Monthly Archives: December 2012

Japanese retailer MUJI ..eyes Dubai, Kuwait launches

Japanese home and lifestyle retailer MUJI has announced plans to open its first stores in the Gulf region in 2013.

The retailer, known for its non-branded products, designs, and clothing, has announced the opening of stores in several Middle East locations starting with Kuwait and Dubai.

The shops will offer MUJI’s furniture and household items that the company is known for in Japan.

The expansion into the Middle East is part of an agreement between MUJI’s parent company, Ryohin Keikaku Co and Alshaya, the Kuwait-based franchiser.

The first store will open in January in Kuwait at the Grand Avenue, The Avenues, and will be followed in the spring at The Dubai Mall.

The name MUJI is derived from the full Japanese title Mujirushi Ryohin, which translates to “no label quality goods”.

It sells more than 7,500 products across furniture and storage to clothing, stationary, and gifts.

International retail outlets as of December include the UK, mainland Europe, Turkey, the US, Hong Kong, South Korea, China and the Philippines.

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New $190m Abu Dhabi mall is over 50% leased

More than 50 percent of a $190m Abu Dhabi shopping mall slated to open by the end of this year is leased to retailers, it was announced on Sunday.

Deerfields Town Square Mall in Al Bahia, which is currently under construction, also has “numerous other retailers very close to leasing”, officials said in a statement.

Mubarak Brothers Investments (MBI) and Deerfields management, the owners and developers, also said they have appointed Jones Lang LaSalle to advise on the property management set up and operation of the mall.

Anchored by Carrefour, Centrepoint and Grand Cinemas, Deerfields Town Square will incorporate more than 200 outlets in approximately 80,000 sq m of new retail space.

Banu Tas, general manager of Deerfields Town Square said: “Jones Lang LaSalle’s experience of operating and managing shopping malls around the world will help us deliver the very best in new community facilities, providing a quality shopping experience for those living and working in Al Bahia, Shahama, Rahba and Khalifa Cities as well as the wider catchment area.”

He said Jones Lang LaSalle’s retail division was also helping with leasing and retail mix strategy.

Graham Howat, head of Property and Asset Management at Jones Lang LaSalle in MENA, added: “Property management is becoming increasing sophisticated in the Middle East and we are pleased to see developers like MBI embrace the opportunity of having professional mall management in place from day one to ensure success for their tenants and their shopping public.”

A new shopping mall being built on Abu Dhabi’s Sowwah Square is set to open in early 2013.

Mubadala Real Estate & Hospitality (MREH) and Gulf Related, developers of The Galleria said 85 percent of the mall’s retail space had been booked.

The Galleria will feature the likes of Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Gucci, Prada, Alexander McQueen, Aspinal of London, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Brioni, Boucheron, Bulgari, Chaumet, Christian Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana, Fred Perry, IWC, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Panerai, Roger Dubuis and Van Cleef & Arpels.

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Esprit shares hit one-month low after profit warning sparks downgrades

Esprit, which competes with Swedish clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB and Spain’s Inditex, has been hit by weak demand in the euro zone and launched a four-year turnaround plan to revive its brand in late 2011.

But more than a year into its $2.3 billion restructuring drive, Esprit, which sells everything from bed sheets to jeans, is still not showing progress, analysts said.

“The turnaround is still looking very difficult,” said Gloria Tsuen of CIMB Research.

“Esprit has a revamped management team. It has a decent plan but it still doesn’t have the products to get people back into the stores.”

Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan downgraded the stock to “Underweight” from “Equal Weight” and “Neutral”, respectively, after Esprit said it may post a loss for the six-month period due to weaker-then-expected operating results.

Morgan Stanley also revised down its earnings forecast for Esprit for the year ending in June 2013 to a net loss of HK$144 million from a profit of HK$695 million profit, and cut its profit forecast by 61 percent to HK$576 million for the following financial year.

Like China’s best-known sportswear company, Li Ning Co Ltd, Esprit is battling to revamp its brand and is restructuring its management team in a sector weighed down by high inventories amid a slowing global economy.

Esprit in August hired Jose Manuel Martínez Gutiérrez, an executive from Zara owner Inditex, as its new chief executive to reassure investors about its restructuring drive following uncertainty created by a management reshuffle.

But some analysts remain cautious over the management reshuffle.

“We don’t really know exactly how the new CEO would drive the whole business,” said Renee Tai, an analyst at UOB Kay Hian. “Given the current state in Europe, it’s not helping the recovery either.”

Shares of Esprit hit a one-month low of HK$10.88 and were down 5.3 percent at 0200 GMT, lagging a 0.3 percent gain in the blue chip Hang Seng Index .HSI.

This trimmed the stock’s gain to about 20 percent this year after investors had bet on the company’s turnaround plan.

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Pick n Pay opens new branch in Walvis Bay, Namibia

Walvis Bay ‘ The refurbished Seagulls Shopping Centre at Walvis Bay has now been converted into Pick ‘n Pay Shopping Centre that cost N$20 million.

The opening ceremony was attended by new Walvis Bay Mayor Derek Klazen, who described the event as a major step in the right direction.

‘Development of infrastructure is second on our list of challenges and it is thus with extreme pleasure that I am able to officiate at an event today, which celebrates the enhancement of infrastructure,’ he said.

Walvis Bay has grown tremendously over the past few years, characterized by an increase in population and a high demand for houses. So it now has an additional convenient place where consumers can shop.

The mayor joined the Executive Chairman of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group, Sven Thieme, in inviting citizens to shop at the newly renovated Pick ‘n Pay Shopping Centre and to enjoy all the modern comforts that the new shop will offer.

Klazen congratulated and praised the Ohlthaver & List Group and Broll Namibia for the faith they have shown and that the targeted markets would grow from strength to strength.

‘Not only have you proven that you believe in us and our purchase power but you have also created opportunities by enhancing the tenants’ shops, thereby assisting them in increased sales which could possibly lead to new employment opportunities and the like,’ he stated.

The development of infrastructure is a win-win situation for all and the Municipality of Walvis Bay supports such wholeheartedly, especially now that it is the start of the festive season and beyond.

‘I invite every member of the Walvis Bay community to do your Christmas shopping right here in the convenience of the Pick ‘n Pay Centre and wish you all a merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2011,’ Klazen stated.

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Nando’s set to add extra flavour to Abu Dhabi

The Afro-Portuguese restaurant chain Nando’s plans to expand in the UAE next year.

The fast-food chain, which opened its first restaurant in the Emirates a decade ago, currently has 11 outlets in the country and aims to eventually double the number.

It will open restaurants in Abu Dhabi city for the first time next year.

“Ten years is a long time and we have strived hard to make this possible,” said Suhail Gidwani, the chief executive of Nando’s, UAE.

“It is truly a moment of great pride and honour to have completed a successful decade in the UAE.”

Nando’s has several restaurants in Dubai, including in The Greens and The Dubai Mall, as well as outlets in Sharjah and Al Ain.

It is understood that the chain will open two restaurants in the capital next year. The brand has not revealed where the restaurants will be, but said they will be in “prominent locations”.

“Dubai is a fantastic place and it has been a joy for us to have woven ourselves into UAE’s family friendly restaurant scene. We are committed to capitalise the Afro-Portuguese authentic flavours to various locations in the UAE. With our presence in 11 outlets, the power of Nando’s is surpassing anything we ever expected,” said Mr Gidwani.

“Our current focus is Abu Dhabi and looking ahead, we endeavour to double the number of restaurants we have today,” he added.
Nando’s draws inspiration from ancient civilisation where people used fire to cook and is famous for its peri-peri chicken.

The chain, which operates in 30 countries and has more than 1,000 restaurants, was founded in 1987 in a mining town in Johannesburg but its origins lie in Mozambiquan-Portuguese cuisine.

Portuguese settlers in Mozambique were introduced to African bird’s eye chili, also known as peri-peri, which was used in local recipes.

When Mozambicans of Portuguese origins moved to Johannesburg in search of jobs in the gold mining industry, they brought peri peri recipes with them.

According to Euromonitor, the UAE restaurants sector was worth about US$1.15 billion (Dh4.22bn) last year, and is expected to increase to $1.21bn this year and continue to rise next year to $1.42bn.

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G-Star opens its biggest ever store in Shanghai (pics)

G-Star has a network of stores across the world totaling a huge 6000 boutiques globally.

But this particular opening is particularly significant for the brand. Though the Dutch brand has stores in Shanghai, this city-centre address is the brand’s largest store to date.

The store measures 8,000 square foot over two levels and carries both men’s and women’s wear. The boutique features a jeans wall measuring 11 metres tall and a 250 square foot area dedicated to the brand’s shoes.

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Diesel boss to take over Italy fashion house Marni

MILAN – Diesel jeans brand founder Renzo Rosso is poised to take over Italy’s Marni to relaunch the bohemian-chic fashion house on foreign markets, the company said.

The all-Italian acquisition is a rare case in a luxury industry where most deals are made in France and Asia, and confirms Rosso as a dynamic fashion entrepreneur in Italy.

The rockstar-looking businessman, whose Only The Brave holding controls foreign brands Maison Martin Margiela and Victor & Rolf, also makes clothes under licence for young-focused lines Just Cavalli and DSquared2.

His holding booked revenues of around 1.3 billion euros ($1.72 billion) in 2011, broadly stable on a year before, but core profit margins rose 10 percent to 14.7 percent of sales.

Financial details of the deal are to be announced at a conference on Thursday.

Founded in 1994 by fur businessman Gianni Castiglioni and his Swiss-born designer wife Consuelo, Marni is sold at around 320 shops in the world, including around 100 Marni-branded stores.

Italy is one of the world’s biggest fashion producers but its fragmented, family-owned industry has not seen consolidation on the same scale as France.

French luxury giant LVMH (LVMH.PA) bought Rome jeweller Bulgari in 2011, while the Qatari royal family snapped up Valentino for a whopping 700 million euros in July.

“It has proved impossible to conglomerate Italy’s luxury brands like France did,” Umberto Nicodano, partner of Italy-based law firm Bonelli Erede Pappalardo told Reuters.

“The reason: a strong desire of independence of our brands which would have led to issues of governance and valuation.”

Marni had long been at the centre of takeover talks.

Rosso, whose holding had a positive net financial position of 133 million euros in 2011, told Reuters in November he had financial resources to make other brand acquisitions.

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2012 in review: Retailers that collapsed in 2012

More than 300 retailers have gone into administration this year, figures from the Insolvency Service show. Here, we look at some of the major high street players that collapsed in 2012.

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Comet
Comet became the 29th major high street casualty of 2012 when it filed for administration in November.
Number of stores 238
Number of employees 6,000

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JJB Sports
Went into administration October
Number of stores 180
Number of employees 4,000

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Ethel Austin
Went into administration July
Number of stores 60

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Julian Graves
Went into administration July
Number of stores 189
Number of employees 755

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Clinton Cards
Went into administration May
Number of stores 767
Number of employees 8,500

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Aquascutum
Went into administration April
Number of stores 3
Number of employees 250

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Game
Went into administration March
Number of stores 1,300
Number of employees 10,000

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Pumpkin Patch
Went into administration January
Number of stores 36
Number of employees 400

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Peacocks
Went into administration January
Number of stores 550
Number of employees 9,600

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La Senza
Went into administration January
Number of stores 146
Number of employees 2,600

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Past Times
Went into administration January
Number of stores 100
Number of employees 1,000

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Blacks Leisure
Went into administration January
Number of stores 306
Number of employees 3,885

Superdry to create the new store on Bluewater’s upper Thames Walk

Superdry is upsizing from its existing unit to open a 9,570-sq ft store at Bluewater. The new store will open next spring.

SuperGroup CEO Julian Dunkerton said: “Bluewater is continuously one of our best-performing locations in the world, so upsizing to create a flagship for the Superdry brand is long over-due. The new Bluewater store will be a template for the business as we focus on select locations in the UK and further afield.”

