News Archive


Japan April retail sales rebound, ease pressure on BOJ


TOKYO Japan’s retail sales rebounded modestly in the year to April after three straight months of falls, bolstering the central bank’s case that consumer spending is reviving to underpin a steady economic recovery.

The data adds to signs of improvement in consumer confidence and eases pressure on the Bank of Japan to expand its massive stimulus program in the near term, analysts say.

Retail sales in April rose 5.0 percent from a year earlier, trade ministry data showed on Thursday, slightly below a median market forecast for a 5.4 percent increase. It followed a 9.7 percent drop in March.

The year-on-year numbers have been distorted by a surge in consumption leading up to last April’s sales tax hike and a subsequent downturn after the higher levy nudged the economy into mild recession last year.

On a seasonally-adjusted month-on-month basis, retail sales rose just 0.4 percent in April after sliding 1.8 percent in March, underscoring the fragile nature of the recovery.

“Consumption is picking up but the momentum is weak,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.

“If summer bonuses rise and a tightening job market boosts wages, we can expect spending to gather momentum around the middle of this year.”

Japan’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in a year in January-March, emerging from last year’s recession caused by the bigger-than-expected hit on consumption from the tax hike.

The BOJ revised up its assessment of the economy last week on signs of a pick-up in private consumption, signaling that it has no plan to expand stimulus any time soon.

Household spending holds the key to the success of the central bank’s massive stimulus program, which aims to nudge consumers into spending now rather than save on expectations that prices will rise in the future.

But there is uncertainty on whether consumers will shake off the “deflationary mindset” that beset Japan for two decades. A second sales tax hike looming in 2017 also casts doubt on whether the recovery can be sustained long enough to accelerate inflation toward the BOJ’s 2 percent target.

(Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Eric Meijer)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/EnFFcPHvPjg/story01.htm

Oil prices rise ahead of U.S. inventories data


SINGAPORE Crude oil prices recovered on Thursday after a two-day slide, although high U.S. stocks and strong global production, along with a firm dollar, were keeping markets under pressure.

The resurgent dollar had weighed on the market earlier in the week, plus concerns that U.S. crude supplies may have started rising again.

Industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) said after the market’s settlement that U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.3 million barrels last week, following three weeks of straight withdrawals. EIA/S

The U.S. dollar index .DXY ticked lower but remained near one-month highs.

Front-month Brent futures LCOc1 climbed 56 cents to $62.62 a barrel by 0627 GMT on Thursday. U.S. crude futures CLc1 were up 36 cents from their last settlement at $57.88 per barrel.

Brent’s premium over West Texas Intermediate (WTI) CL-LCO1=R has come off more than 45 percent since mid-April, with record OPEC production weighing on Brent.

“The market is trying to anticipate what’s going to happen tonight,” Phillips Futures analyst Daniel Ang in Singapore said, referring to the release of weekly oil inventories data by the Energy Information Administration later on Thursday.

“We’re seeing a narrowing of the WTI-Brent spread, which would suggest that U.S. crude inventories are expected to have dropped,” he said.

Analysts said in a Reuters poll on Wednesday that crude stocks in the United States probably fell by 900,000 barrels last week, dropping for a fourth straight week. [EIA/S]

The American benchmark, meanwhile, received some support from the peak-demand summer driving season, almost a month of steady stock draws that only came to an end this week, and raging Canadian wildfires that forced the evacuation of several oil and gas sands production sites.

Technical market indicators implied that the WTI-Brent spread could narrow further as U.S. oil could rebound into a range of $58.14-$58.41 per barrel while Brent was expected to drop to $61.50 per barrel, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Still, OPEC said the North American oil boom was proving resilient despite low prices, suggesting the global oil glut could persist for another two years.

(Editing by Richard Pullin and Alan Raybould)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/SHAwepQZZRE/story01.htm

IMF’s Lagarde says still much work to do in Greek debt talks


DRESDEN, Germany The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a German television interview on Thursday that there was still a lot of work to do before Greece and its international lenders could clinch a cash-for-reforms deal.

“We are all in the process of working towards a solution for Greece and I would not say that we already have reached substantial results,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told ARD television in comments which were translated from English to German.

“Things have moved, but there is still a lot of work to do,” she noted, adding that she believed Greece would fulfill its commitments.

