Monthly Archives: October 2012

Reebok eyes sales rebound in 2013

BERLIN – German sporting goods maker Adidas AG’s (ADSGn.DE) struggling Reebok brand expects sales to rebound next year, German magazine Wirtschaftswoche reported on Saturday, citing Chief Marketing Officer Matt O’Toole.

“Orders for 2013 are looking good,” the magazine quoted O’Toole as saying in an interview. “We’re expecting noticeable growth” in sales.

Global sales at Reebok slumped 16 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2012, Wirtschaftswoche said. That performance contrasts sharply with the rest of the Adidas group, which expects overall sales to rise nearly 10 percent to about 14.5 billion euros ($18.75 billion) in 2012.

“Our business with training apparel and shoes is growing at double-digit (rates) this year, lifestyle products are also picking up,” O’Toole told Wirtschaftswoche.

Reebok plans to open 20 “Fitness Hub” stores worldwide next year, he was quoted as saying.

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Gucci says trading tougher in China

:Fashion news PPR’s Gucci says trading tougher in China

PARIS – Gucci, the Italian fashion brand owned by French group PPR, said trading had become tougher and competition fierce in China’s largest cities.

Gucci, the world’s No.2 luxury brand behind Louis Vuitton in terms of sales, confirmed a slowdown in the luxury sector as its revenue growth decelerated to 7 percent in the third quarter from 10 percent in the second and 12 percent in the first.

Its performance mirrors slowing growth at other major luxury brands like Burberry and Louis Vuitton in big markets such as Asia.

LVMH’s fashion and leather sales, of which Louis Vuitton makes up 75 percent, saw comparable sales growth slow to 5 percent in the third quarter from 8 percent in the second and 12 percent in the previous three months.

PPR’s results follow profit warnings by Mulberry and larger British rival Burberry, which have helped cement the view that a three-year boom in the luxury goods market is coming to an end.

China – the luxury sector’s main driving force since the financial crisis of 2007/2008 – has been putting a lid on luxury spending in recent months in response to a government crackdown on corruption and conspicuous spending.

In addition, Chinese consumers have been cultivating a new-found appetite for less high-profile, logo-centric brands such as PPR’s Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent.

“We see that the taste is going for more sophisticated products and the market is tougher but we believe we have the right strategy for Gucci,” PPR CFO Jean-Marc Duplaix told analysts on a conference call about China.

“In Tier 1 (most populated) cities, the competition is quite fierce, the more dynamic cities are Tier 2 (less populated).”

Gucci’s sales in China, which had enjoyed high double-digit growth in recent years, reached “high single digits” in the third quarter of 2012 but were “above 10 percent” on a nine-month basis, he said, adding he was confident Gucci’s margins would improve this year.

PPR’s total luxury sales rose 12 percent to 1.593 billion euros ($2.06 billion), and overall group sales grew 6.6 percent to 2.561 billion in the third quarter on a comparable basis.

PPR is the world’s third-largest luxury group behind LVMH and Switzerland’s Richemont.

REDCATS SALE

PPR, which did not give a precise forecast for the full year other than improved sales and profits, said the disposal of its Redcats mail order unit would take several months and all options remained open.

Duplaix said talks regarding the disposal of Redcats’ U.S. operations were well-advanced and discussions regarding its children’s and family brands had started.

PPR, which wants to focus on luxury and sports brands, has been looking for buyers for Redcats’ children’s brand Vertbaudet and family brand Cyrillus as well as U.S. operations and its flagship mail order company La Redoute.

Earlier this month, PPR unveiled plans to spin-off its CDs and books retail chain Fnac in 2013, having failed to find a buyer for the business which has been hammered by music piracy and competition from online retailers.

Duplaix said it would be listed through a distribution of shares to shareholders, with details to be made public in February.

PPR shares, which have gained 20 percent so far this year, closed down 1 percent at 130.9 euros.

© Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved.

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LuLu to bring 30 London Dairy outlets to UAE

Tablez Food Company, the food and beverage division of Abu Dhabi-based LuLu Group International, is planning to open 30 London Dairy ice cream outlets across the UAE over the next three years, the firm’s CEO has confirmed.

London Dairy offers a variety of flavoured ice cream desserts and already has outlets in Dubai, Sharjah, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which have been managed by Gulf franchise holder UAE-based IFFCO Group of Companies since 2000.

Tablez Food Company, which is owned by Indian businessman and Lulu Hypermarkets boss Yusuffali MA, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IFFCO to open the outlets.

“It is a privilege to be associating with a company like IFFCO for the franchise of London Dairy… We strongly believe that this tie-up is a step forward in quenching the preferences of consumers through the superior products of London Dairy,” said Shafeena Yusuffali, CEO of Tablez Food Company.

“We plan to open at least 30 London Dairy franchise outlets to cater to the needs of the consumers in the UAE within the next three years”, she added.

Tablez Food Company made headlines recently when it produced ‘The Golden Phoenix’, the world’s most expensive edible cup cake valued at AED3,700 a piece, under its Bloomsbury’s boutique café brand.

The firm’s portfolio also includes Peppermill, a fine-dining restaurant, De Thali, a casual Indian dining restaurant and Tanjara restaurants spread across various Emirates in the UAE.

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Walgreens and Alliance Boots Form Joint Venture Company

DEERFIELD, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Walgreens (NYS: WAG) (NAS: WAG) , the nation’s largest drugstore chain, today announced that it has formally set up a new company, jointly owned with Alliance Boots, as part of their strategic partnership’s synergy program.

The new company, called Walgreens Boots Alliance Development GmbH, is based in Bern, Switzerland.

About Walgreens

As the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2012 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) vision is to become America’s first choice for health and daily living. Each day, Walgreens provides more than 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 7,944 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.

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Next nudges up profit forecast

Next said stronger sales in late September and early October made up for an unusually quiet start to August. Photograph: David Moir/Reuters
Next nudged its profit forecast for this year higher after stronger sales in recent weeks, adding to optimism that the UK retail sector is bouncing back from a weak summer.

Britain’s second-biggest clothing retailer said stronger sales in late September and early October made up for an unusually quiet start to August. Next sales rose by a better-than-expected 2.7% in the 13 weeks to 27 October, its third quarter, with its shops 1.1% ahead. Directory (online and catalogue) sales climbed 5.6%, a sharp slowdown from 13.3% in the first half, suggesting that the benefit from improved delivery options is fading. The 2.7% figure compares with sales growth of 4.5% in the first half.

Panmure Gordon analyst Jean Roche said: “Bears will point to the slowdown in Directory sales and bulls to the impressive pickup in retail sales. We are big fans of this blue blood multichannel retailer.”

Analysts said it was a “quarter of two halves,” with sales down in August as many people stayed at home to watch the London Olympics. But improving confidence and colder weather prompting shoppers to buy knitwear and warmer jackets led to sales bouncing back in the autumn. Caroline Gulliver at Espirito Santo said: “This 10% swing in sales growth through the quarter correlates with good recent sales data from BDO, John Lewis and Debenhams and bodes well for other retailers yet to report, such as M&S.”

A CBI survey showed on Monday that shoppers spent far more on the high street than expected this month as inflation eased, adding to other evidence that the economy is recovering from recession. This has boosted retailers’ confidence ahead of the key Christmas period.

The Next Directory business, new store openings and a move into homewares and overseas markets have helped Next buck the gloom at home. Other retailers have found it tough to keep going at a time of squeezed incomes, job fears and government austerity measures, which have led to belt-tightening among consumers.

The company, which has more than 500 stores in the UK and Ireland and almost 200 shops abroad, said sales remain volatile, but narrowed its full-year sales growth forecast to between 3% and 4.5%. The narrower range and greater certainty on costs for the rest of the year enabled it to raise its pre-tax profit forecast slightly to £590m-£620m, from £575m-£620m.

James McGregor, director of the retail consultants Retail Remedy, said: “Next has set itself a very high bar – for a fashion retailer to deliver an annual profit of £600m in the current environment is truly impressive. The company has no magic formula, just a tried and tested multiplatform approach. It perfected its holy trinity of online, directory and physical stores long before its rivals had even begun to look beyond physical stores. It understands its customers well, listens to them and reacts to their needs. The result is a loyal and trusting customer base.”

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Census: SA's population of 51.8m is still young

SOUTH Africa’s population increased by about 7-million to 51,770,560 between 2001 and 2011, Statistics South Africa revealed on Tuesday as statistician-general Pali Lehohla handed President Jacob Zuma the census results in Pretoria.
The country still has a young population, with most of the nearly 52-million under 39 years of age.
Divided by gender, 26,582,769 are female and 25,188,791 male. Along racial lines, 41,000,938 (79,2%) are black, 4,615,401 are coloured, 1,286,930 are Indian or Asian, and 5,586,838 (9,6%) are white.
The largest age group is the under-fives, which Statistics South Africa’s demographic analysis executive director, Diego Iturralde, said was due either to an overadjustment for the 5-14 age group in the 1996 and 2001 censuses, or to the HIV pandemic tapering off.
“It could be that HIV (infection) rates have levelled out and fertility has begun to recover,” he said.
There are 10.9-million under-fives, 9.3-million children aged 5-9, 8.8-million aged 10-14, and 9.6-million aged 15-19. The second-largest sector of the population is between the ages of 20 and 24, accounting for 10.4-million people.

