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Debenhams to cut 320 store management jobs

Department store group Debenhams is planning to cut 320 store management jobs as it tries to drive down costs.

The retailer said last month it was stepping up cost-cutting plans after it issued a profit warning following disappointing trading over Christmas.

Many traditional retailers are struggling to cope the challenge of the shift towards shopping online.

Debenhams said a review had identified “significant cost savings” by reducing the complexity of management roles.

The 320 posts affected account for a quarter of Debenhams’ store management jobs.

“We are currently consulting with individuals affected and will seek redeployment opportunities where possible,” Debenhams said in a statement. “We envisage our new structure being fully in place by the end of March.”

The news comes shortly after three of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains – Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – announced plans to cut thousands of jobs, including stripping out layers of middle management.

Analysis: Emma Simpson, BBC business correspondent

Who’d want to be a manager on the shop floor in retail right now? Judging by the spate of announcements from some of our biggest retailers in the last few weeks, these posts are now on the chopping block.

First it was the supermarkets, with all the big established grocers restructuring their businesses as the old supermarket model is under strain, from rising costs, increased competition and the relentless shift to online.

Now it’s the turn of Debenhams. It’s not surprising given the pressures on its department store business. It already said it would have to find £10m of savings this year. In the world of retail, there’s much more change to come.

‘Year of distress’

Shares in Debenhams fell sharply in January after it said its UK like-for-like sales – which strip out the impact of store openings and closures – fell 2.6% in the 17 weeks to 30 December amid a “volatile and competitive” market.

As a result, it cut its full-year profit forecast to between £55m and £65m this year, against analysts’ expectations of about £83m.

Debenhams – which operates out of more than 240 stories in 27 countries – is by no means the only High Street retailer to have struggled recently.

The whole retail sector is undergoing huge change as traditional stores seek ways of coping with the rapid rise of online shopping.

Marks and Spencer, House of Fraser and Mothercare were among other retailers to report disappointing sales in the run-up to Christmas, whereas online specialists such as Asos and BooHoo saw rapid growth in revenues.

Richard Lim from research consultancy Retail Economics said: “2018 is looking like a year of distress for the UK retail industry.

“The major challenge facing bricks-and-mortar retailers is the continued pincer movement of rising operating and sourcing costs against a backdrop of shifting shopper behaviour.

“Many retail business models are incompatible with the relentless shift towards online spending and the emergence of the experience economy. Put simply, department stores are incredibly expensive to operate while they are also burdened with inflexible leases, high rents and too many properties.”

Mr Price takes control of its Kenya franchise

Mr Price store at the Junction in Nairobi. file PHOTO | NMG

South Africa-based Mr Price Group has taken direct control of its Kenya business after reclaiming its franchise from fashion apparel retailer Deacons East Africa.

The two firms on Thursday announced that Mr Price will from April 1 assume the operations of its 11 Mr Price stores in Kenya. Deacons had held the Mr Price Kenya franchise for a decade.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm mid last month agreed to sell the Mr Price Home and Mr Price apparel brands, which have been operating in Kenya since 2007, effectively ending Deacons’ 10-year franchise deal with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed company.

“Notice is given under the Transfer of Businesses Act that the Mr Price franchised business carried on by Deacons (East Africa) Plc will be transferred on or about April 1, 2018, (subject to the fulfillment of conditions precedent) to Mr Price Retail Kenya Limited which will carry on the business,” said the firms yesterday in a regulatory notice.

The firms added Mr Price would now assume all financial obligations related to the business.

“All money debts or liabilities due and owing the transferor in respect of the business up to the date of transfer shall be received and paid by the transferor,” they said.

“The transferee is not assuming nor is it intended to assume any liabilities incurred by the transferor in the business up to the date of transfer.”

The Deacons board approved plans to sell its flagship Mr Price franchise in Kenya last October. The proposed deal came amid a 12 per cent drop in earnings for the Johannesburg-based firm, marking its first decline in annual profit since 2001 as South African consumers slowed purchases in a struggling economy.

READ: Deacons warns of profit dip on polls

Deacons, which operates several branded stores in Kenya including Truworths, Angelo, 4u2, Reebok and Babyshop, has indicated that its earnings for the full-year through December will drop by at least a quarter, citing a tough operating environment.

Deacons’ exclusive franchise deal with another South Africa’s luxury fashion brand Woolworths ended in 2013 after the multinational took full ownership of its Kenyan subsidiary.

Deacons posted a half-year net loss last year of Sh180 million.

Deacons’ principal business is to operate retail establishments including franchise and department stores selling ladies, men’s and children’s clothing, footwear and accessories among other items in East Africa.

Morrisons to axe 1,500 jobs in huge supermarket shake-up

The supermarket giant said the shake-up is part of a restructure which would see more customer service staff and fewer managers

Morrisons is to axe 1,500 shop floor workers as it becomes the latest supermarket to announce large-scale job cuts.

The supermarket giant said the shake-up is part of a restructure which would see more customer service staff and fewer managers.

Gary Mills, Morrisons retail director, said: “Our aim is to serve customers better with more frontline colleagues in stores improving product availability and helping customers at the checkouts.

“Very regrettably, there will be a period of uncertainty for some managers affected by these proposals and we’ll be supporting them through this important process.

“Our commitment is to redeploy as many affected colleagues as possible.”

Simultaneously Morrisons said it will create 1,700 junior jobs.

It comes just one day after retailer Marks & Spencer announced it is to shut one of its West Midlands shops as part of a closure programme affecting 13 stores.

The outlet in the Kingfisher Centre, Redditch, will close in April with all 66 staff set to transfer to neighbouring stores.

Other stores near to Redditch include a recently opened foodhall in Moseley, Birmingham city centre, Solihull and the Midlands’ largest M&S which launched in Longbridge in 2015.

The company has also announced today the planned closure of five other stores by the end of April – Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach near Swansea and Putney in London.

H&M’s store closures to surge as fashion giant shifts strategy

The last time H&M was this low global financial markets were in crisis, Angelina Jolie was popularizing the maxi dress, and Zara didn’t even sell clothing online.

Shares fell as much as 9.1 percent to a nine-year low Wednesday in Stockholm. Hennes & Mauritz AB have lost more than a quarter of its value in the past three months. The slump brings H&M’s market value to 235 billion kronor ($29.9 billion), equivalent to about a quarter of what Zara owner Inditex SA is worth.

“There is little in the statement to suggest that H&M can reignite its top line anytime soon,” wrote Richard Chamberlain, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

A 1 percent increase in December and January sales implied a “mid-single digit” drop in like-for-like revenue, according to RBC analysts, bearing out comments by chief executive officer Karl-Johan Persson that the first quarter started weaker than expected. That follows the biggest drop in quarterly sales in at least a decade.

The Swedish company plans to shut 170 stores this year, even as its adds a format called Afound, which joins the main H&M chain and other recent additions like Arket. The retailer said it would invest more in online sales and digital inventory-tracking technology, while adding shops in markets that are still growing.

As online shopping has soared, fewer people are visiting H&M’s vast network of physical stores. The company has struggled to cut inventory, which ended the year higher than planned, and H&M said it will increase markdowns by as much as 2 percent in the first quarter to clear that out.

The sales woes have forced Persson to retract a target of 10 percent to 15 percent annual sales growth for this year after setting that long-term target 12 months ago. The goal still stands for the future, but could take several years to reach, he said in an interview.

Strategy shift

“We’re working toward it, we believe in what we’re doing, but since we haven’t reached the goal we set this year I don’t want to say we’ll reach them for 2019, 2020,” Persson said.

Some investors have sold shares amid fears the company is being too slow in responding to the industry’s digital shift. Didner & Gerge Fonder AB, one of H&M’s top shareholders, has called for a management shake-up. At a news conference Wednesday, Persson said he believes he has the board’s confidence as CEO and declined to comment further on calls for new management.

The company plans 390 new stores. About a quarter of the new shops will be formats other than the flagship H&M, such as COS, Monki, and Afound. The latter, the company’s ninth format overall, will consist of stores and websites that offer deals on the company’s own goods as well as merchandise from third parties.

The first Afound store will be in Stockholm, and the site will go online in Sweden this year. H&M is building a format where it can funnel off excess inventory and is entering part of the market that discount retailers such as Primark and supermarkets have proven can be successful. Afound is a shift in strategy following the last new format, Arket, which sells higher-priced general merchandise, including houseware, purses, and coffee.

There’s a risk the new chain may cannibalize H&M’s existing business, according to Michelle Wilson, an analyst at Berenberg. But Afound may not be the end of the new formats from H&M.

“We’re looking at two new business models that really aren’t like anything else we have,” Persson said in the interview.

