Kofi Annan speaks at TFWA Cannes

When challenged by presenter, Stephen Sackur in the question and answer session, as to what he would do about people sleeping and smelly food, Norsa retorted that people can get cheap items in his stores.

“You can get something for $200-$300 in our stores,” said Norsa. Pointing at Sackur, he said: “You can buy a tie.”

Norsa said that there is a “new geography” in Asia. He said cities were defined as “tourism” - Paris, Venice and New York; “hub capitals” - Frankfurt, Dubai and London and “gambling hubs” - Macau, Los Vegas and Singapore.

Norsa applauded the emerging wealthy Chinese who have a “strong brand addiction”, a luxury sentiment and a learning curve that took them quickly from cheap wine and bags to Chateau Lafite and Kelly bags. He also commended their modus operandi of “sleep cheap, shop expensive”.

The final speaker, Stephane Garelli, an economist and business school professor, gave an amusing presentation on the state of the world economy. He said with emerging markets the cry was: “I need it”. While with advanced economies it is: “I want it”. But with tough economic conditions, consumers in the mature economies, were now saying: “I can wait”.

In the early 2000s, it was “shop ‘til you drop”. For 2010, Garelli posted up on the screen: “Congratulations – you’ve done it” - with the picture of a collapsed shopper. He said the only reason the UK economy has posted 0.7% growth was due to the royal wedding. He suggested the UK needed at least another maybe several more royal weddings.

But the parlous state of the US economy is the main cause of concern, said Garelli. Traditionally, the US economy picks up and the likes of Europe and the UK follow suit. That is not the case now.

He warned that high unemployment particularly among young people has huge implications for global economies.

The presentation was humorous but the message was sombre. People left the auditorium laughing but with fixed grins on their faces.