The Superdry signing is Bluewater’s 32nd this year, with other highlights including Gant’s doubling of its previous store to 5,600 sq ft; Montblanc taking its first standalone boutique in the South East and Gilly Hicks opening its one in the South East with 7,200 sq ft store Bluewater in May this year.

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Dubai’s MAF in talks on $300m Egypt retail deal

Dubai’s Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) is in talks with Egypt’s Mansour Group, owned by billionaire Mohammed Mansour, to buy its supermarket business in a deal valued at $200-$300m, three sources aware of the discussions said.

Mansour Group, also the largest distributor of General Motors cars in Egypt, is aiming to sell supermarket chain Metro and discount grocery store Kheir Zaman, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is not public.

The ongoing discussions signal increased appetite by Gulf-based firms to expand their presence in the most populous Arab state at a time when valuations are low due to the political strife in the North African country.

Gulf banks have bought assets from their European counterparts in Egypt but the interest in Mansour Group’s supermarket business shows the focus may now be spreading to other sectors such as retail where growth prospects are seen promising in the longer term.

MAF is the sole franchisee of French hypermarket chain Carrefour in the Middle East.

Due diligence on the deal is currently under way and a decision could be taken as early as January, one of the sources said.

MAF Group declined to comment on the report. Mansour Group was not available for immediate comment.

Metro is Egypt’s largest supermarket chain with more than 40 outlets in 10 cities. Kheir Zaman, a discount grocery store, has over 2,000 employees and 30 stores throughout the country.

Unlisted MAF, the franchisee for Carrefour hypermarkets in 19 countries and operator of nearly a dozen malls across the Middle East and North Africa, is keen on expanding in Egypt through acquisitions, according to one Dubai-based banking source who is aware of the discussions.

Carrefour Egypt, which has 13 outlets across the country, is a joint venture between MAF and the parent firm.

“As a regional investor, MAF would be more comfortable with the long-term prospects of Egypt than other foreign investors,” the source said.

“The country has the largest population in the Arab world and expanding into consumer and retail space is a bet which is more likely to pay off. No matter what the shape of the economy, people still need to buy their groceries.”

Despite the political turmoil in Egypt, cash-rich Gulf investors remain interested in raising their presence after last year’s revolution while European banks looking to repair damaged balance sheets have been selling overseas units.

BNP Paribas agreed to sell its Egyptian arm for $500m to Dubai lender Emirates NBD last week.

This month Societe Generale also agreed to sell its majority stake in National Societe Generale Bank to Qatar National Bank for $2bn.

Mansour Group is also a stakeholder in French lender Credit Agricole’s Egyptian business and runs McDonald’s Corp’s chain in Egypt among its other businesses.

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Merry Christmas

Retail 360 wishes all our followers and readers a very merry Christmas

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Top 10 Retail Brands – Retail Digital

It has been a tumultuous year for the retail sector. The economic environment is not exactly thrilling, thousands have been laid off or are unemployed, costs are escalating, and people are tightening the purse strings. While big names, like JJB Sports and Comet bit the dust quite spectacularly in 2012, there were others who managed to hold their own in the prevailing chaos. Let’s take a look at some retailers who owned the year.

10. Louis Vuitton: The name has nothing more to prove and its place in the pantheon luxury brands is undisputed. However, it is not the only reason why the brand is on this list. While some luxury retailers like Burberry stumbled this year; Louis Vuitton has kept up with changing consumer perspective while staying true to its core philosophy. It has embraced and updated its travel-centric image, which has ensured its recall value; and also managed to avoid the Asian slump.

9. Zara : Zara has had a phenomenal year. Apart from breaking big into the high fashion scene and becoming one of the most highly valued brands, Zara has emerged as a major global player. Unlike other European retailers, this Spanish brand has got its expansion strategy right. What makes Zara special is that it has managed to rise above the economic mess that has befallen its homeland. The brand also doesn’t appear to be in a hurry; and is advancing steadily.

8. John Lewis. This name defines ‘Middle Britain’, and has a strong and resilient customer base. What makes John Lewis different is that it has been consistent in its core values and been subtly reinventing itself. John Lewis managed to emerge as a savvy, engaging place to shop, breaking away from its bland and practical image. The retailer has also got a great publicity campaign, and it’s key to success is giving importance employee feedback on customer behaviour.

7. IKEA. The go-to furniture retailer has proven how important cost control and constant product innovation is to succeed in a cut-throat market. While most home improvement and furniture retailers have seen sales drop and experienced the squeeze, IKEA has managed to beat competition by rational pricing. Its stress on eco-friendly furnishing and designing is also nothing to complain about.

6. Home Depot. This brand is the most prominent one in the furniture and home improvements sector, and has continued to expand as the market demands. Home Depot is a great example of integrating e-commerce with in-store experience, and a big reason for its popularity is its sophisticated presentation, especially in the DIY category.

5. Waitrose. This is a brand which has shown others how to adapt to multichannel retail. It is also, the British Royalty’s favourite retailer. Like its partner John Lewis, Waitrose’s key to success is employee feedback. While 2012 has definitely been rocky for most retailers, Waitrose is constantly innovating itself and advancing steadily with its expansion plans. It is also a retailer with an excellent online brand value.

4. Hermes. Hermes counts itself among the most prominent luxury brands, but what has made it a 2012 favourite is its strategy in Asia. While other luxury brands are seeing the market cool, Hermes found the perfect chord to strike by taking inspiration from traditional Chinese partnership for Shang Xia, the brand it has created in collaboration with designer Jiang Qiong. Hence, jewellery, furniture, art and garments under this line does not just fit the ‘fashion’ bill, but together come as an exquisite collection. This is a brand that also goes the whole nine yards in matters of customer engagement; with beautifully designed stores and website.

3.Target. With Wal-Mart battles with bribery charges and lobbying scandals in emerging markets, Target has emerged as the discount retailer of choice. It is the retailer for everyone under 45, and has revamped its appeal with designer clothing lines and grocery stores. 2012 was a big year for Target, as it stands poised for a grand Canadian innings in 2013.

2.Tesco. This British retailer is the one which every other retailer has emulated. The world’s third largest retailer is also one of the pioneers in multichannel retailing. Its competitors have also gone for aggressive discounting, but 2012 saw the launch of Tesco Everyday Value line, which was a great success. Another achievement has been the acquisition of music streaming siteWe7.

1. Amazon. This one is the winner, hands down. There is no doubt about the growing might of the biggest online retailer, which has managed to make Google and Apple sweat, and is probably a big reason why shoppers are going online in droves. Amazon saw great business year round- not just during internet shopping holidays, and with launch of country-specific portals, have managed to fine tune its offerings. With great supply chain management, amazing product lineup and innovative forms of customer management, Amazon has managed to emerge at the top of the game, and by all indications, is going to have a solid 2013 as well.

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Marks and Spencer overhauls board….BSkyB boss stands down

Mr Darroch has been on the board of M&S for more than six years but is now understood to want to concentrate on his role at BSkyB.

He will be replaced by another City heavyweight, Andy Halford, who is Vodafone’s chief financial officer.

The Vodafone boss joins a collection of non-executive directors that includes Martha Lane Fox, the technology entrepreneur, Jan du Plessis, chairman of Rio Tinto, and Steven Holliday, chief executive of National Grid.

M&S said that Mr Holliday has agreed to serve for a further year as a director in order “to ensure continuity on the board” following the departure of Mr Darroch. He will step down in July 2014.

This means that Mr Holliday will serve on the M&S board beyond nine years, which is against corporate governance best practice of three, three-year terms for independent non-executive directors.

Mr Halford has been brought to M&S as the retailer ramps up its investment in mobile technology such as smartphone and tablet applications.

The company will open a new warehouse for online orders in Castle Donington, Leicestershire, next year, while chief executive Marc Bolland is also overseeing the redevelopment of the M&S website.

The chairman of M&S, Robert Swannell, said Mr Halford will bring “considerable experience working within a large international consumer business with important knowledge of the mobile landscape”.

He added: “I am delighted to welcome Andy to the board. As well as his finance background, he brings valuable international, consumer and digital experience and will be an excellent appointment as chairman of the audit committee following Jeremy’s retirement from the board next year.”

Mr Swannell said that Mr Darroch has made a “significant contribution” to M&S. He will stand down from the board in June.

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Irish retailers experiencing busiest shopping period in five years

Retailers across the country have said the weekend has been the busiest shopping period in five years.

Mild weather, improved consumer confidence and an increase in shoppers travelling from Northern Ireland are said to be the reasons for the increase.

Retail Excellence Ireland said December started slowly but that consumer confidence improved dramatically after the Budget was announced.

Meanwhile, Belfast retailers have reported a 30% decline in their sales figures with retailers south of the border seeing a noticeable increase in the numbers of shoppers coming from Northern Ireland.

In addition, REI said the fact that Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday means more people had time off beforehand.

The boost in sales figures has also been put down to the fact that many stores have already started their sales, with the ladies’ wear and footwear sectors in particular offering discount promotions.

The luxury and value ends of the market are performing well, although the middle market is reporting a challenging season.

The number of Christmas trees which have been sold is also up on last year.

The top selling items in the Christmas shopping period have been electrical goods and gadgets.

REI said retailers are noticing a marked decline in the number of novelty items being purchased as gifts, with a movement towards more practical goods such as shoes.

Retailers are expecting another busy day with the traditional last-minute shopper hitting the shops, with most shops remaining open until 6pm.

For the first time, 70% of retailers in urban areas will open for business on St Stephen’s Day.

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Morrisons boss vents fury over government inflexibility on Sunday trading hours

Morrisons boss vents fury over government inflexibility on Sunday trading hours

Dalton Philips, chief executive of Wm Morrison, told The Daily Telegraph businesses “would have gone bust” if they had behaved with the same intransigence as the Government displayed over Sunday opening hours.

Morrisons along with other supermarket groups attempted to make the most of yesterday’s six hour shopping limit. Tesco had 5,000 office staff helping out in the stores and re-opened its biggest shops at midnight last night to take full advantage of Christmas Eve trading.

Sainsbury’s unofficially extended trading with a “lock-in hour” to enable late shoppers to stock up.

Supermarket groups have been the most vocal in the efforts by retailers to persuade the Government to make Sunday, December 23 a “special case” in relaxing trading restrictions.

Mr Philips and Andy Clarke, his counterpart at Asda, both wrote to the Government asking for Sunday trading laws to be increased temporarily. “I am very supportive of Sunday trading, but they should have adapted this Sunday,” said Mr Philips. “It is ridiculous that they haven’t extended the hours for this Sunday, and that worries me.

“Businesses go out of business if they are not fleet of foot, because they can’t adapt. The Government hasn’t been able to adapt on this Sunday. I worry that if they can’t adjust on something small like that, how on earth are they going to be able to adapt on the big stuff?”

The Government told Morrisons that the Sunday hours could not be extended on December 23 because of “legal issues”.

Mr Philips said he supported the Coalition’s plans to cut the deficit, but added: “They are all working hard, we are all working hard. But some of the stuff we have just got to move on and get sorted out. We are very supportive of the Government trying to tackle the deficit, but there are things we can do to move faster.”

Mr Philips is also looking for government help on other fronts. He wants to change the base used for calculating the annual increase in business rates to movements in the Consumer Price Index over a number of months rather than the Retail Price Index in a single month.

Retailers face a damaging 2.6pc increase in business rates, costing them £175m next year.

Mr Philips warned that the economy will be “difficult again” next year. “I think we are into a stage now where this is the new norm. It is going to be like this for 24 months. It’s going to be very tough,” he added. Morrisons, the UK’s fourth largest supermarket, is under pressure with like-for-like sales down 2.1pc in the last quarter.

Mr Philips admitted Morrisons is in “transition” as it moves from a focus on traditional supermarkets to greater investment in fresh food.