The Stockholm-based company’s image was also tarnished by accusations of racism after an advertisement featuring a black child wearing a hoodie with the text “coolest monkey in the jungle” sparked a social-media storm and protests in South Africa earlier this month. H&M has apologized for the ad.

Despite speculation among some analysts that H&M would be forced to cut its dividend for the first time since it was listed in 1974, the company kept its payout for 2017 unchanged at 9.75 kronor ($1.24) a share. The company plans to offer shareholders the option to reinvest in new H&M shares instead of receiving the dividend in cash, which analysts said would dilute the stock. Members of the Persson family, collectively H&M’s biggest shareholders, plan to follow that option.

Top Italian beauty brand Korff Milano enters UAE

Top Italian beauty brand Korff Milano enters UAE

UAE Business

• •

Korff Milano, a leading Italian company known for its upmarket beauty solutions in the pharmaceutical industry, has announced its foray into the UAE market in partnership with BinSina Pharmacies.

The premier European make-up brand marked its UAE debut with an exclusive gala dinner at Address Hotel, Dubai Mall, which witnessed the presence of a large group of dignitaries, high-profile beauty influencers and other senior officials.

As per the deal, the producst of the Italian fashion brand will be available exclusively at BinSina Pharmacies across the UAE.

Combining make-up with pleasure and scientific technology with glamour, Korff Milano aims to be the first choice for women with high standards for skin health and well-being, said a top official.

“We are excited to launch in the UAE, a place known for its up-market beauty trends and high quality products. Our innovative revolutionary formulas are ahead of time, which offer the perfect make-up solutions, making it an unmissable addition to the growing beauty market in the region,” remarked Dr Mohammad Al Rammal, the general manager of Korff Milano in the GCC.

Foreign beauty product firms are increasing their presence in this country as the sector offers an expanding market that is also giving local firms a platform for growth.

According to Euromonitor International, consumers in the UAE spent US$247 per capita on cosmetics and personal care, more than any other country in the Middle East, and ninth worldwide. This is forecast to grow to $294 in 2020.

“Dermatological know-how applied to make-up, trusted active ingredients and extremely close attention to purity of raw materials form the basis of every single product we make. We are optimistic that the brand will be an instant hit with women looking for beauty combined with safety and efficacy,” said Laura May, the commercial drector of Korff Milano.

According to May, the initial product offerings from Korff Milano will include, make-up which will come in high-tech, highly concentrated formulas.

The premium brand is hoping to use its experience and expertise in dermatological innovation and cosmetic pleasure to provide targeted solutions to women in the UAE, he added.

Dr Saleema Shurrab, the general manager of BinSina Pharmacy Group, said: “We are very excited to introduce the Korff Milano collection across our stores in the UAE. It is an internationally recognised brand and the on-going scientific research, new technology and safety and efficiency that the brand offers is in line with our core values.”

“With its holistic approach to strengthen, empower and regenerate skin, the brand is certain to make a statement in the UAE,” she stated.

Featuring evoking ingredients, gentle textures and research oriented products, Korff Milano offers rare and active ingredients that not only delight the senses, but turn a beauty routine in a moment of pure pampering. Korff Milano has grown to become one of the biggest brands for make up in retail pharmacy channels, and is distributed in more than 15 countries globally.-TradeArabia News Service

Dubai launches world’s first floating drive-thru

Revealed: Dubai launches world’s first floating drive-thru

Aqua Pod allows sea-goers to enjoy food and beverages as they would from a traditional food truck

Dubai has revealed the Aqua Pod concept, the world’s first sustainable floating drive-thru, serving a range of burgers.

Sea-goers will be able to satisfy their hunger while at sea and pull up to enjoy food and beverages as they would from a traditional food truck.

This unique floating drive-through concept comes from 27-year-young, award-winning architect Ahmed Youssef, founder of Aquatic Architects Design Studio (AADS) and creator of the Aqua Pod.

The first Aqua Pod, named Salt Bay, serves up a creative burgers menu, and has been created in collaboration with successful F&B entrepreneur Koussei Kurbaj.

“Realizing the value of the sea, we have set out to create an innovative platform which allows us to tap into the aquatic market, with sustainability at the core of every design decision to preserve the marine environment,” said Youssef.

“In Dubai, we are almost always surrounded by water; Emiratis and residents alike spend significant amount of time at sea. At AADS, we understand the value of the region’s shorelines and beyond, so we saw an untapped opportunity to bring an innovative concept to the UAE.”

He said the Aqua Pod boasts sustainability features, enabling it to act as a waste collector wherever it is located, eliminating the discharge of brine into the sea.

Largely running on electrical power, the Aqua Pod’s operations enable the production of clean water from the sea excluding any negative discharge, allowing this creation to exist without environmental harm, he added.

The Dubai Maritime City Authority has pledged its support by creating a new licence category for this unique floating facility, placing the Aqua Pod as a benchmark for future creations of its kind.

“The support of the DMCA has been instrumental in the Aqua Pod’s successful launch and is a testament to the UAE government’s forward-thinking commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly among youth,” said Youssef.

M&S plans closure of 14 more UK stores

M&S plans closure of 14 more UK stores

British retailer Marks & Spencer said on Wednesday six UK stores would close by the end of April, while a further eight had been identified for closure.

M&S said in November 2016 it would reposition about 25 percent of its clothing and home space through a combination of closures, downsizes, relocations and conversions to food-only stores. In November last year it said it was accelerating this programme.

The group said all staff from the six stores closing in April will move to nearby stores. It said 468 employees would be affected at the eight stores proposed for closure and will now enter a period of consultation.

M&S also said it had reassessed and reduced its “Simply Food” opening programme, and now only plans to open a total of 36 owned and franchise stores over the next six months.

It said these stores would create 1,200 jobs.

Bargain retail chain has eyes on Northern Ireland expansion

Discount retailer B&M will open two new stores in Northern Ireland in the coming months as part of its UK expansion plans.

The retailer is set to take over a former JJB Store at Drumkeen Retail Park in south Belfast as well as a opening a new unit in Ballynahinch.

The Drumkeen store will open on March 9, creating more than 25 jobs.

While the retailer would not confirm the opening of another Co Down store, job vacancies on its website for a ‘new Ballynahinch store’ indicate that it has interests in a new branch there.

“We try to open 50-60 stores a year so we’re always looking for new sites, which means recruitment can sometimes search areas to see if the local community are interested,” said a spokeswoman.

Speaking about the Belfast store, which is facing Forestside shopping centre, she added: “We are all really excited to get the doors open and welcome our new customers through the door in a few weeks.”

Spar International to open 40 stores in Saudi by 2020

Foot retail giant to open eight stores in Riyadh this year

Foot retail chain Spar International has unveiled plans to open 40 stores in Saudi Arabia by 2020, as part of a partnership with Riyadh-based Al Sadhan Group to bring the brand to the kingdom.

The firm opened three Spar stores in Riyadh over the weekend, with five more scheduled this year, bringing the total number of stores in the country to eight.

The stores are aimed at a mid-to premium customer base, with competitive pricing offered for global and local products.

Managing director of Spar International, Tobias Wasmuhtm said a growing young population and rising GDP has resulted in steady growth in Saudi Arabia’s retail market.

Spar is one of the world’s largest food retail chains, with over 12,500 stores worldwide and global retail sales of €33.1 billion (2016). The Netherlands-based group has existing stores across the region in the UAE and Oman.

As for Al Sadhan Group, it is a family owned business that operates in sectors ranging from real estate to facilities management and retail.

Chairman of the group, Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Al Sadhan, said the partnership is in line with the kingdom’s 2030 vision.

Top franchising trends for 2018

©Ian Allenden via 123RF

The franchising industry has steadily shown adaptability to the tough economy by growing the sector 3,6% over the past four years – from contributing an estimated 9,7% to the country’s GDP in 2014 to its recent figure of 13,3%. This trend is expected to continue on the same trajectory in the short-term and could possibly improve should SA see better economic growth.

According to a survey conducted by the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA), 78% of most franchisors are optimistic about future growth in their businesses. Although this translates to positive sentiments, the franchising is still, like other businesses, also vulnerable to the economic headwinds. As a result, franchisors need to keep abreast of their operating environment.

Here, Cronje shares top trends to look out for in 2018:

The significance of online and social media

Traditional marketing is no longer the magic bullet as more people are starting to use social media to interact with brands, whether to express anger, inquire or to show appreciation. It is no longer about the question of should a business use social media or not, it is now more about how a business uses social media to better serve its customers.

Multi-brand franchisees

More franchisees are starting to jump into the bandwagon of having several franchisees on their belt not just having one, doing this helps to improve cash flow as well as the protection of the ups and downs in business.

Health and education

According to FASA, these two sectors are rapidly growing, because more people are starting to become health conscious, while on the other hand education is a priority for South Africa. As a result, there is a strong demand for these sectors.

