Thursday, November 22, 2012

Two Catalan Brands

Scotland is not the only one deciding on self-determination. In Spain, Catalonia also has the same aspiration although how prevalent this sentiment is, I don’t really know. But come November 25, 2012, there will be snap regional elections over a pro-independence push.

The most famous brand to emerge from Catalonia is of course, Futbol Club Barcelona, considered by many to be the best football club in the world. [Still, Barca did lose to Celtic in a Champions League group stage match on November 07, 2012 – read my blogpost published one day later].

There is another equally-famous brand from Catalonia and it is Mango, the fashion powerhouse. What is amazing about this brand is that it is beating the odds during Spain’s deep recession. Its sales are booming worldwide, and even at home!

Owned by media-shy billionaire Isak Andic, Mango typifies an export-led business savvy that is the pride of many Catalans. But it is at home that the brand is celebrated even more because even though it is burdened with a year-long recession that is expected to extend into 2013 – one in four workers is unemployed, illustrating the dire straits that Spain has found itself in – Mango sold 20 percent more this year than last year. According to Enric Casi, its general director, Mango sold 1.4 billion euros’ worth of clothes in 2011 and it will be about 1.7 billion in 2012 (The Sun, November 20, 2012, p 18).

The brand has nevertheless had to react to the crisis, slashing prices by a fifth this year, and absorbing the cost of a recent rise in sales tax so as not to scare off customers. Though prices have been lowered overall, there are no special discounts and profit margins will be maintained in 2012 at the same level as in 2011.

And since I have mentioned Celtic, I must write that my favorite SPL team missed out on an opportunity to clinch qualification to the Champions League knockout stage as they suffered a 1-2 defeat in Lisbon on November 20, 2012. Benfica took a lead when Ola John lashed the ball into the net from eight yards (7) but Georgios Samaras headed the equaliser from Charlie Mulgrew's corner (32). The Portuguese side pummelled Celtic in search of a winner and it came through Ezequiel Garay, who volleyed emphatically past Fraser Forster in the seventy-first minute.

With this defeat, Celtic must now go down to the final group match to book their place in the next round. They like to live dangerously.

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