Dear Reader

Robin LewisGlobalization is no longer some esoteric conversation about how the world’s coming together, inter-connecting cultures and commerce, and wonderful stuff like that. For U.S. brands, retailers and all consumer-facing industries, globalization, or growing their businesses internationally, has become a necessity.

And, the “BRIC” countries, so named by an economist at Goldman Sachs (Brazil, Russia, India and China), were deemed at the turn of the century, emerging engines of growth. And so they were, even faring well through the Great Recession.

Now, however, their growth has begun to slow as the developed world continues to struggle on the edge of further recessionary, financial and political turmoil, all acting as a drag on the BRICs. Even so, their GDP growth is roughly double that of the developed countries, Europe, and the U.S. in particular.

So, while the BRICs are not rising at their earlier blistering pace, for U.S. companies to sideline their entry into GDP growths ranging from 5 to 8 percent would be foolish. However, focus should be on the BICs, since Russia seems to be on a “sabbatical” from its BRIC colleagues, hovering at around 3 percent growth with all kinds of complications, big deficits, rising inflation, and a host of other issues attendant to its plutocratic type government.

And, I’ve chosen to focus on India in this issue because of all the negative press of late, exploring the reasons behind numerous barriers to entry, and reasons for companies not to even consider entry. On top of a slowing economy; rising inflation; the pre-existing and various infrastructure issues; pervasive corruption; and inefficient, largely ineffective distribution capabilities, India’s government (also suffering bureaucratic sclerosis) recently enacted some unfriendly and onerous foreign tax initiatives, as well as rescinding a ruling that was friendly to foreign retail and brand entrants. Essentially India has recently been “shooting themselves in the foot,” actually both feet, even beyond the pre-existing obstructions.

Having said this, read the article which details all the “why nots” for entering India, but then, surprise, dives into why you should be planning and/or actually moving into India now. Put simply, if you are thinking twice about entering, you should think a third time and just do it.

Also in this issue, we have an in- depth interview with Darshan Mehta, President and CEO of Reliance Brands, who speaks with refreshing candor about opportunities for global brands in India. And he should know; he has been highly successful bringing a portfolio of iconic brands to his country.
Never to shy from controversy, we take a deeper dive exploring some of the reasons behind Avon’s downward spiral and attempt at resurrection. It’s a no-holds barred revelation about Avon’s board’s Achille’s heel. Or should we say 11 heels.

We also offer an enticing selection of topical and timely reports on overlooked opportunities in the U.S. cross-borders market; showrooming, the bane of all brick and mortar retailers; what’s behind the Uniqlo phenomenon; a report on whether flash sites are just a flash in the pan; new performance breakthroughs in athletic wear; and why developing an innovative and sustainable corporate culture may be the saving grace for organizations of every size.

I invite you to travel with us as we help to demystify and deconstruct what makes the business of retailing so compelling.

Robin Lewis About Robin Lewis

Robin Lewis has over forty years of strategic operating and consulting experience in the retail and related consumer products industries. He has held executive positions at DuPont, VF Corporation, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), and Goldman Sachs, among others, and has consulted for dozens of retail, consumer products and other companies. In addition to his role as CEO and Editorial Director of The Robin Report, he is a professor at the Graduate School of Professional Studies at The Fashion Institute of Technology.