Increased customization

Consumers have gained control of what they want; it is no longer about what do you have on the menu, it is now about how your product or service can be tailor-made to what a customer really wants. For example, Brian Altriche, founder of RocoMamas with 61 franchise outlets is of the view that his business model clearly responds to the essence of this trend by allowing consumers to create their own burgers as they want.

On-demand products/ services

In this fast-paced environment, customers control their experiences by wanting products or services that speak to this need. Franchisors who want to expand their business should start exploring this trend.

“2018 will no doubt bring its challenges, however for every challenge there is a window of opportunity to explore. We are advising franchisors to scrutinise these trends carefully, it can definitely give them a boost for 2018,” concludes Cronje.

Protesters Trash H&M Shops in South Africa Following Racist Ad

An apology from international retail giant H&M was not enough to quell the widespread anger over a promotional image that many have described as racist because it shows a black child wearing a sweatshirt with the words, “Coolest monkey in the jungle.”

Groups of protesters in South Africa answered the call from an opposition party to demonstrate at six H&M stores in the country. Many of the protesters were dressed in red that is the signature of the Economic Freedom Fighters as they proceeded to ransack some of the stores, tearing down displays and throwing clothes around in the process.

Number of years it took for each product to reach 50million users

Superdry Sport to design Invictus UK team kit for next year’s Games

as agreed a deal to design and provide free bespoke technical sports kit and team clothing for UK Team competitors and supporters at next year’s Invictus Games.

Invictus Games Toronto 2017, UK Team supported by Help for Heroes

Under the deal, Superdry Sport’s in-house team of designers and technicians will create full technical competition wear for the competitors taking part in the international adaptive sporting competition in Sydney.

The Superdry Sport team will work with a selected group of previous competitors, drawing upon their guidance and expertise to ensure the specialist requirements of the Team are met. Superdry Sport will also make training and team leisure clothing. All the specially designed kit will be available for the full UK Delegation – covering competitors, family and friends and staff and Games guests.

The deal has been agreed with the UK Delegation to the Invictus Games, which is a partnership between the Ministry of Defence, Help for Heroes (H4H) and The Royal British Legion (TRBL). H4H are responsible for training, selecting and developing the UK Team, with TRBL taking responsibility for the Friends and Family.

The Invictus Games is an international adaptive multi-sport event, created by Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or sick service personnel and veterans take part in sports including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and indoor rowing. Launching the first Invictus Games in London in 2014, the Prince said that the Games would “demonstrate the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and demonstrate life beyond disability”.

At next year’s Games in Australia more than 500 competitors from 17 nations are expected to take part in 10 different adaptive sports. The Games will take place from 20 – 27 October with events being held across Greater Sydney, including Sydney Olympic Park and on and around Sydney Harbour.

The news follows the significant expansion of Superdry Sport’s offering in stores and online and the opening of the first standalone Sports shops. Superdry Sport is designed to push the boundaries; combining extreme colours and graphics with pioneering fabrics, moisture wicking technology and impeccable attention to detail both inside and out.

Euan Sutherland, chief executive of Superdry, said: “The Invictus Games has shown how the power of sport can help injured service personnel, veterans and their families and inspire us all. At Superdry we are very proud to have been chosen to provide the clothing for the UK team and the wider delegation. Our Superdry Sport range represents everything that Superdry stands for – great design, technical expertise, attention to detail and constant innovation.”Sensitivity: Operational

Jayne Kavanagh, UK Team Chef de Mission, said: “We are incredibly pleased and proud to be working alongside Superdry to continue supporting the recovery journeys of those whose lives have been affected by injury or illness.

“The legacy of the Invictus Games is clear to see through the fact that more hopefuls than ever before have registered their interest for a place on the 2018 UK Team. The Invictus Games in London, Orlando and Toronto demonstrated how powerful sport is as a means of rebuilding confidence as well as aiding physical and mental recovery. The Games will continue to get bigger and it is important the UK Team and supporters are comfortable in the kit they wear, something we are confident Superdry Sport will deliver.

“Through offering support to our veterans and service personnel on their Invictus journey, Superdry Sport are helping to empower them to look beyond illness and injury, regain their purpose, reach their potential and have a positive impact on society.”

Bernie Broad, a former Army Major with the Grenadier Guards, was the UK Team Captain at the Invictus Games 2017 in Toronto. Bernie lost both his legs below the knee due to injuries sustained in an explosion in Helmand Province in 2009. He underwent four and a half years of extensive surgery whilst at the same time undergoing rehabilitation at DMRC at Headley Court.

Speaking about the announcement, he said: “The Invictus Games empower and inspire all of us as competitors to be the best version of ourselves. Having a globally-recognised British brand endorse the British team will give athletes an extra sense of pride when they wear the kit and represent their country. Additionally, there will be added motivation to show the world that we can push our limits and that we can still achieve our personal bests in a life post injury or illness.”

Nyden: H&M’s new affordable luxury brand

Introducing Nyden: H&M’s new affordable luxury brand

H&M has announced it will be adding another brand to its portfolio in early 2018 aimed at millennials and co-created with “influencers”.

The first /Nyden influencers will include Instagram-famous tattoo artist Doctor Woo and Swedish actress Noomi Rapace. The aim of working with influencers is to ensure the brand and product resonates more with its target market.

The collaborators will work with /Nyden at their design centre in Los Angeles using a library of pre-developed fabrics, designed by H&M according to market data on trends. Products will be developed in three to four weeks, produced in limited quantities and will be priced in the “affordable luxury” range.

The new brand will be headed up by creative director, Oscar Olsson, who believes that the future of fashion is in the ‘tribes’ who decide to wear it, rather than designers dictating what consumers should wear.

H&M already incorporates a number of sub-brands aimed at different markets including COS, weekday, & Other Stories, Cheap Monday, Monki, and ARKET.

Al-Futtaim buys M&S retail business in Hong Kong & Macau

United Kingdom : Al-Futtaim buys M&S retail business in Hong Kong & Macau – Apparel News United Kingdom

Al-Futtaim has acquired the retail business of Marks and Spencer (M&S) in Hong Kong and Macau. The sale completed on December 30, 2017 after several discussions, now sees Al-Futtaim become the new sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau. Al-Futtaim has worked in partnership with M&S since 1998 when the first M&S store was opened in Dubai.

“We have substantially reshaped our international business, which has improved profitability and positioned us for growth. As one of the world’s leading retail operators, with strong logistics capabilities and local expertise, Al-Futtaim is the ideal partner for us to develop and grow our business in Hong Kong and Macau,” said Paul Friston, Marks & Spencer’s international director.

“We are delighted to strengthen our long-term partnership with M&S and expand Al-Futtaim’s international footprint to Hong Kong and Macau. Al-Futtaim looks forward to building on our solid foundations as we continue to enrich our customers’ lives and aspirations through the provision of quality products and services in Hong Kong and Macau,” Stephen Rayfield, vice president M&S and sports & lifestyle division at Al-Futtaim said.

The sale follows M&S’s strategic review of its international business in November 2016, where M&S proposed to have a greater focus on its established franchise and joint venture partnerships and operate with fewer wholly-owned markets.

Al-Futtaim operates 43 M&S stores across seven markets in the Middle East, as well as in Singapore and Malaysia. Most recently Al-Futtaim has extended the reach of M&S’s popular chilled food to three markets, and will shortly be opening the first standalone M&S food store in the Middle East. (RR)

Co-op to open 100 new stores in 2018

Co-op to open 100 new stores in 2018 as it continues expansion

The Co-op has confirmed plans to open 100 new stores across the UK this year, creating an estimated 1,600 jobs, as part of a continued drive to expand its footprint across the country.

The retailer is spending more than £160m on new store launches, with more than 20 set to open in London, 10 in Wales and 18 in Scotland. The group will also invest in major renovations for around 150 existing outlets.

Elsewhere in the country, stores will be appearing in Blackpool, Bristol, Chesterfield, Crewe, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth, Southampton and York.

Co-op’s rapid growth campaign comes as rival retailers, including Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, have scaled back plans to open new stores amid worries about shifting consumer habits, with customers increasingly preferring to shop online.

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said the chain was “positively responding” to the changes occurring within the dynamic retail sector, with the food business going “from strength to strength in what is clearly a challenging retail market”.

Stuart Hookins, Co-op’s director of portfolio and development, said the expansion plans for 2018 meant that the Co-op was on track to have opened at least 100 new stores in each of three consecutive years.

Discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl are also rapidly expanding their networks, having filed at least 90 planning ­applications for new supermarkets in 2017, according to figures compiled by Barbour ABI. By stark comparison, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons had together filed a total of just 11 by October of last year.

