The American Columbia adapts its ambitions to the crisis

VIDEO – To double its sales in five years, the American outdoor group must accelerate in Europe.

The Chamonix store. The mountain and walking collection is
The Chamonix store. The mountain and walking collection is “Europeanized” this winter. @ Monica-Dalmasso

Models worthy of Abercrombie & Fitch dressed in down jackets waddle in music in the shower to prove that the garment is really waterproof. Between fir trees and artificial snow, Columbia Sportswear launched its new advertising campaign in New York. The first of this magnitude in over ten years. With the same stainless “muse”: Gert Boyle, 91, non-executive president of the outdoor clothing and footwear company, founded in 1938 in Portland, Oregon, by his family, of Jews who fled the ‘Nazi Germany. The matriarch makes people laugh, heroine of humorous spots. She tested “tough” (“tough” says the slogan) clothes in extreme and absurd conditions.

Columbia, listed on Wall Street, is profitable and growing. Its turnover rose from $ 3 million in the 1980s to $ 2.1 billion in 2014, where it soared 25%. Its profits jumped 45% to 137.2 million. But sales, for a long time

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Hawaii: Telescope is dismantled due to protests

The mood in paradise is bad. One of the largest telescopes in the world is to be built on the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Kea. But a broad alliance is making a stand against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Because it is said to be in the most sacred place of Hawaiian religion and culture – and there are already a dozen other telescopes there.

Now the University of Hawaii has announced a step to appease its opponents. The Ukirt infrared telescope, erected on Mauna Kea in 1979, will be demolished without replacement in six to seven years. It would be the third observatory to disappear before the TMT is built. Previously, plans to dismantle the larger Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and the smaller Hoku Kea training telescope at the University of Hawaii had become known.

With the announcement for the demolition of the third telescope, a specification by island governor David Ige is implemented. He had promised in May that a quarter of the previous telescopes on Mauna Kea would have to give way before the TMT can be switched on.

Construction work on TMT has been on hold since massive protests in April. Sometimes several hundred people had come, Hawaiians as well as environmentalists. Whether the demolition announcements are enough to satisfy the opponents remains to be seen.

US President Barack Obama recently announced another measure designed to improve the mood: On Monday, he presented a program of visits for residents at an astronomy night in the White House. Interested Hawaiians should be able to look around once a month in two telescopes on top of Mauna Kea. Accompanied by experts.

The mountain is an interesting place for astronomers because the air at 4200 meters is very thin and extremely dry. As a result, the observations are only slightly disturbed.

The Thirty Meter Telescope promises a new quality of sky observation in the near and medium infrared range. The main mirror is to be composed of 492 individual parts – and from 2024 onwards, some images will be ten times sharper than the “Hubble” space telescope. The TMT costs more than a billion dollars. The money comes from the USA, Japan, Canada, India and China, among others.

Icon: The mirror

Congress: Focus on Mental Health

OTTENSCHLAG. Numerous doctors, psychotherapists, psychologists and an interested audience found their way into life. Resort Ottenschlag and took part in the sixth congress “Mental Health in Dialogue”. Leading experts presented their findings on the subject of “Psyche and Pain: Somatoform Disorders”.

The “Mental Health in Dialogue” congress took place last weekend at the Lebens.Resort Ottenschlag. The speakers examined the connections between psyche and pain from different perspectives.Somatoform disordersThe diagnosis of somatoform disorder was of particular importance. Somatoform disorder is basically physical complaints for which no organic cause can be found, common symptoms here are headache, abdominal pain, but also back pain. Johannes Püspök, Medical Director in Life.Resort Ottenschlag: “I am pleased that so many participants have found their way to the Waldviertel. This shows us that the Mental Health Congress has established itself as an important training event in recent years. In addition to the professional team here in Ottenschlag, I would like to thank the many well-known experts who come back to the Lebens.Resort every year and share their latest findings with us. ”Henriette Walter, specialist at the Medical University of Vienna / AKH, was the scientific director Member of the “Burnout” working group of the Vienna Medical Association. At lunchtime and in the breaks, delicious treats awaited the participants.

Linda Jackson, a go-getter at the head of Citroën

“A woman at the head of an automobile company? That is not really the subject. What she has given us above all is her Anglo-Saxon culture!” A year after the surprise appointment of Linda Jackson to the general management of Citroën, this observation of a leader of the brand justifies the choice of Carlos Tavares a posteriori.

For the boss of the PSA group, this 56-year-old Briton – including 28 from Rover and 5 at the head of Citroën Great Britain – presented the perfect profile to set to music his Back in the race program, intended to revive the manufacturer in global competition. Linda Jackson wants efficiency. “Gone are the hours of somewhat intellectual discussions where we had fun,” continues our interlocutor. Since the arrival of the Briton, a wind of pragmatism has been blowing in the walls.