Of these, 73.5% attend an educational institution (71.5% in 2001; 70.1% in 1996), while the proportion attending private educational institutions has increased from 5.1% in 2001 to 7.3%. Most of those attending private institutions are doing so in Gauteng (16.7%), followed by the Western Cape (7.5%) and the Free State (6.4%).
What will please some is that the proportion of the population that has completed higher education has increased to 11.8%, from 8.4% in 2001 and 7.1% in 1996.
The census showed the average annual household income had more than doubled in the 10 years from 2001 to 2011, to R103,204 from R48,385, while the consumer price index showed income should have increased 77.7% during this period to keep up with inflation.
The figures showed female-headed households’ average annual income (R67,330) was just more than half the average annual income of a household headed by a man. Stats SA executive manager Nozipho Shabalala said this did not mean men earned twice as much as women, because many male-headed households included a woman’s income too.
Whites are still the wealthiest population group, with white-headed households earning an average annual income of R365,134, black-headed households R60,613, coloured-headed households R112,172 and households headed by Indians or Asians R251,541.
However, white-headed households are proportionally poorer, clocking an average income increase between 2001 and 2011 of 88.4%, while blacks’ salaries increased by an average of 169.1%, those of Indian- and Asian-headed households by 145.2% and those of coloured-headed households by 118.1%.
Gauteng’s average annual household income is still the highest, at R156,243 (R78,541 in 2001), followed by the Western Cape at R143,460 (R78,157).
The census results do not compare employment rates over the decade from 2001, and Mr Iturralde said comparisons were difficult because each census measured employment rates differently. There was a 2.2 percentage point difference between the Census 2011 employment rate of 56.5% and last year’s fourth-quarter labour force survey’s 54.3%.
Stats SA’s website shows the unemployment rate in the 2001 census at 24%, according to the formal definition of unemployment.
People in short-term or casual employment are more likely to be captured in the quarterly survey than in the census, according to the census document. Mr Iturralde said it was an international phenomenon that a census captured a higher unemployment rate than other measurements.
Gauteng had the highest employment rate, at 70%, followed by the Western Cape at 67.9%, with a drop-off after that to 56.9% in the Free State. The Eastern Cape had the lowest employment rate, at 43.4%.
The census counted 14,450,161 households across South Africa, up from 2001’s 11,205,705, the average size of which was 3.4 people compared with 3.8 in 2001. Most (77.6%) live in formal dwellings (68.5% in 2001), with 7.9% in traditional dwellings (14.8% in 2001) and 13.6% in informal dwellings (16.4% in 2001).
Mr Iturralde said the 2011 census did not ask whether a householder’s dwelling was provided by the state, but state-provided houses would have been counted as fully owned by the owner. Most South Africans have been counted as owning a fully paid-off home (41.3%), while 11.8% are paying off their homes. A quarter of South Africans rent their homes, with the highest percentage of renters (37.1%) in Gauteng, followed by the Western Cape (28.9%). Limpopo has the lowest percentage of renters, at just 12.6%, while 52.7% of households occupy their homes rent-free — the highest of all the provinces.
According to the census, there has been a rise in the number of orphaned children, in part due to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Among children younger than 17, 3.37-million have lost one or both parents, the census found.
Paternal orphanhood was higher than maternal orphanhood, although the latter has seen an almost twofold increase since 2001. KwaZulu-Natal has the highest number of orphans, followed by the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.
With Nick Hedley

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Shoprite lifts sales on Africa business

Johannesburg – Africa’s biggest grocer Shoprite Holdings [JSE:SHP] booked a 15.6% jump in first-quarter sales helped by a robust showing outside its core South African market and favourable currency swings.

Shoprite, which operates in 17 African countries outside South Africa, said on Monday stores in those markets grew sales by 34.3% in the three months to end-September. It said in constant currency terms, they delivered a sales growth of 26.4%.

The Cape Town-based company, which opened 20 stores in several African countries since November last year, has been pushing aggressively into fast-growing markets on the continent with a focus on Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.

By 08:45 GMT, shares in the company were up 1.36% at 180.32, extending gains so far this year to more than 30% and reflecting expectations of healthy returns from its expansions in the rest of Africa.

Domestic retailers, which are also expanding into the rest of Africa, have been the darlings of investors in recent months but most analysts have said they have pushed shares to unjustifiable levels.

Shoprite’s mainstay South African supermarket business grew sales by 12.2%, reflecting increasing competition in the grocery market where Walmart’s South African unit Massmart Holdings [JSE:MSM] is looking for a bigger presence.

The company said it was difficult to predict spending patterns into the festive season because consumers are under pressures.

Consumers are battling with high personal debt levels, rising electricity prices and chronic unemployment but above-inflation wage hikes and decades-low interest rates have somewhat softened the blow.

Shoprite shares rose more than 1% to R178, becoming the biggest percentage gainer on the benchmark Top 40 – (Tradeable) [JSE:J200] index.

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Hugo Boss says earnings down in third quarter

FRANKFURT – German fashion house Hugo Boss said Tuesday earnings were down in the third quarter, but it was nevertheless sticking to its full-year targets.

“We’re confident that we can achieve our full-year targets despite the difficult eocnomic environment,” said chief executive Claus-Dietrich Lahrs.

“The change in our collection cycle has led to a sales shift in our wholesale business from the third into the fourth quarter. This had an adverse impact on our traditionally strong earnings in the third quarter,” Lahrs said .

“We shall, however, return to double-digit growth in sales and earnings in the fourth quarter with our winter business.”

Hugo Boss expects a currency-adjusted gain in sales of 10 percent for 2012 and underlying profit of between 10 and 12 percent.

In the period from July to September, net profit fell by 12 percent to 103.6 million euros ($134.5 million) and underlying profit was down 7.0 percent at 165.4 million euros, while sales advanced by 5.0 percent to 646.3 million euros.

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Massimo Dutti opens its first formal wear store exclusively for men

Suits, hats, shirts and ties; Massimo Dutti is focusing its efforts on men’s formal wear with its new concept store in Paris’ 9th arrondissement. The boutique, measuring just over 300 square feet, marks the group Inditex’s first step into the world of formal clothing.

The Massimo Dutti store, which was formerly home to the brand’s homewear boutique, has been refurbished to match the new concept.

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Starbucks Expects to Squeeze Profits From Juice Stores

Starbucks Expects to Squeeze Profits From Juice Stores

(Corrects juice-making method in 15th paragraph of story first published Oct. 29.)

While its caramel frappuccinos and pound cake haven’t helped Americans’ waistlines, Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) says its juice can.

After opening Evolution Fresh stores in its hometown of Seattle and Bellevue, Washington, Starbucks is speeding up expansion with a shop in San Francisco now operating and another in Seattle set to open in the next month. It’s also quickly introducing the cold-bottled juice to grocery stores and may soon add Evolution Fresh branded food to its juice line-up at Starbucks cafes.

Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz has said that selling juice and better-for-you food is a significant part of his recent health and wellness pursuit. The company has started opening Tazo tea shops and selling energy drinks made with green-coffee extract, all of part of Starbucks’s plan to get healthier.

“We have to look in the mirror and say: ’We were not providing as healthy products as we could have,’” Schultz said during an interview in Houston. “So as the result of that, we began a significant mission within the company to look at health and wellness.”

Starbucks, along with restaurant operators including McDonald’s Corp. (MCD), has been trying to improve its image as Americans become more concerned with high-calorie foods amid a national obesity epidemic. About 36 percent of adults in the U.S. are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In response, McDonald’s has promoted a “Favorites Under 400 Calories” menu, while Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN) advertises so-called DDSmart items such as egg-white wraps and multigrain bagels.

‘More Attuned’

American consumers are “more attuned to healthy eating and what they’re eating,” Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president at restaurant consultant WD Partners in Dublin, Ohio, said in an interview. Starbucks has an “open and uncontested playing field” to open juice stores in the U.S. as baby boomers and millennials look for more nutritious food and beverages, he said.

The first Starbucks shop opened in 1971 in Seattle’s Pike Place Market selling coffee, tea and spices, and has since expanded to more than 17,600 stores worldwide, including about 10,900 in the U.S.

While the chain hasn’t been known for health food, it has made some efforts, including introducing sugar-free syrups in 1997 and making 2 percent milk the default for espresso drinks at U.S. locations in 2006. More recently, the company has started selling 140-calorie oatmeal, so-called skinny lattes and smaller-portioned desserts.

Brand Evolution

“Evolution juice is going to take a while to evolve,” Larry Miller, an Atlanta-based analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in an interview. “They’ve talked about it being a billion- dollar brand, but they’ve said that about a lot of things. There’s a lot of potential for them if they can crack the code on health and wellness.”

Starbucks stores with bottled Evolution Fresh juice are already selling more than they sold of PepsiCo Inc. (PEP)’s Naked brand drinks, which are lower priced, Schultz said during the interview.

Last year, Starbucks removed the word “coffee” from its logo, paving the way for its recent non-java acquisitions, which included Evolution Fresh for $30 million in November 2011. Analysts project revenue rose 14 percent to $13.3 billion in the company’s fiscal 2012, the third straight annual gain, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Starbucks shares are little changed this year, compared with a 6.1 percent decline for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Restaurants Index.

Extra Calories

America’s collective weight gain isn’t the result of chili cheese fries — it’s the extra 100 or 200 calories a day that people are consuming, said Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group. For that reason, diners should still proceed with caution at healthier restaurant chains, she said.

“You don’t want to overdo it, even on healthy foods,” she said. “You still have to watch the portion sizes. When you go into a restaurant that has a healthy reputation, in some ways you need to be even more vigilant.”

Consumers should limit their juice intake to about six to eight ounces per serving because, while it may be healthier than soda, “it’s still a lot of extra calories that most people can’t afford,” she said. “It’s really much better to get your fruit from pieces of whole fruit.”

Berrybeet Smoothies

The Evolution Fresh menu includes items such as a 390- calorie turkey and caramelized onion sandwich for $7 and 230- calorie berrybeet smoothies. The high-pressure processed juice is sold on tap at Evolution Fresh stores and bottled at Starbucks cafes and grocery stores including Supervalu Inc.’s Albertsons chain, Safeway Inc. locations and Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM)

For breakfast, Evolution Fresh has eggs scrambled with wild rice for $4.95 and 120-calorie steel-cut oatmeal, while dessert options are limited to a bite of dark chocolate, a granola bar, chocolate coconut mousse and an oatmeal cookie.

The stores themselves are a far cry from Starbucks’s earth- toned cafes. Evolution Fresh eateries have a more modern feel, with marble countertops and metal furniture, said Arthur Rubinfeld, president of global development and Evolution Fresh retail. The patent-pending taps, which dispense juices just like beer on draught, are below a changing video screen touting nutritional benefits such as antioxidants found in blueberries.

While restaurants hype their tactics to get America to eat healthier — listing calorie counts on menu boards, cutting sodium and fat and selling more produce — consumers are eating less fresh fruits and vegetables, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Agriculture. Americans ate about 184.8 pounds (84 kilograms) of fresh vegetables a person in 2009, a 7.9 percent drop from 2000, the data show.

Schultz is determined to change that as Starbucks looks to sell other healthier food and possibly gluten-free items.

“The health and wellness opportunity we have,” he said, “this is just the beginning of what we think we can do.”

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Ocado Customers Compensated After Failure

The company blamed an “operational failure” at a warehouse but could not say exactly how many people were affected.
A spokeswoman said: “An operational issue at our warehouse has caused us to cancel a number of orders.
“All customers whose order has been cancelled will have, or will soon receive, a phone call from Ocado customer service at which point they will be able to re-schedule their order.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”
The problem affected orders placed on Monday 29 October.
Ocado said later the fault had been repaired and service had “returned to normal”.