In November, the Co-op struck a deal to supply 2,500 Costcutter shops across the UK from spring 2018. The contract win came just two weeks after the Co-op narrowly won approval from Nisa members for its £143m takeover of the convenience chain.

Hamleys opens biggest store

Hamleys opens biggest store on the planet

British toy giant Hamleys has opened its largest worldwide flagship store in Beijing spanning over 115,000sq ft.

The 257-year-old store opened the doors its new location just two days before Christmas, accompanied by an exclusive parade to mark the occasion. The British ambassador Barbara Woodward and Sanpower chairman Yafei Yuan.

Marking its third store in China, Hamleys new store will be located in Beijing’s sought after Wangfujing area alongside the country’s most prestigious shops

It will span five stories and display thousands of toys taking cues from its well tested central London store. Thousands of customers are also expected to visit the room daily.

Hamleys store opening coincides with a population boom in China, with childbirth seeing a 7.6 per cent rise and creating a high demand for toys. This has seen sales volumes of toys and games in China more than triple over since 2011, rising more than 20 per cent every year.

The retailer now trades from 25 countries across the globe including China, Ukraine, India, Russia and Germany.

Apple to open first Saudi stores

US giant Apple said to be in talks to open first Saudi stores

Tech major is reportedly in licensing talks with Riyadh; first Apple store could open in 2019

US tech giant Apple is reportedly in licensing talks with Saudi Arabia with a view to open its first stores in the Gulf kingdom.

The maker of the iPhone, which sells products in Saudi Arabia via third parties, is in discussions with SAGIA, Saudi Arabia’s foreign investment authority, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

They said a licensing agreement is expected by February, with the first retail store targeted for 2019.

The sources said that Amazon is also in talks with Riyadh on investing in Saudi Arabia, adding that discussions are in earlier stages.

Both companies declined to comment, while SAGIA was not immediately available to answer questions about the discussions, Reuters said.

Wishing all our readers a Happy New Year

Wishing all our readers Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Apple’s first ever retail store in Korea, said to open on Dec 30

Apple’s first ever retail store in Korea, close to Samsung’s HQ, said to open on Dec 30

Ben Lovejoy

Apple confirmed back in January plans to open its first ever retail store in Samsung’s home city of Seoul, South Korea – close to the headquarters of Samsung.

A new report from Korea says that the store will open on December 30, with retail head Angela Ahrendts in attendance …

ETNews quotes the construction company saying that work on the store is all but complete.

“We have finished all the major interior decorations of the Apple Store and left only a simple task,” he said […] Apple has decided to open the Apple store Seoul Gangnam store (first store) on Saturday, December 30, in consultation with the construction company. Unless there are special problems at the final stage of the construction, it will open from 10 am to 11 am on the day.

The report says that Apple had originally targeted a completion date of November 30, with construction continuing through both nights and weekends to ensure that the new date is hit. Staff recruitment and training is also said to be complete.

The store reportedly spans ground and basement levels, with a total of 1297 square meters.

The busy Gangnam district of Seoul, above, is known for upmarket shopping and interesting architecture.

Smartphone sales in South Korea are currently dominated by local companies Samsung and LG, so it will be interesting to see how much help a retail presence is going to be in growing iPhone sales in the country.

Poundworld loses CEO

Gerry Gray,  who had held the role of chief executive at Poundworld for almost two years following a long career with Tesco,  has resigned and left the business. Steve Johnson, executive chairman,  is assuming the role until a permanent appointment can be made.

Arket to open third store in London

H&M’s Group newest brand, Arket, is set to open its third store in London next spring as the Swedish retail group continues to roll out its latest store concept.

Set to open in spring, 2018, the store will be located in Westfield Stratford City. The third UK Arket store opening comes after the brand’s debut opening this August. Market opened its first store on Regent Street on August 25 to much fanfare. One month later, Arket opened its second store in London at Covent Garden, at 27-29 Long Acre.

Since the launch of the new retail chain, Arket has opened five stores across Europe, including stores in Germany, Belgium, and Denmark. The next store openings following Arket’s third store in London at Westfield Stratford will be the brand’s first store in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam and Stockholm, Sweden.

Arket aims to be a “modern-day market” for men and women, focusing on minimalistic and timeless wardrobe essentials. An exact opening date for its store in Westfield Stratford has yet to be confirmed.

Souq.com launches Amazon Global Store

New store brings over one million global products to the UAE

E-commerce giant Souq.com has launched Amazon Global Store, which allows customers in the UAE to choose from over one million products from US-based Amazon.com, in Arabic or English, and pay in AED.

Several payment methods including cash on delivery is available, while product categories include apparel, handbags, shoes, watches, kitchen and home goods and many more.

Ronaldo Mouchawar, co-founder and chief executive of Souq, said the store brings global selection closer to customers in the region.

“We will continue to grow this further. We share the same vision as Amazon and focus on providing our customers with best-in-class selection, great prices and a convenient shopping experience,” he said.

The Amazon store also allows customers to see prices in AED inclusive of import fee deposits at checkout (where applicable), without any unexpected fees added later. It offers two delivery options including priority (2-5 business days) and expedited (6-10 business days).

Customers can speak directly with the service team at Souq, a subsidiary of Amazon, in English or Arabic for any queries, and are able to return product for a full refund within 30 days, in most cases.

The store represents Amazon’s confidence in the region, according to Samir Kumar, vice president of international retail at Amazon.

“Our continued investment will provide customers with more of what they want – the largest selection combined with a reliable shopping experience that includes unique products and international brands from the US and beyond” he said.

The Amazon storefront is available on both the Souq website and mobile app.

Souq was acquired for $580m by Amazon in September this year. The online retail marketplace features over than 8.4 million products across 31 categories, and attracts over 45 million visits per month. It has localised operations in the KSA, UAE and Egypt.

Azadea to open 11 new stores at $1.2bn UAE mall

Premier lifestyle retail company Azadea Group has joined hands with Kuwait-based Al Farwaniya Property Developments to open 11 new stores at the $1.2-billion Reem Mall, Abu Dhabi’s new entertainment, dining and shopping destination, located on Reem Island.

Al Farwaniya Property Developments is a joint venture between Agility, Agility-affiliate United Projects for Aviation Services Company (UPAC), and National Real Estate Company (NREC).

As part of the agreement, Azadea will bring 11 influential brands to Reem Mall, covering a total area of more than 4,200 sq m.

The group’s popular franchise brands such as Virgin Megastore, Massimo Dutti, Bershka and Paul will add further value to the mall’s retail offering.

Commenting on the deal, Shane Eldstrom, the chief executive of Al Farwaniya Property Developments, said: “Our mission is to provide shoppers and visitors with a world-class retail experience and this significant new agreement with Azadea Group brings us closer to achieving this ambition.”

“Azadea Group is a highly respected premier lifestyle retail company and they share our passion and commitment of the highest quality standards in customer care. We are very pleased to be enhancing Abu Dhabi’s retail landscape by working alongside them,” noted Eldstrom.

Marwan Moukarzel, the deputy chief executive at Azadea Group said: “Our partnership with Reem Mall embraces our mission to further extend our promise in the wider Mena region of continuously providing entertaining and exciting experiences to our customers and people through great retail space.”

“Overall, we are certain that this will only bring forth great outcomes and further cement our presence in the UAE, especially in the city of Abu Dhabi. We look forward to working with Reem Mall on the launch of this great new project,” he added.

The mega retail destination, located on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island, is set to offer 2 million sq ft of leasable area comprising around 450 stores, of which 85 will be food and beverage (F&B) outlets, as well as a range of family-focused entertainment and edutainment anchors including Snow Park Abu Dhabi, a destination snow park attraction.

It is located in the Najmat District on Reem Island, the residential and commercial master development by Reem Developers, which will boast a population of 200,000 once completed.-TradeArabia News Service

CHANEL to open six new flagship stores in 2018

Dec 11, 2017

“2018 will be the year of flagships, six of them, either brand new stores or major re-openings, which will be very impactful,” says Bruno Pavlovsky, the president of Chanel’s fashion and accessories divisions.

And the destinations are all major ones. From New York, a new boutique on 57th street to a new flagship in Seoul, Chanel’s first there, to a new location in tony London shopping mecca Brompton Cross. Plus, openings in new markets like Copenhagen and Abu Dhabi, to a Chanel network currently consisting of 190 free-standing boutiques. Plus, on December 1, Chanel opened a second Tokyo flagship in Ginza on Namiki-Dōri, a three-year renovation, where architect Peter Marino clad the building in matte black and white panels, a very Coco color scheme.

Though the biggest opening will be in Paris, where rue Cambon (Chanel’s historic headquarters) meets the rue St Honoré, in mid 2018. A space clad in scaffolding at present, unlike a new mat gray Christian Dior boutique which opened a catty corner nearby.