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Saudi jeweller to shine with $27m GCC expansion

Saudi jeweller to shine with $27m GCC expansion

(Supplied image)

Saudi Arabian jewellery firm L’Azurde is to invest SAR100m (US$27m) in expanding its network of retail outlets across the GCC, it announced on Thursday.

The Riyadh-based diamond specialist said it will increase its number of stores in the Gulf from its current ten to 30 over the next three years.

L’Azurde, established in 1980, has shown an annual growth rate over the past three years of more than 30 percent, it said. With its latest expansion it aims to capture 40 percent of the Saudi jewellery market. The firm did not specify where the next crop of outlets would be located.

“The goal of our ambitious expansion in the retail sector is to provide diamond jewellery to different types of consumers and for different occasions,” L’Azurde’s executive general manager Ayman Al-Haffar said in a statement. “For example, we offer marriage sets and gem fashion sets like sapphire, rubies and pearls.”

L’Azurde made the announcement during the opening of a new flagship store on the Saudi capital’s Olaya Street.

The company currently has nine outlets in Saudi and one in Al Ain, UAE.

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Music video showing teen’s tribute to Dubai’s shopping centres

watch the awesome video

Music video showing teen’s tribute to Dubai’s shopping centres attracts thousands of hits

Asda Chief Turns Up Heat on U.K. Government Over Sunday Hours

Andy Clarke, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)’s U.K. Asda chain, ratcheted up pressure on the government to repeat this year’s extension of Sunday opening hours during an eight-week period of the summer.
Asda would “clearly support” such a move after stores were allowed to open for longer on Sundays around the London Olympics, Clarke said today in an interview at the grocer’s store in Milton Keynes, England. The government indicated at the time that the temporary extension of hours wouldn’t be repeated and has since dismissed calls to allow stores to stay open for longer on Dec. 23, the last Sunday before Christmas.
“We were a bit disappointed” that the Dec. 23 request was rejected, said Clarke, who had called for a relaxation of the restrictions in a letter to Business Minister Michael Fallon that was written jointly with William Morrison Supermarkets Plc CEO Dalton Philips. Customers “continue to tell us they’d like to shop longer on a Sunday than they currently can.”
Stores of more than 3,000 square feet (279 square meters) in England and Wales are restricted to six hours of Sunday opening, though the rule doesn’t apply in Scotland.
This summer’s relaxation of the law for the Olympics received a mixed response from retailers. J Sainsbury Plc CEO Justin King said this year that customers told him they preferred to keep Sunday special with limited shopping hours.
The New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers in London’s busiest shopping district, is due to meet government representatives in mid-January to call for another trial in summer 2013, director Jace Tyrrell said in an interview.
The representative body will request extended hours to “properly measure the benefit of Sunday trading across staff, consumers and profitability,” Tyrrell said. “Now is the time again when we compete globally with international retailers.”

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J.C. Penney Hires Abercrombie’s Tonniges

J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) hired a former Abercrombie & Fitch Co. executive to help with its stores’ layout and design as Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson continues to lure alumni of the teen retailer.

Brandon Tonniges is a director of visual merchandising, Joey Thomas, a J.C. Penney spokesman, said in an e-mail. Tonniges was a vice president in Abercrombie’s brand senses division, which the teen retailer’s website calls the “creative force” behind its store experience.

Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson is overhauling the 110-year-old department-store company by turning most of its stores into collections of branded shops as well as reducing sales events and coupons.

Johnson is overhauling the 110-year-old department-store company by turning most of its stores into collections of branded shops as well as reducing sales events and coupons. Since (ANF) joining as CEO last year, the former Apple Inc. retail chief has hired ex-Abercrombie executives including Chief Operating Officer Michael Kramer, Chief Supply Chain Officer John Singleton and Chief Technology Officer Kristen Blum.

J.C. Penney’s sales have dropped 20 percent or more for three straight quarters and the shares have slid 41 percent this year. The stock rose 3 percent to $20.78 at 11:30 a.m. in New York.

Tonniges will report to a vice president under Michael Fisher, who was named senior vice president of visual presentation in March.

Abercrombie is one of the biggest U.S. specialty retailers with more than 1,000 stores worldwide. Johnson also has tapped Apple and Target Corp. (TGT) executives to replace managers hired before he joined.

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Emaar secures $500m loan for Turkey project

Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest developer, has secured US$500m in financing from a consortium of banks to be used to fund an upcoming project in Turkey.

The facility, signed with lenders including Standard Chartered, Emirates NBD and HSBC, will finance ‘Emaar Square’, the firm’s second mixed-use development in Turkey. The facility will be repaid over the next seven years.

The 73,000 sqm Emaar Square project, located in Istanbul, will include 1,000 luxury homes, an 180-room five star hotel, the country’s largest shopping mall, as well as offices and a range of other leisure facilities.

“With the current positive growth outlook of Emaar in all its key markets, we are exploring new opportunities to strengthen our project portfolio and create long-term value for our stakeholders,” Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar said in a statement.

“Turkey is one of our key markets, where we have successfully handed over homes in the first phase of our first integrated community, Tuscan Valley, and we are now developing Emaar Square in Istanbul that will further contribute to the country’s socio-economic growth,” he added.

Emaar, which built the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa, earlier this month announced the first project for Mohammed Bin Rashid City, a huge mega development that will be constructed on the outskirts of Dubai.

Emaar’s Dubai Hills component of the project will comprise a luxury gated community of large residences surrounded by an 18-hole golf course.

No funding details or timeframe has been attached to the development of Mohammed Bin Rashid City, a joint venture between Emaar and Dubai Holding, which will also boast the world’s largest mall, more than 100 hotels and a Universal Studios theme park.

Emaar also recently announced an extension to its Dubai Mall, currently the world’s largest shopping centre, which will see the firm add 1m sqft of luxury homes, serviced residents and a new hotel. The developer is also building a new Address-branded hotel and serviced apartments complex within the vicinity of Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai.

Emaar has been one of the better performers among Dubai’s real estate firms, which are still recovering from the 2008-2009 downturn that saw property prices in the glitzy emirate slump by as much as 60 percent.

In October, the company reported a 4.7 percent drop in third quarter revenue, although that derived from apartments more than tripled to AED567m (US$154.4m) from AED183m in the year ago period. Sales from villas dipped from AED126m to AED123m during the quarter, while income from commercial property sales plummeted to AED109m from AED798.4m 12 months ago.

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Kingfisher Executive Sutherland Steps Down to Run Co-Op

Kingfisher Plc (KGF)’s Chief Operating Officer Euan Sutherland, regarded by analysts as a possible successor to Chief Executive Officer Ian Cheshire, is leaving the U.K. retailer to run the Co-Operative Group Ltd.

The departure of the 43-year-old, who joined the London- based company in 2008 as head of the B&Q home-improvement chain, “will be a disappointment to investors,” Jamie Merriman, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in London, said in a note today.

Sutherland was named COO in February and only joined the main board of the retailer in October. He will remain in his current role until March 2013 to allow an “extensive handover” of responsibilities, Kingfisher said today in a statement.

Sutherland was “viewed as a credible successor to Ian Cheshire,” Freddie George, an analyst at Seymour Pierce in London, said by e-mail. “He was, in our view, a major contributory factor in the recovery of the U.K. business over the last five years and more latterly was responsible for the company’s key self-help initiatives.”

Kingfisher shares fell as much as 0.9 percent in London and were little changed at 276.8 pence as of 8:20 a.m.

Cheshire praised the contribution of Sutherland in almost five years at the company. The executive “played an important role in the successful development of the group,” he said.

Declining Profit

Kingfisher “has great strength and depth in its management, and I will personally be involved in the transition as Euan’s responsibilities are handed over,” the CEO said.

Kingfisher is among consumer-goods companies that have been squeezed as challenging markets in the U.K. and mainland Europe reduce sales. It reported a decline in third-quarter profit Nov. 29 as earnings fell in France, where it operates Castorama and Brico Depot home-improvement stores, as house building slowed.

Sutherland, who has been a non-executive director of mutually owned retailer Co-Op’s food business for two years, “brings with him considerable experience of the strategic leadership needed in complex customer-facing businesses, across a variety of retail sectors,” Len Wardle, chairman of the Co- Operative Group, said in a separate statement.

“I am very pleased to be given the opportunity to lead the organization at this important time,” Sutherland said in Co- Op’s statement. “The challenge is to build upon the success that has been achieved in recent years.”

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Dunnes Stores pays out €21.6m to avoid winding-up petition

A petition to wind-up Dunnes Stores has been withdrawn at the Commercial Court, after the retail giant which employs 18,000 people, paid a €21.6m debt.

The winding-up petition had been brought by insolvent construction company Holtglen Ltd.

Holtglen had previously been granted a summary judgement for the sum of €20.4 million (amounting to €21.6m with interest), following Dunnes Stores’ failure to become the anchor tenant as agreed of its new Ferrybank shopping centre in Kilkenny.

The centre was completed in 2009, but Holtglen later became insolvent and its loans from the Bank of Ireland were transferred to National Asset Management Ltd (NALM), a company of the National Asset Management Agency.

The previous month, The Irish Times reported that Dunnes Stores chief Margaret Heffernan said in a letter to Nama that it would be held responsible for the “very significant losses” her company will “inevitably” experience if a petition to wind up the retail giant was pursued.

Dunnes described itself as “robustly solvent” but unwilling to pay the money to Holtglen Ltd for several reasons including its concerns about the viability of the centre at Ferrybank, situated outside Waterford city, in Co Kilkenny, the group’s counsel, Brian O’Moore SC, had told the Commercial Court.

In her letters to Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh, Heffernan described the Ferrybank centre as “an unmitigated disaster” and the winding-up petition as “an abuse of process”. She added that the mere presentation of the petition would damage Dunnes and Ireland as a whole.

Dunnes said it had already paid some €18 million for the centre following the 2007 agreement and had indicated its willingness to pay another €7.5 million and transfer its rights in the centre to Nama if that was accepted as the end of its obligations.

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40% of irish employers to increase pay in 2013

IBEC has published the results of its latest pay survey, which found that about four out of ten (39%) employers expect to increase basic pay in 2013 and nearly six out of ten (58%) will freeze pay rates.

A further 3% of employers say they plan to reduce pay in the coming year.

IBEC said pay levels in Ireland are 16% above the eurozone average and pay expectations needed to reflect the very significant economic challenges the county still faced.

Across all respondents the average expected change to basic pay rates in 2013 is projected at +0.62%, with pay increases being linked to improvements in productivity or major change. The results are based on a survey of 370 member companies.

IBEC director Brendan McGinty said: “Pay expectations need to reflect economic realities. Most employers are still not in a position to award general pay increases and remain focused on regaining competitiveness and getting pay costs back in to line with our competitors. The ability of employers to sustain and create jobs must not be undermined in the pursuit of unrealistic pay claims.

“Encouragingly, 2012 labour cost estimates from Eurostat show that Ireland is heading in the right direction. Ireland is the ninth most expensive country in the EU 27, compared to fifth two years ago, but Irish labour costs are still 16% above the eurozone average.

Meanwhile the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) has called for a minimum of one year pay freeze across the economy to ensure a faster return to national competitiveness.
The Association is concerned that any gains achieved in terms of cost in the last four years will be quickly eroded by wage inflation.

According to ISME chief executive Mark Fielding, “while there has been a slight improvement in our competitiveness, there is still a long way to go to regain the levels of 2001. Ireland is still a high-cost location, as many existing SMEs find it extremely difficult to profit from cost reductions because of legacy leases, long term agreements and old wage rates”.

“We must have a national campaign to drive down the costs for everyone. While business sees cost reduction as part and parcel of management, Government and their public servants have proven to be squeamish, not to say, lily-livered when it comes to cost curtailment. Business must continue to take the lead and impose a one year pay freeze as a start.”

