How to survive redundancy in style!

by alda on November 26, 2004

Was at a gathering last night where somebody described a recent illustration in The Economist (UK), which showed the diagonal lines of the Union Jack being painted over with blue, thereby creating the Icelandic flag – all because Icelanders are systematically invading the British market. YT was immediately drenched in nationalistic pride! I mean, who would have believed that a company hailing from an island with a population the size of a peanut could gobble up such a large chunk of the UK?

World-domination-or-death company Baugur is the star of the show. As I write, they own a majority in some 1,000 UK shops, including Karen Millen, Oasis, Coast, Whistles, Hamleys, MK One, Julian Graves and Goldsmiths. Their turnover in the UK alone is supposedly higher than the GNP of Iceland! (This factoid unconfirmed by YT.) Not content to invade Britain, they have now reached their tentacles over to Denmark, acquiring a large share in age-old Danish department store Magasin.

What makes the Baugur success story so sweet to the ears of the common proletariat is that its founder, Jóhannes Jónsson, started the company just over a decade ago, at the age of fifty-plus. And did it in response to being booted from the payroll of the butcher’s shop to which he had devoted the best years of his life.

Now, many lesser mortals would have sunk into the toxic mire of defeat and self-pity at such news – but not our man Jóhannes! Seeing that Iceland’s food market was sorely in need of a discount retailer, he scraped together a menial sum and opened the first Bonus store.

Nothing like a good story of the underdog having the last laugh!

MEANWHILE, ON THE SERIOUSLY GRAVE FRONT

There was a child abduction case in the capital yesterday and the whole nation is horrified. A nine-year old girl was lured into a car by someone impersonating a police officer and driven out of the city, onto a country road on the route to Þingvellir national park. There, the abductor got his car stuck in snow and for some reason ordered the little girl out of the car and drove away. It was extremely cold and windy, there was sleet coming down and the weather was set to get even worse. She was out there for about an hour before a jeep driving by happened to see her.

One cannot bear to think of the outcome had she been forced to spend the night out there. Yet the silver lining is that there was no molestation involved, thank God thank God. Until now, Icelanders have been mercifully spared the horrific cases of abduction and worse that happen in other countries. It has always been considered perfectly safe here to let your children out of your sight. Let’s hope there will be no further causes for change on that front.

WEATHER

Remaining mild; temps currently 4 degrees Celsius. Sight winds from the east, with showers. Set to get colder. Sunrise was at 10.32: sunset is at 15.57.

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