ENGLISH EDUCATION. The woman remembers those interminable meetings she discovered when she landed in Paris. “It may be useful for creativity, but what a waste of time!” she comments with an imperceptible smile. From now on, the rule valid for all employees, whatever their hierarchical level, imposes meetings of one hour at most, with a strictly defined agenda and presentations limited to fifteen minutes. Even the number of authorized slides is specified: no more than four! And digressions are prohibited: “we must clearly identify the points to be discussed and the answers we expect from colleagues present.”

Always in search of efficiency, the new boss very quickly reframed the schedules: 8 am – 6:30 pm. Goodbye extended days, where you feel obliged to haunt the offices until 9 pm. “I estimate that after 7 pm we no longer have clear ideas,” she told us one Monday morning in June at 8 am sharp, in her large office that she did not take the time to decorate. his way.

> Video. Enter Linda Jackson’s office with us:

And since we are in the chapter of the little pikes addressed to management à la française, Linda Jackson also insists on her desire to make people work together: “Before any decision, I make it a rule to discuss it beforehand with my colleagues. teams, so that people take their responsibilities. This is not so much in the habits of the French. ” And Bam. As for form, she adds that she appreciates our creativity and says she wants to put the two cultures in symbiosis to get the best out of them.

But this native of Coventry may well be, as it should be, in love with France and devote all her weekends to her Norman garden, she plays on her origins to impose her methods. Although she understands and speaks French perfectly, she very quickly continues the interview in English, as she does systematically with her close collaborators. “This prevents us from embroidering and forces us to get to the point,” welcomes Mathieu Bellamy, director of strategy. Which is good, since to believe a loved one “we should not explain things to him twice, half a time is enough!”

THE CACTUS AS AN EMBLEM. His discreet, almost reserved manners are more in line with the politics of reason than with the daring or genius strokes which, from the yellow cruise to the DS 19, have made the chevrons a mythical logo. At a time when Carlos Tavares wants to put an end to rivalries between brands within PSA and assign each a precise positioning, Linda Jackson knows that she is there to permanently install Citroën in the niche of the general public. Less glamorous, of course, than seducing the happy few with the spectacular design of the DS, which now form a brand in its own right, distinct from Citroën, but highly strategic at a time when PSA wants to finally set off on international conquest and rationalize its costs. .

What Tavares especially noted from Jackson’s service record in Great Britain, Citroën’s second-largest market after France, is that it has been able to straighten out margins while increasing market share. If she admits that her mission is above all to “improve the value of the brand and ensure its profitability”, she firmly refuses to consider it at the expense of the products. On the contrary. “We are still selling dreams, we have to offer sexy products,” she says. It is no coincidence that it is currently driving a C4 Cactus. This atypical model, with its plastic side shields, is consistent with the identity that the brand will have to impose: original models and useful technology.

LADY MARKETING. But the Jackson era should be above all, for Citroën, that of the great marketing turning point, where the relationship with the customer becomes predominant. An approach which, according to the boss, has no equivalent in the automotive sector. “This industry is starting from a long way off, confirms a consultant,” because it is still largely in the hands of engineers, because it does not know its customers very well and does not know how to talk to them. ” It is urgent at Citroën, because if the financial results are deemed acceptable by Carlos Tavares, the erosion of market share (around 4% in Europe, against 23% for Volkswagen for example) shows, according to him, that the new guidance is still struggling to pass in the audience.

To remedy this, Linda Jackson has set up a group of exclusively female researchers who imagine the car of tomorrow. It has also committed the dealer network to a quality approach, with a series of simple promises – to make the vehicle clean after an intervention, not to charge for work that was not scheduled but likely to improve the image of the brand. to the public.

AND THE NEW MODELS? Above all, the people of Citroën have seen a hundred geeks tumble in recent months, recruited in the purest start-up spirit. “They come to us for a year or two, the time to share their creativity with us and bring the brand into new communication channels”, explains a high-level executive. First results: more attractive institutional sites, a stronger presence on social networks – 10 million fans worldwide – and an abundance of ideas around future apps (alerts for revisions, geolocation of where the car is parked when ‘we are several to use it).

And the creation of Citroën Advisor, a service rating system modeled on that of TripAdvisor, which allows customers to rate the way they have been greeted and informed, to judge whether deadlines and delivery conditions have been met, etc. “This shows the customer that we want to be in a process of total transparency and therefore to put him in confidence”, explains Mathieu Bellamy. Launched in October, the service has collected 15,000 opinions, mostly good. But marketing teams are not afraid of bad grades, on the contrary: according to a principle drawn from social psychology, called cognitive dissonance, a disappointed customer to whom the brand returns to correct the situation will be even more loyal than a satisfied customer. A system that will only give its full potential with the arrival (eagerly awaited) of new models. Because, pragmatically, Linda Jackson knows it well: for the motorist, it is first and foremost the product that counts.