Greece and its EU/IMF lenders have been locked in tortuous negotiations on a reforms agreement for four months without a breakthrough in sight. Without a deal, Athens risks default or bankruptcy in weeks.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Christian Rüttger; Editing by Noah Barkin)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/kPKQoBUUTD8/story01.htm

ECB’s Nowotny says no to loosening funding for Greece now


FRANKFURT A European Central Bank policymaker played down the prospects for an immediate loosening of funding for cash-strapped Greece, saying that when it came to accepting the country’s bonds as security for central bank credit, the answer remained no.

The critical comments from Ewald Nowotny, who as head of the Austrian central bank also sits on the ECB’s policy-setting Governing Council, echo those of European officials, who have played down Greek government optimism that a deal is near.

“There is always a lot of noise in such a situation and I think the important point is to distinguish the noise from the facts,” Nowotny told CNBC television.

“For us, it is quite clear that we have certain conditions to be met. The one condition is … whether we can accept for instance Greek assets, Greek bonds, as collateral. The answer is, for the time being: No,” said Nowotny.

In February, the European Central Bank abruptly canceled its acceptance of Greek bonds in return for funding, shifting the burden onto Athens’ central bank to finance its lenders and isolating Greece unless it strikes a new reform deal.

The move, which means the Greek central bank provides banks with tens of billions of euros of emergency liquidity, was in response what many in Frankfurt saw as the Greek government’s abandoning of its aid-for-reform program.

Nowotny said there had since been no change of heart.

“One has to be quite clear. We do not have a possibility to do some, let’s say, financing outside our rules.”

“I know there had been some ideas floating around that we might give some kind of interim financing just like that. I don’t see any legal possibility for that,” he said.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan and John O’Donnell; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/xZoZpijgOqg/story01.htm

Asian shares drop, dollar at highest since 2002 vs yen


TOKYO An index of Asian shares fell on Thursday as the Chinese, Hong Kong and Australian markets slipped, while the dollar scaled its highest level against the yen since 2002 on expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise rates this year.

Spreadbetters predicted European shares would tread water just below previous closes, as talks continued about Greece’s ongoing financial crisis. Britain’s FTSE 100 .FTSE was seen opening between 2 and 5 points higher, Germany’s DAX .GDAXI was expected to open between 4 points lower and 10 points higher, and France’s CAC 40 .FCHI was seen opening between 11 points lower and 13 points higher.

“With G7 talks underway, we could be lined up for another choppy session with little change amid swinging sentiment between a deal being stuck and bearish talk on Greece’s chances of averting disaster,” Farbod Mimeh, a junior dealer at Capital Spreads in London, said in a note to clients.

G7 ministers and central bank heads began a three-day meeting in the German city of Dresden on Wednesday. Although the Greek crisis is not on the official agenda, it will be discussed on the sidelines.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS shed about 0.8 percent, extending losses in afternoon trading as Chinese and Hong Kong shares plunged as a growing number of brokerages tightened requirements on the margin financing.

The CSI300 index .CSI300 of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen tumbled 3.2 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC lost 2.8 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index .HSI shed 2 percent.

Australian shares gave up early gains, with the SP/ASX 200 index .AXJO losing 0.2 percent after weaker than expected business spending data suggested that rate cuts were failing to energize the economy as hoped.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 bucked the downtrend, as the weaker yen helped the index log its 10th consecutive rise, the longest winning streak since February 1988. It ended up 0.4 percent, refreshing a 15-year closing high.

The dollar hit its highest level against the yen since late 2002, rising as high as 124.30 JPY=, and was slightly higher on the day at 123.66.

The dollar’s latest rally was sparked by remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who said last Friday that she expected the central bank to raise rates this year as the U.S. economy was set to recover from a sluggish first quarter.

By contrast, many investors expect the Bank of Japan to take additional easing steps later this year, when the Fed is expected to start raising rates.

“Longer term, little stands in the way of further JPY losses,” said Greg Moore, senior currency strategist at RBC in Sydney.

An index tracking the dollar against a basket of six major currencies edged down about 0.3 percent on the day to 97.068 .DXY, as the euro recovered from recent lows on hopes of a deal for Greece.