Last month Lagerfeld was in Chengdu, where Chanel reprised the Ancient Greek goddess cruise collection, originally shown in Paris in May.

“We scored 698 million hits from that show, on WeChat and Weibu, etc. That impact allows us to create an accessible dream. A chance to see and touch and understand what the brand is all about. That has nothing to do with customers – we don’t have 500 million customers in our boutiques. Don’t worry!” he laughs.

To Pavlovsky, the key equation in luxury is balancing accessibility to the dream with the exclusivity of one’s products inside boutiques, carefully playing those two cards. Hence, unlike practically all its competition, Chanel’s e-commerce is essentially limited to beauty and eyewear.

“Chanel is not a click. But when you think of a $5,000 jacket or a $10,000 dress the customer experience has to be more than just a click – you can click on everything,” he snorts.

In China, Chanel is also about to open in Beijing’s China World mall. Business in China, he stresses, has been boosted by the policy of global price harmonization that Pavlovsky began introducing in 2015.  Chanel, privately owned by the hyper discreet Wertheimer family, does not release official financial results, but is understood to have achieved 2016 turnover of $5.7 billion.

“We see more and more Chinese in China coming to our boutiques regularly. They don’t need to travel to Paris, New York or London to buy Chanel and this is very important,” he underlines. Comparatively, Chanel garners less revenue (less than 10% of global sales) from Chinese consumers than many of its rivals, allowing considerable room for expansion in the key market of the 21st century. One vehicle will be harnessing influencers.

“What is interesting about influencers in China is their point of view of the brand. Some are followed by 20 or 25 million, which is quite impressive. And they are very clear that what their followers want from them is a point of view. And we have to work with them not to dilute this kind of positioning. They are KOLs, Key Opinion Leaders, and we don’t want to try to turn them into Key Office Ladies! One of them told me, ‘Our followers want to know our point of view, but we cannot do the job of a brand. So be careful. The brand should not mix up and blur everything.’ That was a good message. I don’t want to pay them to say that the brand is wonderful. Anyway, we don’t have any of them under contract. Not one!” he stressed, as a small armada of craft passed by his giant picture window.

adapted from FashionNetwork.Com

Spinneys to open 18 new UAE stores by 2020

New CEO Matt Frost said Spinneys has invested $48 million in new headquarters that will feature flagship store

Spinneys will open 18 new outlets as part of an expansion in UAE by 2020, according to incoming CEO Matt Frost.

Frost, who replaces current CEO Jannie Holtzhausen on January 3, said that the 18 stores will be “either Spinneys or Waitrose.”

“Ultimately, it will be the customers that help us decide that,” he noted, adding that at the moment the plans call for the additional outlets to be located in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

The new openings will see the number of outlets in the region rise to 79 stores, which Spinneys believes will lead to the creation of 2,000 new jobs. Spinneys is forecasting 40 percent growth by 2020.

While Holtzhausen and Frost declined to comment on the possibilities of expansion outside the UAE, Frost said that it isn’t out of the question.

“Ultimately, we’re an ambitious business,” he said. “We have a team that are more than capable of considering expansion outside of the UAE. If it’s right, and it’s pragmatic, and it’s responsible to make that decision, I’m sure we’d be agile enough to be able to take it.”

Frost noted that it has invested $48 million (AED175m) in a new Spinneys headquarters located in Dubai’s Meydan area, which will feature a flagship store and on-site cookery school to assist culinary training and development.

According to Frost, work on the project is already underway, and it is expected to be operational in Q1 2019.

Westfield London signs 70,000sq ft Primark store

Primark is set to take a 70,000sq ft store in Westfield London’s new 740,000sq ft expansion that is expected to open next summer.

The store will be the second largest in the shopping centre’s £600 million expansion, after John Lewis’s 230,000sq ft anchor.

After the new extension is opened to the public, Westfield London is expected to become the largest shopping centre in Europe.

“We are delighted to announce that Primark will open in the UK in 2018 at Westfield London,” Westfield UK’s director of leasing Keith Mabbett said.

“The arrival of this much-loved brand will be hugely popular amongst customers as one of the most requested new stores to the centre.

“Primark has attracted millions of visitors to Westfield Stratford City, and the expansion of Westfield London has enabled us to provide large-scale modern retail space for this important retailer.”

Alongside Primark, luxury beauty retailer Space NK has taken an 820sq ft store, lingerie brand Bravissimo will take a 4800sq ft store, and Emperor will open its first 581sq ft UK store.

A number of retailers which currently have a presence in Westfield will expand their footprint thanks to the new extension.

These include H&M, Adidas, Boots, Lush, The White Company, Monsoon, Guess, UGG and Cath Kidston.

South African Retail Tycoon Loses Billionaire Status Amid Accounting Crisis

Christo Wiese. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

South African retail tycoon Christo Wiese dropped from the billionaire ranks earlier on Thursday after the stock of Steinhoff International Holdings, the retail conglomerate where Wiese serves as the chairman, fell 80% in the course of two days. The company’s shares plunged after its CEO, Markus Jooste, resigned due to accounting irregularities, causing Wiese, who debuted on Forbes’ Billionaires list in 2011, to lose more than $3 billion of his net worth. He now sits on a fortune estimated at $742 million, according to Forbes Real Time Rankings.

Wiese made a fortune with his portfolio of publicly traded companies, most of which target rural and low-income areas with reasonable prices for furniture and home goods. “The business has basically been built on one slogan: Low prices you can trust. Just very, very low everyday prices,” the magnate told Forbes in a 2016 profile. Wiese said about Steinhoff: “I suppose we could be described as the Wal-Mart of Africa.”

The 76-year-old retailer also has an 18% stake in the largest retailer in Africa, Shoprite Holdings, which operates supermarkets, furniture stores and fast food outlets in 15 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean islands. Wiese also owns an estimated 23% of the retail conglomerate, Steinhoff, which had moved its listing in December 2015 from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange to focus on the European market. Steinhoff made up about 90% of Wiese’s net worth until its shares fell by more than 60% on Wednesday, followed by Thursday when the stock took a hit by 46%, erasing $743 million from the South African’s fortune. Wiese had borrowed heavily to purchase shares of Steinhoff; Forbes estimates that he holds about $2.4 billion in debt.

Since he joined the billionaires ranks in 2011 with a net worth of $1.6 billion, Wiese’s fortune fluctuated significantly. Forbes pegged the retail businessman’s fortune at $6.3 billion in March 2015, and two years later, at $5.9 billion, when he was the sixth-richest person in Africa.

Steinhoff released a statement this week, announcing that it has asked accounting firm PwC to investigate the accounting irregularities. As the company deals with the tumult, Wiese will temporarily be the executive chairman, the statement said. Wiese could not be reached for comment.

Retailers brace as Amazon launches in Australia

The arrival of Amazon in Australia poses a threat to a market already grappling with weak consumer confidence amid tepid wages growth© AFP/File LEON NEAL

US internet giant Amazon launched in Australia Tuesday in time for Christmas, with retailers scrambling to cut costs and boost their online offerings as they brace for an expected shake-up of the sector.

The arrival of the behemoth — which has grown from an online bookstore to one of the world’s largest firms — poses a threat to a market already grappling with weak consumer confidence amid tepid wages growth.

The American giant is offering “millions” of products from well-known Australian brands, as well as small and medium-sized Australian businesses selling on Amazon Marketplace.

They will be shipped from a warehouse in Melbourne.

Online shopping only accounts for between 8-13 percent of total sales in Australia, leaving room for growth in a sector estimated to be worth more than Aus$300 billion (US$227 billion) annually.

“We believe Amazon’s full entry into Australia will likely be a success,” UBS analysts said in a note ahead of the launch, adding that Australia was an “attractive market where online is under-penetrated”.

“Australian online shoppers spend the third-most globally of Amazon’s markets.”

Retail categories most likely to be hurt by Amazon’s entry include electrical, appliances, apparel and cosmetics, UBS added.

Faces challenges

The US firm was likely to absorb losses initially to boost its market share, IBISWorld senior analyst Kim Do said, pressuring the profitability and margins of its competitors.

Orders will be shipped from Amazon’s new 24,000-square-metre centre in Melbourne© AFP Mal Fairclough

Several top Australian retailers have recently succumbed to pressure from foreign giants such as Japan’s Uniqlo and Sephora of France, while others have cut back on bricks-and-mortar stores.

But Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman welcomed Amazon’s arrival, saying it provided an additional platform to boost sales.

“With over 300 million active users already on Amazon’s Marketplace, the majority of Australian retailers view Amazon’s platform as a supplementary channel to their current retail offering,” he said.

Some analysts warned Amazon would face challenges, such as low access to broadband and the large size of the island continent.

