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On December 13, 2015, Laurent commented on Casper: Going to the Mattresses :

Competition has started and customizes mattress based on a bunch of criteria:
They seemed to have copied business model except for the one size fits all.

On December 13, 2015, Laurent commented on Casper: Going to the Mattresses :

I’m sold! Trying them for my next mattress purchase! A bit skeptical of the one mattress fits all model (I like firmer mattresses than most and would have expected 2 or 3 firmness options) but the 100 days free trial and hassle free process would make me give it a shot. I find the showroom experience superfluous Given triability offer and fact that what draws me is the online component that allows me not to waste time. What are the cost associated with those?

On December 13, 2015, Laurent commented on Mercadona: An Undisputed Winner :

Interesting article Luis. I wonder what the path for growth is now that Mercadona has reached 1500 stores nationwide which should be close to saturation given Spain’s size and comparing with international competitors in the UK, Italy or France. Have they expanded to other countries yet?

On December 12, 2015, Laurent commented on Amtrak: Losing Money for the Long Haul :

I was drawn to your article Will as I was surprised coming form Europe at how terrible the rail system is in the US. I wrongly assumed the issue was a lack of federal funding and that Amtrak was trading off bad service and high prices for profitability!
As you mention, the Montreal to Washington axis would be a great market to develop. Comparing French rail costs and speed, a Boston to Washington D.C. trip would take about 3 hours and cost around $200 return (same distance as a Paris-Marseille). The Acela takes over twice that time at twice the cost! A faster train could beat air travel not only in terms of time and cost but also in terms of convenience and labor productivity. You can be much more productive when spending 3 hours sitting in a train than when you are interrupted every 30 mins or so (20 mins cab ride followed by 20 mins at security check, 20 mins for boarding, 80min in the plane, 10 mins waiting for your check in luggage, 20 mins uber to get back to the city center!). This would kill the plane for these short hauls routes like it did in Europe which incidentally would also be much better for the environment as trains emit much less pollution than planes…

I would however push back on the libertarian solution of a privatization of Amtrak. As Willy briefly mentioned in the presentation he gave over lunch last week, large “common good” investments such as infrastructure are rarely done by private businesses. That’s because they think short term (if you are lucky medium term) profit and ignore the byproduct effects of their investments. The long term economic repercussions an efficient high speed railroad would have are much wider than the profits it would generate for Amtrak. No doubt government management of Amtrak has been dismal. However, I would argue the solution could be for them to redefine the mission Amtrak aims to deliver and get their priorities straight rather than full on privatization. As Ellen points out, what is the value add of a passenger Chicago to L.A. train when you can fly? But I realize this is more a BGIE debate than TOM…

On December 12, 2015, Laurent commented on Trader Joe’s :

Intersting model, I did not realize Trader Joe’s was owned by ALDI. How does their operational model compare? Are there synergies in the procurement channels? The procurement model reminded me of Picard’s model in France which focuses on frozen goods and also sources high quality products from producer directly.