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Whistles to open new flagship

Clothes retailer Whistles has today announced plans for a new flagship in the heart of London which will open next year.

Located on Dover Street in Mayfair, the architecturally designed unit will showcase merchandise across two floors, with the brand’s footwear and accessories collections available as well as its Limited Edition range.

In the year-to-date, Whistles has opened six stores across the UK and internationally and the latest new concept store aims to entice international shoppers.

Earlier this year, the retailer announced a strong sales performance as it continued to progress and a statement from Whistles noted at the time: “We are now well positioned to invest in a growth strategy which will include store openings, international expansion, and online development.”

Revealing double-digit growth in the nine months to October 2012, it is expected that the retailer will reveal plans for further expansion in the near future.

Commenting on the Mayfair store, Whistles CEO Jane Shepherdson said: “Whistles is delighted to announce plans to open a new flagship concept store on Dover Street in Mayfair in January 2013.

“This move is in line with our strategy of establishing Whistles position in the market as a contemporary fashion brand, and compliments the continued growth of both our Retail and Online business’

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Apple opens new retail store in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley

Apple has opened a new store on University Avenue in Palo Alto, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, and less than two blocks from its previous retail location.

According to PC Advisor, several hundred people lined up and began clapping and cheering as the first customers were welcomed through the door at 10 a.m.

The store, which was kept hidden under black sheeting until Saturday’s opening — attended by Apple CEO Tim Cook — has the familiar all-glass facade and roof.

According to SiliconValley.com, it is 70 percent bigger than the older store, opened in 2001, and includes a briefing room in the back that allows business customers to work closely with Apple employees.

The “360 Genius Bar” is 25 feet long, allowing customers and staff to sit next to each other around a communal table.

PC Advisor quoted Fitzgerald Geonzon, who began queuing at 7 p.m. on Friday evening, as saying:

“It’s beautiful, it’s huge, it’s stunning. I think I’m going to like it a lot.”

Geonzon, 17, had last month waited in line outside the previous store for three full days to be the second person to buy the new iPhone 5.

SiliconValley.com interviewed, Abbi Vakil, of Mountain View — a hardware engineer who designs accessories for Apple products — was the first to buy an Apple product on site: an iPhone cross-generational adapter. He said:

“I wanted to be one of the first to come into the store, because it will never be this new again.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook stopped by the new store to check out the scene

The Mercury News reported that children, teens and adults queued on the promise of a free T-shirt to the first 1,000 customers.

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Saks Fifth Avenue Exiting Saudi Arabia

MOVING OUT: Saks Fifth Avenue is exiting its store in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to sources. The licensed unit, which opened in November 2001, is currently being shopped to other retailers, and Galeries Lafayette has confirmed that it is among the stores interested in taking over the space. The 65,000-square-foot store is owned by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, who owns a small stake in Saks. The Riyadh store is located in The Kingdom Centre, Saudi Arabia’s largest fashion retail complex. A Saks spokeswoman had no comment. However, sources said the 10-year agreement for the store expired last year and negotiations for the retailer to remain recently broke down. Saks operates a store in Dubai and just opened one in Kazakhstan.

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Online shopping to account for at least a third of UK retail commerce by 2022

Online shopping to account for at least a third of UK retail commerce by 2022

Because of the rise in internet commerce

London: Britain’s high streets will become little more than glorified showrooms because of the rise in internet commerce, according to new research.

Online shopping will account for at least a third of UK retail commerce by 2022, up from 13 per cent, and the high street will no longer be where transactions are primarily made, according to Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts.

“Shops would operate as little more than showrooms but will continue to act as a channel for consumers to see, touch and try out goods – even if they make purchases using other means,” said Jon Copestake, chief retail analyst at the EIU.

The consumer spending downturn and the growth in shopping online and at out-of-town retail parks have hit Britain’s high streets hard. Last month it was revealed that retail chains shut 20 stores a day in the first six months of this year.

The EIU said shops that survived would have to adapt to the trend of shoppers trying out products in-store only to buy them later online, often from another retailer.

One suggestion the Retail 2022 report makes is for stores to expand click-and-collect services so consumers can try out, pick up or return products bought online at their convenience rather than by post.

Some online retailers are making a foray into the high street. Ebay has trialled pop-up showrooms in shopping locations in the UK, while Amazon has set up “lockers” for click-and-collect customers.

“The ease of online shopping means the showroom function of bricks-and-mortar shops will become more focused on establishing brand visibility and a reputation for service than on generating in-store sales,” said the report.

The high street transition would occur as middle-market retailers were squeezed even more. UK shopping habits would polarise as consumers bought staples from discounters to fund luxury purchases.

“If people are polarising it’s a question of when it will stop,” said Copestake. “If consumer confidence improves, the middle retailers could still find themselves squeezed as consumers stay with supermarkets such as Aldi for basic foodstuffs and trade up for value-added goods at Waitrose.”

The report also forecast that China’s retail market would be double the size of the US’s in 10 years — equivalent to $8.3trillion in sales — driven by retail growth in its fast-growing cities.

Copestake said retail companies exposed to China should stick it out.

Retail taskforce to tackle Britain's empty shops and rejuvenate high streets

The industry-wide group, the Distressed Retail Property Taskforce, stems from the Mary Portas high street review and aims to find out the extent to which “property indebtedness” is a barrier to growth.

In many cases, the debts that shop landlords incurred when they purchased shops or shopping centres is far higher than the current price of the property. This makes landlords reluctant to invest, but nor will they sell and write off their debts. Instead they are forced to push up rents to meet debt repayments.

The British Council of Shopping Centres, the British Retail Consortium and the Property Bankers Forum are among the new members of the taskforce, alongside representatives from taxpayer-backed Lloyds Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The new taskforce will spend around six months gathering evidence on the scale of the problem around debt and suggest solutions.

Mark Williams, chairman of the new taskforce and partner at asset managers Hark Group, said: “The wider economic, consumer and retail markets have moved at a pace that our high streets and property in general, have not been fast enough to adapt. The reasons for this need careful examination as a way of understanding what the current property-related barriers to rejuvenation are, and what the range of options or solutions could be.”

He added the plight of UK high streets had been pushed up the political agenda.

Antony Gold, head of retail at Eversheds, said: “The reasons for the decline of the high street are not simply down to current economic conditions – they are more profound and stem from the longer term changes such as the continuous move to out-of-town retail sites and the inexorable increase in the popularity of online shopping.

“Landlords are doing their best at being flexible and are fairly realistic about maximising the returns for the assets they have by, for example, letting to charity shops to eliminate the rates liability.

“Many planners will be considering the role of the high street moving forwards, which will bring some tough decisions such as whether they should block new out-of-town developments in favour of rejuvenating the traditional High Street. A way needs to be found to bring retail back to the High Street.”

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Robbie Williams to switch on Oxford Street Christmas Lights

Best selling British solo artist Robbie Williams is to switch on the iconic Oxford Street Christmas Lights in London on 5 November.

The announcement was made on Heart 106.2 by New West End Company, the company representing retailers in the Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street areas of London, and department store House of Fraser, the host of this year’s event.

As well as switching on the lights, Williams will perform some of his hit singles and will be supported by singer Leona Lewis and four-piece boy band Lawson. The proceedings will kick off at 5pm, hosted by Heart presenters Jamie Theakston and Emma Bunton.

The switch-on is being sponsored by Marmite which is also running a Facebook campaign for the event.

Commenting on his participation, Williams said: “Oxford Street is a fantastic place to do your Christmas shopping and it’s great to be part of the celebrations. I can’t believe I am turning on the lights! ‘Take the Crown’ is released on the same day – 5 November – and I’m looking forward to performing for the amazing crowds on London’s Oxford Street.”

For the first time, the Oxford Street Christmas Lights switch-on will be a ticketed event, with a 3,500 capacity golden viewing circle. Those wanting to be a part of this year’s event can apply for tickets by visiting the Heart 106.2 website.

Nigel Oddy, executive director group merchandising & planning at House of Fraser, said: “House of Fraser is thrilled to be hosting the switch on of the Marmite Oxford Street Lights. As one of London’s most popular events in the run-up to Christmas, this is guaranteed to be a fantastic occasion and we are extremely proud to have it taking place outside our store this November.”

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Apple's Retail Boss Is Out After Just 9 Months On The Job

In a huge executive shakeup, Apple has announced its retail boss, John Browett, is out.

Browett was selected to replace Ron Johnson, the former retail boss who created the Apple Store. Johnson left Apple to become CEO of JCPenney.

Apple hired Browett in January of this year, meaning he’s only been on the job about nine months. He was formerly the CEO of Dixon’s, an electronics retailer based in the UK.

Apple says it will immediately begin looking for Browett’s replacement.

But Browett’s departure isn’t the biggest part of Apple’s executive shakeup. Scott Forstall, the head of Apple’s operating system for iPhone’s and iPads, will leave the company after this year. Forstall was widely considered as next in line for Apple CEO after Tim Cook.

Developing…refresh this page for the latest.

Here’s the release from Apple:

CUPERTINO, California—October 29, 2012—Apple® today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles. Apple also announced that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design. His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade.

Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri® and Maps, placing all of our online services in one group. This organization has overseen major successes such as the iTunes Store®, the App Store℠, the iBookstore℠ and iCloud®. This group has an excellent track record of building and strengthening Apple’s online services to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X®. Apple has the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems, and this move brings together the OS teams to make it even easier to deliver the best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include the semiconductor teams, who have ambitious plans for the future.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook. Apple’s Retail organization has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level who will continue the excellent work that has been done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services for customers.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

Laura Ashley to open first store in China?

Fashion and furnishings retailer Laura Ashley is reportedly in talks to open its first store in China as early as next year.

The retailer, which operates 211 UK stores and has 263 franchised stores around the world, plans to double its franchise if its entry into China is successful, according to US business magazine Forbes.

Business development manager Kai Xiang Teo said Laura Ashley does not want to make the mistake of going into the country too fast, the report noted. Teo added that the brand should not “reinvent” itself in China but blend in with other retailers.

Last month, the retailer shrugged off a “challenging” consumer environment to book a 13.7% increase in interim pre-tax profit to GBP8.3m (US$13.4m). Total sales rose 7.5% to GBP145.4m, while UK retail sales climbed 6.1% to GBP127.5m.