The euro traded at $1.0931 EUR=, up about 0.3 percent and moving away from a one-month low of $1.0819 touched on Wednesday.

Uncertainty over whether Greece can get the support it needs to make payments to the International Monetary Fund on June 5 is likely to keep investors cautious for now.

Greek officials spoke optimistically on Wednesday of reaching a cash-for-reforms deal, with economy minister George Stathakis saying Greece and its international creditors have converged on key points.

But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said there was not much progress and that he was surprised by the upbeat tone from some Greek government officials.

Crude oil prices recovered after a two-day slide, although the firmer dollar kept markets under pressure.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 climbed about 0.7 percent to $62.49 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures CLc1 were up 0.3 percent at $57.69 per barrel.

(Additional reporting by Samuel Shen and Pete Sweeney in Shanghai and Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Richard Borsuk and Simon Cameron-Moore)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/bOUCgy7nxR0/story01.htm

China May official factory PMI seen lackluster despite stimulus moves


BEIJING China’s factories struggled to expand in May despite recent interest rate cuts and other policy stimulus, a Reuters poll showed, suggesting the government may have to do more to halt a protracted slowdown in the economy.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, or

PMI, is forecast to inch up to 50.2 from April’s 50.1, according to the median forecast of 14 economists in the poll.

A reading above 50 points indicates an expansion in activity

while one below that shows a contraction on a monthly basis.

“Although the government has unveiled a series of policy stimulus measures, the effect has yet to show up,” said Nie Wen, an economist at Hwabao Trust in Shanghai.

The flash HSBC/Markit PMI released last week showed factory activity contracted for a third month in May and output shrank at the fastest rate in just over a year, indicating persistent weakness in the world’s second-largest economy that requires increased policy support.

The private survey focuses on small and mid-sized firms, while the official one looks at larger, state-owned companies.

China’s annual economic growth slowed to a six-year-low of 7 percent in the first quarter, and recent data showed a further loss of momentum heading into the second quarter.

Economists at HSBC lowered their forecast this week for China’s 2015 GDP growth to 7.1 percent from 7.3 percent, and cut their export growth forecast to 4.2 percent from 7.1 percent.

“Weaker exports will weigh on corporate spending and sentiment. Meanwhile, policy easing is behind the curve, further cutting into investment growth,” they said in a research note. Given weak conditions, HSBC has doubled down on its projections for further policy easing this year.

It now expects the central bank to cut interest rates two more times this year, by a total of 50 basis points (bps), and slash banks’ required reserve ratio by a total of 250 bps in cuts to encourage more lending.

HSBC had previously forecast a further 25 bp cut in interest rates and 100 bps of RRR cuts for the rest of the year.

In a bid to spur growth and reduce borrowing costs, the central bank already has delivered three interest rate cuts since November, lowering the benchmark lending rate by 90 basis points, and cut bank reserve ratio by 150 bps this year.

Weighed down by a property downturn, factory overcapacity

and high levels of local debt, China’s economic growth is

expected to slow to a quarter-century low of around 7 percent

this year from 7.4 percent in 2014.

The PMI factory numbers will be released on Monday, June

1, alongside the official services PMI and the final HSBC/Markit

PMI.

Forecasts

BBVA 50.3

China Capital 50.2

China Merchants Sec 50.2

China Minzu Sec 50.3

Credit Suisse 50.3

Danske Bank 50.2

DZ Bank 50.2

Hwabao Trust 50.0

Industrial Bank 49.9

ING Financial Markets 50.1

Minsheng Sec 50.1

Nomura 50.3

Shanghai Sec 50.3

Societe Generale 50.3

Prior 50.1

Median 50.2

Highest 50.3

Lowest 49.9

No. of Forecasts 14

(Reporting by Yixin Chen and Kevin Yao; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/vhPPzo61ZMM/story01.htm

OPEC sees rivals boosting oil output despite weak prices


LONDON The North American oil boom is proving resilient despite low oil prices, producer group OPEC said in its biggest and most detailed report this year, suggesting the global oil glut could persist for another two years.

A draft report of OPEC’s long-term strategy, seen by Reuters ahead of the cartel’s policy meeting in Vienna next week, forecast crude supply from rival non-OPEC producers would grow at least until 2017.