“A key reason why Australia lags behind its peers (in the development of the e-commerce sector) is the low access to broadband,” BMI Research, Fitch Group’s research arm, said in a note.

Broadband subscriptions in Australia stand at 57.3 per 100 people, rising to a forecast 60 in 2021, in contrast to markets like Singapore which is projected to have subscriptions of 75.3 per 100 that year, BMI said.

“Slower delivery speeds due to the large geographic size of the country and as a result, more costly delivery services… will not bode well for the success of an e-commerce company.”

Retail analyst Brian Walker said according to his research, Amazon was “producing a positive return” in just one-third of the countries it was operating in outside of the US.

“The rest are still in the various stages of growing. And that is the point about Amazon,” Walker told AFP. “They will take in our view of somewhere between two to five years to hit any form of scale in Australia.”

Amazon, a Seattle-based company, has expanded far beyond its roots as a digital bookstore, moving into the groceries and other retail sectors as well as cloud computing, streaming video, artificial intelligence and more.

It has become one of the most valuable companies on the planet alongside US tech rivals Apple, Facebook and Google parent Alphabet, and in October reported third-quarter profits of US$256 million.

The world’s biggest Starbucks just opened in China

Starbucks is going venti in China.

The Seattle-based coffee company opened a 30,000-square-foot store in Shanghai on Tuesday. It’s the first Starbucks Reserve Roastery — the company’s new retail offering — outside the U.S.

It’s also the largest Starbucks in the world, spanning an area nearly twice as large as the next biggest, a Roastery in Seattle that opened three years ago.

Executive Chairman Howard Schultz said the store would blend the company’s 46-year history in the coffee shop business with “China’s rich, diverse culture.”

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened Tuesday in Shanghai, China’s most populous city.

Could India be the next optimal market for investors?

Explore the answers at this month’s UBS Investor Forum.

China is a vital market for Starbucks (SBUX), according to John Gordon, a restaurant analyst at Pacific Management Consulting.

The company’s latest quarterly earnings were pretty gloomy, showing disappointing sales growth in a tough retail environment.

The one bright spot was China, which stood out as Starbucks’ fastest growing market. Sales there were up 8% compared with the same quarter last year.

The company is riding that wave and expanding aggressively in China, opening a new Starbucks store every 15 hours on average.

Even though Chinese are traditionally tea guzzlers and less hooked on coffee than Americans, the country’s growing ranks of upwardly mobile consumers still view Starbucks as an attractive, aspirational brand.

The company is playing to that perception with its new Shanghai shop.

“This is a show store,” Gordon said. “The point is to be in a highly, highly visible, touristy [area] where there’s foot traffic, offices and urban housing in order to promote the brand.

The new store will roast beans on site in a massive copper cask. There is also a special emphasis on tea, with a dedicated bar offering items like nitrogen cold brew tea.

In a sign of the times, Starbucks partnered with Chinese tech giant Alibaba (BABA, Tech30) to aggressively promote the Shanghai store opening online. Customers can book coffee tasting experiences on Alibaba’s e-commerce site and also buy special Starbucks Reserve coffee and related products tied to the store’s launch.

But the Shanghai roastery won’t hold the title of largest Starbucks for too long. The company has already inked a deal for an enormous 43,000-square-foot Reserve Roastery in Chicago that’s set to open in 2019.

Toys ‘R’ Us prepares to shut a quarter of its 105 UK stores

• News comes ahead of the busy Christmas period, a crucial time for high street

• Stores will remain open during the Christmas period and into the New Year

• In September, the company’s US arm filed for bankruptcy protection

Toys R Us is preparing to shut a quarter of its UK stores, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

The news comes ahead of the busy Christmas period, a crucial time for high street retailers which have been struggling to compete with online shopping.

The toy retailer, which has been a family favourite since the 1980s, could close at least 25 of its 105 stores.

The grim news comes ahead of the busy Christmas period, a crucial time for high street retailers which have been struggling to compete with online shopping

The company is preparing to launch a process called a company voluntary agreement as early as next week, which will require the approval of 75 per cent of its shareholders.

Toys R Us says its stores will remain open during the Christmas period and into the New Year, but the news paints a desperate picture for the business.

In September, the company’s US arm filed for bankruptcy protection in order to restructure debts of £3.7 billion.

The move was used as a guarantee that the retailer’s suppliers would be paid ahead of Christmas. At the time, the firm insisted that its UK stores were safe.

The toy retailer, which has been a family favourite since the 1980s, could close at least 25 of its 105 stores

Retail analyst Richard Hyman said: ‘The vast majority of UK retailers have too many stores. Many have closure programmes that tend to be modest.

‘When an event triggers a bigger intervention, as with Toys R Us, a more realistic closure plan can emerge and this is what we are seeing here.’

Toys R Us recorded a loss of £500,000 in the year to January. It is understood to have made a loss in seven of the past eight years.

Thomas Cook to close 50 high street shops

Thomas Cook has announced it plans to close high street branches. PIC: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

Travel giant Thomas Cook is to close 50 high street shops, putting 400 jobs at risk, just weeks before Christmas.

The closures will affect Thomas Cook and Co-operative Travel branded stores and will take place between now and March 2018.

Thomas Cook said that the affected stores are either in close proximity to other outlets or are located where a decline in footfall has impacted profitability.

A rise in online travel bookings was also flagged as a reason for the closures, with the group saying that just 47% holidays were booked in store this year while online sales in the UK grew by 27%.

Thomas Cook retail and customer experience director Kathryn Darbandi said: “We continually review our network of stores across the UK to make sure we’re offering customers the best of Thomas Cook, and it is clear that to succeed we have to operate as a truly omni-channel business.

“We’re one Thomas Cook to our customers and we will offer them a world-class service whichever channel they chose to book, be that retail or online.”

The announcement caps a torrid week for the high street, with RBS, Lloyds and Yorkshire Building Society all also outlining store closure plans and job cuts.

Last month, Thomas Cook revealed a 40% plunge in UK earnings as it suffered amid “challenging” trading and a hit from the weak pound.

The holiday giant reported underlying earnings of £52 million for the UK division in the year to September 30, down from £86 million the previous year after it was knocked by rising hotel prices, the pound and intense competition in the Spanish market.

It also said its costs were sent surging after facing a torrent of fraudulent illness claims, and after supporting 10,000 customers caught up in the devastating Hurricane Irma.

The group said it has launched action to return its UK division to profitable growth by slashing costs, taking legal action against illness fraudsters and focusing on fast-growing holiday destinations Turkey and Egypt as demand returns to the countries.

Charles Tyrwhitt opens new Birmingham store

Sonos to open first European concept store in London

The company said the “retail, exhibition, screening and listening space” will open its doors to the public on 16 November.

Situated in London’s Seven Dials, the store has been designed to replicate the home environment. Inspired by Sonos’ flagship store in New York, it features state-of-the-art listening rooms where guests will be able to stream their personal music to one or both rooms.

In addition, every space within the store had been sonically tuned by Sonos sound engineers who are overseen by Sonos sound experience leader, Giles Martin.

Sonos said the store will play host to an ongoing line-up of listening events, screenings, cultural talks and installations. The first of these events will celebrate David Bowie.

During the opening weekend, NTS Radio will be broadcasting live from the store. This will include a full 16 hour programme co-curated by DJ’s Ross Allen, Charlie Bones, Nabihah Iqbal and Bullion with friends and special guests and will feature mixes, interviews and interesting conversations inspired by and celebrating the life of Bowie.

Whitney Walker, general store manager at Sonos, said “The entire store experience is based on the idea of being in a really comfortable and inspiring environment. We’re proud to be opening our first European concept store in London, providing a dedicated space for music fans to create, connect and ultimately discover the best ways to listen to music out loud.”

Sonos is also planning to open more concepts stores in Europe including Berlin in 2018.

Commenting on the UK debut at Seven Dials, Sam Bain-Mollison, head of group retail strategy and leasing at Shaftesbury, said: “Sonos is one of the most exciting brands in the world and we are thrilled they selected Earlham Street for their UK debut. It is a significant launch for Seven Dials that adds to the authentic, cultural appeal of the destination.”

Joe Browns opens debut store at Meadowhall

Situated on Meadowhall’s High Street, the 4,000 square foot shop was designed by creative agency Dalziel and Pow.

Simon Brown, managing director and founder of Joe Browns, said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the store, I think we’ve achieved what we set out to do, which was to create an impressive three- dimensional version of our catalogue. It crystallises our brand in a physical space perfectly.”

The opening coincides with the conclusion of Meadowhall’s £60 million refurbishment which will be completed before Christmas. Some 73 brands, including All Saints, Hollister, House of Fraser and Hugo Boss, have invested £38 million in redesigning and refitting their stores to reflect the centre’s new contemporary feel.

