Alex Tisdall

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Brexit certainly presents challenges to Tesco and to the UK’s grocery industry. With these challenges, however, there will be opportunities for other business models to succeed if Tesco cannot adapt. A New York Times article published over the summer [1], specifically outlines these opportunities for the discount British grocers Aldi and Lidl. They may be able to capture a significant market share. These discount stores offer far less variety and amenities compared to their upscale competitors, and previously would not have even been considered as an option for higher income consumers. Their ability to maintain low cost originates from a bare bones business model. For example, the stores offer fewer items, these items are put on shelves for consumers in the boxes in which they arrived, and the items are from the stores own discount brand.

Their sales have been increasing faster than their competitors, and it will be interesting to see how long this trend continues. Both companies are contemplating expansion outside of the British market.


This is a comprehensive review of a very relevant topic. I agree with the sentiments expressed above that the talks of NAFTA restructuring is largely political posturing. Additionally, if changes are made, the changes will most likely benefit American industries. With that said, it is important to focus on natural gas specifically. Whatever changes are potentially made, I cannot see a scenario in which the natural gas industry is negatively impacted. The mutual profitability of exporting to Mexico makes any detrimental changes untenable.

Additionally, the political reality is key. Perhaps most illustrative of this is the following fact: the current CEO of ETP, Kelcy Warren, was the single biggest contributor to the Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, when he ran for president [1]. The article above says that the two are close, but these donations lead me to believe that Perry would never allow ETP’s profits to be jeopardized.


On December 1, 2017, Alex Tisdall commented on Skistar: the impact of climate change on ski resorts :

This is a very difficult challenge for the ski industry, and it brings up some moral ambiguity when it comes to climate change. As mentioned in the article and subsequent responses, the most readily available fix for the impacts of climate change is creating artificial snow. Obviously, this increases energy and water consumption and further contributes to climate change. However, I would argue it is worth examining how significantly manufacturing artificial snow actually contributes to climate change. Compared to industrial nations’ outputs, I would estimate that ski hills contribute a relatively small amount. So is it better to scale back operations and make a small contribution to reversing climate change, and negatively impact the jobs and societal enjoyment that come with it? Or do the jobs and outdoor activity matter more?

On December 1, 2017, Alex Tisdall commented on Disruption of Video Game Retailers :

It seems as though Gamestop may be able to morph into providing a niche service in the gaming industry, but their brick and mortar locations are going to become largely obsolete. The comparison of Gamestop becoming the next “Blockbuster” is an interesting one. However, I think Gamestop is in an even more precarious position than Blockbuster was when Netflix started streaming movies. Blockbuster could have theoretically worked with movie production companies to stream their content. In the video game industry, the producers are digitizing their content and going directly to consumers with it. There is not even option for Gamestop to attempt a Netflix-like model.

I think their only option is to branch horizontally into merchandising, possibly offering some type of hardware repair service, and hosting gaming events. However, the market for all of these combined is much smaller than Gamestop’s videogame market ten years ago, and they should scale down accordingly.

On November 28, 2017, Alex Tisdall commented on American Airlines: Grounded by extreme heat :

This is an interesting industry through which to analyze the effects of climate change. However, I remain skeptical that the airline industry will make the appropriate changes to minimize their carbon footprint. I think the main issue is that there are no significant incentives for them to change their behaviors. Additionally, it is such a low margin and competitive industry that there is probably little room for creative or altruistic initiatives. This stands in contrast to industries directly impacted by climate change, such as agriculture. Agriculture needs to implement changes or they will feel relatively immediate ramifications. Besides the occasional impact to aircraft being able to take off, it will be decades (if ever) until the airline industry is directly affected.

On November 28, 2017, Alex Tisdall commented on Chipotle: The Fast, Casual Descent to Supply Chain Oblivion :

I wonder if there is another option to solve the challenges facing Chipotle. While their goals for training farmers (among other initiatives) to create more sustainable farming and supply chain practices are admirable, it is unclear how much they can change in what is such a macroeconomic issue. I would imagine the costs of buying local, certifiable meat and vegetables are significantly higher than buying from other farms. At a certain point, these costs would have to be passed onto the consumer and the model becomes untenable. Given these realities, Chipotle could create two menus. One is certified local and organic (with prices to match), and the other is not (with cheaper prices). I think this is analogous to shopping for lettuce in the grocery store: the more expensive organic lettuce is right next to the cheaper inorganic lettuce and the consumer gets to choose.

One of the concerns for this would be brand image. While Chipotle could possibly suffer from their brand being tarnished by being associated with unsustainable farming practices, they are already suffering from this to a degree. Additionally, I am not convinced most people buy Chipotle because of their organic, local ingredients. A lot of people go there simply because their burritos and tacos are delicious.

On November 28, 2017, Alex Tisdall commented on Lettuce Consider Indoor Farming: Plenty’s Plan to Scale the Kale :

This is a really interesting concept. While it certainly could have a positive impact on the agricultural business, I do think it raises a few questions. First, what kind of carbon footprint do indoor farms leave relative to outdoor farms? Is the increased energy used from maintaining a massive climate controlled complex with a lot of computerized components offset by other efficiencies such as a shorter supply chain and pumps? Otherwise, the carbon footprint of indoor farms could possibly be contributing to climate change as well.

The second question is how scalable is this when you run the financial models for these indoor farms. I would imagine the fixed costs of building massive complexes with advanced technologies are significant. Additionally, doing this in an urban setting means that real estate prices will be generally more expensive than normal farm land. I could see this resulting in great produce, but will it be sold to consumers at a prohibitively high price that precludes it from being sold in a Market Basket as opposed to a Whole Foods?

On November 27, 2017, Alex Tisdall commented on Can Macy’s Stay Competitive? :

This is an interesting article that poses several tenable solutions for the issues facing Macy’s. Given that brick and mortar stores will most likely not be completely replaced by digital retailers like Amazon, it will be interesting to see where the equilibrium between the two is established. Are department stores the best model to succeed in these omnichannel set ups? In addition to competing with Amazon and other online retailers, Macy’s will have to find a way to differentiate themselves from Nordstrom, JCPenny, and other department stores. This will pose a major challenge, as all the possible solutions listed in the article can be replicated by these competitors.