Sluggish global demand for oil means the call on OPEC’s crude will fall from 30 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2014 to 28.2 million in 2017, effectively leaving the group with two options – cut output from current levels of 31 million bpd or be prepared to tolerate depressed oil prices for much longer.

“Since June 2014, oil prices have experienced a significant reduction, reaching levels even lower than the crisis experienced in 2008, yet non-OPEC supply is still showing some growth,” the OPEC report said.

Brent crude has collapsed from $115 a barrel in June 2014 due to ample supplies amid a U.S. shale oil boom and a decision by OPEC last November not to cut output.

Instead the group chose to increase supply in a bid to win back market share and slow higher-cost competing producers.

But shale oil production has proved to be more resilient than many had originally thought.

“Generally speaking, for non-OPEC fields already in production, even a severe low price environment will not result in production cuts, since high-cost producers will always seek to cover a part of their operating costs,” the OPEC report said.

“For future non-OPEC production, only expectations of an oil price environment in the long-term below the marginal cost of production may deter substantial non-OPEC developments. Over the very long term, the economic threshold at which oil companies invest in upstream projects likely reflects their long-term oil price expectations.”

It also said that since 1990, most of the forecasts concerning future non-OPEC oil supply have been pessimistic and often erroneous: “For example, non-OPEC production was once projected to peak in the early 1990s and decline thereafter.”

OPEC publishes long-term strategy reports every five years. Its 2010 report did not mention shale oil as a serious competitor, highlighting the dramatic change the oil markets have undergone in the past few years.

The long-term report is prepared by OPEC’s research team in Vienna and traditionally cautions that it does not articulate the final position of OPEC or any member country on any proposed conclusions it contains.

SWING PRODUCER

OPEC’s ability to cut and raise production over the past decades to balance demand has earned it a reputation of being a swing producer. But the long-term report suggested it is tight shale oil that is now playing this role.

“Recent structural changes in the growth patterns of non-OPEC supply as a result of the substantial contributions from North American shale plays might prove to be a turning point (e.g. short lead times of the projects and higher short-term price elasticity),” the report noted.

It said new and cheaper technologies in extraction of tight crude, shale gas, and oil sands would guarantee aggregate growth at 6 percent per year and contribute 45 percent of the growth in energy production to 2035.

“Improved technology, successful exploration and enhanced recovery from existing fields have enabled the world to increase its resource base to levels well above the expectations of the past… The world’s liquids resources are sufficient to meet any expected increase in demand over the next few decades,” it said.

“With plenty of oil still left in familiar locations, forecasts that the world’s reserves are drying out have given way to predictions that more oil than ever before can be found,” the report said.

By 2019, OPEC crude supply at 28.7 million bpd will still be lower than in 2014, the report said, and demand for its oil will start rising only after 2018-2019, reaching almost 40 million bpd by 2040.

(Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Susan Thomas)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/vOQyGvrAz60/story01.htm

Technology replaces schmoozing: the future of private banking


ZURICH No longer is schmoozing over long lunches and fine wines enough; Swiss private bankers are turning to video games and virtual reality to attract a new generation of skeptical clients and see off digital rivals.

Technology is likely to appeal to multi-tasking millionaires with little time to spare. However, wealth managers must also win the trust of younger investors who have experienced two downturns during their formative years plus a furor over Swiss banks’ involvement in tax evasion.

In a fifth floor office just off Zurich’s main shopping street, researchers at UBS (UBSG.VX) are testing dozens of technologies to see what could make the world’s biggest wealth manager more appealing as fortunes pass to the next generation.

“How do you get under the skin of clients today, because they often work on their mobiles and they manage their wealth in their spare time,” said Dave Bruno, head of UBS’s innovation lab. “It might be in the bathroom, it might be waiting for a flight.”

Bruno and his team are designing video games, including a prototype puzzle for iPads and smartphones, and looking at virtual reality simulations to help people visualize what are often complex investment portfolios.

They are also working on technologies that allow clients to log into their accounts using their voice patterns and facial features, doing away with the time consuming and frustrating need to answer security questions.

UBS has opened a second research lab in London and plans another for Singapore later this year. It is also exchanging ideas with financial technology start-ups as well as Google (GOOGL.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O).