Richard Crowther, asset manager for British Land, said: “The opening is an exciting step for Joe Browns, and as its very first physical location, is a testament to Meadowhall’s appeal as a leading UK retail and leisure destination. Our True Value of Stores research shows that stores improve brand awareness, customer service and trust and that physical also contributes to online sales that do not directly touch the store.”

Over the last 18 months, Meadowhall has signed up 30 new brands including Flannels, Tag Heuer, Nespresso, Neal’s Yard and Godiva. In September, the centre also secured a resolution to grant planning consent for a £300 million leisure hall extension.

Huawei opens doors to it’s Dubai Mall store

Huawei announced the opening of its first ‘Experience Store’ at Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates. The store offers consumers a full retail experience, which includes access to Huawei’s latest products and services under one roof. All new products will now be available for pre-booking and sale at the same time as its global launch.

We spoke to David Wang, UAE Country Manager at the launch and he told TechRadar that the reason behind the store was to give Huawei fans a better experience of Huawei products as well as a place to communicate with fans of the brand.

According to Wang, the strategy of opening the store is a long-term one and the Dubai Mall store is the first of the five stores that Huawei plans to open across the UAE. More stores are planned in the GCC with Saudi Arabia likely being the next country. Mr. Wang also mentioned that for this store in Dubai Mall, Huawei has partnered with Axiom.

When we asked Wang if the Huawei Experience Store will carry any exclusive products, he said that it won’t. He did mention that the store will carry the full range of Huawei products that will be released in the UAE but the idea behind it is for consumers to learn more about Huawei’s brand and products and not create competition with local partners and retailers.

The Huawei Experience Store is open daily from 10am – 11pm, Sunday to Saturday, and is located next to the metro link corridor on Level 2 of The Dubai Mall. It is currently taking preorders for the Mate 10 Pro which will be available from the 13th of November in the store.

Mr Price cuts its cloth to suit a higher share price

Credit: Freddy Mavunda

The share price jumped 11% to R169.99 after the announcement. The momentum continued for most of the trading session, with the share eventually closing at R192.25.

Diluted headline earnings per share are expected to rise between 421.4c and 439c.

Portfolio manager at Gryphon Asset managers Casparus Treurnicht said although the company did not give much information, it was clear that the guided range was significantly higher than the market expected.

“After Truworths and TFG came forward last week there might be a combination of short positions being covered and a sigh of relief,” Treurnicht said.

Mr Price’s share price recovery came after it lost 20% in 2016. The main losses came in August 2016 when the company lost 16% in one day after releasing a disappointing trading statement. The share price has since gained about 20% in 2017.

In its 2017 annual results presentation in March, Mr Price CEO Stuart Bird said that the strategy going forward would focus on improving the quality of merchandise while applying an everyday low-price pricing strategy and integrating technology to improve operations and customer experience.

Much like the rest of the retail sector, Mr Price has been affected by weak and declining consumer spending, which continued into the first half of 2017. The retailer’s recovery has been boosted by a number of factors.

Equity analyst at Vele Asset managers Matthew Zunckel said that judging by the positive trading statement the recovery of Mr Price was bumped up by a change in its procurement model, which was the main driver of growth.

The company previously faced issues of procurement and the quality of its merchandise was a constant complaint from consumers in 2016, among other misgivings.

Fashion chain Hobbs bought by South African firm

The deal saw private equity owner 3i offload the business for an undisclosed sum, although a price tag of £80 million has been mooted.

Hobbs has become the latest British retailer to fall into South African hands after it was acquired by The Foschini Group.

The deal saw private equity owner 3i offload the fashion company for an undisclosed sum, although a price tag of £80 million has been mooted.

Hobbs, a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge, has 140 outlets globally, including a concession in Bloomingdales, and booked revenues of £120 million last year.

Royal visit to Norfolk

Foschini, which also owns Phase Eight and Whistles in the UK, said it will look to enhance Hobbs’ online presence.

Foschini chief executive Ben Barnett said: “Hobbs is a strong British brand with rich design heritage. (Hobbs chief executive) Meg Lustman and her team have successfully repositioned and reinvigorated the brand, offering an excellent platform for further growth.

“We share their ambitions, not only in terms of maximising the success of their well-established UK presence, but also in their strategic approach towards leveraging the international appeal of the brand, via their physical store portfolio, carefully aligned concession partners and evolving e-commerce proposition.”

It is the latest in a long line of British retailers to get new owners from South Africa.

Struggling fashion chain New Look is owned by investment group Brait, while Steinhoff is the parent firm of Harveys and Bensons For Beds.

But the deal comes at a difficult time for the high street, with retailers across the board struggling with rising costs and falling consumer confidence as Brexit-fuelled inflation hits the sector hard.

On Tuesday new data from the British Retail Consortium showed that growth in non-food sales hit a record low in October

In Pictures: Harvey Nichols 2017 Christmas Windows

Premium department store Harvey Nichols has unveiled its Christmas windows for 2017, its largest visual scheme of the year.

For this year’s festive season, the luxury retailer looked for inspiration from the Autumn/Winter 2017 fashion weeks and pre-spring collections, selecting the most vibrant colours to catch customer’s eyes. During the dark winter season, Harvey Nichols opted to design window displays which ‘delight customers’.and help spread ‘a positive message’ during the holiday season by using a vivid colour palette, innovative lighting techniques and an upbeat sentiment.

Harvey Nichols unveils its Christmas Windows for 2017

The result is a series of celebratory window schemes in a rainbow of hues, bold textures and graphic patterns filed with star shapes and Christmas motifs. Harvey Nichols incorporates unique lighting techniques for the first time, such as rotating mirror balls, LED lights and holographic backgrounds. Potential gift ideas are also included in the window display within giant Christmas baubles in a playful, fun manner.

“Themes of joy and positivity ran through the AW17 and SS18 shows, evoking a determination not to dwell on the uncertain times of the current climate,” commented Janet Wardley, Head of Visual Display. “This inspired us to create a high energy scheme that uses dazzling colours, lights and shapes to entertain our customers – some of the vinyls are so bright that the team had to wear sunglasses during the install!”

Harvey Nichols Christmas Windows can now be seen at Harvey Nichols stores across the UK and Ireland.

Revealed: 23rd Dubai Shopping Festival dates for your diary

Retail festival will run from December 26 to January 27 2018, say organisers

The 23rd edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival will start on December 26 and run until January 27, 2018, it was announced on Monday.

Organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), the latest edition will feature a number of retail promotions and sales offering “unbeatable deals and discounts”, a statement said.

It will also offer the opportunity to win prizes from luxury cars and gold to cash at the daily mega raffles, the statement added.

The festival will also include concerts by international and regional stars, fireworks shows and a range of free-to-attend family-oriented activities in malls, and retail activations themed under Beauty & Perfume, Gold & Jewellery, and Apparel & Fashion platforms.

Niketown to open at Dubai Mall in 2018 – sources

Image Credit: Atiq-ur-Rahman/Gulf News

Dubai: Nike is planning a major overhaul of its retail offering in Dubai, according to four people familiar with the matter, with a huge new store slated for 2018.

The world’s biggest sportswear maker will open a Niketown in Dubai Mall sometime next year, said the individuals, who asked not to be identified because the information is not public yet.

In a significant shake-up of its retail offering, the new store will set in motion a reshuffle of its two existing spaces at the mall.

The opening of Nike’s new flagship shop, expected to be located in the space that Kinokuniya Bookstore left in February 2017, will pave the way for the existing Jordan Brand store to move in to the space Nike is vacating on the ground floor. A Nike Lab store, the company’s high-end retail concept created in 2014, will then open in the old Jordan store.

The Nike Lab store will feature limited edition collaborations and other rare footwear and clothing.

Dubai will become the ninth city in the world to acquire a Nike Lab, joining Milan, London, Tokyo, Chicago, Paris, New York, Shanghai and Beijing.

The new flagship Niketown store is expected to be one of the brand’s biggest globally, according to three people associated with the store.

“It will most likely be Nike’s largest store in the world,” said one footwear industry individual familiar with the negotiations.

The biggest Nike store in the world is currently in the UK: Niketown London covers approximately 42,000 square feet over four floors.

The space that Kinokuniya Bookstore vacated in February is 68,000 square feet, according to the company’s website, meaning that the Nike store would be significantly larger if it took the whole space.

According to a quarterly report released in June 2017 from Dubai Mall owner Emaar, the company currently charges Dh680 per square foot, with an occupancy rate of 99 per cent across its flagship regional malls.

At this average rate, not factoring in any discounts or special rental agreements, Nike would be expecting to pay over $12 million (Dh44 million) every year to lease the entire space.