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Luxup Opens in Hong Kong & Macau

Luxup, the members-only club giving privileged access to the world’s leading fashion and luxury brands, has opened in Hong Kong and Macau.

As one of the world’s most important fashion capitals, Hong Kong is Luxup’s latest destination city, following successful launches in London and New York. Hong Kong and Macau mark the start of Luxup’s roll-out to other Asian fashion capitals in Mainland China, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, to follow in the coming months.

Through a unique selling platform, which combines the best elements of online and in-store shopping, Luxup collaborates with world famous luxury brands to offer its members “Brand Passes” for exclusive, limited edition products and VIP shopping experiences, all alongside Luxup’s newest development – the luxury sector’s first global rewards scheme, earning luxury shoppers Luxup Rewards Points that are redeemed for more products or value added services including the company of world-class personal stylists and complimentary chauffeurs, while they shop in brands’ flagship stores including Dunhill in Hong Kong, Balenciaga in London or Marni in New York.

Current brands include Akris, Alfred Dunhill, Balenciaga, Belstaff, Lanvin, Liberty, Loewe, Marni, Nicholas Kirkwood, Paul Smith, Roland Mouret and Valentino, with more joining week by week, Luxup’s “Brand Passes” are purchased online and redeemed in-store by the member. The experience is supported by high level member services, Chinese, Portuguese and English language websites, and support both online and in-store. Additionally, Luxup provides members with magazine quality editorial content, overseen by Creative Director, Phil Poynter, one of the world’s leading fashion photographers and Editorial Director, Harriet Quick, formerly fashion features editor of Vogue UK.

Tourist spend is one of the key sources of growth in the Hong Kong luxury goods market, currently accounting for more than 50% of spending, with forecasts predicting travel spend to contribute over 80% of luxury growth by 2015. The Hong Kong personal luxury goods market alone is forecast to reach €12 billion in 2015.

Luxup is run by a team that combines respected fashion talent and business strategists with a proven record of online success. From the world of fashion, Catherine Gaynor (Managing Director, Hong Kong), Averyl Oates (Commercial Director), Phil Poynter (Creative Director), Harriet Quick (Editorial Director) and Anita Borzyszkowska (Communications Director) are joined by Phil Ley (Global Marketing Director) and Sarah Mower (Fashion Curator). The team is led by founders and joint CEOs, James Corsellis and Mark Watts.

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Graphic: Comet’s collapse and other post-recession retail failures

The 2008 global recession affected many retailers, causing hundreds of smaller shops and some national high street chains to go into administration. Here are some of the retailers that have been worst hit over the last five years.

Comet
The electrical retailer’s 79-year history comes to an end today, as stores close for the last time. Up to 6,000 employees have been made redundant, meaning the government will have to pay £23.3 million in compensation. The company has debts of £233 million which is owed to dozens of unsecured creditors, and over £26 million is owed to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) which won’t be paid. The company was founded in 1933 and started off selling radios and batteries.

‘Woolies’ had almost 30,000 employees when it closed in November 2008. The familiar British brand was one of the biggest to go bust after administrators Deloitte & Touche closed all 807 stores in just 10 days. On 5 December, Woolworths cut 450 head office and support staff jobs while on the same day recording their biggest ever takings of £27 million. The figure wasn’t enough to service the company’s £385 million debt, however. As of January this year, up to £67.8 million in compensation was awarded to more than 24,000 former Woolworths workers, ending a three-year battle in the courts.

Clinton cards
Over 8,000 employees were working for the British card retailer when the group’s £35 million debts were bought out by American Greetings, it’s biggest supplier, in May this year. Clinton had been suffering increasing competition from supermarkets and online retailers such as Moonpig.com, which sell personalised greetings cards. At the point of administration, the group operated 628 Clinton and 139 Birthdays stores. Most of the 8,000 employees were working in-store, with many working on a part-time basis.

Game

The High Street video game retailer had almost 6,000 employees working in over 600 stores when it went into administration in March 2012. Private investment firm OpCapita set up a company called Baker Acquisitions to buy 333 stores. Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) informed over 2,000 staff that they were to be made redundant. The company had faced stiff competition from online rivals.

JJB Sports

At the point of administration in October, the sports retailer had 4,000 employees on its books, working in 180 stores. The rise of its main rival, Sports Direct, put the boot into JJB’s sales figures, along with longstanding debts that totalled £100 million in 2011. 550 jobs were saved after administrators KPMG sold the website and 20 stores to Sports Direct, but the remaining 133 JJB stores were closed immediately, and about 2,200 staff were made redundant.

Zavvi

Before being placed into administration in December 2008, Zavvi was the UK’s largest independent entertainment retailer. At the point of administration, 3,400 employees were working across 125 stores for the company, which had problems with its supplier. Rival HMV’s share prices rose as it was the only major high street entertainment retailer left, and online retailer Play.com reported a 24 per cent profit increase over the Christmas period, which is put down to Zavvi’s collapse.

La Senza

2,600 employees worked at 146 stores when La Senza entered administration in January 2012. 60 stores were saved by the Arab firm, Alshaya, along with 1,100 jobs.

MFI

The British furniture and kitchens giant was the first casualty of the global recession. After negotiations failed over MFI’s wish for a three-month rent holiday, on 19 December every one of MFI’s 111 stores across the country were closed along with the loss of 1,200 jobs.

Borders

Borders UK became independent of its US parent company in 2007 and commanded around 8% of the retail book selling market. The company announced in November 2009 it was looking for a buyer and by the end of the month the chain had announced it was going into administration. All 45 stores were closed and 1,150 staff were made redundant.

Habitat

Around 750 employees were made redundant on 11 September 2011 after Habitat’s owners, Hilco, closed all of the remaining stores apart from three Central London ones. Approximately 100 staff remain at the London stores and 50 in head office.

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Bulgari Head to Lead LVMH’s Vuitton as CEO Constans Steps Down

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (MC) said the head of its Bulgari unit will take charge of the Louis Vuitton fashion and accessories brand, replacing Jordi Constans who is leaving a month after taking the post because of illness.

Michael Burke, who only moved to Bulgari from LVMH’s Fendi label in February, rejoins Vuitton, whose North American business he ran from 1993 to 1997, the Paris-based company said today in a statement. The executive, who has also worked at Christian Dior Couture, joins LVMH’s executive committee, the world’s largest luxury-goods maker said.

“I am convinced that he is the right leader for Louis Vuitton’s future,” LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault said in the statement. “He will build on the initiatives launched by Jordi Constans, bringing the vision and drive to continue advancing Louis Vuitton’s leadership position in luxury.”

Constans is stepping down “due to the discovery of a significant health issue,” LVMH said in a separate statement. The 48-year-old executive became Vuitton CEO last month after leaving yogurt maker Danone SA in 2011 to join LVMH.

Burke “is a very safe pair of hands,” said Luca Solca, head of luxury-goods research at Exane BNP Paribas. “He has a long history with the group. He has done very well with Fendi. This is a choice for the known, rather than for the unknown.”

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H&M annual sales growth lags rival Inditex

STOCKHOLM – Revenue at world number two fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz rose 10 percent this year, lagging forecast growth at larger rival Inditex which is less exposed to the downturn in Europe.

Sweden’s H&M has the bulk of its business in the region, where a sovereign debt crisis and government austerity measures have dampened demand.

Inditex, which owns Zara and other chains, has a larger share of sales than H&M in faster-growing emerging markets and is less exposed to cost inflation in Asia.

H&M on Monday posted a smaller-than-expected drop in sales at stores open a year or more in November, the end of its financial year.

Fourth-quarter figures published at the same time would take revenue for the whole year to 120.8 billion Swedish crowns ($18 billion), according to Reuters calculations, a 10 percent rise on 2011.

That’s less than the 16 percent rise Inditex is expected to report in its current financial year to the end of January, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data.

Starmine forecasts put Inditex’s total revenue at 16 billion euros ($21 billion).

Citi analyst Richard Evans said a weak euro and likely product investments would probably limit H&M’s earnings growth in 2013 to mid-single digits, repeating a neutral stance on H&M’s shares.

Evans said its figures on Monday did not alter his expectations for full-year 2013 sales of 132.7 billion crowns and pretax profit of 24.5 billion. The Starmine median forecast is for revenue of 133 billion crowns.

H&M said local currency sales at stores open a year or more shrank 1 percent in November, less than a Reuters poll forecast for a 3 percent drop and were up 1 percent in the year as a whole.

The sales drop was the second one in a row after a 5 percent dip in October.

Total sales in November including new stores were up 7 percent from a year earlier in local currencies, just above forecast, for a total year rise of 11 percent.

“Sales are marginally better than we expected but probably at a cost to margin,” said Credit Suisse analyst Simon Irwin, adding that H&M had probably been cutting prices in promotions to get rid of stock in November.

He stuck to forecasts for full-year 2013 like-for-like local currency sales growth of 2 percent and total sales growth in crowns of 10.4 percent.

Turnover in the September-November quarter, which H&M published ahead of the full-year earnings report on Jan.30, rose 5 percent from a year earlier to 32.5 billion crowns, matching expectations.

H&M’s shares were up 2.8 percent at 1148 GMT, taking a year-to-date rise to 0.8 percent while the STOXX Europe 600 retail index is up 9 percent.

Inditex, which H&M trails by value and turnover as well as by the number of markets and stores, has soared 66 percent so far this year.

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Forever 21 opens more European stores

Forever 21 is continuing on its European quest. The American retailer has just opened a second 27,000 square foot store in France and a sixth store in the United Kingdom, at the Lakeside shopping center.

Already open in Barcelona, Vienna and Anvers, the Californian retailer doesn’t seem to be slowing down on its mission to conquer Europe.

In April, a first Scottish store is expected to open in Glasgow and a further two store openings are scheduled for France before the end of the year. Forever 21 are also marked to take its first steps in the German market.

The brand has developed a unique concept whereby it can remain adaptable. “In our bigger stores we are able to offer women’s wear, accessories, men’s wear and children’s,” says Kristen Strickler. “Then, according to size and the surface area, we are able to adapt our offering.”

Of the one-year gap between store openings in France, Kristen Strickler, who deals with Public Relations for the brand says: “It allows us to analyse the buying habits of shoppers. We have noticed that French customers prefer our more premium offerings. Whereas as English customers are more ‘mix & match’ in their style, the French are more sophisticated. We’ve had to offer more long-sleeved items, coats and jackets to meet the demands of the market. We are continuing to work on our seasonal collections.”

For the time being, the design process is dealt with in Los Angeles. Though Forever 21 has teams working on sourcing and international style, the company has yet to create a European head office. The company’s physically presence outside its stores is limited to an office in Holland in charge of e-commerce development and customer relations.

On the reputation of Forever 21 in Europe, Kristen Stickler says: “We have never indulged in huge advertising campaigns like other market players but we are doing abit more now than we have in the past. For example, you can expect something exciting for the Paris store opening. However, generally we rely on word-of-mouth.” Social media is also at the heart of the company’s marketing strategy.

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Woolworths to own 51pc of joint venture with Deacons in Kenya

South Africa’s Woolworths will hold a 51 per cent stake in a joint venture it has formed with Kenya’s Deacons, giving it control in the operations of the new company.

Deacons Kenya is set to take up a 49 per cent stake in the venture that formally ends the previous franchise arrangement where Woolworths only supplied Deacons with its brands.

The deal dubbed Woolworth’s Kenya Proprietary Limited, is the latest move by Woolworths to launch direct operations in more African countries.

“Woolworths will have a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture while we will have a 49 per cent shareholding,” said Wahome Muchiri, Deacon’s chief executive.

“We (Deacons) will manage the new company,” he said, adding that Woolworths will remain the supplier of its brands of clothes and household items.

Deacons will reserve the right to manage the venture despite its minority stake, Mr Wahome said, signalling that their business partners prefer local expertise in the running of the company.