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Discount chain B&M seen as 'rising star’ of retail

The British discount retailer B&M has been identified as a “rising star” of the retail industry by a key survey that considers the future challengers to Tesco and other leading players.

Today, the company has £1bn of sales, 290 stores and 2m customers a week. Photo: Alamy
By Graham Ruddick10:44PM BST 26 Oct 20122 Comments
Kantar Retail said B&M was one of 15 up-and-coming retailers in Europe, alongside Aldi, Amazon, cash-and-carry group Booker, Ocado and Waitrose.
The report said the retailers were succeeding thanks to their “differentiation”, strong private labels, efficiency and smaller store formats.

B&M was launched in 1976 by Malcolm Billington, a Blackpool-based entrepreneur. Its fortunes have been transformed since Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora bought the company in 2005 when it was still loss-making and had fewer than 20 stores, which were struggling. Today, the company has £1bn of sales, 290 stores and 2m customers a week.
The Aroras are opening stores at a rate of one every week, snapping up sites from failed competitors, such as ­Woolworths and Focus. B&M is now one of the fastest-growing retailers in the UK and the Aroras are poised to cash in on the growth of the company, hiring ­Rothschild to explore the sale of a ­significant stake in the business. There has been interest in B&M from private equity firms and a deal could lead to the company being valued at about £850m
Bryan Roberts, Kantar Retail’s director of retail insights, said: “To stay out in front, many retailers will need to spread their offer across different channels.
“For the majority, multi-channel retailing and offering different touch points to the shopper will be the future.
“That said, the fact that many rising stars operate purely through stores speaks volumes – retailing needn’t be multi-channel, it sometimes just needs to be differentiated, efficient and value-driven.”
Bryan Gildenberg at Kantar added: “Value is a key driver to the success of the rising stars but this does not necessarily mean ‘cheap’.”

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Asos chiefs sell stock worth almost £50m amid slowdown fear

Asos chiefs sell stock worth almost £50m amid slowdown fear

By Rupert Steiner

PUBLISHED: 22:16, 26 October 2012 | UPDATED: 15:57, 27 October 2012

A raft of senior executives at Asos have sold shares worth almost £50million fuelling concerns its phenomenal run may be about to slow.

The online fashion retailer’s stock lost 5 per cent yesterday as chief executive Nick Robertson sold the maximum number of shares available to him through a three year incentive scheme.

The firm has been one of the best performing retail stocks. Its shares have jumped from 23.5p ten years ago to £22.02. But with annual profits of just £40million and a market value of more than £2billion some experts think the shares may be overvalued.

Robertson said directors are not ‘dumping’ shares and said Asos will continue to expand internationally.
‘What you have seen happening is directors selling shares awarded to management on the back of superb performance when the share price went from £3 to £18 over a three year period,’ he told the Mail.

‘We were the number one retail stock and major shareholders including Standard Life blessed it on the back of superb performance. We have been in a closed period where none of those shares could be sold. This is not directors dumping shares.’
The retail boss used broker Numis to accumulate the shares of all participating staff to sell them overnight at a discount.
This included the 744,792 shares he sold at £21.50 which amounted to a cool £16m.
Finance chief Nick Beighton sold 365,094 at £7.8million, along with international director Jonathan Kamaluddin who made £6.5million and online director James Hart who took home almost £1million. Chairman Lord Alli, who has previously announced he will stand down next month ditched all but 50,000 of his holding, making £16.7million.
He will be replaced by Brian McBride, the former boss of Amazon’s UK business, who stepped down from corporate life to focus on his battle with cancer. Robertson said: ‘The chairman’s position is different. He was granted options 12 years ago when the shares were 12.5p. Now that he is leaving he thought it prudent to sell the options. I don’t think any shareholder will be grumbling. You have got a management team who have not taken anything from the table – what are you supposed to do – sit and watch it?’
Stocks linked to technology have come under pressure over the past week after Google posted an update in which profits from advertising were lower than expected.
On Thursday advertising boss Sir Martin Sorrell warned that the tech boom has come to an end.
Asos was set up in 2000 under the name As Seen On Screen. The idea was to help young people emulate their idols by selling clothes that looked similar or the same as those worn by celebrities on TV or in the movies.
Asos has since moved from what was once a niche site into the mainstream, offering wider ranges including maternity and clothes for small people.
It has just recruited Kate Bostock from Marks & Spencer to head up its clothing lines. This caused internal friction which led to the departure of product director Robert Bready who sold his entire £2.6million holding in the firm.
Buying director Caren Downie also left the firm this week.

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Hackett sales rise on back of store openings

Hackett sales rise on back of store openings

The company, whose tailored suits have been modelled by rugby player Jonny Wilkinson and tennis player Andy Murray, said sales rose 27pc to £96m in the year to March 31.

This increase in sales drove profits before tax and interest payments up from £4.9m to £6.2m.

Hackett was formed in 1979 when Jeremy Hackett, the fashion designer, and Ashley Lloyd-Jennings opened a stall in Portobello.

The company is now owned by L Capital – the private equity firm backed by Bernard Arnault’s luxury goods company LVMH.

Hackett has become famous for its jackets and suits, which were worn by the England rugby union squad for their open-top bus tour following the 2003 World Cup.

Retail sales for the company rose by 15pc during the year while wholesale turnover increased by 31pc.

Hackett has opened new stores in Heathrow Terminal 4 and Canary Wharf this year, which have helped to drive sales.

The company said wholesale revenues have been led by growth in the Middle East and Western Europe, particularly France, Germany, Switzerland and Spain.

In a statement, Hackett added: “Looking forward Hackett aims to maximise the positioning of the brand and to continue global expansion especially in the Far East.

“Retail expansion will also continue across mainland Europe. In the UK, the refurbishment of two iconic Hackett stores, the flagship store on Sloane Street and Covent Garden, will help raise the brand’s profile aided by a new concept store in the Spitalfields area of London.

“To help achieve the potential of the brand overseas, Hackett will continue to seek business partners in the more challenging markets to bring local expertise and knowledge. Confirmed new territory openings in the next financial year with franchise partners include China, Malaysia and India.”

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Graveyard shift at malls slow during Eid weekend

Food and beverage outlets have their plates full into the late hours of the night

Dubai: Sales were sluggish during the graveyard shift at shopping malls over the Eid weekend while food outlets had their plates full with an influx of hungry night revellers, according to retailers.

Shopping malls in Dubai remained open for 24 hours for the first time this year as part of the Eid festivities.

“It was so busy, there were a lot of customers and we had good sales. But from 10pm to 10am the next day sales were very rare at that time,” said Restina, a saleswoman at Souvenirs @Dubai, a kiosk in Dubai Mall.

According to Orogold Cosmetics, a kiosk specialising in gold-based facial products, sales went up by 15 per cent during the Eid weekend but the late shift was slow.

“On Thursday to Saturday there were a lot of people in the mall, especially for Eid. On Thursday and Friday there were a lot of sales unlike regular days. It was mostly Saudis and other Gulf tourists. Our best seller was the Oro Gold deep peeling with 24 karat gold,” said Melody, a saleswoman at the stall.

“But in the graveyard shift, there were less people from 2am onwards,” she said.

On the other hand, food and beverage outlets at the malls remained busy at night, they said.

“We were very busy during lunch and dinner over Eid. It is very fascinating that even from 1am, to 4am we still had guests coming in. They were mainly tourists, mostly from the GCC and some Europeans transiting in Dubai,” said Don Magno, the manager on duty at Noodle Factory.

Café Nero achieved record-breaking sales during the Eid weekend, staff said.

“We got very, very busy. We broke sales records from last year during Eid. Many people just kept coming and coming. Saturday was busier than Friday. The morning was quiet but starting from lunch until 10pm it picked up,” said Maya Umayah, the store-in-charge at Café Nero in Dubai Mall. “The graveyard shift was smooth, it was not that rushed.”

Improved weather, a long weekend and an influx of tourists from the GCC have increased retailers’ optimism for higher sales and footfall during the Eid festivities.

Retailers are running promotions and discounts valid for late night and early morning hours during this period to encourage shoppers to buy.

The Dubai 24 Hours shopping scheme will last on the weekends until November 2.

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Starbucks creates a stir in India

MUMBAI // The launch of Starbucks in India has created quite a stir, with Indians flocking to the coffee chain’s first outlet in the country in droves.

Queues for the store have been spilling out on to the street every day this week, with customers waiting for more than an hour in line at a time to buy its lattes and cappuccinos after the branch opened in Mumbai on Friday.

“I just want to see what it’s like,” said Rahul Raman, 24, an MBA student from Mumbai, who was among the throng of office workers, families, and teenage schoolchildren who were queuing up outside the entrance in the sticky afternoon heat on Wednesday. “It’s such a famous brand,” he said, explaining that he had never travelled out of India and had never been to a Starbucks cafe before.

The coffee chain’s debut is part of the growing cafe industry in India, traditionally considered to be a nation of tea drinkers. The cafe market is expected to increase in value from US$230 million (Dh844.8m) this year to $410m in five years. There are 1,950 coffee chain cafes in India, according to research by Technopak, a consultancy.

This is a relatively small number considering India’s population of more than 1.2 billion. But the number of cafes has almost tripled from about 700 stores five years ago and it is expected to increase to 2,900 cafes in the next five years.

“We may be tea drinkers, but coffee is considered very fashionable in India,” said Pratichee Kapoor, the associate vice president of food services and agriculture at Technopak. “More than the beverage it’s the culture which is catching on very fast. The cafes provide a socialising platform for the young and even the adults, which is why you see a proliferation of many more cafe brands.”

India’s biggest coffee chain by far is Cafe Coffee Day, a local brand that has more than 1,300 stores across India. Costa Coffee, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Gloria Jean’s Coffees also have a presence in the country.

Starbucks in India is a joint venture between the coffee company and Tata Group, a domestic conglomerate. Two more Starbucks outlets are opening in Mumbai this month.

“There are economic fundamentals in this country which are attracting international players to come here, establish their brand and expand,” said Ms Kapoor. “There is room for a lot of players here.”

Starbucks in India is charging 151 rupees (Dh10.3) for a “Grande” cappuccino or latte. Items on the menu that are particular to the Indian market include Tata Tazo, murg tikka panini and tandoori paneer roll.

“They are very competitively priced in India,” said Ms Kapoor. “That’s a vision the company has adopted, that they do not want to create a very niche positioning for themselves where they are attractive only to a very small segment. While they will still be premium compared to a Cafe Coffee Day, they will still be within reach.”

