By Candice Krieger
November 6, 2008
Hats off to Frank Lowy. Last week, the chairman of Westfield opened the monumental $4 billion London shopping centre Shepherds Bush - in case you hadn't noticed. And at a time when retail industry heavyweights are taking a hit left, right and centre - Sir Stuart Rose's Marks & Spencer reported a 34 per cent fall in half-year profits and warned conditions will remain tough for most of 2009 - Mr Lowy seems to have no such fears. The Australian told Sky News' Sunday Business that it wasn't the first time Westfield had opened a major project in a downturn and laughed off speculation that Westfield will fail to survive the global recession.
Stupid or savvy?
Retail has been one of the worst-affected sectors from the downturn as consumer confidence takes a battering and rising unemployment will continue to reduce earnings with falling house prices likely to encourage people to save more.
But lower interest rates and falling fuel and food bills could increase the amount available for discretionary spending over the next few months.
Either way, I'm in the Lowy camp. Statements defying the doom and gloom - even if they are made on a false pretence and with a hefty bank account to fall back on - make a refreshing to change and could do us all some good. Of course, the comments and actions of one person alone can not turn around the economy. But at a time when confidence is at an all-time low, some positive mental attitude is a welcome tonic.
There is a huge amount of negative sentiment in the marketplace and it's important not to lose sight of the long-term target - getting back to a stable and prosperous economy. We need to encourage innovation, support expanding businesses and be forward-thinking.
So, I've decided to try follow Lowy's lead - albeit with fewer zeros after my name - and stay positive. Besides, if I can't be Lowy-rich, I might aswell think it.