    FACEBOOK, NOT FERRARI

UBS Chief Operating Officer for wealth management Dirk Klee said clients need investment advice and performance. “It’s not just being a ‘concierge service’,” he said.

Many millionaire and billionaire customers, whose ages average more than 65, still welcome the concierge service – such as sorting out the paperwork on their new Ferrari.

But in the next few years private banks must deal increasingly with clients who are perhaps 30 years younger as what is often family wealth passes down to the next generation. These people grew up with the tech bubble bursting around the turn of the century, followed by the 2008 financial crisis.

This is shaking things up at Switzerland’s private banks, which are already reeling from a U.S.-led campaign against tax cheats. This has effectively ended the industry’s secrecy rules and encouraged publicity-shy customers to withdraw hundreds of billions of francs from Swiss accounts.

Meetings are increasingly held over video links instead of in banks’ wood-panelled rooms overlooking Lake Geneva, while clients will look to social networks for investment advice and to compare portfolio performance.

Some of the technology being investigated is less familiar than simple video conferencing. It includes Facebook-owned (FB.O) virtual reality goggles Oculus Rift, which can present clients’ portfolios as a city.

“Which pieces of your city are missing? You don’t have a water system in place, which might be your investments into a certain area in the alternates market,” UBS’s Bruno said.

“Your skyscrapers are too tall, you’re invested too high here. There are ways to use the new technology to do things in finance that are quite cool and interesting for our business model.”

DIGITAL RIVALS

Cool technology notwithstanding, banks still need to get the basics right, according to Felix Wenger, a director at the Zurich office of the McKinsey consulting firm.

“The industry is still in the process of making sure things run smoothly and don’t break down,” said Wenger, who compared the technology wave in private banking today with the motor industry in the 1950s when it needed to ensure cars ran safely and reliably.

New digital wealth managers, such as British-based Nutmeg and U.S.-based Wealthfront, are keen to play up the trust issue. “Almost universally, every study is showing that investors under 35 have grave mistrust of existing banks and brokerages, and are seeking a solution from the technology industry,” Wealthfront Chief Executive Adam Nash said.

Sometimes called “robo advisers”, these online services ask customers questions about who they are and what they are saving for, just like conventional advisers, but then they use an algorithm to devise an investment strategy.

Wealthfront, which was launched in 2011, has over $2.4 billion in client assets but it is dwarfed by established private banks where managed assets can top $1 trillion.

While the robo advisers can target people with a minimum to invest of $5,000, many wealthier individuals still want a tailor-made service with a well-established name.

“Trust is the fundamental problem for online players,” McKinsey’s Wenger said. “You don’t wire $1 million to ‘onlinewealthmanager.com’, but you would to a well-known banking brand.”

Ultimately, Klee believes banks which offer added value to clients will survive, just as Internet pages full of medical advice did not make doctors redundant.

“That’s what’s happening in banking. You need a highly qualified adviser who navigates you through all the data that is available,” he said.

(Editing by Carmel Crimmins and David Stamp)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/eg6BJ9p_UBY/story01.htm

Millennial ‘NOwners’ follow Uber with new fashion trading model


NEW YORK Allison Armour loves fashion, but doesn’t need to keep it in her closet.

The 24-year-old frequents privately-held chain Crossroads Trading Co, where she buys brand-name goods secondhand at a discount, then sells the items back when she wants to refresh her look.

Armour, a marketing manager for a nonprofit in Oakland, California, has picked up skirts and shirts, Oxford shoes for $30, a J.Crew trench coat for $40 and a Dooney Bourke satchel for $150, less than half its retail price. “When I get tired of certain things, I put them aside and sell them back,” she said.

For Millennials – the roughly 77 million Americans born between about 1980 and 2000 – the allure of “no ownership” is moving beyond housing and cars.

A new industry based on sharing or renting clothing, electronics and small appliances is springing up from nothing about five years ago, posing a disruptive force to traditional retailers.

Battered by student loan debt and the Great Recession, Millennials place less emphasis on owning and more on sharing, bartering and trading to access coveted goods. These behaviors have propelled businesses such as car rental service Zipcar, taxi service Uber and home rental site Airbnb.