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Amazon Posts Loss on Higher Spending, LivingSocial Stake

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), the world’s largest online retailer, reported revenue that missed analysts’ estimates and posted the first quarterly net loss since 2003, hurt by higher expenses and its investment in LivingSocial.com.
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Amazon.com parcels. Photographer; Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg
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The livingsocial.com website is displayed for a photograph in New York. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg
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The third-quarter net loss was $274 million, or 60 cents a share, compared with net income of $63 million, or 14 cents, a year earlier, the Seattle-based company said in a statement. Sales rose 27 percent to $13.8 billion, compared with the $13.9 billion average analyst projection compiled by Bloomberg.
Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is opening 19 fulfillment centers worldwide to offer speedier delivery to customers during the holiday shopping season, contributing to a 28 percent increase in operating expenses. Amazon also boosted spending on technology and content as it worked to build out video offerings and expand its line of Kindle tablets.
“Amazon is spending a lot to gain market share,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. (FORR) “They’re obviously, as they call it, investing in the business — everyone else would call it losing money.”
Amazon shares slipped 1.3 percent to $220 in extended trading following the report. Before the announcement, the stock had lost 2.4 percent to $222.92 at the close in New York, and has gained 29 percent so far this year.
LivingSocial Loss
Amazon’s third-quarter loss includes $169 million, or 37 cents a share, related to its stake in daily-deal website LivingSocial, which lost value as consumers and retailers soured on Internet coupons. Amazon invested $175 million in the coupon service in 2010.
“Daily deals has been struggling,” said Daniel Kurnos, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in Boca Raton, Florida. “LivingSocial is going to need to reaccelerate their marketing expenses to keep the status quo.”
On an operating basis, Amazon’s third-quarter loss was $28 million, less than the average analysts’ estimate of a $42.1 million loss.
Fourth-quarter operating income will range from a loss of $490 million to a profit of $310 million, compared with analysts’ projections for $354.1 million in profit. Sales will be $20.3 billion to $22.8 billion, while the average estimate was $22.8 billion.
Amazon has broadened its lineup of Kindle devices to challenge Apple Inc. in the tablet market, which is expected to reach $63.2 billion this year, according to researcher DisplaySearch. Kindle readers and tablets are facing escalating competition as Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. roll out new machines.
Last month, Amazon unveiled a new line of bigger, faster and sleeker Kindle e-readers and tablets. The devices range in price from a $69 ad-supported reader to the $599 top-of-the-line Kindle Fire HD with access to 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, apps, games books and magazines.
The company also introduced the Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader with a built-in light that is directed toward the screen, stepping up competition with the Nook reader sold by Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS)

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Abu Dhabi seeks to avoid Dubai-style debt crisis

An official document clarifying ultimate responsibility for new debt issuance by Abu Dhabi’s government-related entities aims to eliminate any risk of a Dubai-style debt crisis in the emirate.

The document introduces centralised mechanisms to manage debt and restraints on borrowing by quasi-sovereign bodies. But it does not change the level of state support available to Abu Dhabi’s key development vehicles, bankers and analysts said.

The document, dated August 7 and delivered to state-owned entities by the Executive Council, which assists the ruler of Abu Dhabi, says the government will only be responsible for debt formally guaranteed by the council or Abu Dhabi law if the borrower is unable to meet its obligations.

Entities obtaining a council guarantee must obey financial standards and report their performance against them to the emirate’s Department of Finance on a half-yearly basis.

However, the document added, the Executive Council has the ultimate say over all debt issuance, and can issue a guarantee even if an entity’s finances do not meet the targets.

Major government-related entities (GREs) in Abu Dhabi include Mubadala Development Co, International Petroleum Investment Co and Abu Dhabi National Energy Co.

These firms have ramped up their public borrowing in recent years as part of an expansion drive aimed at diversifying Abu Dhabi’s oil-dominated economy, which has seen them take stakes in the likes of Daimler and UniCredit among other investments.

Overall GRE debt in the UAE stood at $185bn or 51 percent of gross domestic product last year, with Abu Dhabi accounting for over 54 percent of the total, the International Monetary Fund said in May.

The document says annual debt issuance from Abu Dhabi, which sits on 7 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, and its GREs should not exceed 5 percent of expected nominal GDP.

But while the document, first revealed in the Financial Times on October 23, prioritises the role of the Executive Council, it does not significantly change investors’ view of the level of government support for GREs, bankers and analysts said.

“Abu Dhabi’s four major state-owned enterprises…are essentially unaffected by the emirate’s recently approved public debt policy,” Fitch Ratings said in a report on Wednesday.

It added that the document was in line with previous statements offering broad and continued state support to Mubadala, IPIC, TAQA and Tourism Development & Investment Co.

Prices of outstanding Abu Dhabi state-linked bonds have not moved significantly since news of the document emerged as investors aren’t worried about it, said Chavan Bhogaita, head of markets strategy at National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

The document’s main function is to clarify aspects of debt issuance, and particularly the role of Abu Dhabi’s fledgling Debt Management Office, which is tasked with ensuring public debt is managed at sensible levels and that any entity issuing bonds does so in line with the emirate’s wider strategy.

“It is clear that some solid governance procedures are being introduced to avoid any future ambiguity of credit risk within Abu Dhabi,” said a senior debt banker in Abu Dhabi.

Such planning has grown in importance ever since Dubai’s 2009 debt crisis, which required Abu Dhabi to bail out its neighbour and caused the restructuring of billions of dollars of debt. This damaged the reputations of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is the largest member.

Abu Dhabi is cautious about debt risks, so the issue of the document “was expected sooner or later after what happened in Dubai”, said an official at one Abu Dhabi state entity.

In the longer term, however, the document underlines that Abu Dhabi sees its GREs operating as financially independent companies.

“This document does make the GREs more conscious of the fact they need to stand on their own feet, and that the government is willing to rein in control over debt issuance to avoid debt levels spiralling out of control,” Bhogaita said.

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Abu Dhabi SWF unit invests in Oz retail

Middle East shopping, Middle East retail, GCC retail

Two global sovereign wealth funds have invested A$872m ($904m) in Australian shopping centres through wealth manager AMP Ltd as part of an asset swap deal with mall owner Westfield Group.

AMP said it has bought Westfield and Westfield Retail Trust’s interests in three shopping malls for A$1.025bn ($1.06bn). It sold interests in four centres to Westfield and Westfield Retail Trust for A$710m.

The transaction was backed by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and Harina Co Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).

“Their respective investments will allow these highly regarded international investors to participate in the growth of leading shopping centres located in high population growth areas with significant development opportunities,” AMP said in a statement.

Westfield will receive approximately A$200m after the transaction. It said the deal was expected to have a neutral impact to its 2012 earnings.

Westfield Retail Trust said it would use the proceeds of A$180m from the transaction to buy back up to A$200m of its shares, approximately 2 percent of issued capital.

Shares in Westfield gained 0.9 percent on Thursday, and Westfield Retail Trust jumped 2.8 percent. AMP edged up 0.4 percent as of 0157 GMT.

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ASOS year profit soars 40%

LONDON – British online fashion retailer ASOS ASOL.L posted an expected 40 percent rise in year profit, as strong trading in overseas markets, such as the United States and Australia, more than offset slower growth in its home market.

The retailer, which targets young women looking to emulate the designer looks of celebrities like Tulisa Contostavlos, Nicole Scherzinger and Kate Moss, said on Thursday it made a pro forma underlying pretax profit of 44.5 million pounds in the year to August 31

That was in line with analysts’ consensus forecast of 44 million pounds and up from 31.7 million pounds in the same period last year.

ASOS has changed its year end from March to August.

Retail sales rose 38 percent to 538 million pounds, with UK sales up 10 percent to 205 million pounds and international sales up 64 percent to 333 million pounds.

Many British retailers have been finding the going tough as disposable incomes are squeezed by government austerity measures and with wages growth not keeping up with rises in prices.

ASOS, with its broad international reach, has bucked the gloom.

“We remain positive in our outlook for 2012/13,” said Chief Executive Nick Robertson.

Shares in the firm have risen 73 percent over the last three months hitting a record high of 2,571 pence last week.

The stock closed at 2,510 pence on Wednesday, valuing the business at 2.05 billion pounds.

Earlier this month ASOS said Kate Bostock, a former top executive at Marks & Spencer (MKS.L), would join the firm as executive director, product and trading, in January to help steer its rapid growth.

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Pick n Pay earnings drop 34%

RICHARD van Rensburg is deputy CEO of Pick n Pay.

SUMMIT TV: Pick n Pay saw a 34 % fall in headline earnings per share, with cautious consumer spending and tough competition. The giant retailer also lagged the competition losing some market share. The numbers are predictably not great — some might even call these numbers horrible. There seem to be problems in every aspect of the business?

RICHARD VAN RENSBURG: These are obviously very disappointing results — but I think it needs to be looked at in the context of the decisions we made as an executive in the last six months to drive our change programme forward. We took some decisions to incur some costs to extract ourselves out of certain contracts so that we could take control of distribution and the effect of that has been negative in these results, but we are very excited by the result this has had and the improvements with our distribution centres and this bodes well for the future. We also decided to centralise our category management teams where we had buyers in all the regions — on March 1 we went live and moved everyone together. That was a huge culture change for Pick n Pay and we had teething problems in the six months as we bedded that down, in very high out of stock levels in our stores, which obviously meant lost sales and that impacted the results.

STV: Could you have avoided the muted growth in turnover?

RVR: Pick n Pay has operated very successfully for nearly 40 years, but in the past two years we have lagged our competitors with changes in our business process model — it was very important to make these changes now, and we had to move towards centralised distribution and away from store-based ordering to scientific forecasting, demand planning and automatic replenishment, we had to move from decentralised buying teams to centralised category management teams, and we had to move from decentralised, independently operated stores to standardised execution across the country for promotions throughout the country. All those changes are huge and make very big impacts on the way we run the business, and we are right in the middle of that transition now, which is having a negative effect on our results.

STV: Could you have been more aggressive with new store openings? As you say, you’ve lagged behind your competitors…

RVR: The old operating model made it very hard to trade profitably with smaller format stores — because the costs were decentralised in the stores in the regions. The new operating model will take costs out of the stores and out of the regions and build that into a centralised service centre, which allows us to operate individual stores on a much lower cost basis. We are very comfortable now that we will achieve those cost savings so at the beginning of the year we gave the property development teams the go and we are now starting to open the new stores. It takes a while to fill up the pipeline and negotiate with the property developers, to find the sites, where each decision is big because you’re in for the long term — but we have been encouraged by the speed at which we have been able to move. We will open 225 new stores over the next 18 months and that will represent space growth of 12%, which is way in excess of what we have done in the past and that will allow us to protect our market share going forward. We are very excited about that.

