Blog: Dean BestThe US isn't being forgotten amid the brouhaha on the BRICs

Dean Best | 21 April 2008

Week by week, the BRIC economies - quite rightly - command thousands of column inches in business pages around the world.

Soaring economic growth and rising incomes in Brazil, Russia, India and China present a lucrative opportunity for companies of all shapes and sizes, not least in the food industry.

Success in the US, however, is still equally important. The US remains the world's largest economy and, despite the downturn across the Atlantic, many executives in our industry harbour lofty ambitions for their businesses in the country.

Step forward, Paul Bulcke. Nestlé's new CEO appears to want the company to make greater strides in premium chocolate, with the US one of the company's target markets. At first glance, it appears a wise move. Demand for posh chocs is booming the US and is forecast to keep on growing.

Bulcke, however, faces tough competition. The success of Lindt and the imminent US launch of Cadbury's Green & Black's will present tough obstacles for Nestlé to overcome. Will Buckle regret missing out on Godiva?

Sir Terry Leahy is another believer in the American Dream. Last week, the boss of UK retailer Tesco took his chance to rebuff recent criticism of the company's fledgling US venture. The Tesco chief executive derided the flak as "gossip" and insisted the Fresh & Easy chain will "last for a generation".

That said, the jury is out on whether Tesco has the know-how to succeed in the US, not least because two weeks after saying it would put the brakes on expansion, it announced plans to open another clutch of stores in Las Vegas. Cue puzzled looks among some retail watchers.

Staying with retail, one question that looks close to being answered is the sale of UK convenience chain Somerfield. Last week, The Co-operative Group confirmed what we had told you earlier this month with the announcement that it is in talks to buy Somerfield. Are the UK's "Big Four" retailers set to become a "Big Five"?


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