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Armani is known all across the world for being a leader in style. The Italian fashion house was founded by legendary designer Giorgio Armani in 1975. It is today one of the fashion world’s most prestigious names. It produces a wide range of clothes, accessories, glasses and cosmetics. All of these are carefully branded as ‘sub-labels’ to target different markets. The Giorgio Armani collection is one of the most expensive in the world. For the not-so-rich, there is the Armani Exchange, which has more moderately priced items. The company operates several hundred stores around the world. Armani is branching out into luxury tourism by opening a chain of stylish, 5-star boutique hotels and resorts in the world’s trendiest cities. The first opened in Dubai in 2010 in Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building.
The Hewlett-Packard Company, commonly referred to as HP, is a multinational information technology corporation. Its products include computers, printers, scanners, cameras, mobile phones and televisions. The company was founded in 1939 by Stanford University classmates Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in a garage in Palo Alto, California. One of their first customers was Walt Disney Studios, which bought HP equipment to test an innovative sound system for the movie ‘Fantasia’. The two men tossed a coin to decide the name of the company – Hewlett–Packard or Packard-Hewlett. Dave Packard won the toss but chose to put his friend’s name first. HP markets its products to individual consumers, small- to medium-sized businesses and office-supply retailers. It has over 300,000 staff worldwide and generates an annual revenue in excess of $100 billion.
Pfizer is the world’s largest pharmaceutical company. It was founded in New York in 1849 by Charles Pfizer and his cousin. Their business started booming after they discovered a process for making citric acid. This method was vital in producing penicillin during World War II and the US Army relied heavily on Pfizer for their antibiotics. Its most famous product, perhaps, is the drug Viagra. The company has had its share of success and controversy. In 2009, the U.S. Justice Department called it a “repeat offender” after it lost four high-profile healthcare fraud cases. Pfizer is also among the top ten U.S. companies with the biggest number of pollution sources. The company spends millions on preventing counterfeits of its drugs. It has a recent history of mergers with other international drugs companies.
Avon is the world’s largest cosmetics and perfume company. It’s also one of the oldest. It was founded in New York in 1886 by a door-to-door book salesman David H. McConnell who gave away perfume to encourage sales. The perfume became more popular than the books so he established the California Perfume Company. Since then it has become a multinational corporation, employing over 40,000 people in 140-plus countries across the globe, and has annual sales in excess of $10 billion. The company uses a mix of sales strategies, relying on door-to-door selling, catalogues and retail stores. Traditionally, the trademark ‘Avon lady’ would come to customers’ doors. The company is expanding quickly into China and Russia and has also targeted the market for male cosmetics.
Hilton is an international chain of luxury hotels and resorts. It was founded by Conrad Hilton who bought his first hotel in Cisco, Texas in 1919. Hilton expanded his enterprise until it became a leader in the U.S. market and the country’s first coast-to-coast chain. Today, there are more than 3,500 hotels in 81 countries. Its website says: “Hilton Worldwide is the leading global hospitality company, spanning the lodging sector from luxurious full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites and mid-priced hotels.” The company says its commitment is to “creating exceptional guest experiences” and that their “more than 130,000 team members continue to bring the highest quality of service to the world's visitors.” The company established a guest loyalty program called Hilton Honors, which has partnerships with airlines and car rental companies.
Pixar Animation Studios is the world’s most successful CGI animation film studio. It was started by Star Wars producer George Lucas, before Apple co-founder Steve Jobs bought it in 1986. Disney then bought the studios in 2006. Pixar has been responsible for some of the greatest children’s movies ever made, including the Toy Story franchise, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Wall-E and Up. The studio has won 24 Oscars, among dozens of other awards, acknowledgments and achievements and has made $5.5 billion worldwide. Its website says: “Pixar's objective is to combine…technology and world-class creative talent to develop computer-animated feature films with memorable characters and heartwarming stories that appeal to audiences of all ages.”
Pizza Hut is one of the world’s best-known pizza restaurants. It was founded in 1958 in Kansas, USA, by brothers Dan and Frank Carney. Twenty years later, it was bought by Pepsico. Pizza Hut offers dine-in, takeaway and home delivery options in nearly all its 10,000 locations in more than 90 countries. The website says: “At Pizza Hut, we take great pride and care to provide you with the best food and dining experience in the quick-service restaurant business.” The company is well-known for using famous people in their adverts. These include former Soviet Union Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-boxing champion Muhammad Ali and the Muppets. The company was also the first to sponsor the first space pizza delivery in 2001, when the company’s name was put on the side of a Russian rocket.
Honda Motor Company Ltd. is a Japanese multinational company mainly known for its cars and motorcycles. It’s the sixth largest car maker in the world. The company was started by a mechanic Soichiro Honda. He made small motorbikes after WWII and by 1964 had become the world’s largest manufacturer of motorbikes. Honda also manufactures garden equipment, boat engines, power generators and jet engines. Since 1986, the company has been involved with robotics research. It developed what is today the world’s best-known robot - the ASIMO - in 2000. Honda is also heavily involved in motorsports and has racing teams in both Formula 1 and motorbike events. Honda’s slogan is “The Power of Dreams”. Its website says: “Dreams inspire us to create innovative products that enhance mobility and benefit society.”
HSBC is the world's largest banking and financial services group. It was founded in 1865 as The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. Its headquarters was in Hong Kong until 1992 when it moved to London. The bank is listed on the London, New York, Hong Kong, Paris and Bermuda Stock Exchanges. Its slogan is “The World’s Local Bank.” The HSBC website says: “We have a unique international pedigree. Many of our principal companies opened for business over 100 years ago.” HSBC has 9,500 branches in nearly 90 countries. To cut costs, HSBC has opened up call centres in India, China and Brazil. The bank says it saves about $20,000 per worker for each job moved to these centres. Trade unions in the USA and UK blame these centres for job losses and salary caps in their countries.
Polo Ralph Lauren is an American clothing and lifestyle goods company. It was created by fashion designer Ralph Lauren in 1967, who started selling ties in New York. Two years later, he opened his own boutique. He slowly expanded until his first international store opened in London in 1981. He has since become a household name with iconic, semi-formal clothes that became must-have items in the 1980s. His short-sleeved shirts, sweaters and chinos are still highly popular. His brand is now worth over $5 billion and the company employs 13,000 people. It now sells home accessories and perfumes in over 160 stores around the world. All Ralph Lauren goods carry the logo of a polo player on horseback. The website says Lauren has been responsible for “redefining American style”.