FINALLY THE popular H&M chain is entering into a franchise agreement with Match Retail Ltd. for store openings in Israel. The opening of the first H&M store is planned for some time in 2010. Match Retail Ltd. is a privately-owned company founded by the Horesh family for the exclusive purpose of handling H&M in Israel. "There has been great interest in H&M from the Israeli market for quite some time and we believe that our business concept will suit the Israeli market well. Through this co-operation we will gain access to our franchise partner's solid franchise experience and business network on the Israeli market," says Rolf Eriksen, CEO at H&M. Match Retail chairman Andrew Horesh is equally enthusiastic about the prospect. "We feel extremely proud and privileged to be chosen as H&M's franchise partner in Israel and are committed to providing our customers with fashion and quality at the best price," he says. "With its full range of new and exciting products, we look forward to establishing H&M as a leading player in the Israeli fashion market." The Horesh family is involved in various business operations in Israel, including Union Motors and Lex Motors, the exclusive distributors for Toyota and Lexus in Israel. AMONG THE companies that endorsed Barack Obama during his presidential campaign was Ben & Jerry's, which early this year launched an ice cream name contest to reflect its support. Contest winner was Aaron Nathan of Amherst Mass., who came close to echoing Obama's slogan of Yes we can with Yes Pecan. It's hard to tell to what extent the ice cream helped to boost Obama's popularity or conversely to what extent Obama helped to boost ice cream sales. His face was featured on the container. Even though Obama is now definitely on his way to the White House, Yes Pecan is still on the market, and now available in limited quantities in Israel. Even before Yes Pecan hit the shelves in Vermont and elsewhere in the US, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, both ardent Obama supporters, sent two ice cream trucks through Vermont distributing Cherry for Change ice cream to get part of Obama's message across. According to Ben & Jerry's Israel CEO Avi Singer, there are other flavors also associated with Obama such as Obamana Split and Barackadamia. WORLD LEADER in developing medical technologies Medtronic creates therapies that help millions of people with chronic diseases to resume regular activities and lead productive lives, has moved its Israel offices to new permanent premises in Herzliya Pituah, following a 30 year presence in Even Yehuda. Medtronic Israel is in the process of expanding its operations as well as its customer base. The festive opening of the company's new premises included a ribbon-cutting ceremony in which Medtronic Israel CEO Judith Gal did the honors. Some of the US headquarted company's top executives were supposed to fly in from the US for the occasion, but disruptions in overseas flights precluded their attendance. However they did manage to meet with Gal and other Medtronic Israel executives the following day at an international conference that was also attended by a group of Chinese doctors who had come to Israel to learn about new cardiology techniques. WHEN TIMES are tough and people are inclined to spend less on consumer goods, business enterprises find that they have to come up with creative ways of preserving customer loyalty. Shufersal has done this by establishing a 120-member customer panel made up of members of the Shufersal Club from four geographic zones: Jerusalem, Beersheba, Haifa and its satellites and the central area of the country. Panel members will several times throughout the year visit supermarkets in the Shufersal chain to examine prices, merchandise and service and report back from a customer perspective. This will enable Shufersal to keep its prices competitive, to learn more about its products and to ensure that its service is of a standard that is satisfactory to most customers. Shufersal is investing NIS 300,000 in the project. The panel comprises people aged 30-65, two thirds of whom are female and one third male. AN ILLNESS that has afflicted a dignitary or a celebrity will always get more attention than other illnesses simply because when a well known personality is stricken, that person has easy access to the media and can talk about the symptoms and effects of the illness, whether there is a cure, how it impinges on one's daily functions, etc. Thus when a Hollywood actress is diagnosed with cancer, the whole world suddenly becomes more cancer conscious; and when a well known athlete suffers a heart attack, cardiology becomes part of the conversation at the dinner table. Here in Israel, people are becoming increasingly aware of ALS, (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The disease attacks healthy adults with no warning signs, and is eventually fatal. The reason for this awareness is that Israel Prize laureate Dov Lautman, one of Israel's leading businessmen, the founder of Delta and also a leading proponent for education, has ALS, and because of his popularity in the business community has been able to recruit financial support for research into ALS. Now he's going beyond his buddies and has persuaded Reshet to launch an ALS Awareness Campaign for ALS R&D. The campaign will open this Friday, December 12 on Channel 2's show "The World this Morning". The campaign is based on Canada's successful Word of Mouth Return on Investments campaign, ll feature Lautman at the launch.