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Retail’ as a word has its origins in late Middle English word retaille, re=”expression of force” tailler = ‘to cut’. So, simply put, retailers cut big pieces to small pieces for consumption rather than resale. Just like the butcher needs careful consideration to the art of providing small pieces of a large piece of meat to satisfy each of the numerous customers, retail is not an art unless inventory control is put into practice.

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The recent announcement of Tesla’s new power storage systems got me thinking about the relationship between light, productivity, sustainability and the economy.The story of artificial light is a story of economic development. Before oil lamps and candles, people used to go to bed at sundown and slept in ‘two phases’ – first and second sleep. However, with the advent of artificial light, productivity patterns changed along with sleep patterns, as people’s activities became independent of the availability of natural light.

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I used to think that the main obstacles standing in the way of business advancement were the lack of capital, time and material resources. However over the last ten years working on a wide range of supply chain projects with client companies ranging from multinationals to state-owned enterprises and SMEs, I have come to the conclusion that the real obstacle to business advancement is a dearth of the right people with the right types of skills and experience.

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Milk production has been growing steadily in the developed world. In the developing world there has been some whooping increase both in the consumption and production of dairy products. Of particular interest is the infant formula, which has been a commonplace in the west, yet a prized possession in some parts of Asia : people actually lock up trusted foreign brands in safes. India alone has been the largest milk producer accounting for 16% of global production and China is the fourth largest consumer (5 billion Euros worth imported in 2013). Even though the South Asian Region is progressing in milk production, it appears to lag behind in processing, especially Infant Formula.

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What is the most valuable and precious commodity in the world? Oil? Gold? Saffron? Or perhaps some rare Earth metal? The correct answer is; none of the above. The most valuable and precious commodity in the world is trust. An abundance of trust lubricates and accelerates positive endeavour in business, politics and personal relationships. In extreme cases the absence of trust leads to war, pestilence and famine. Even in the best case the absence of trust acts as a brake imposing costs and delay on progress in any enterprise.

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India- the mystical East- happens to be the second largest source of skilled human resources for the knowledge based global economy. India makes up for more than 30% of skilled workers brought to the US under the US H1B visa. India is not only a supplier of skilled manpower, rather also a key player in knowledge creation. Many of highly skilled Indians are working in top knowledge centers across the globe- NASA, ESA, World Bank and so on.

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It is wonderful to be successful, to win the game, to land the contract, to get the promotion. It gives you a warm glow inside, a feeling of satisfaction to savour and enjoy and that is how it should be. If you are successful you are entitled to that feeing – it is healthy and it is important to celebrate success.Winning again and again can reinforce our belief that we have been doing the right things, making the right decisions and getting the just rewards for our efforts in return. Logically we look to repeat the magic formula that has been working for as long as we can. “Happy days! Long may it last!” we might say.

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It is common knowledge that Mexico’s manufacturing cost competitiveness (taking into account labour cost and productivity), together with its young workforce and work ethics, has sparked a steady growth in clusters in skilled and high-skilled industries such as automotive, aeronautics, and electronics. These clusters mainly occupy strategic locations in central states such as Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, Puebla (automotive), Queretaro (aeronautics) and Guadalajara (electronics) with good transport links and access to a large pool of qualified workers.

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If you were asked where in the world there is most at stake geopolitically you might be inclined to point to the Middle East, Russia or the Korean Peninsula. However, none of these places has the potential to affect the world’s premier power the United States in the same way as does Mexico. Something that is overlooked by many is that the future success of Mexico as it endeavours to take its place among the most developed countries of the world will be one of unsuspected global impact.

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We all go on holidays and each one of us has a unique preference on where to spend the time. Some of us might like the warm Mediterranean, some might like the mountains in Switzerland. Being from a tourism dependent third world economy, I have a different perspective to holidays spent high up in the snowy Himalayas. The Himalayas are by nature rugged and difficult to traverse. Hills and plains can be easily be traversed by air, land and in some cases even water. The mighty Himalayas essentially bring out the raw traverse method- on foot. This might seem obvious but the consequences run deeper than that.

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