STV: So smaller-format stores are off the table?

RVR: No, many of the stores will be smaller format, where of the 225 stores 119 will be Pick n Pay Supermarkets; and of those 119, 30 will be Pick n Pay Express stores in terms of our agreement with BP, and the remainder will be across the formats but biased towards the smaller-format stores in the suburbs and nearer consumers. If we look at our existing portfolio, those are the stores that are growing the fastest, with a global and local trend for consumers to shop more often and buy less each time and to shop at nearby stores. We need to catch up with our footprint to make sure we have stores in those locations.

STV: One positive in your interims is that you’ve bagged 5.8-million Smart Shoppers but that did cost you…

RVR: Yes, it’s a very costly programme — we’ve given R600m in Smart Shopper points to all of our customers since it started and in this period alone we’ve given R186m to customers. We are very encouraged by the uptake where our customers seem to love the programme. For the year ahead we are building up a database of history to analyse the buying habits of customers — not at an individual level but across the LSM (living standards measure) groups — and that allows us to make more informed decisions about ranging and store locations that will in the future boost turnover significantly. Pick n Pay has a big advantage but that comes with a strategic challenge, and that is the research shows our brand has wider appeal than any other retailer across the LSM groups in South Africa but the challenge we have is that we need to appeal to both lower and higher LSMs, which are very different markets, which requires us to segment the markets very carefully to ensure that our ranges meet customer needs, which is what the Smart Shopper programme is playing for us.

STV: Going forward where do you see growth?

RVR: There’s a lot of areas. Already we are growing very fast in Africa — our sales growth is admittedly off a very small base, but that’s over 40% and we are very excited by what’s happening there. Our Boxer business in the emerging markets is growing at over 20% and is growing profitably, and is competing extremely well in the emerging sector. Right at the premium end of the business we have three flagship stores where like-for-like sales growth is close to 17%, where we are accelerating the roll-out of premium stores to hopefully by the end of next year nine or 10 stores open. The area we are struggling the most is in our Pick n Pay Hypermarkets, particularly general merchandise, where sales growth is very weak. We need to address that.

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Coach first quarter sales rise on gains in North America, China

Upscale leather-goods maker Coach Inc reported higher quarterly sales on Tuesday as its own stores in North America showed increased business and there were large gains in China, marking a return to form in two markets that had shown signs of slowing earlier this year.

Coach’s shares rose 5.2 percent to $57 in premarket trading.

Sales at its stores in North America – still the company’s biggest market by far – rose 11 percent during the quarter. In China, which is a small but fast-growing market for Coach, sales at stores open a year rose by a double digit percentage. Coach has said it expects China to account for 10 percent of sales within a few years.

In recent months Western luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co and Burberry Group PLC warned about slowing growth in China, a nation many so-called “affordable luxury” companies were banking on to fuel expansion.

But in an interview, Coach Chief Executive Lew Frankfort said Chinese shoppers’ appetite for affordable prices worked in his company’s favor.

“Our price points are extremely compelling relative to the European luxury brands,” he told Reuters.

Lazard Capital Markets analyst Jennifer Davis said in a note that sales in China were “better than feared.”

In North America, Coach’s results were an improvement over the two preceding quarters, when gains were anemic. This time, comparable sales came in above Coach’s own forecasts from three months ago, when the company warned investors that shoppers wanted bargains to be compelled to buy.

Coach has also faced competition in its home market from fast-growing brands including Michael Kors and Fifth & Pacific Cos Inc’s kate spade, raising Wall Street concerns about how sustainable Coach’s strength would be.

Companywide, revenue in the first quarter, which ended Sept. 29, rose 10.6 percent to $1.16 billion, in line with Wall Street analysts’ projections, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Frankfort noted in a statement that the launch of its Legacy handbag collection, a line that harkens to classic styles from the 71-year-old company, had been successful.

Net income in the quarter was $221.4 million, or 77 cents per share, compared with $215 million, or 73 cents, a year earlier. That was a penny above Wall Street estimates. Profit was dented by the company’s efforts to buy its local distributors in Malaysia and Korea.

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EBay seeks partner to tackle Russian delivery issues

MOSCOW – EBay Inc expects its Russian business to skyrocket if it can overcome logistical hurdles and is seeking a local partner to help it do so, its country head told Reuters.

EBay launched a Russian-language site in 2010 and has hired former Google Inc manager Vladimir Dolgov to lead its operations in the world’s biggest country, in a move which it said reflected the increasing importance of the Russian market.

Russia, where eBay’s main focus is on fashion and technology products, is one of its priority markets, constrained mainly by distribution bottlenecks in a country stretching some 9,000 kilometers from the Baltic coast near Kaliningrad to the Pacific.

“Imagine if tomorrow we could improve logistics,” Dolgov said. “We could then throw away all our plans because everything will soar, so that all our most optimistic predictions will seem like baby talk.”

The auction site said in a presentation its number of active Russian customers had risen 82 percent this year, though it gave no net number. It claims customers from Russia buy on eBay at a rate of once every three seconds, implying 28,000 deals a day.

With Russia’s online retail market growing over 25 percent annually and some 25 million new users expected to come online within the next three years, eBay cannot afford to ignore Russia, Dolgov said in an interview.

SLOW DELIVERY

But as it tries to reach out to more Russian consumers, eBay faces a lack of domestic delivery services who can cover for the state postal monopoly, notorious for slow delivery.

Delivering goods from the United States can take four to eight weeks and there is no way to track orders once they clear Russian customs.

“We will be looking for a partner who will make it possible to deliver everything quite fast within Russia, and this will of course serve as a major catalyst of our growth,” said Dolgov, also a former CEO of Russia’s top online retailer Ozon.

Russia last year became Europe’s largest internet market but has yet to reach saturation as so far only around 60 percent of its 140 million population has access to the Internet.

According to research by East-West Digital News, Russia’s e-commerce market was worth $11 billion last year. Cross-border trade is expected to rise 43 percent this year to $1 billion, with the U.S. being the main country involved.

“All analysts forecast sustained growth (in Russia) over the next four to five years. If you look at the West, there haven’t been such figures for a long time,” said Dolgov.

So far the only employee of eBay’s Russian office, Dolgov says he can hire as many people as needed to support the company’s growth.

“Nobody is limiting us. There is a certain figure in the budget but it is rather a question how to reach to it.”

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UNIQLO Launches Online Shopping in the U.S. Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/24/4935094/uniqlo-launches-online-shopping.html#storylink=cpy

NEW YORK, Oct. 24, 2012 — /PRNewswire/ — UNIQLO, the global clothing retailer, is thrilled to announce that the highly anticipated online shopping site http://www.uniqlo.com is now live to customers and fans throughout the U.S. Just in time for the 2012 holiday season, UNIQLO’s full line of signature products will be available to ship to anywhere in the United States including Alaska and Hawaii.

“Opening up our e-commerce store, and making our innovative, high quality, affordable clothing available to the entire United States, is an important part of our long-term growth strategy to be the world’s number one retailer,” said UNIQLO USA Chief Executive Officer Shin Odake. “As we continue to look for opportunities to open more stores around the country, this will now give millions more people the opportunity to experience our products and brand values until we open a store near you.”

UNIQLO apparel is available in a wide range of colors, fits and sizes including fleece jackets in 50 colors for men and women. There is also an expanded range of sizes and fits for select products only available online such as: Men’s Ultra Light Down Jackets and Oxford Long-Sleeve Shirts available in slim and tall fits; Women’s Ultra Light Down Parka and Corduroy Easy Knit Leggings available in expanded sizes XXS and XXL (only XS-XL currently in stores); and Men’s Easy Care Long Sleeve Shirts available in 115 sizes (only six sizes currently in stores). The UNIQLO.com site features a recommendation engine that remembers customer’s favorite products, colors, styles, and uses the information to build a better list of preferences each time they visit the site.

As with all of our recently opened flagships, http://www.uniqlo.com offers great opening special promotions and products for men and women such as $9.90 Japanese Engineered denim. From launch through October 28, UNIQLO’s Ultra Light Down jackets and parkas will be $49.90 (reg. price $69.90) and a selection of cashmere styles will be $59.90 $99.90 (reg. price $79.90 – $149.90).

The website and e-commerce functionality was designed in partnership with Razorfish and Digitas. UNIQLO currently has five U.S. retail locations including newly opened stores in San Francisco at 111 Powell Street and UNIQLO Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ. Other U.S. locations include UNIQLO Soho, UNIQLO 5th Avenue and UNIQLO 34th Street in Manhattan. In the U.S., UNIQLO is targeting $10 billion in North American sales by 2020, and anticipating opening 20-30 stores annually.

About UNIQLO and Fast Retailing UNIQLO is a brand of Fast Retailing Co. (FR), a leading global Japanese retail holding company that designs, manufactures and sells clothing under six main brands: Comptoir des Cotonniers, g.u., Helmut Lang, Princesse tam.tam, Theory, and UNIQLO. With global sales of 928 billion yen for the 2012 fiscal year ending August 31, 2012, FR is the world’s fourth largest apparel retail company and UNIQLO is Japan’s leading specialty retailer.Today UNIQLO has more than 1,100 stores in 13 markets, namely in Japan, China, France, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, U.K. and U.S. UNIQLO continues to open large-scale stores in some of the world’s most important cities and locations, as part of its ongoing efforts to solidify its status as a truly global brand. UNIQLO operates an integrated business model under which it designs, manufactures, markets and sells high-quality, casual apparel in line with its ‘Made for All’ philosophy. With a corporate statement committed to changing clothes, changing conventional wisdom and change the world, FR is dedicated to creating great clothing with new and unique value to enrich the lives of people everywhere. For more information about UNIQLO and other FR brands, please visit http://www.uniqlo.com

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Retail 360 Consultants – need support for you new business ..expanding your existing business…

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Debenhams opens 10th store in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH – Debenhams recently opened its new department store in Othaim Mall in Riyadh. Situated on both the First and Second floors of the mall, the new Debenhams location offers an impressive array of high street fashion, homeware, perfumes besides a full beauty, accessories and cosmetic section. The beautifully-designed department store, spread across 3,811 square meters, also showcases the full stable of Designers at Debenhams including Star by Julien MacDonald, Butterfly by Mathew Williamson, Jasper Conran, John Rocha, Ben di Lisi and Betty Jackson. Commenting on the opening of the Kingdom’s 10th Debenhams location, Kevin Pender, Brand Marketing & Visual Manager, said: “The new Debenhams at the iconic Othaim Mall is another important step in our strategy aimed at offering world-class fashion in Riyadh. Debenhams has proved tremendously successful since we opened our first department store in the country.