What Millennials do buy, and keep, is their smartphones. About 85 percent of people aged 18 to 34 own them, according to Nielsen research, and the devices are the doorway to the sharing economy.

Now these “NOwners,” as Jamie Gutfreund, chief marketing officer for Deep Focus, calls them, are propelling a new wave of privately-held companies such as children’s resale marketplaces Kidizen and Yerdle, which allow customers to swap or buy smaller-ticket items like used clothes and household goods. Deep Focus does market research on youth trends.

While their parents may have frequented thrift stores to save money, Millennials who have the income to buy new goods also see sharing and re-using as a way to promote environmental benefits such as reducing landfill waste.

“Instead of paying for something and getting rid of it with no value when you are done – swap and resale gives Millennials the ability to extend the value,” Gutfreund said. “It’s efficient and it’s green.”

Indeed, 59 percent of Crossroads shoppers said “being an environmentally friendly way to shop” was one of their favorite things about the store.

“A lot of people can’t afford the timeless brands new but they still appreciate the quality,” said Erin Wallace, director of marketing for Crossroads Trading and its sister store Fillmore 5th, which has opened six boutiques since 2012.

Many of these new businesses are getting funding from traditional sources like individuals and private equity firms including Bain Capital Ventures but also from startup platforms such as Onevest.

“Just about every major industry is likely to experience disruption (because of the sharing economy),” said Joe Atkinson of accounting and consulting firm PwC, whose April report that found that Millennials are among the most enthusiastic about sharing and account for almost 40 percent of those who have provided something.

 

FLOW OF STUFF

Driven by demand and technology, membership at Kidizen is growing 40 percent to 50 percent a month. The company was founded by two mothers with retail and marketing experience who wanted to share the endless flow of “kidstuff” that arrived with parenthood.

Members post photos, blog about their families, even send notes and lollipops in shipments to the next family.

“It is a community where people have gotten to know each other,” said Dori Graff, 39, a co-founder. “That makes it sticky. People keep coming back.”

Yerdle estimates that American closets and garages contain $100 billion in unused clothes, tools and other items, which it wants consumers to acquire from the site rather than buying new.

“They shopping with things they don’t need any more,” said co-founder Andrew Ruben, 42, who previously led sustainability efforts at U.S. discount retailer Walmart. Yerdle now has more than 300,000 members, and is growing 30 percent month over month. He said the ultimate goal is to get people “to buy 25 percent fewer new items.”

It has no inventory costs because members post a photo of an item, and keep it until someone else wants it. Ruben said about 40 percent of the items go in their first day.

The company has received $10 million in funding, including about $6 million from The Westly Group, which includes former eBay (EBAY.O) executives. The Menlo Park, Calif., firm focuses on making money while solving social issues by investing in everything from Good Eggs, which delivers fresh food from local producers, to Greengate Power, a wind farm in Canada.

“It’s about how do you take all these assets and get them used over and over by other people,” said Gary Dillabough, a Westly managing partner, who now sits on Yerdle’s board. And that appeals to Millennials. “They want to use things that are already in the economy.”

WORN WEAR

Some established retailers have taken note. Patagonia, already popular with Millennials because of its quality and environmental reputation, has offered free repairs since the 1970s. More recently, it launched a program encouraging customers to trade in used clothing in good condition. They are resold at its Portland, Oregon store for about half the original price.

“We found that it encourages new customers to come to our brand,” said Nellie Cohen, 32, environmental marketing manager at Patagonia. “People come to see what is on the Worn Wear rack.”

Highland Capital Partners, which has more than $2 billion under management, has invested in a number of businesses including Rent the Runway and ThredUp, an online fashion resale shop, which focus on Millennials and the shared economy, said Dan Nova, a partner. He likes Rent the Runway’s leadership and business model.

Rent the Runway, founded in 2009, allows users to rent couture for special occasions. Not yet profitable, the company, which says it’s raised $116 million and is worth $600 million, now has almost 5 million members, including celebrities and billionaires, and $1 billion in inventory. It describes its typical client as a well-educated 29-year-old female professional.

“In the age of Facebook, people don’t want to be photographed more than once or twice in the same dress,” Nova said.

(Reporting by Jilian Mincer; Edited by Michele Gershberg and John Pickering)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/PIZQgyorymk/story01.htm