Francis Lecompte

1977 Entry to MG Rover.
2005 Chief Financial Officer of Citroën Great Britain then Citroën France.
2010 CEO of Citroën Great Britain.
2014 DG de Citroën

1.18 million: vehicles sold in 2014. Bestseller: the C4 (375,332 units).
10,000: points of sale (garages and concessions) in 90 countries.
8: World constructors’ championship titles in WRC (rallies).

The PSA program to return to profitability Carlos Tavares’ goal is clear: in 2022, PSA will only operate 26 models, compared to around 50 today. And all will have to be profitable. Its Back in the race plan (“back in the race” in French version) sounds the death knell for coupes, convertibles and other costly variations intended for niche customers. “We must channel the creative flow of design”, he warned last year, for “better use of human and financial resources”. Even if this should not slow down the arrival of new models – we promise five per year – the group will only use two platforms in the future, against seven currently, to develop its ranges. And the recent agreement signed by PSA to set up a factory in Morocco illustrates its desire to increase the share of its vehicles produced abroad to more than 50%, against less than 40% today.

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Philadelphia cheese could change owner

Is Philadelphia cheese about to change hands? This is at least the wish of its owner, the Mondelez International group (ex-Kraft), which was working on the sale of its European cheese and grocery activities, according to the Reuters agency. Mondelez, which would remain the owner in the United States, would have mandated the investment banks Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. This operation could bring him around 3 billion dollars. It would mark an additional step in the reconfiguration of this heavyweight in the world food industry.

Cheese and groceries generated $ 1.44 billion last year at Mondelez (for a total turnover of $ 34 billion). The world’s leading cheese brand, Philadelphia is one of the group’s flagships, which also owns LU and Oreo cookies as well as Milka chocolate and Carambar sweets. Very popular in Western and Northern Europe, Philadelphia had been launched in France in 2011. But faced with the leader of the department of St Morêt, it had not succeeded in achieving the company’s objectives (15% of user households ). If he favored a positioning to cook and spread to distinguish himself from his competitors, he also dispersed, notably by launching a chocolate version, a cobranding with Milka, supposed to compete with Nutella, which was finally withdrawn from rays.

Refocusing on snacking

The rumor about a Philadelphia divestiture has been swelling for over a year. In announcing in spring 2014 the merger of its coffee activities with those of the Dutch DEMB, the CEO of the group, Irene Rosenfeld, recalled Mondelez’s priority, namely its refocusing on snacking, a rapidly growing activity all over the world . She had taken advantage of this at the time to house her cheeses in an independent entity called Meals. What had been perceived as a first step towards a transfer.

This refocusing on snacking, which has become the spearhead of Irene Rosenfeld, was done under pressure from its shareholders, starting with activist Nelson Peltz, anxious to boost the group’s profitability. Gradually capitalized, it advocated a merger between Mondelez and PepsiCo two years ago. This context had already led the group in 2012 to a first transformation: the split between its North American grocery activities (Kraft), generating margins, and those of international snacking (now Mondelez), generating growth.

It is precisely Kraft, merged in recent months with Heinz ketchup, which could get their hands on European activities in Philadelphia. A kind of homecoming for the famous cheese spread … Kraft Heinz has in any case had a right of first refusal since its split from Mondelez.

This project to sell the European cheese activities of Mondelez International comes at a difficult time for the American group. Mondelez, which has been engaged since last year in a vast restructuring plan of 3.5 billion dollars, announced last July a seventh consecutive decline in its quarterly turnover.


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Orlando Airport implements facial recognition

International Airport from Orlando in Florida upgraded its automatic passport control (APC) kiosks to include facial recognition for arriving passengers.

Provided by SITA, a global provider of border security solutions to governments, airlines and airports, the technology is part of new requirement from the United States Customs and Border Protection (Customs and Border Protection or CBP). The CPB has been demanding since last June that the new automatic kiosks be able to authenticate the identity of a passenger by matching their faces to biometric registration contained in their electronic passport, Orlando being the first American airport to set it up.

Paul Houghton, President of SITA at Americas, welcomed the fact that more and more people have the possibility of using these automatic terminals allowing them to facilitate their way through customs and immigration zones in airport terminals, since the new machines could reduce 40% queues. “There is now additional security since the CBP requires that facial biometrics be adapted to the e-passport presented. Neare 500 million passports electronic have been issued worldwide; these hold facial biometrics while some others also contain fingerprints. Our SITA APC booth has all the latest requirements to help them tighten security checks and make them more efficient at airports. ”

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