of the global PC market.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)


    KOREA and INDONESIA -- In response to growing consumer demand in Southeast Asian nations for household appliances, Daewoo Electronic Co. of S. Korea will be building a manufacturing plant in Indonesia, in a joint venture with Indonesia's Bukka Co., an engineering and communications company. Plant construction will begin this Fall with planned output of 100,000 television sets and 50,000 refrigerators/year.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)

    SINGAPORE -- Volatility in natural rubber prices are expected this year due to limited supplies, falling stocks, adverse weather conditions (heavy rains in rubber growing areas in southern Thailand and northern Malaysia) and unpredictable buying from China. Some industry experts say that price increases will only be moderate, however, tempered by supplies of synthetic rubber which serves as an alternative to natural rubber. The leading producers of natural rubber are currently south Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia, southern Thailand and northern Malaysia, but this is also expected to change significantly in the coming years. Malaysia's production has declined sharply in the last several years, from 1.6 million tons in 1988 to 1.0 million tons in 1995, and projected output in 2020 is only 500,000 tons. Thailand's production is expected to decline sharply as well by the year 2020 to 1.3 million tons from 1.8 million tons last year. Indonesia's production is expected to overtake the market -- projected to be 3.7 million tons in the year 2020, up from 1.45 million tons last year. But keep an eye on Vietnam and Cambodia, who are likely to become significant producers. Currently, these two countries produce only 170,000 tons, but this is expected to increase many-fold to 1.3 million tons by 2020. World production of natural rubber will reportedly reach 6.054 million tons in 1996, compared with an estimated consumption of 6.065 million tons. Output in 1997 is forecast to be 6.175 million tons, consistent with projected consumption of 6.174 million tons.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)
    TOKYO, Japan -- Electronics retailer, Daiichi Corp., will carry Whirlpool's home appliance products in 300 outlets throughout Japan. Together, they also plan to develop new products for the Japanese market. This move is part of Whirlpool's aggressive strategy to increase its Asian presence, where it has already established offices in Hong Kong, New Delhi, Singapore and Tokyo. Whirlpool is a leading US white goods manufacturer, with facilities in 12 countries. Its products are sold under 11 major brand names in 140 countries. Last year, Whirlpool also announced five joint ventures in India and China, where there is a large, growing middle class.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)


    SINGAPORE -- Asia's demand for satellite services is seeing significant growth. The world's leading provider of satellite services, Intelsat, expects its revenues from Asia to grow by 50% over the next four years. And significant changes are expected in the fastest-growing industry market segment there, DTH (Direct-to-Home), which is used primarily for broadcasting, video-conferencing, telemedia and interactive communications. At present, Intelsat has 45% of satellite capacity in Asia, but their share is expected to decrease in the coming years due to increasing competition from private companies. Nevertheless, the size of the total market is expanding so rapidly, that Intelsat will continue to grow significantly. Asian turnover now represents 25% of their US$800 million total worldwide revenues. They expect Asia to represent 30% of revenues by the Year 2000, but estimate that the overall market in Asia alone will be worth US$1 billion. With the industry in transition due to telecomm deregulation and market entry of private commercial enterprise, Intelsat is developing new strategic approaches to marketing. Intelsat represents a consortium, backed by 139 governments and serves customers in more than 200 countries.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)


    GERMANY -- The ratio of bicycles to people in Germany is 3:4, they are owned by 2/3 of all Germans. Among the 82 million people in Germany, there are 62 million bicycles (vs. 40 million automobiles); and half of these bikes are used on a regular basis. At a time when the price of a new car is rising beyond the reach of many, and the majority continue to emphasize the importance of environmental issues, the popularity of bicycles is increasing. Moreover, health and fitness has always been integral to Germany's culture. In Germany, today, bikes are used for 11% of all transportation, and this figure is expected to rise. In support of bicycles, several cities in Germany have added bicycle lanes (i.e. Hamburg), changed traffic laws to favor bicyclists and provided for bike parking spaces. For example, the city of Muenster is spending DM15 million (US$9.7 million) on an underground bicycle parking garage. Bonn will spend DM 1.5 billion (US$970 million) to build 4,500 km (2,790 miles) of new bike paths. Existing bike paths already run 11,000 km (6,820 miles). Frankfurt demonstrated its commitment to bicycle travel by requiring senior officials to commute around town by bicycle for three months.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)

    PARIS, France -- In an effort to survive in the increasingly competitive global alliances of major international airlines, Air France is exploring transatlantic alliances with US airlines as well as affiliations with airlines in Japan (Japan Airlines) and China. Air France is reportedly planning to establish its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong as the first step in a long-term push into China and southeast Asia. In the US, market, analysts speculate that Continental Airlines is a prime US candidate -- as the only airline in the US without a European partner. Air France reports engaging in talks with four major US airlines in the hope of reaching an agreement by the end of 1996. Air France is a state-owned air carrier which hopes to sell to private investors later next year. They have reported cumulative losses of 15 billion francs ($2.9 billion) since 1991.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)


    HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam -- Atlanta, Georgia-based Churchs Chicken chain, a subsidiary of America's Favorite Chicken Company (AFC) in partnership with a privately-owned Indonesian company, PT Cipta Selera Murni, opened the first American fast food restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City last month. The restaurant is called Texas Chicken; and the main attraction is southern fried chicken served in a Texas-style ambience. It is the first of 10 planned restaurants by the end of this decade for this American-Indonesian partnership. Despite growing opportunities to meet the demands of upwardly mobile young adults in Vietnam and the influx of tourists, the Vietnamese government has been resistant to the the creeping influence of Western culture. To this end, there have been recent incidences of blackened western brand beer signs, closing karaoke bars and other measures.
    (Source: YOUR LINK HERE)

    .....check back for more news this month!


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