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December 30, 2011

Toilet paper goes chic with designer covers

Filed under: business, news — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 8:31 pm

Are you ready to “Respect the Roll?”

Kimberly-Clark is looking to shake up the toilet-paper accessory category with toilet roll covers from designer Jonathan Adler.

To boost awareness about a new formulation of its Cottonelle toilet paper that it says is 30 percent stronger, Kimberly-Clark Inc. decided to forgo traditional advertising. Instead, it’s offering limited-edition boxes to hide your backup rolls. Who knew you needed such a thing?

It’s the latest effort by consumer product makers to spice up stagnant categories with eye-catching design. In 2010, Kotex introduced the “U by Kotex” line of pads and tampons with neon packaging and pad carriers designed by stylist Patricia Fields, for example.

Allen Adamson, managing director of global branding firm Landor in New York, said Target Corp. has successfully brought design to a lot of consumer product categories with such lines as the housewares rethought by renowned industrial designer Michael Graves.

But it’s new for toilet paper.

“It’s just surprising when design finally meets toilet paper _ that’s sort of the final frontier,” Adamson said.

Even though it’s a $10 billion industry, according to Nielsen, most people don’t pay attention to which toilet paper roll they buy _ or they stay loyal to one brand for decades.

“Consumers shop on autopilot and shop quite a bit on deal,” in the toilet-paper aisle, admitted Kurt Simon, brand director for Cottonelle. “They tune out when they go into the aisle. And, largely speaking, they tune out (toilet paper) advertising as well.”

Adler created covers in three bright, geometric patterns. Known for bold colors and pop graphics, he has designed everything from home furnishings to hotels and currently operates 16 of his own stores.

The roll covers will be available in January at respecttheroll.com for a shipping charge of $1.99 plus an offer code from a package of Cottonelle toilet paper. Or you can order one now for $3.99, including shipping.

Adler, whose other projects have included straws for extra-skinny Diet Pepsi cans, said the uniqueness of toilet paper covers appealed to him. He wanted them to be “bold, punchy and mood-enhancing” and tried to infuse a “pop-art element.”

“I don’t get calls every day to design spare toilet roll covers,” he said. “But I believe every piece in your home, no matter how unexpected or mundane, should be fabulous.”

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December 29, 2011

U.K. Seen Facing Toughest Employment Market in Two Decades, Forecast Says - Bloomberg

Filed under: finance, technology — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:27 am

Britain faces the

December 27, 2011

Stocks edge higher on mixed economic news

Filed under: economics, loans — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 5:19 pm

Stocks were eking out small gains Tuesday on mixed economic news. Consumer confidence surged to an eight-month high, but home prices dropped in major cities. Sears plummeted after reporting that it would close more than 100 stores around the country.

In the latest sign of a bumpy recovery in the housing market, home prices fell in 19 of the 20 cities tracked by the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index. Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis posted the biggest declines. Prices in Atlanta and Las Vegas fell to their lowest points since the housing crisis began.

That report dampened investors’ enthusiasm about a jump in consumer confidence to the highest level since April. The New York-based Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index rose almost 10 points to 64.5 in December. Economists watch the numbers closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Henry Herrmann, chief executive officer at the investment management firm Waddell & Reed, said the increase reflected the fact that more jobs have been created in recent weeks, which will likely lead to “a more sustained” economic recovery.

“If job creation will come with wage improvement in the coming weeks, it will boost confidence further,” Herrmann said.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 17 points at 12,311 as of noon Eastern. The S&P 500 was up less than 2 points at 1,267. The Nasdaq composite was off 7 points at 2,626.

The stock market was closed Monday in observance of Christmas. Stocks are expected to trade within a narrow range this week as trading remains light.

The Dow average closed at a five-month high last week after a run of strong economic data in the U.S. However analysts expect any market gains to be tempered by worries over the European debt crisis.

Italy’s borrowing costs rose Tuesday, reflecting investor anxiety. The yield on the country’s ten-year bonds hit 7 percent again, a level that is considered unsustainable in the long run. Greece, Ireland and Portugal had to seek relief from their lenders after their own borrowing costs rose to that level.

Italy is the euro zone’s third-largest economy and is considered too big to bail out. Mario Monti, the country’s new premier, got parliamentary approval last week for a big austerity package that is intended to save the country from financial disaster.

Markets have grown increasingly fearful over the past few months that Italy will find it difficult to pay off its massive debts, which stand at around $2.5 trillion.

In corporate news:

_ Sears Holding Corp. plunged 23 percent to $35.04, the most in the S&P 500, after the retailer announced plans to close between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores after poor sales during the holidays, the most crucial time of year for retailers.

_ U.S. oil and gas explorer Endeavour International Corp. rose 15 percent to $7.40 after the company announced an agreement to buy ConocoPhillips’ interest in three U.K. oil fields in the Central North Sea for $330 million.

_ MetLife Inc. rose 1 percent to $31.61 after saying it will sell its U.S. retail deposit business to GE Capital as it moves away from being a bank holding company.

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