This also shows that Woolworths is keen to avoid the pitfalls of collapsed South African firms that chose to ship in their management teams to Kenyan subsidiaries, a move that has been linked to their failure.

Supreme Furniture, retail chain Cash and Carry, Nandos and clothing chain Stuttafords are some of the South African firms that relied on expatriate management and failed to crack the Kenyan market.

The managing director of the joint venture is expected to report to Mr Muchiri.

Woolworths has historically preferred trading under the franchise model where it would sell products to partner firms with limited involvement in the business.

In September, 2010, the firm stopped using this model, arguing that it needed to acquire more control that would enable it standardise marketing and in-store experiences in the multiple markets it operates in.

The giant retailer inked a deal with Tanzanian businessman and former franchisee Ali Mufuruki for a 51 per cent stake in Uganda and Tanzania.

In Kenya, its majority stake will give the South African retailer an opportunity to widen its product range to include food, loans, and credit cards that it already offers in South Africa.

For Deacons, the new partnership could boost its share of profits from the Woolworths brands and allow it to boost its other business units, especially its internal brand established in 2004, and Truworths, a franchise deal entered in 1999.

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Overseas sales boost Agent Provocateur figures

Despite a tough retail climate, Agent Provocateur expanded sales by opening boutiques in cities such as Madrid, Rome and Amsterdam.

Agent Provocateur, which is backed by private equity firm 3i, posted sales of £31.4m for the year to 26 March 2012, compared to £26.7m last year.

The retailer added that trading over the eight months to December had remained strong, with turnover up 21pc on the previous year. Online sales have grown 35pc.

Garry Hogarth, Agent Provocateur chief executive, said: “Agent Provocateur continues to perform strongly despite a challenging retail environment with total turnover up 21pc on the previous year, demonstrating the strength of our strategy and strength of our brand.”

“We remain focused on growing the business internationally and are excited about our future projects,” he added.

With a diffusion range designed in collaboration with actress Penelope Cruz and her sister Monica set to launch next year, Agent Provocateur is counting on continued growth.

Mr Hogarth told The Times that he believed the less-expensive range will eventually sell more than the rest of the business.

“It’s going to be tremendous. Around that price point, there is a big gap in the market,” Mr Hogarth said.

“We believe that, certainly within five years, it will be bigger than the rest of the business in volume terms.”

At an average price of £40, the range’s briefs, thongs and corsets will be less than half the price of Agent Provocateur’s main line, which averages at £95.

The range will be sold through Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols; it will go on sale next August and is named L’Agent.

In a competitive climate, Marks & Spencer recently turned to Victoria’s Secret, the luxury lingerie brand, in an attempt to stem falling clothing sales.

The retailer hired the chief creative officer of Victoria’s Secret, Janie Schaffer, in November. She has been responsible for all clothing, lingerie and beauty at the US brand, earning her the nickname of the “Knicker Queen”.

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Asda open first stand alone click and collect

Asda has opened its first stand-alone Click & Collect pick-up point which allows customers to order products online and have it delivered to the Asda unit at Greenpark.

“Shoppers are on the move more than ever before – shopping from their mobiles, laptops, and tablets as well as in traditional stores. Our new Click & Collect pick up point means we’re bringing shopping to customers, rather than waiting in for a home delivery,” said Kieran Shanahan, Asda home shopping director.

The unit is the latest move by Asda to make shopping more convenient for customers. “Stores without walls are the future for retail – and we’re getting to the future faster,” Shanahan said.

The unit at Greenpark includes a WHSmith store where shoppers can avail of a range of magazines, stationery, confectionery, an ATM, Costa Coffee and e-top up.

Asda are using the Greenpark unit to leapfrog into the commuter market for online shopping. The UK retailer are considering opening Click & Collect hubs in train stations.

“Green Park is just one model, if we can have options to collect at petrol station stores, supermarkets and non-Asda hubs such as at park-and-ride hubs and train stations we can tap into commuters travelling to and from work,” Shanahan added.

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River Island secures new Oxford Street flagship

28,000-sq ft letting at Land Securities’ Park House development

River Island is to open its largest store in the capital after exchanging contracts on Park House, on London’s Oxford Street. The British fashion brand has signed up for a 28,000 sq ft flagship arranged over ground, basement and first floors.

River Island will take possession of the space in February 2013 and the store is expected to open in June 2013. Harper Dennis Hobbs advises the tenant and CBRE was letting agent.

David Purslow of Harper Dennis Hobbs said: “We are delighted to have secured this store in the face of strong competition from some major international brands. Park House is a stunning development and is the perfect location for what will be River Island’s biggest and most innovative flagship store”

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Amazon brings forward Boxing Day sale to capitalise on Christmas Day shoppers

The large number of people who have been given Kindles, iPads and other e-readers or tablets for Christmas in recent years has led to an online rush on Christmas Day as people fire up their gadgets and download content, such as music or e-books.

Last year consumers spent £235 million online on Christmas Day, a rise of around 17 per cent on the previous year, after an estimated 1.33 million e-readers were given as gifts. Online spend is expected to rise to £307 million this Christmas Day, according to forecasts by Experian and IMRG.

Amazon.co.uk said that deals launching on Christmas Day will include clearance offers, reduced-price digital goods and limited-quantity ‘lightning deals’.

For example, it will offer up to 80 per cent off select Amazon ‘apps’, HD TVs reduced from £230 to £140, and 50 per cent off items such as desk lamps.

The retailer said that Christmas Day sales from its website have grown by 263 per cent over the last five years.

Xavier Garambois, vice president of EU retail at Amazon, said: “The digital revolution has certainly played a part in this growth and Christmas Day is our biggest day of the year for MP3 and Kindle Book downloads as many people are buying content for their new devices that they have just received.

“It’s not just digital items though. We are seeing purchases of everything from baby products to women’s clothing rapidly growing on Christmas Day. Many customers are shopping on Christmas Day in a way that has previously only been seen in the retail industry on Boxing Day.”

Christopher North, managing director at Amazon.co.uk, said that digital products are “clear winners” on Christmas Day due to the “instant satisfaction” they give of being able to read or listen to them immediately.

Last Christmas, around one in 40 adults were given an e-reader like a Kindle over the festive season. YouGov said that a total of 1.33 million e-readers were sold over Christmas, around double the rate of the previous year.

Seven in ten Kindles were received by women, with people over the age of 55 twice as likely to have received an e-reader as people aged between 18 and 24.

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Gap Inc., Intermix in Talks for Deal

Intermix, which has been looking for a strategic partner since August, is currently in discussions with Gap Inc., Zee has learned.

The specialty store hired investment banking firm The Sage Group to explore its options on how to fund an expansion plan.

Khajak Keledjian, founder and chief executive officer of Intermix, said Thursday, “Intermix is currently in discussions with Gap Inc. We are excited to potentially align with this iconic retailer to capitalize on the significant growth potential within the luxury market. As we are in the midst of the due diligence process, we cannot comment further.”

A spokesman for Gap said, “Gap Inc. is currently in discussions with the owners of Intermix, a leading multibrand, luxury retailer with stores in major cities in the U.S. and Canada. We’re excited by the brand’s business model and strong customer loyalty. And the luxury market offers significant growth potential within retail. Given that we are in the midst of the due-diligence process, it is too early to comment further.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how a partnership would be structured, or even how long the due-diligence process would take. Sources said the two are exploring different possibilities, and are not ruling out an acquisition.

Intermix specializes in contemporary apparel and accessories that are both feminine and luxurious, and showcases them in its stores by look and lifestyle rather than by brand or category. It’s the lifestyle focus on merchandising, particularly at the local store level, that seems to have brought back the consumer following the downturn in 2008, when the economy tanked and Intermix found itself in turnaround mode.

The chain works with 220 brands, although not all are represented in each store. Some of the designers found at Intermix include Willow, Milly, Vince, Gypsy 05, Stella McCartney, Rachel Zoe, Rag & Bone, Helmut Lang, Matthew Williamson, Bella Luxx, Alexis Bittar and 10 Crosby. It mixes established luxury designer labels with up-and-coming brands.

The 19-year-old chain, founded by Keledjian and his brother Haro, opened its first store in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Intermix now has six stores in New York, with a seventh on the Bowery slated to open this spring. There are 33 stores in total, including an international location on Bloor Street in Toronto.

The company is profitable, according to financial sources. They said the company’s been having double-digit comparable-store sales growth and had an annual volume of between $125 million to $150 million in 2011.

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Dubai issues index of consumer-friendly retailers

Meet Ghaouda, the camel destined for celebrity in the UAE

Consumers in Dubai shopping for everything from SUVs and smart phones to sugar now have a guide about the best places to buy their goods.

For the first time, an index of the most consumer-friendly retailers has been published by the Department of Economic Development (DED).

Juma Al Majid automobiles, the UAE retailer for Hyundai and Kia vehicles, scored the highest overall rating in the survey and also came top in the automobiles category. Lulu Hypermarkets stood top in both the hypermarkets and electronics categories.

The results follow an online survey of more than 1,700 consumers, both Emiratis and expatriates, about their views on 24 companies in the retail sector.

Consumer satisfaction and perception of a business accounted for more than half of the scoring. Retailers were also judged on the number of consumer complaints they received and the time taken to resolve those complaints. How retailers compared to their competitors in pricing was also assessed.

The index focused on automobiles, hypermarkets and electronics as those three sectors accounted for more than 60 per cent of consumer spending, DED said.

“Healthy competition will always bring improved services to customers and help businesses grow faster,” said Omar Bushahab, the chief executive of DED’s commercial compliance and consumer protection department (CCCP).

“Our approach in rating consumer friendliness mainly focused on consumer perceptions of the service available at leading retail outlets and the factors driving customer loyalty.” But consumers wanting to know the worst-performing retailers will be disappointed.

The DED decided against “naming and shaming” those at the bottom of the index.

“It is fair to publish the worst-performing companies if you’re publishing all the companies in the industry,” said Mohammed Lootah, the deputy chief executive officer of CCCP.

“But we are not covering every company, only those with the majority of market share.”

DED aims to make the index an annual survey. Next year, it plans to include a greater number of businesses as well as publishing the index in full.

This year, it will send a report of its findings to participating retailers, telling them about their strengths as well as areas for improvement.

“We want this to be a development initiative, rather than an initiative showing who is bad,” said Mr Lootah.

In this year’s survey, Carrefour was ranked best in terms of customer loyalty in the hypermarkets category. About 90 per cent of consumers ranked the French retailer as their preferred hypermarket.

It also scored the highest customer loyalty ranking in electronics.

Lulu scored the highest customer satisfaction rate in the hypermarket category, with E-max topping the same chart in electronics.

Al Nabooda Automobiles enjoyed the highest level of customer satisfaction in car sales. Al Tayer Automobiles and Arabian Automobile shared the top spot in after-sales service.

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Five Trends Driving Traditional Retail Towards Extinction

An interesting Forbes Report

The e-commerce behemoth is coming, but that’s no longer news. Amazon is nearly 20 years old now, eBay just a year younger.

What is news? The behemoth is arming itself. New tactics, new friends and a hefty war chest mean that the old defenses insulating traditional retailers are no longer enough. Venture funds dished out $242 million to online retail startups in the last quarter alone, more than any other period since 2000. E-commerce, meanwhile, is now a $200 billion-plus industry in the U.S., set to ratchet up 15% a year as consumers realize there’s no reason to trek out to the local strip mall anymore.

In the retail arms race, e-commerce is winning. Here are five trends driving traditional retail towards the grave:

1.) Voluntary Conversion

The smart brick-and-mortar players recognize the inevitable rise of online shopping and are adapting to the new realities. Take Macy’s: The 154-year-old retail chain saw online sales rise 40% in 2011 while same-store sales grew just 5.3%. The company is transforming nearly 300 of its stores into distribution centers to speed up shipping for online consumers. Expected to do more than $2 billion in online sales this year, they’re even toying around with in-store online kiosks to help customers scan and compare prices.

