Watson’s Weekly 09-08-2019

This is an amalgamation of the “best bits” of the daily weekday newsletter/blog woven together to form a concise and coherent view on the things that matter in the commercial and economic news of the week. 

THE DAY IN BRACKETS REFERS TO THE EDITION WHERE THE STORY APPEARED IN WATSON’S DAILY. Clicking on the day will take you to the appropriate edition of Watson’s Daily.


  • Things took a turn for the worse in US-China trade relations this week as China was accused of weaponising its currency to hit back at Trump’s tariff hikes (Tuesday), with Trump turning to Twitter (where else??) to vent his frustrations
  • Japan/South Korea relations continued to worsen (Thursday) although Japan made some slight concessions at the end of the week to approve key material shipments of materials needed to make computer chips
  • Given the uncertain economic and trading backdrop, it’s hardly surprising that investors decided to park their money in gold as a safe haven asset, sending gold’s price per ounce break the $1,500 barrier (Thursday), it’s highest level for six years.


  • US retailers continue to shed jobs (Monday) as they continue their attempts to adapt to changing consumer behaviour. Walgreens decided to close 200 stores in the US (Thursday) as part of a cost-cutting drive in a global restructuring while upmarket US department store Barneys filed for bankruptcy (Tuesday) amid torrid trading in the sector
  • Talking of which, Debenhams appointed a new chairman (Thursday) to replace Terry Duddy – turnaround specialist Stefaan Vansteenkiste – when Duddy departs next month. It’s interesting to see that the department store has gone for a “company doctor” rather than a retail veteran. Does this mean it’s more likely to be broken up??
  • Elsewhere on the high street, Sports Direct bought preppy apparel retailer Jack Wills for $12.7m (Tuesday) while employees got nervous as online retailer Boohoo.com bought Karen Millen and Coast’s online business for £18.2m (Wednesday) as consolidation continues in the sector


  • Investment manager KKR bought German payments group Heidelpay for €600m (Monday) in a hotly contested bid as consolidation in the payments industry continues
  • Tencent agreed to buy a 10% stake in Universal Music (Wednesday) from French media conglomerate Vivendi in the the Chinese group’s latest effort to expand its global music industry aspirations. Tencent looks like it could be a very powerful ally in cracking the Chinese market


  • Samsung announced a major tie-up with Microsoft (Friday) that will enable more seemless connectivity between apps and devices. This has been one of Apple’s strong points over the years, so could be useful for Samsung and Microsoft in retaining the loyalty of their customers going forward
  • Streaming continues to gain ground as a way of consuming content (Friday) but Netflix faces a potential lawsuit for falsifying subscriber numbers (Monday) and Disney – which is soon to announce the launch of its new streaming channel, Disney+ – announced poor overall results (Wednesday) as it was dragged down by Fox’s lacklustre performance


I don’t think I’d describe this week as a legendary one in terms of banter but this did strike me as being super-weird: Charge up your phone with the power of a portable cat battery from Japan (SoraNews24, Oona McGee https://tinyurl.com/y3dhsgeu)

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend!