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Visitors pass a giant model of a luxury A. Lange & Soehne wristwatch, manufactured by Lange Uhren GmbH, a watchmaking unit of Cie. Financiere Richemont SA.

Gianluca Colla | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Luxury goods group Richemont said sales of its watches and jewelry both grew by 10% in the year to the end of March, with the Americas and Asia performing well.

Swiss watch export figures showed sluggish shipments to top markets Hong Kong and the United States so far this year, a trend also visible at luxury peer Kering that recorded slowing U.S. growth for its Gucci brand in the first quarter.

Net profit at Richemont more than doubled to 2.79 billion euros ($3.12 billion) in the full year, primarily due to an extraordinary gain of 1.38 billion euros linked to its Yoox Net-A-Porter Group (YNAP) acquisition.

Sales rose 27% including recently acquired online distributors YNAP and Watchfinder, and 8% excluding them. They reached 13.99 billion euros in 2018/2019.

Growth was once again driven by jewelry brands Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, but watch brands, including IWC and Jaeger LeCoultre, also posted better growth than in recent quarters.

In terms of product categories, watches and jewelry both grew 10%, excluding online distributors, Richemont said.

Last year, Richemont acquired online distributors YNAP and second-hand specialist Watchfinder, whose figures its has consolidated since May 1 and June 1 2018 respectively.

In October, it also formed a joint venture with China’s online retail giant Alibaba to launch a luxury retail platform for Chinese consumers. It said discussions with Alibaba were progressing, but did not give further details.

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Unilever staff took part in DNA experiment to tackle unconscious bias

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Consumer goods giant Unilever has taken the unusual step of having some of its marketing staff read their own DNA profiles to see whether finding out about their heritage has an impact on their unconscious biases.

Ad agency staff also had their DNA analyzed, with 63 staff taking part in total in New York, London and Rotterdam, according to a statement emailed to CNBC. DNA data was anonymous to Unilever.

Unilever assessed employees’ stereotypical thinking using an academic test before getting the results of the DNA tests that showed their heritage. Unilever worked with University College London, in order to adhere to academic protocols.

The DNA results provided information about employees’ ancestry, and once they got the results, staff participated in a workshop to understand how stereotypes are learned and how the brain can “unlearn” them. People’s stereotypes reduced “significantly” afterwards, according to Unilever.

Aline Santos (second left), Unilever’s executive vice president of global marketing and global head of diversity and inclusion speaks on a panel at the Cannes Lions event in France, June 19 2018

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Aline Santos, Unilever’s executive vice president, global marketing, and its chief diversity and inclusion officer, said the aim was for people to consider stereotypes of all kinds. “This is about people, so it’s not only about one dimension of stereotypes which is gender, it’s about sexual orientation, it’s about religion, about everything that puts people in boxes,” Santos told CNBC by phone.

Santos is Brazilian, but discovered her heritage is largely Italian. Some colleagues were surprised to learn that they had an Asian background, or that part of their family was Jewish, for example.

Unilever revealed the initiative on Monday at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France, as part of its “unstereotype” program, which aims to remove bias from advertising whether that is related to gender, background, age or orientation.

Santos claimed that the exercise resulted in a 35 percent reduction in unconscious bias among the 63 people who took part and said the company would give other staff the chance to have their DNA tested.

In practise, this means a reappraisal of the communications strategy for some Unilever brands. Cleaning product Cif, for example, was traditionally targeted at housewives, or “family nurturers,” Santos said. Cif redefined its audience as anyone who wants to have a “beautiful home,” and of course marketing to this broader group should mean an increase in sales. It also swapped a boy who featured in a long-running campaign for Calve peanut butter in the Netherlands for a football-fanatic girl.

Unilever, like other consumer-goods companies, undertakes extensive testing of new products and advertising before they are launched, and Santos said that marketing science is “the new frontier” for marketers to better understand consumers’ behavior.

Sexism in advertising is a hot topic in the industry, with new rules coming into effect in the U.K. on Friday. Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reviewed gender stereotyping in ads in 2018 and found that sexist portrayals can have an impact on the aspirations and choices of adults and children. As a result, the ASA will ban commercials that include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm or serious offense.

Santos has been tipped to succeed Keith Weed as Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer, but when asked, she said new CEO Alan Jope was considering how he might reorganize the company and no decisions had been made. Weed announced his retirement in December 2018 after 35 years with Unilever, and Jope succeeded Paul Polman as CEO in January.

Unilever’s Dove bath foam in a Beijing supermarket.

Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty Images

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Netanyahu dedicates new settlement to US president

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony to unveil a sign for a new community named after U.S. President Donald Trump, in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights June 16, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Ammar Awad | Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday sent President Donald Trump a token of his gratitude for supporting Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in the form of a “new community” in the disputed territory named after the U.S. leader.

The settlement – to be known as “Trump Heights” – sits within the Golan Heights, which had been occupied for decades by Israel but was not seen as Israeli territory by the U.S. until last March, when Trump officially recognized Israel’s annexation of the region.

American ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended a “festive meeting” Sunday where the new town was inaugurated by the Israeli government, according to Netanyahu’s official Twitter account.

“It’s a great recognition of the president’s courageous decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Friedman said. The ambassador also referred to the naming ceremony as a “birthday present” to Trump, who turned 73 on Friday.

A large sign emblazoned in gold letters with the name of the community, written in English and in Hebrew below the national flags of the U.S. and Israel, was also unveiled at the ceremony.

“Thank you PM and the State of Israel for this great honor! ” Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon.

Trump and Netanyahu have forged a close bond and have regularly lavished praise on each other’s leadership. At the event Sunday, Netanyahu again celebrated Trump’s support for policies that benefited Israel’s agenda, including leaving the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal and moving a U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Israel has occupied the Golan Heights since the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, and had passed a law applying its government to the area 1981 – a move that was opposed by much of the international community at the time.

Trump’s full-throated endorsement of Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights came in the middle of Netanyahu’s re-election bid, which he won. After his election to a record fifth term, Netanyahu said he would push to name a new area in the Golan Heights after Trump.

Trump’s action was rejected by other Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Stanford commencement speech

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Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, speaks in Brussels, on October 24, 2018.

ARis Oikonomou | AFP | Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook warned that Silicon Valley companies needed to take responsibility for the “chaos” they create in a speech Sunday at Stanford University.

Although Cook did not mention companies by name, his commencement speech in Silicon Valley’s backyard mentioned data breaches, privacy violations, and even made reference to Theranos, a disgraced startup.

“Lately it seems this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation – the belief you can claim credit without accepting responsibility,” Cook said. “We see it every day now with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech, fake news poisoning out national conversation, the false miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood.”

He continued: “It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this, but if you built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos.”

It’s the latest in a series of speeches from Cook in which he has has discussed his views on data security while criticizing Google, Facebook, and other technology companies for their approach to user data and privacy, usually without naming those companies. Apple advertises privacy as a key iPhone feature and recently released a privacy-focused sign-on feature that competes with Google and Facebook.

Cook told the new Stanford graduates that digital surveillance threatened innovation and would have “stopped Silicon Valley before it got started.”

“If we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated, sold and even leaked in the event of a hack, then we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human,” Cook said in the commencement speech.

The rest of the speech touched on themes including how to leave a legacy and advice to the students on how to follow their own paths.

In January, Cook called for a Federal Trade Commission “clearinghouse” that would enable people to track and delete the personal data held by companies.

Watch the full speech: 

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