Nordstrom, a whippersnapper compared to Macy’s at 111 years old, is taking an even more aggressive approach. With free shipping and free returns in its online store, the company has notched three straight quarters of 35% gains in online sales. Nordstrom is integrating its online and in-store strategies by introducing mobile point-of-sale systems–modified iPod touches–that eliminate lines while helping sales clerks sell customers out-of-stock items. According to Barron’s, the company plans to invest $1 billion (one third of its capital expenditures) into online efforts over the next five years.

While adapting their own infrastructure to serve online consumers, Nordstom is also keeping pace with innovation in the space via acquisitions and investments. Last year, the retailer spent $180 million on flash sales site HauteLook and led a $16.4 million investment in Bonobos, an online retailer of men’s clothes.

The online practices of veteran players validate e-commerce in the minds of older consumers while accelerating the industry’s growth. It also means they get to survive.

2.) A Losing Cost Structure

When you purchase an item at Bloomingdale’s, odds are that it’s been marked up at least three times. Once when it changed hands from the factory to the brand, again as it passed from the brand to Bloomingdale’s, and once more as it goes from Bloomingdale’s into your shopping bag. The result is a purchase price that’s some ungodly multiple of the item’s actual cost, usually between 2x and 5x.

Brands that operate exclusively online–Frank and Oak, Bonobos, or ModCloth for example–eliminate that last markup by selling directly to consumers. By taking ownership of the design, curation and retail aspects of the business, these companies can keep hefty margins for themselves while still undercutting brick-and-mortar competitors on price. And because their stores are made out of bits instead of stone, they don’t face the costs of maintaining unwieldy networks of physical locations.

As for the legions of sales clerks that retailers pay? A single web developer probably replaces twenty of them.

3.) Free Delivery, Free Returns

Even if shipping costs don’t negate the price savings of online shopping, they’ve long acted as a source of friction. Asking consumers to factor in some uncertain, variable transaction cost is never a good way to do business, and asking them to pay for returns is even worse. The experience of returning an online purchase, paying two-way shipping costs and ending up with nothing–except $15 in the red–is enough to make anyone wary of online shopping.

Tony Hsieh and Zappos figured this out long ago and built a $1.2 billion business on the idea of free shipping and free returns. This policy is now de rigeur for serious, full-price e-commerce companies. (Flash sales is a different beast.) The reason is very simple. According to Amanda Bower, a business professor at Washington and Lee University, online shoppers given free returns increase their spend on the same site by 50 to 350 percent in later purchases. When they had to pay for return shipping? The value of their purchases decreased.

Free shipping and returns will be standard for e-commerce companies from now on. One less reason to schlep to the mall.

4.) Subscription Commerce

Call it the “set it and forget it” school of business. The bottom line: People are lazy and certain items just make sense to receive once a month. At the danger of touting a model that has already become a cliche (flash sales was a cliche until it proved itself), I should point out that only certain categories of products work for this model. (Battery Ventures partner Brian O’Malley wrote a fantastic post on this topic.) Razors, as you might imagine, make much more sense as a monthly delivery item than sweaters.

The foundation of the model is recurring revenue, where customers sign up to receive a monthly shipment for a set monthly fee. This is attractive to companies because it creates a steady, predictable revenue stream, not unlike SaaS businesses. It’s attractive to consumers because the system is convenient and usually cost-efficient compared to alternatives. Dollar Shave Club, for example, ships men’s razors to customers once a month at a fraction of the cost of an in-store purchase. Men save money and a trip to the convenience store. And because DSC sources their razors directly from the manufacturer and sells them directly to the customer, they still enjoy comfortable margins.
Frank and Oak deploys a more complex model that attempts to coax volume from loyal customers. The company allows shoppers to choose three items of clothing from a monthly collection. After receiving the items, customers try them on at home, then decide which they’ll keep and which they’ll return–all for free of course. Customers then pay for the clothes they want and return the others. Other notable subscription companies include BirchBox, Manpacks and JustFab.

There will be losers in this space as mindless copycats go out of business. But as sensible companies hone their models, subscription commerce will take a dent out of categories previously deemed safe from the digital threat–toiletries, cosmetics, pet food and groceries to name a few.

5.) Fit Without The Fitting Room

There are two categories of players here: Companies that offer custom, tailored clothing online, and those that rely on new technologies to guide customers to a better fit.

The first is popular in the men’s space, with startups like J. Hilburn, Indochino and Blank Label selling tailored suits and shirts at a discount to conventional custom options. The appeal here is the sudden accessibility of tailored clothing, both in terms of price and convenience. Because of the price structures discussed above, they can get away comparable quality at reasonable prices while still making a profit.

The second category is more interesting and will have more far-reaching consequences for the future of retail. First we have the incremental innovation of companies like Clothes Horse and True Fit, which ask shoppers for their measurements, along with a tally of their best-fitting clothes, to match them with the right sizes. Frank and Oak, Bonobos and women’s retailer Nicole Miller use Clothes Horse while Macy’s uses True Fit to increase conversions. True and Co. uses similar methods to match women with well-fitting bras.

Even larger leaps in sizing technology are being made by companies like Acustom Apparel, which uses 3D body scanners along with pattern-making software to scale the creation of custom-fitted clothing at a digestible price point.

At some point, data about your body type will be saved along with your credit card information and you’ll never have to visit a fitting room again.

Bonus Trend: Crowdfunding

Secure, widespread group-paying and crowdfunding applications will make it easy to split the cost of large ticket items over the web. These will also introduce new forms of commerce which have yet be seen.

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Worlds richest Arabs : Arabian Business Rich List 2012

Saudi Arabia’s HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has topped the Arabian Business Rich List for the ninth year in succession, with his current wealth now standing at US$25.9bn.

The figure – verified by his private office – is a staggering US$4.6bn more than it was 12 months ago. A large part of the increase is put down to the remarkable rise in the share price of Kingdom Holding, the company in which he owns a 95 percent stake. By early December, Kingdom shares were trading 147 percent higher compared to a year ago.

Visit the webpage and full list here

Second place on this year’s list went to Saudi Arabia’s Olayan family, with a wealth of US$12.9bn, while another Saudi – Mohammed Al Amoudi – was ranked third, with US$11.5bn.

This year’s entry level was $2bn, with Iraq’s Namir Al Akabi taking 50 place.

The 2012 Arabian Business Rich List also contains a record 15 new entries, with Saudi Arabia dominating the list. Of the top 50, 23 of this year’s entries are based in the country. Five of the top ten are based in Saudi Arabia.

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Starbucks details expansion plans for United States, China

Starbucks details expansion plans for United States, China

Starbucks said Wednesday that it plans to open more than 3,000 stores in North and South America over the next five years, half of those in the United States.

Cliff Burrows, regional president of Seattle-based Starbucks’ (Nasdaq: SBUX) Americans and U.S. division, joined Chairman, President and CEO Howard Schultz at the company’s biennial conference, where he said that revenue in the U.S. market grew by 9 percent in the current fiscal year. Burrows also said the company will put products from the San Francisco bakery La Boulange, which the company recently acquired for $100 million, in more than 2,500 company-operated Starbucks stores in the United States, and will make its Evolution Fresh juices available in more than 5,000 company stores by the end of 2013.

Starbucks also expects to have 1,500 stores in 70 cities in Mainland China by 2015, according to John Culver, regional president of Starbucks China and Asia-Pacific. Culver said his region will have nearly 4,000 stores by the end of next year, including 1,000 in Japan and 500 in Korea.

“Starbucks business and brand have never been healthier, and as a company we have never been better positioned to execute against our global, multi-channel growth agenda,” Schultz said. “Starbucks will have more than 20,000 retail stores on six continents by 2014 and more than 200,000 points of global [consumer packaged goods] distribution by 2015.”

Starbucks also reiterated its intent to acquire Teavana, and said it pans to offer the Teavana tea beverages at Teavana’s mall and neighborhood stores and eventually at Starbucks stores.

Starbucks plans to open more than 3,000 new stores in North and South America over the next five years, with half of those in the United States.

The company also said that Starbucks cards are now used in about 25 percent of the company’s U.S. transactions and that the amount of money loaded onto Starbucks cards increased by more than 20 percent last year.

Starbucks has more than 75 locations in Hawaii, while Teavana has one store in Hawaii, at Ala Moana Center in Honolulu.

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Saudi retail sector seen facing wage pressures

Recent amendments to Saudi Arabia’s Saudization jobs policy are likely to hit the margins of retailers operating in the Gulf kingdom, a new report has said.

The outlook of the Saudi retail sector remains strong with macro as well as micro factors supporting growth, said NCB Capital.

Volume expansion through opening stores, margin support from economies of scale, and consolidation of fragmented markets are key drivers of growth.

But NCB Capital also warned that wage inflation pressures, execution risk and competition are key concerns for the retail sector in the Gulf kingdom.

It said the recent amendments to the Saudization programme called Nitaqat “will continue to lead to wage inflation and impact margins” of the Saudi retail sector.

The latest amendment in November increased the cost of foreign work permits to SR200 per month from SR100 per year.

“We believe the retail sector will be one of the most affected by Saudization rulings given the relatively low percentage of Saudis working at these companies,” said Farouk Miah, head of Equity Research at NCB Capital.

“However, we acknowledge that the effective minimum wage rule of SR3,000 a month for Saudis working in the private sector and increased hiring of Saudis will support retail spending, particularly in the discretional sector,” he added.

NCB Capital also said it believes that while the e-commerce potential is significant for Saudi Arabia, any meaningful growth is at least 5-10 years away.

“The primary reasons for this include the poor postal system in Saudi Arabia, low credit card penetration, and the importance of shopping outings for many Saudi families,” said Miah.

Despite the obstacles, NCB Capital noted many retail companies are investing in their online presence.

NCB Capital also said it expected Saudi retailers such as Extra, Jarir, Al Hokair and Al Othaim to aggressively expand store count and revenues.

“For Al Hokair, growth in the mid-level branded fashion segment should remain steady with significant potential in the value-segment and expansion abroad,” the report said.

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Christmas sales directory 2012

A comprehensive listing of the Christmas sales’ dates, including designer, high street and homewares.