In an emailed statement to Gulf News, Sun & Sand Sports said that they were unable to “confirm or provide any information at this stage.”

According to one individual familiar with internal discussions at Sun & Sand Sports, the sportswear retailer came to an agreement with Nike to revive the Niketown brand for its new Dubai Mall flagship store.

Since 2013, the US company has been moving away from the Niketown label, renaming its Niketown in San Francisco to simply Nike San Francisco.

Over the last two years, the UAE-based Sun & Sand Sports has been aggressively expanding its business, with plans to open 500 Sun & Sand Sports-branded stores between 2015 and 2022.

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Storm brews as Shoprite investors challenge pay policy

Mehluli Ncube, representing the Sentinel pension fund, described the invitation to participate in the teleconference as a little hostile. Ncube, who attended the annual general meeting on Monday to express his concerns about the remuneration policy, said the teleconference was in line with the new JSE requirements, which oblige companies to engage with shareholders if more than 25% of them votes against the remuneration policy.

The obligation is in line with the King IV recommendation, which also requires Shoprite to disclose with whom it engaged, the manner and form of engagement and the reasons for the dissenting votes. Shoprite should also disclose the steps taken to address “legitimate and reasonable objections”.

At Monday’s meeting, almost 30% of the shareholders voted against the remuneration policy — this was in line with the voting pattern of the previous three years. However, if the ordinary and deferred shares held by controlling shareholder chairman Christo Wiese are excluded, the level of opposition shoots up to 65%.

In financial 2016, 66% of “outside shareholders” voted against the remuneration policy. Ncube said they had consistently voted against the remuneration policy in the past because they felt the package awarded to the previous CEO, Whitey Basson, was out of line.

Ncube said that the teleconference was a new development, but the company had engaged with them after past annual general meetings. “Previously, the investor relations people engaged with us on an individual basis and that was quite constructive. I’m not sure how well the teleconference will work,” he said.

One analyst, who did not want to be named, said that the vote against the remuneration policy had increased in 2017, although the policy had actually improved “if you compare the new CEOs incentives with Whitey Basson’s package”.

“Outside shareholders” may have been concerned by the R50m paid to Basson in 2017, although he had played an executive role for only six months of the year. A footnote in the annual report says that Basson, who gave notice of his retirement on September 30, 2016, had an agreed notice period of 12 months. “He, therefore, receives guaranteed pay until 30 September 2017”.

However, a Sens announcement released on October 31, 2016, said that Basson was retiring at the end of December 2016 and would remain as nonexecutive vice-chairman.

On Monday, Shoprite announced that Basson, who has driven the group’s growth for 45 years, had retired from the board on October 25.

Truworths’ share price falls after disappointing sales report

The clothing chain said this was partly because it reported in weeks, and the decline would have been only 2% if the previous 53-week financial year had not shifted the comparative periods by a week.

Truworths said half of its total sales were “account” and half were cash. Both declined by 3%.

The group’s trade receivables book decreased by 4% relative to the previous period to R5.6bn. The percentage of active account holders able to purchase improved to 85% compared with 83% in the prior period.

At its flagship Truworths chain, account sales comprised 69% of total sales. Sales at Truworths stores declined 2% to R4bn despite its trading space growing 3% from the matching period.

Clothes on average were 1% cheaper than in the matching period in 2016, according to the update.

The group’s UK chain Office kept sales level at £89m, but contributed a decline measured in rand. Its trading space increased by 1% on the prior period and is expected to increase by 2% for the full fiscal period.

Competitor TFG is scheduled to release its results for the six months to end-September at about 1.30pm on Thursday.

Amazon closes two UK Whole Foods store

Amazon closes two UK Whole Foods stores just two months after completing its £10.7bn takeover

Amazon is shutting two Whole Foods shops in the UK just two months after completing its £10.7bn takeover of the upmarket grocery chain. The company is closing down its stores in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and Giffnock, East Renfrewshire meaning that there will be just seven UK shops remaining, all of which are in London.

Industry sources said that the decision to shut the stores made sense as neither shop could be serviced by Amazon’s online grocery service. Amazon Fresh has only recently been expanded from London to include Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

“It makes perfect sense for Whole Foods to close both stores from a business standpoint, the logistics must be nonsensical,” commented Steve Dresser from Grocery Insight.

“I think it marks the new age from Amazon where the balance sheet is scrutinised and sacred cows in Gloucester and Scotland aren’t permissible just to ‘spread the brand’.”

In contrast to the US – where Whole Foods’ 440 shops help to boost Amazon’s grocery distribution network – in the UK Amazon is largely using its Whole Foods acquisition to broaden the range of groceries available on its Amazon Fresh and Prime Now services by including items such as organic baba ganoush, crostini and fillet steak.

It has also attempted to widen the Whole Foods appeal by slashing prices on some staple goods, such as apples, to become more competitive. However, the overwhelming majority of Whole Foods goods are still much more expensive than rival supermarkets.

“A decision on the future of the stores will be made after the company has consulted with team members to discuss the proposal,” a company spokesperson said. “In the event that the decision is taken to close the stores, we will work with team members to explore alternative employment opportunities.”

Around 150 people are currently employed at the two Whole Foods shops.

Oxford Street may become ‘the world’s best outdoor shopping experience’

If plans to transform Oxford into a pedestrianised area go through, the Western section of Oxford Street may well become the ‘world’s best outdoor shopping experience.’ Ambitious plans for the transformation of the shopping district where unveiled today by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Robert Davis.

Depending on approval, the plans, which are currently under public consultation until December 17, include the transformation of Oxford Street and the creation of new, traffic-free public spaces. Plans include all east-west traffic restricted from entering Oxford Street between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus but maintaining the north-south routes through the section.

Plans for the region include new seating areas placed along the street, an 800-meter long work of public art to fit in the former carriageway, which would be level with existing pavements and new and extended taxi ranks close to Oxford Street. Two bus routes will be rerouted to provide connections for locals and visitors and the TfL and Westminister City Council will also consult on creating new high-quality cycle routes along quieter roads to the north and south side of Oxford Street.

“This is a hugely exciting moment for the capital. Oxford Street is world famous with millions of visitors every year, and in just over a year the iconic part of the street west of Oxford Circus could be transformed into a traffic-free pedestrian boulevard,” said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. “Whether you’re a local resident, a business, or shop in some of the area’s famous stores, our plans will make the area substantially cleaner and safer for everyone, creating one of the finest public spaces in the world. Alongside the arrival of the Elizabeth Line, the Oxford Street area will be truly transformed over the coming years.”

Galeries Lafayette to open stores in Istanbul, Kuwait

Galeries Lafayette plans to open a second store in Istanbul and its first in Kuwait City in 2019, tapping into high-spending shoppers in the Middle East.

“These two projects give further substance to our goals of consolidating our positions in the Middle East where we will have a network of eight stores,” Nicolas Houze, chief executive of the family-owned group said in a statement on Monday. “(It will) bring us closer to our objective of having around 20 stores in international markets within five years.”

The 7,500 square metre Kuwait City store is located in the Assima Mall, a high-profile shopping centre close to the city’s central business district and will be operated under a franchise with Ali Bin Ali, a family-owned retail and luxury goods group.

The second store in Istanbul is spread over 6,000 square metres in the Vadistanbul shopping centre and is operated under a franchise with DEMSA group, a Turkish retail specialist.

The Galeries Lafayette group, known for its flagship Boulevard Haussmann store in Paris, also has stores in Berlin, Jakarta, Dubai, Beirut and Beijing.

It opened a first store in Istanbul in May 2017 and is preparing to open a store in Doha, Qatar in 2018.

In a report on the global luxury goods industry this year, Deloitte listed the Middle East as a major growth market, with high-spending in Qatar and Abu Dhabi particularly driving sales for major brands.

Asda hires former Carrefour exec Jesús Lorente as new merchandising boss

Asda has hired Carrefour’s former chief merchandising officer Jesús Lorente for a similar role as the Big 4 grocer undergoes a leadership overhaul.

The news comes a week after Asda announced that deputy chief executive Roger Burnley will replace current chief executive Sean Clarke from January 1.

Lorente will succeed Andrew Moore, who is stepping from the chief merchandising officer role in January after almost 10 years with Asda, three of which were in his current role.

Burnley and Lorente will form part of a new executive team that will work to continue the momentum of financial recovery that Clarke has brought about since Asda’s parent company Walmart parachuted him into the role in June 2016.

Lorente has already joined Asda and is in the process of being introduced to the business to ensure a smooth transition.

He first joined French retailer Carrefour in November 2009 as director of supply chain in its Spanish business.

He then chief merchandising officer for the company’s Spanish arm in December 2012 – a role he held until July this year.

Before Carrefour, Lorente’s career spent almost 20 years with Unilever in the UK, Spain and the US.