That this is our fifth Debenhams in Riyadh – and our 10th in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia overall – speaks volumes of the customer demand for our products.”We now have 25 Debenhams in the Middle East,” he added. In the new location, Debenhams also has on offer a wide range of labels that it has developed to meet the fashion needs of the whole family. The home ware department offers quality goods at great prices for the whole home – from bathroom to bedroom and kitchen to dining room.

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Best Buy Is Cutting The Top Execs Of Its US business

There Are iPads, iPods And Macs All Over Aeropostale’s Cool New Prototype Store
Best Buy is cutting the senior-most layer of its U.S. operations.
The current president of Best Buy’s U.S. business, Mike Vitelli, is on his way out. He’ll be retiring at the end of the fiscal year.
And EVP of U.S. operations Tim Sheehan is leaving Best Buy at the end of the month.
Here’s Best Buy’s new structure for its top management layers — from the press release:
Effective January 1, 2013, Best Buy’s operations in the U.S. will be structured around the following groups:
Two Channels – Online and Retail: While online continues to be overseen by Stephen Gillett, president of Digital and Marketing, Shawn Score is appointed to lead the U.S. retail channel.
Three Business Groups – Connectivity, Home and Services: Jude Buckley is promoted to head the Connectivity Business Group, succeeding Shawn Score, while Home and Services will continue to be led respectively by Mike Mohan and George Sherman.
Support functions, including Human Resources, Finance, Legal and Marketing, where there are no leadership changes.
For now. those groups will be reporting directly to CEO Hubert Joly, the turnaround artist who took the helm of Best Buy in August.

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Home Retail to close stores

LONDON–Home Retail Group PLC HOME.LN, owner of the Argos and Homebase brands in the U.K., said Wednesday market conditions remain fragile and it will need to close 75 stores over the next five years, but it would continue to invest in digital retailing as it reported a rise in first-half net profit.

MAIN FACTS

-Sales GBP2.53 billion in the six months to Sept. 1, broadly in line with expectations (2011: gbp2.57 billion)

-Same-store sales at Argos up 0.6%; down 6.2% at Homebase

-Net profit gbp36.5 million (2011: gbp20.4 million)

-Pretax profit gbp51.1 million (2011: gbp29.4 million)

-Adjusted pretax profit down 37% to GBP18 million

-Interim dividend 1.0 pence (2011:4.7 pence)

-Shares closed Tuesday at 104.1 pence valuing the company at GBP847 million.

Corrections and Amplifications

This article was corrected at 06:53 GMT. The original misstated the same-store sales figures in the second bullet point. Same-store sales at Argos rose 0.6% in the six months to Sept. 1 and declined 6.2% at Homebase during the same period, not down 9.6% at Argos and up 1.6% at Homebase.

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Factorie by Cotton On to open at Mall of the North

Cotton On’s fun fashion concept Factorie is the latest star in South Africa’s retail constellation. It will soon open at the 75,000sqm super-regional Mall of the North, in Polokwane, Limpopo.
Opening at Mall of the North on November 15, 2012, Factorie is a fresh, fun brand for girls and guys, offering quick fashion-wins that don’t cost a bundle.

Launched in 2007, Factorie now has well over 100 stores throughout Australia and New Zealand. Factorie takes inspiration from the beach to the street and everything in-between. It expounds the carefree lifestyle of friends, music, good times and laughter.

Factorie is among several leading international and local retailers to target Mall of the North and its unique shopper market.
Upmarket Fabiani, the latest brand to join The Foschini Group, will open on the same day as Factorie. Both join stylish October 2012 additions to Mall of the North including Levi’s, 8ta and Skechers.

Mall of the North is jointly owned by JSE-listed Resilient Property Income Fund, Flanagan & Gerard Property Development & Investment, and Moolman Group.
“These leading local and international brands will add even more shopping variety for Mall of the North consumers, furthering its complete, comprehensive shopping experience,” says Johann Kriek of Resilient Property Income Fund.

With less than two years trading since opening in April 2011, Mall of the North’s robust and growing trade continues to garner retail demand.
Mall of the North offers vast retail variety with regular grocery shopping and features a prominent fashion factor. Driving its performance is its excellent retail mix of 180 shops with anchor retailers including Pick n Pay, Checkers, Edgars, Woolworths and Game.

Factorie, and the other excellent new retailers to join Mall of the North, will heighten its shopping experience, raising its popularity even further.

Paul Gerard of Flanagan & Gerard Property Development & Investment explains the continued retailer demand at Mall of the North, combined with its trading success, has prompted the owners to consider several added changes in the future. “Meeting shopper needs and staying abreast of retail trends requires constant monitoring and adaptation.”

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Mulberry warns on profits

In a major profits warning, Mulberry said international sales were below expectations in the first half of 2012 and that wholesale revenues fell 4pc.

The company’s shares fell 305, or 23pc, to £10.15.

The warning came just a month after rival luxury brand Burberry saw its shares fall more than 20pc when it reported that sales growth had ground to a halt.

The statement from Mulberry led to analysts questioning whether the spectacular growth of the company could be over.

“Mulberry’s profit warning is severe. Given that it has had a tremendous run in terms of both share price and profits, it is now at the crossroads,” said Philip Dorgan at Panmure Gordon.

“Either we were wrong about the scale of its international opportunity, or this is just a blip.”

The value of Mulberry shares soared to almost £25 in April on the back of demand for its products from Asia.

However, they have now more than halved in value because of doubts about the health of the Chinese economy and whether Mulberry can continue to attract customers.

The company’s handbags sell for as much as £3,000 and it has enjoyed particular success with the Bayswater and the Alexa, which is named after celebrity model Alexa Chung and sells for at least £750.

However, sales from these handbags is now slowing and Roger Mather, the finance director, admitted the company is finding it “harder” to replace slowing sales from the Alexa in the US and Asia than it is in the UK. “We have taken two steps forward, one step back,” Mr Mather added.

Overall for the half-year Mulberry reported a 6pc rise in revenues to £76.5m, including a 7pc like-for-like increase in retail sales.

However, there was a 4pc decline in wholesale, while international retail sales grew below expectations, albeit still by 41pc.

The slower than expected growth in revenues means annual profits will be below last year, which at the pre-tax level were £37m.

Mr Mather primarily blamed the profits warning on Mulberry cutting wholesale networks in Europe as well as a slowdown in Asia.

Bruno Guillon, who took over from Godfrey Davis as chief executive in March, has cut the number of multi-brand shops in Europe that Mulberry products are sold in so that the company can focus on sales in its own shops.

This rationalise has coincided with a slowdown in the luxury market, but Mr Mather insisted Mulberry did not regret shrinking its wholesale footprint.

“There will be no rethink,” he said. “It all makes sense as part of Mulberry growing up.”

There could, however, be a rethink of Mr Guillon’s incentive scheme. The Mulberry chief executive was awarded 200,670 shares upon joining the company, but can only cash in these shares if the share price exceeds £23.02.

“He needs to be given a meaningful equity stake that motivates him,” Mr Mather said.

The Mulberry remuneration committee could now grant new shares to management in December.

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Chilean retailer buys Carrefour's Colombia division

French retailer Carrefour will be selling its Colombia unit to Chile’s retail giant Cencosud. Carrefour SA will be selling the business for $2.6 billion, and the deal is expected to close at the end of this year.

Cencosud is South America’s third largest retailer. Carrefour, which is the fourth largest retailer in the world, has been struggling and seen heavy losses. The company is pursuing a major restructuring drive; and has also quit its operations in Singapore and Greece.

According to reports, Carrefour will focus on its France and Spain operations and also on the growth regions like Brazil and China. Turkey and Indonesia operations, however, are under review.

Cencosud’s deal is the biggest overseas purchase by a Chilean brand. The Chilean giant will get 72 hypermarkets, 16 convenience stores and 4 cash and carry stores in Colombia. Cencosud already has 900 stores and 26 commercial centers in that region.

The deal shows the growing might of the Latin American companies, who have an advantage over their recession-hit European counterparts.

Colombia, like other South American countries, is seeing an economic boom and has as an affluent and aspiring middle class. While the rest of the world is facing a recession, South America has shown good progress, and as a result, many global brands have expressed their interest in expanding in the continent; or have already started.

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SPAR trials new look store

Symbol group SPAR is trialling a new store design at its SPAR Penwortham shop in Lancashire.

Owned by family business Lawrence Hunt & Co, the store has a new fascia design featuring a white background with SPAR in 3D and the store’s location and owner’s details on the front. It also has a refreshed internal colour scheme as well as new ambient modules for fruit, vegetables and bread with the aim of creating an authentic market feel.

In addition to the new look, the store offers customers free WiFi and access to mobile phone charging units.

Debbie Robinson, SPAR UK managing director, said the Penwortham store is an innovative move for SPAR.

She added: “The dynamic store design represents the next generation in convenience retail, with a fresh, clean look that appeals to all shoppers. This new store model is the best design in the convenience industry today.

“The store was designed based on a great deal of consumer research and is laying the foundation for a design model that can be replicated around the country.”

The new SPAR model was designed by brand development agency Appetite.

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eBay in £50m tax avoidance scandal

Online marketplace giant eBay has come under fire today after being accused of tax avoidance in the UK to the tune of £50million. This news comes despite the company’s UK subsidiaries making sales of £789 million and profitsof £181million.

An investigation by The Sunday Timesuncovered that only £1.2million was paid in corporation tax in 2010 when according to the report, based on the group-wide profit margin of 23% in 2010, £51million in tax should’ve been paid.

The report goes on to explain that one of the reasons behind the tax payments being under estimation is because seller’s fees for using the site in the UK are processed through PayPal (Europe) Sarl in Luxembourg and other related companies in Switzerland. This re-routing of payments outside the UK seems to provide the perfect tax haven for the American company. However a spokesman for eBay insists that it “…works with tax authorities and complies fully with all applicable tax laws and regimesincluding national, EU, and internationally recognised OECD rules.”