DESIGNERS AND BOUTIQUES

A La Mode , Symons Street, SW3; 020 7730 7180 – 26th Dec, 50% off

Adolfo Dominguez , Endell Street, WC2; 020 7836 5013 – Now on, 30% off

Akris , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7493 7322 – 27th Dec, only on selected items

Alberta Ferretti , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7235 2349 – 26th Dec

Alexander McQueen , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7355 0088 – 26th Dec, 40% off selected items

Anna , Regents Park Road, NW1, and King’s Road, SW6; 020 7483 0411, 020 7731 7300 – Starts at 30% and drops after Christmas W

Antoni + Alison , Rosebury Avenue, EC1; 020 7833 2002 – 1st week of Jan, 50-60% off

Aquascutum , Westfield, W12; 0800 282 922 – 13th Dec

Armani Exchange , Regent Street, W1; 0207 479 7760 – 26th Dec

b Store; http://shop.bstorelondon.com/ – now on

Balenciaga , Mount Street, W1; 020 7317 4400 – Now on, 50% off

Blossom , Walton Street, SW3; 020 7589 7500 – 26th Dec

Browns , South Molton Street, W1, and branches; 020 7514 0000 – Online 25th and in-store 27th

Bruce Oldfield , Beauchamp Place, SW3; 020 7584 1363 – Now on, up to 50%

Burberry , Regent St, W1; 020 7806 8904 – TBC

Caroline Charles , Beauchamp Place, SW1; 020 7225 3197 – 21st Dec, up to 50% off

Catherine Walker , Sydney Street, SW3; 020 7352 4626 – TBC

Chanel , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7493 5040 – TBC

Chloé , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7823 5348 – 27th Dec

Christian Dior , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7172 0172 – TBC (Jan)

Comme des Garçons , Dover Street Market, W1; 020 7518 0680 – 27th Dec

The Cross , Portland Road, W11; 020 7727 6760 – 2nd Jan, start at 30% off

Diane von Furstenberg , Bruton Street, W1; 020 7499 0886 – TBC

Diverse , Upper Street, N1; 020 7359 8877 – 27th Dec

DKNY , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7499 6238 – 14th Dec, 50% off

Dolce & Gabbana , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7659 9000 – 26th Dec

Donna Karan , Conduit Street, W1; 020 7479 7900 – Now on, 50% off

Dunhill , Jermyn Street, SW1; 020 7290 8609 – 27th Dec, 40%

Ede & Ravenscroft , Burlington Gardens, W1; 020 7734 5450 – 27th Dec, selected items only

Emporio Armani , Brompton Road, SW3; 020 7823 8818 – 26th Dec

Etro , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7493 9004 – TBC

Farfetch.com – 20th Dec

Feathers , Hans Crescent, SW1; 020 7589 5802 – TBC

Fendi , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7838 6288 – 15th Dec, 40% off RTW and shoes, 30% off bags

Fenwick , New Bond Street, W1 and branches; 020 7629 9161 – 27th Dec

Ferragamo , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7629 5007 – 26th Dec, 30-50% off

Giorgio Armani , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7235 6232 – 26th Dec, 40% off

Gucci , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7629 2716 – 26th Dec, 30% off bags, 50% off RTW

Harrods , Knightsbridge, SW1; 020 7730 1234 – 26th Dec

Harvey Nichols , Knightsbridge, SW1; 020 7235 5000 – 26th Dec

Hogan , Sloane Street, W1; 020 7245 6363 – 26th Dec, up to 50% off

Hub , Church Street, N16; 020 7254 4494 – 4th Jan, 30% off

Hugo Boss , Regent Street, W1, and branches; 020 7734 7919 – 20th Dec

Issey Miyake , Brompton Road, SW3, and Conduit Street, W1; 020 7851 4620 – Now on, 50% off

Jean Paul Gaultier , Draycott Avenue, SW3; 020 7584 4648 – Now on, 50% off

Jitrois , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7245 6300 – End of Jan, up to 30% off selected items

John Rocha , 15a Dover Street, W1; 020 7495 2233 – 27th Dec

Joseph , Fulham Road, SW3; 020 7823 9500 – 26th Dec

Kenzo , Bruton Street, W1; 020 7491 8469 – TBC

Liberty , Regent Street, W1; 020 7734 1234 – 26th Dec, up to 60% off

Lillidiva , Lavender Hill, SW11; 020 7801 9600 – Now on, up to 50% off

Louise Kennedy , West Halkin Street, SW1; 020 7235 0911 – 12th Dec

Margaret Howell , Wigmore Street, W1; 020 7009 9009 – 12th Jan, starts at 30% off

Maria Grachvogel , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7245 9331 – TBC

Marni , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7245 9520 – 26th Dec, 40% off

Martin Margiela , Bruton Street, W1; 020 7629 2682 – 27th Dec

Matches , Ledbury Road, W11; 020 7221 0255 – TBC

Matthew Williamson , Bruton Street, W1; 020 7629 6200 – Now on, 40% off

MaxMara , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7499 7902 – 26th Dec, 40% off

Mimi , King’s Road, SW3; 020 7349 9699 – TBC

Mulberry , New Bond Street, W1, and branches; 020 7491 3900 – 26th Dec

My-Wardrobe.com – 18th Dec, up to 50% off

Nanette Lepore , Westbourne Grove, W11; 020 7221 8889 – Now on, 40% off

Net-a-porter.com – TBC

Nicole Farhi , New Bond Street, W1, and branches; 020 7499 8368 – TBC

Paul & Joe , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7824 8844 – TBC

Paul Smith , Floral Street, WC2, and branches; 020 7379 7133 – TBC

Pleats Please , Brook Street, W1; 020 7495 2306 – 27th Dec, 30-50% off

Powder , Topsfield Parade, N8; 020 8347 4100 – Now on

Prada , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7235 0008 – TBC

Pringle , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 8748 8685 – TBC

Pucci , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7201 8171 – 27th Dec, 40% off

Ralph Lauren , New Bond Street, W1; 020 7535 4600 – TBC (usually 26th)

Roberto Cavalli , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7823 1879 – TBC

Selfridges , Oxford Street, W1, and branches; 0800 123 4000 – Online 25th Dec and in-store 26th Dec

Selina Blow , Ellis Street, SW1; 020 7730 2077 – 3rd Jan, 30-50% off

Shanghai Tang , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7235 8778 – Now on, 30% off

Smythson , New Bond Street, W1; 0845 873 2435 – TBC

Sonia Rykiel , Brook Street, W1; 020 7493 5255 – 27th Dec, 40-50% off

Stella McCartney , Bruton Street, W1; 020 7518 3100 – Now on, 50% off

The-outnet.com ; Clearance finishes on 17th Dec

Tod’s , Old Bond Street, W1; 0207 4932 237 – TBC

Tommy Hilfiger , Regent Street, and branches; 020 7287 2843 – 26th

Trilogy , Duke of York Square, SW3; 0207 730 6515 – Now on, 30-50% off

Vanessa Bruno , Grafton Street, W1; 020 7499 7838 – 27th Dec

Vivienne Westwood , Conduit Street, W1; 020 7439 1109 – 26th Dec

Wardrobe , Conduit Street, W1; 020 7494 1131 – Now on

Yohji Yamamoto , Conduit Street, W1; 020 7491 4129 – 27th Dec

Yves Saint Laurent , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7235 6706 – 26th Dec, 50% off RTW, 30% off accessories

100 designer gifts under £100

HIGH STREET

Austin Reed ; 01845 573 135 – Now on

Banana Republic ; 020 7758 3550 – 14th Dec

Bentalls, Kingston-upon-Thames, KT1 1TY; 020 8546 1001 – 27th Dec

Bershka ; 020 7025 6160 – TBC

Brora, Marylebone High Street, W1, and branches; 0845 659 9944 – mid Jan

Cecil Gee, Canary Wharf; 0207 993 1318 – TBC

Clarks ; 0844 477 7744 – Now on

Coast ; 020 7490 9953 – TBC

Country Casuals ; 01845 573120 – TBC

Crombie ; 01618 328977- 26th Dec, 90% off

Debenhams ; 0844 561 6161 – Online 21st Dec and in-store 26th Dec

Dorothy Perkins ; 0845 121 4515 – TBC

East ; 0208 877 6543- Now on, 50% off

Fortnum & Mason ; Piccadilly, W1; 020 7734 8040 – Online 24th Dec & in-store 27th Dec

French Connection ; 020 7629 7766 – Now on, 50% off

Gap ; 0800 427 789 – Now on

Hackett, Sloane Square; 0207 939 6865 – online now, in-store TBC

H & M ; 020 7368 3920 – TBC

Hobbs, South Molton Street; 020 7629 0750 – TBC but shoes are on sale now

Hoopers : selected branches; 01803 299 226 – TBC

Hoss Intropia , Regent Street, W1; 020 7287 3569 – TBC

House of Fraser ; 020 7003 4000 – 26th Dec

Jaeger ; 0845 051 0063 – 26th Dec, up to 50%

Christmas sales directory 2012

A comprehensive listing of the Christmas sales’ dates, including designer, high street and homewares.

BY Mariella Agapiou | 14 December 2012

Christmas sales directory 2012 Photo: REUTERS

Navigate by type:
Designers and boutiques | High street
Shoes, accessories and lingerie | Homeware

DESIGNERS AND BOUTIQUES

A La Mode , Symons Street, SW3; 020 7730 7180 – 26th Dec, 50% off

Adolfo Dominguez , Endell Street, WC2; 020 7836 5013 – Now on, 30% off

Akris , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7493 7322 – 27th Dec, only on selected items

Alberta Ferretti , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7235 2349 – 26th Dec

Alexander McQueen , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7355 0088 – 26th Dec, 40% off selected items

Anna , Regents Park Road, NW1, and King’s Road, SW6; 020 7483 0411, 020 7731 7300 – Starts at 30% and drops after Christmas W

Antoni + Alison , Rosebury Avenue, EC1; 020 7833 2002 – 1st week of Jan, 50-60% off

Aquascutum , Westfield, W12; 0800 282 922 – 13th Dec

Armani Exchange , Regent Street, W1; 0207 479 7760 – 26th Dec

b Store; http://shop.bstorelondon.com/ – now on

Balenciaga , Mount Street, W1; 020 7317 4400 – Now on, 50% off

Blossom , Walton Street, SW3; 020 7589 7500 – 26th Dec

Browns , South Molton Street, W1, and branches; 020 7514 0000 – Online 25th and in-store 27th

Bruce Oldfield , Beauchamp Place, SW3; 020 7584 1363 – Now on, up to 50%

Burberry , Regent St, W1; 020 7806 8904 – TBC

Caroline Charles , Beauchamp Place, SW1; 020 7225 3197 – 21st Dec, up to 50% off

Catherine Walker , Sydney Street, SW3; 020 7352 4626 – TBC

Chanel , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7493 5040 – TBC

Chloé , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7823 5348 – 27th Dec

Christian Dior , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7172 0172 – TBC (Jan)

Comme des Garçons , Dover Street Market, W1; 020 7518 0680 – 27th Dec

The Cross , Portland Road, W11; 020 7727 6760 – 2nd Jan, start at 30% off

Diane von Furstenberg , Bruton Street, W1; 020 7499 0886 – TBC

Diverse , Upper Street, N1; 020 7359 8877 – 27th Dec

DKNY , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7499 6238 – 14th Dec, 50% off

Dolce & Gabbana , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7659 9000 – 26th Dec

Donna Karan , Conduit Street, W1; 020 7479 7900 – Now on, 50% off

Dunhill , Jermyn Street, SW1; 020 7290 8609 – 27th Dec, 40%

Ede & Ravenscroft , Burlington Gardens, W1; 020 7734 5450 – 27th Dec, selected items only

Emporio Armani , Brompton Road, SW3; 020 7823 8818 – 26th Dec

Etro , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7493 9004 – TBC

Farfetch.com – 20th Dec

Feathers , Hans Crescent, SW1; 020 7589 5802 – TBC

Fendi , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7838 6288 – 15th Dec, 40% off RTW and shoes, 30% off bags

Fenwick , New Bond Street, W1 and branches; 020 7629 9161 – 27th Dec

Ferragamo , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7629 5007 – 26th Dec, 30-50% off

Giorgio Armani , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7235 6232 – 26th Dec, 40% off

Gucci , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7629 2716 – 26th Dec, 30% off bags, 50% off RTW

Harrods , Knightsbridge, SW1; 020 7730 1234 – 26th Dec

Harvey Nichols , Knightsbridge, SW1; 020 7235 5000 – 26th Dec

Hogan , Sloane Street, W1; 020 7245 6363 – 26th Dec, up to 50% off

Hub , Church Street, N16; 020 7254 4494 – 4th Jan, 30% off

Hugo Boss , Regent Street, W1, and branches; 020 7734 7919 – 20th Dec

Issey Miyake , Brompton Road, SW3, and Conduit Street, W1; 020 7851 4620 – Now on, 50% off

Jean Paul Gaultier , Draycott Avenue, SW3; 020 7584 4648 – Now on, 50% off

Jitrois , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7245 6300 – End of Jan, up to 30% off selected items

