Rupert Sutton

Management consultant at Weben Partners Asia

Korean EC giant Coupang struggles to shake broken IPO moniker

With revenues exceeding $12bn (2020) and a market share exceeding 25% in Korea, Coupang is no minnow. The company operates a marketplace for home goods, apparel, beauty, electronics and a fresh business (called Rocket Fresh). Like Amazon, it also has an advertising business which has blossomed spectacularly. The only sour note is the share price …

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The once vaunted Japanese print barons humbled whilst SmartNews soars to $2bn

Happy New Year 2022! Figures released last month showed that print media circulation in Japan declined 5.5% in 2021 to just over 30 million. In 2001 print media’s circulation exceeded 47 million daily copies.  The circulation decline has accelerated since 2017, dropping more than a million copies annually. Heaviest hit casualties were morning and evening …

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Hermès, NFTs and MetaBirkins. Who will handbag the cyber squatters?

How can you protect your IP in the Meta-verse? Hermès is a brand worth over $2b with a portfolio that covers scarves, shoes, bags, belts and fashion jewellery.  The Birkin bag is a Hermès signature item, handmade from leather and named after Jane broken, an English actress. Leather is a core brand attribute. Scarcity has …

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We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control, Vietnam’s just another brick in the wall

This week Lego made a big strategic move, announcing its second Asian plant will be built in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Vietnam spends around 15% of GDP on education, in China it’s just over 4%. According to the Toy Zone, Lego is pretty pricey in Vietnam too, higher than Hong Kong. Of course the two …

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Photo Kyodo News

Hungry in Japan? Über Eats ‘new verticals’ wants to eat your lunch

Über Eats has just celebrated its fifth anniversary in Japan, its eighth global market. As in other markets it started focusing on restaurants. In Japan these were in up-market districts of Tokyo like Aoyama and Akasaka. Now the business claims to cover all 47 prefectures, facilitated by 100,000 delivery riders. Über Eats is steadily eating …

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Huel, an edgy food nutrition start-up, going global advocate, puts itself on the IPO dinner table

Huel is an acronym for HUman FuEL. The company sells powder based meal replacements diluted with water. The ingredients are 100% vegan and include oats, pea, rice, flaxseed, coconut, and sunflower. It’s a brand for active and wealthy millennials, a target group similar to Peleton or even Go-Pro. Like the latter, it has a similar …

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Panko or Breadcrumbs are an integral part of Japanese cuisine, however the industry faces stiff headwinds

Not many people know that the Japanese breadcrumb category is worth around $350m. Breadcrumbs are an every day part of life and used to make batter for fried foods like Tonkasu and fish, they also coat many types of vegetable dishes. Panko as it’s called here, is a combination of the word ‘Pan’ (‘Le pain’, …

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’60s rebel child Dr Martens stomps its footprint worldwide; a psychedelic punk pivoted by private equity

Made famous by Pete Townsend of the Who, who famously wore Dr Martens on stage when rebelling against flower power fashion and the flamboyant colours of the psychedelic era. The dark, drab boots were originally conceived in the late 1940s, and sold primarily to Britain’s working classes. Today the brand tries hard to stick to …

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As Greek yogurt pioneer Chobani heads for the Nasdaq, what can it learn from Oatly?

With sales of $1.4b and a solid market position in the US and Australia, Greek yogurt brand Chobani joins a long list of start-ups going public. Chobani was founded by a Turkish immigrant in 2007 who bravely invested in a yogurt plant Kraft Heinz was selling in Columbus in 2005. Like many success stories, Chobani …

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Fashion icon SuperDry bets big on Oxford Street whilst secretly battling another trademark rival

SuperDry is the tale of a British company that masquerades as a Japanese icon. It is ironical that for those of us who live in Japan, there are no SuperDry clothing stores. Founded by an entrepreneur who took a liking to Asahi SuperDry, the brand leverages SuperDry’s image and is especially popular in western markets. …

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