Such schemes are being uncovered at an increasing rate in recent times with large companies such as Facebook and global coffee chain Starbucks both being accused of similar activity which has resulted in them paying less tax in the UK ultimately.

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Dealz to open 10 new stores in Ireland

Discount retailer Dealz will open 10 new stores across Ireland, creating 300 jobs.

The company, which began trading in Ireland a year ago, said it would mean an investment of close to €3 million in the economy. The stores will be opened in its next financial year, which begins in April.

The company has already opened 20 stores in the Republic, with the last one in Midleton, Co Cork, creating 30 jobs. It plans to open more before the end of March, including a store in Dún Laoghaire and another in Clonmel.

“Given that employment figures are so low in Ireland, we are delighted that we can offer even more people a job as each new store creates job opportunities across Ireland,” said chief executive Jim Murray.

The discount retailer said it had already served more than four million customers in its first year of trading.

The company offers a large range of branded goods at low prices, with nothing in the Irish stores costing more than €1.49.

Dealz is owned by British retailer Poundland and has over 350 UK stores.

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American Apparel Opens New Store in Beijing, Biggest International Location to Date

American Apparel, the vertically integrated clothing manufacturer based in downtown Los Angeles, has announced the opening of a new store Beijing. Located in the new Parkview Green mall, the store will mark the company’s second location in Beijing and its fourth in China. At almost 7500 square feet, it will be the biggest international location operated by American Apparel to date.

“Beijing has been a political, educational and cultural capitol in China for centuries, and now with people flocking to the city from all over the world, it’s a place we’re excited to expand in. We’re very proud to offer our Made in USA products to China and pleased with their response to the ethical practices behind the brand. We are proud to bring our Made in the USA version of the American Dream to this part of the world,” said Katherine Johnson, regional manager of Asia.

The store will be located inside Parkview Green, an innovative and sustainably designed mall in the Chaoyang District that uses about half the energy of similarly sized malls. The increased awareness and excitement about the brand following American Apparel’s first store in the Nali Mall in Sanlitun made the Chaoyang District, one of the largest shopping and business districts in Beijing, a natural next step for expansion. These demographics, in addition to Parkview’s status as the “greenest” building in Beijing, made it the ideal location for American Apparel to open what is now its largest international location.

“American Apparel’s expansion, including this opening, has created a total of 100 fair wage jobs at both the retail and operational level in China so far. We’re very proud of that and look forward to creating more,” Johnson said.

In addition to its brick and mortar locations, the company operates an online shopping portal for Chinese consumers in conjunction with Taobao. American Apparel has also recently opened an online store in Hong Kong. The company will be opening its own dedicated online store for China later this year.

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Dubai mall among world's most profitable

Dubai mall among world’s most profitable

Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates has been named among the world’s top 10 most profitable shopping malls in a new report.

Majid Al Futtaim Properties’ flagship mall in Dubai, has been ranked the seventh most productive shopping centre in the world, earning $1,423 per sq ft per annum, according to research by the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC).

According to ICSC, the 2.5 million sq ft Mall of The Emirates is nearly three times more profitable per sq ft than the industry average.

The research said its sales surpass those of some of the most internationally renowned shopping destinations in Los Angeles, Toronto and Orlando.

Since opening its doors in 2005, Majid Al Futtaim Properties said the Mall of the Emirates has witnessed “consistent footfall growth and impressive demand from retailers”.

Annual footfall numbers have increased by an average 8-10 percent, the company said in a statement.

In the first half of 2012, the Mall welcomed more than 20 million visitors, on track to surpass 2011’s total of 36 million visitors.

Housing 535 international retail brands, there are currently over 160 international brands on the waiting list for space at Mall of The Emirates, it said.

Peter Walichnowski, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Properties, said: “We are very pleased to be recognised on an international level, which confirms our position as the retail leader in the Middle East region including Dubai, one of the world’s most iconic shopping destinations.

“We are constantly investing in renovating our offerings, refreshing our retail mix and developing new entertainment concepts. This has not only contributed to our leadership of the market, both in the region and worldwide, but has also played a fundamental role in positioning Dubai as the second top retail hub in the world after London,” he added.

Mall of the Emirates, was ranked seventh in the ICSC rankings, behind shopping centres in Sydney, New York City, London, Las Vegas and Miami.

ICSC’s annual survey classifies the world’s 15 most lucrative malls and analyses factors contributing to their success.

Mall of the Emirates was the only mall in the Middle East to qualify among the world’s top 15 shopping malls.

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Amazon considering Asos bid

Pure play e-tailer Amazon is considering a bid on fashion e-tailer Asos, according to reports, with the former seeking to strengthen its position in the burgeoning fashion market.

According to The Telegraph, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos met with Asos’ CEO Nick Robertson and looked at its books earlier this year, following increasing competition from rivals aiming to increase pressure on the ever-growing company.

Last week, struggling retailer HMV announced that it is trialling an online marketplace offer to compete with rivals while US bookseller Barnes & Noble has partnered with UK retailers including John Lewis and Dixons, which will see its e-books enter the UK market in direct competition with Amazon’s Kindle family.

Earlier this month, former Amazon MD Brian McBride, who had been with the e-tailer for six years, was announced as Chairman of Asos as Lord Waheed Alli stood down and Robertson said that the company was undergoing exciting changes as it moves to internationalise its business.

Speaking at the time, McBride noted that “Asos shares many of the attributes that have made Amazon a global retailing powerhouse”, and in recent financial results the fashion specialist revealed a 15 per cent boost to UK retail sales to £49.9 million for its last quarter.

Some experts have warned that Asos’ growth in the UK may in fact be slowing compared to its overseas operations which saw sales grow nearly 40 per cent, though its strong brand offering from the likes of Barbour and Ralph Lauren is said to have peaked Amazon’s interest as it attempts to distance itself from its discounted books offering.

Asos’ market capitalisation stood at around £2 billion at the close of markets last Friday, The Telegraph reported, as a result of its rising share price.

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H&M tackles issue of working conditions in Cambodia

After attempting to raise Bangladesh’s minimum wage, the Swedish company is now aiming to improve working condition in Cambodia.

Helena Helmersson, head of sustainability at H&M, met with subcontractors and union officers in attempt to encourage dialogue between the key players. The week before in Sweden, she met with Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister in order to these same issues.

“A longterm improvement of working conditions requires constant and effective communication between all.” Helmersson is looking to create an environment that benefits everyone; workers, suppliers, government, the country, as well as themselves – the buyers.

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Dubai Mall opens world's largest shoe store

Dubai Mall opens world’s largest shoe store

Dubai is now home to the world’s largest department store dedicated exclusively to shoes.

Dubai is now home to the world’s largest department store dedicated exclusively to shoes, following the opening of a new store at Dubai Mall on October 19 by luxury retailer Chalhoub Group.

The new 96,000 sqft store, named the Level Shoe District, is located in Dubai Mall – the largest retail destination in the world – and will contain 15,000 pairs of shoes across around 250 different brands. It opened on October 19.

“The whole idea is to create a place for men and women who love shoes, who are passionate about shoes, who are addicted to shoes, who are obsessed about shoes,” Patrick Chalhoub, CEO of Chalhoub Group, told Bloomberg.

“The luxury market is developing extremely well… People aspire for luxury and aspire for quality,” he added.

The previous record holder was Macy’s 39,000 sqft shoe store in Manhattan.

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McDonald’s Profit Falls 3.5% as U.S. Growth Slows

McDonald’s the world’s largest restaurant chain by sales, reported third-quarter profit fell 3.5 percent as sales growth slowed at U.S. stores.

Net income dropped to $1.46 billion, or $1.43 a share, from $1.51 billion, or $1.45, a year earlier, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said today in a statement. Foreign- currency exchange-rate fluctuations reduced net income by 8 cents a share in the third quarter. Analysts projected $1.47, the average of 26 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson, who took the helm in July, has tried to draw budget-conscious Americans with a new extra-value menu. Sales at U.S. stores open at least 13 months rose 1.2 percent in the quarter, marking the slowest growth in 11 quarters. Analysts projected an increase of 1.7 percent, according to 21 estimates compiled by Consensus Metrix.

Increased competition among U.S. fast-food restaurants has “left McDonald’s with less room for marketing errors,” David Palmer, an analyst at UBS Securities LLC who advises buying the shares, wrote in a note before earnings. “The pullback from dollar-menu marketing and lack of premium innovation left the chain vulnerable to increased couponing and innovation by its major competitors.”

The shares fell 2.7 percent to $90.31 at 8:05 a.m. in New York. McDonald’s dropped 7.4 percent this year through yesterday.

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German online retailer Zalando says 2012 sales to double

FRANKFURT – German online retailer Zalando expects to double sales to more than 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) this year, extending its lead over UK rival ASOS Plc as Europe’s largest online fashion site, it said on Thursday.

Zalando, founded in 2008 and which brought JP Morgan and private equity firm Quadrant on board in the summer as investors to help finance its expansion, operates in 14 countries across Europe but is not feeling any effects from the debt crisis, a spokesman said.

“You always need clothes,” the spokesman said, adding that Zalando’s focus was now on investing in infrastructure.

Others have not been so lucky. Sportswear maker Puma SE and Metro AG, which runs supermarkets, cash and carries, consumer electronics and department stores, have warned on 2012 profits as European shoppers hold back.

Zalando, which sells shoes and clothes from over 1,000 brands, said its net sales had reached 471 million euros in the first six months of 2012 and it expected to double last year’s total of 510 million euros.

ASOS, which mostly targets young women, had sales of 538 million pounds ($870 million) in the year through August, a rise of 38 percent.

Online retailers are currently outstripping their bricks-and-mortar rivals in Germany, where many retailers have been slow to shift to Internet shopping.

Metro, which runs Europe’s largest consumer electronics retailer, finally managed to offer a full online shop for its MediaMarkt and Saturn stores only this year and Douglas Holdings AG is in the process of restructuring its bookstore chain to battle competition from Amazon.Com Inc.

German fashion retailer Tom Tailor Holding AG also said on Thursday sales via its web store rose 60 percent in the third-quarter, compared with a like-for-like sales rise of 4 percent for the group as a whole.

The comments from Zalando, which has not yet made a profit, came as investor Kinnevik said it had spent 287 million euros to buy a further 10 percent stake in the company.

That makes the Swedish investment firm the largest single shareholder with a direct stake of 26 percent, plus an indirect 9 percent stake held via venture capital firm Rocket Internet.

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