John Rocha , 15a Dover Street, W1; 020 7495 2233 – 27th Dec

Joseph , Fulham Road, SW3; 020 7823 9500 – 26th Dec

Kenzo , Bruton Street, W1; 020 7491 8469 – TBC

Liberty , Regent Street, W1; 020 7734 1234 – 26th Dec, up to 60% off

Lillidiva , Lavender Hill, SW11; 020 7801 9600 – Now on, up to 50% off

Louise Kennedy , West Halkin Street, SW1; 020 7235 0911 – 12th Dec

Margaret Howell , Wigmore Street, W1; 020 7009 9009 – 12th Jan, starts at 30% off

Maria Grachvogel , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7245 9331 – TBC

Marni , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7245 9520 – 26th Dec, 40% off

Martin Margiela , Bruton Street, W1; 020 7629 2682 – 27th Dec

Matches , Ledbury Road, W11; 020 7221 0255 – TBC

Matthew Williamson , Bruton Street, W1; 020 7629 6200 – Now on, 40% off

MaxMara , Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7499 7902 – 26th Dec, 40% off

Mimi , King’s Road, SW3; 020 7349 9699 – TBC

Mulberry , New Bond Street, W1, and branches; 020 7491 3900 – 26th Dec

My-Wardrobe.com – 18th Dec, up to 50% off

Nanette Lepore , Westbourne Grove, W11; 020 7221 8889 – Now on, 40% off

Net-a-porter.com – TBC

Nicole Farhi , New Bond Street, W1, and branches; 020 7499 8368 – TBC

Paul & Joe , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7824 8844 – TBC

Paul Smith , Floral Street, WC2, and branches; 020 7379 7133 – TBC

Pleats Please , Brook Street, W1; 020 7495 2306 – 27th Dec, 30-50% off

Powder , Topsfield Parade, N8; 020 8347 4100 – Now on

Prada , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7235 0008 – TBC

Pringle , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 8748 8685 – TBC

Pucci , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7201 8171 – 27th Dec, 40% off

Ralph Lauren , New Bond Street, W1; 020 7535 4600 – TBC (usually 26th)

Roberto Cavalli , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7823 1879 – TBC

Selfridges , Oxford Street, W1, and branches; 0800 123 4000 – Online 25th Dec and in-store 26th Dec

Selina Blow , Ellis Street, SW1; 020 7730 2077 – 3rd Jan, 30-50% off

Shanghai Tang , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7235 8778 – Now on, 30% off

Smythson , New Bond Street, W1; 0845 873 2435 – TBC

Sonia Rykiel , Brook Street, W1; 020 7493 5255 – 27th Dec, 40-50% off

Stella McCartney , Bruton Street, W1; 020 7518 3100 – Now on, 50% off

The-outnet.com ; Clearance finishes on 17th Dec

Tod’s , Old Bond Street, W1; 0207 4932 237 – TBC

Tommy Hilfiger , Regent Street, and branches; 020 7287 2843 – 26th

Trilogy , Duke of York Square, SW3; 0207 730 6515 – Now on, 30-50% off

Vanessa Bruno , Grafton Street, W1; 020 7499 7838 – 27th Dec

Vivienne Westwood , Conduit Street, W1; 020 7439 1109 – 26th Dec

Wardrobe , Conduit Street, W1; 020 7494 1131 – Now on

Yohji Yamamoto , Conduit Street, W1; 020 7491 4129 – 27th Dec

Yves Saint Laurent , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7235 6706 – 26th Dec, 50% off RTW, 30% off accessories

100 designer gifts under £100

HIGH STREET

Austin Reed ; 01845 573 135 – Now on

Banana Republic ; 020 7758 3550 – 14th Dec

Bentalls, Kingston-upon-Thames, KT1 1TY; 020 8546 1001 – 27th Dec

Bershka ; 020 7025 6160 – TBC

Brora, Marylebone High Street, W1, and branches; 0845 659 9944 – mid Jan

Cecil Gee, Canary Wharf; 0207 993 1318 – TBC

Clarks ; 0844 477 7744 – Now on

Coast ; 020 7490 9953 – TBC

Country Casuals ; 01845 573120 – TBC

Crombie ; 01618 328977- 26th Dec, 90% off

Debenhams ; 0844 561 6161 – Online 21st Dec and in-store 26th Dec

Dorothy Perkins ; 0845 121 4515 – TBC

East ; 0208 877 6543- Now on, 50% off

Fortnum & Mason ; Piccadilly, W1; 020 7734 8040 – Online 24th Dec & in-store 27th Dec

French Connection ; 020 7629 7766 – Now on, 50% off

Gap ; 0800 427 789 – Now on

Hackett, Sloane Square; 0207 939 6865 – online now, in-store TBC

H & M ; 020 7368 3920 – TBC

Hobbs, South Molton Street; 020 7629 0750 – TBC but shoes are on sale now

Hoopers : selected branches; 01803 299 226 – TBC

Hoss Intropia , Regent Street, W1; 020 7287 3569 – TBC

House of Fraser ; 020 7003 4000 – 26th Dec

Jaeger ; 0845 051 0063 – 26th Dec, up to 50%

John Lewis ; 0845 604 9049 – 5pm 24th Dec online and in-store on 27th Dec

Laura Ashley ; 0871 230 2301 – Now on, up to 50% off with further lines due to be reduced up to 60% from boxing Day

LK Bennett ; 020 7637 6731 – Now on, 35% off

Mango ; 0207 534 3505 – accessories on 13th, clothes on 20th Dec

Matalan ; 0845 330 3330 – 26th Dec

New Look ; 0500 454 094 – 26th Dec

Oasis ; 01865 881 986 – TBC

Sweaty Betty ; 0800 169 3889 – 26th Dec

Toast ; 0844 557 5200 – 26th Dec

Topshop ; 0845 121 4519 – TBC

The Kooples , King’s Road SW3; 0207 589 7696 – 14th Dec

Urban Outfitters ; 020 7761 1001 – 24th Dec

Viyella ; 020 7200 2990 – Now on, up to 50% off

Warehouse ; 0845 122 2251 – TBC

Whistles ; 020 7487 4484 – 20th Dec, up to 60% off

Zara ; 0800 030 4238 – TBC

SHOES, ACCESSORIES AND LINGERIE

Agent Provocateur , Broadwick Street, W1; 020 7439 0229 – 26th Dec, 50% off

Anya Hindmarch , Bond Street, W1; 020 7838 9177 – 26th Dec

Bernstock Speirs , Brick Lane, E2; 020 7739 7385 – 2nd Jan

Bertie ; 020 7836 7223 – 13th Dec, 30-50% off

Carvela ; 01322 427548 – 13th Dec

Dune ; 020 7836 1560 – 13th Dec, 30-50% off

Folli Follie , Regent Street, W1; 020 7287 9912 – 26th Dec

Fratelli Rossetti , Sloane Street, SW1; 020 7259 6397 – 27th Dec

Gina , Sloane Street, SW1, and Old Bond Street, W1; 020 7409 5466 – TBC

Grenson , Liverpool Street, EC1; 020 7618 5050 – 21st Dec

Jimmy Choo , Sloane Street, SW1, and Bond Street, W1; 020 7823 1051 – 26th Dec

J&M Davidson , Golborne Road, W10; 020 89692244 – TBC

Jones Bootmaker ; 0800 163519 – 26th Dec

John Lobb , Jermyn Street, SW1; 020 7930 8089 – TBC

Kipling , Brompton Road, SW3; 207 584 64 24 – TBC

Kurt Geiger ; 0845 257 2571 – 13th Dec

Lulu Guinness , Ellis Street, SW1; 020 7823 4828 – 26th Dec

Mascaro , Marylebone High Street, W1; 020 7935 1795 – TBC

Office ; 020 7379 1896 – TBC

Pickett , Burlington Arcade, W1, and branches; 020 7493 8939 – TBC (in between xmas and new years)

Pied a Terre ; 020 7824 8440 – 26th Dec

Poste Mistress , Monmouth Street, WC2; 020 7379 4040 – 26th Dec

Robert Clergerie , Wigmore Street, W1, and Draycott Avenue, SW3; 020 7935 3601 -TBC

Rupert Sanderson , Bruton Place, W1; 020 7491 2260 – TBC

Russell & Bromley ; 020 7629 6903 – 21st Dec

Tie Rack ; 020 8230 2333 – TBC

Tumi , Piccadilly, W1; 020 7493 4138, 020 8736 5901 – 27th Dec

SHOP: The trendy 20: Party dresses

HOMEWARE

Chaplins , Uxbridge Road, HA5; 020 8421 1779 – Now on

Conran Shop , Fulham Road, SW3; 020 7589 7401 – 26th Dec

Divertimenti , Brompton Road, SW3; 020 7581 8065 – Jan

Graham & Green ; 0845 130 6622 – 24th Dec

Habitat ; 0844 499 1111 – 19th Dec

Heal’s ; Tottenham Court Road, 020 7636 1666 – 17th Dec

The General Trading Company , Pelham Street, SW7; 020 7225 6470 – TBC

The White Company ; 0870 900 9555 – Online 24th and in-store 26th Dec

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MidEast retailers ‘running out of space’, says CBRE

Middle East shopping, Middle East retail, GCC retail

The mood among Middle East retailers and local franchisees has been “overwhelmingly positive” in 2012, according to a new report by CB Richard Ellis.

CBRE said most retailers in the region have reported increased sales turnover and the outlook for consumer demand appears to be “highly promising”.

The report also said tourist numbers are also up across the region, with a particular buzz around the UAE.

CBRE’s view backs up similar comments made by rating agency Fitch earlier this week in which it said Dubai’s prime retail and hospitality sectors have performed well this year and are well placed for 2013.

CBRE said the major problem facing retailers in the Middle East at present was “securing sufficient trading space to accommodate the new brands being signed up by the franchisees as well as their aggressive expansion of existing brands”.

“As a result, many of the major regional players are flexing their muscles to push into established shopping centres during lease renewal periods, while also targeting up-and-coming retail markets such as Oman and Qatar,” CBRE added.

The report said an important issue for local franchisees will be dealing with the growing impact of the internet.

In the UAE, CBRE said much of the scope for expansion was occurring in Abu Dhabi with little new shopping centre space coming on stream in Dubai.

CBRE said the market continues to be a major focus for US retailers with several names, including Abercrombie & Fitch, rumoured to be planning entry.

The biggest US retailing group, Walmart, is also among those looking to develop a presence in the UAE market, in this case using the George sub-brand of its UK subsidiary Asda.

The report added that retailers will find yet more potential for further expansion within Saudi Arabia, with major new shopping centre schemes under construction in Riyadh and Jeddah.

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Topshop to open first store in Hong Kong

The high street retailer, which already operates in 39 countries, will open in Hong Kong in partnership with department store chain Lane Crawford.

Expansion in the Far East has been earmarked a top priority for Topshop, which has opened 27 new stores in the region over the past year.

“I am confident that the fashion-loving Hong Kong customers will enjoy the retail experience and fantastic product offer that Topshop will deliver for them,” Green said.

Green recently sold a 25 percent stake in Topshop and Topman to U.S. private equity firm Leonard Green and Partners for 350 million pounds.

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Sports Direct sees record profits

Mike Ashley’s sportswear empire jumped to a record profit today after a six-month period that saw a boost from the London Olympics and Paralympics and also saw rival JJB collapse into administration.

Sports Direct said half-year revenues were up 22.5% to just over £1 billion amid strong growth in its 398 UK shops and branded sportswear division.

Pre-tax profits rose by a quarter to £125.2 million in the six months to October 28th, with the UK’s sporting summer playing a major role in boosting demand.

Chief executive Dave Forsey said: “There is no doubt that Team GB’s outstanding performance has helped increase the awareness and popularity of sport across the UK, and that we have maintained our position as the consumers’ champion.”

The company said it is currently on track to meet its earnings target for the full year of £270 million, which is the latest benchmark on a staff bonus scheme that recently delivered a £15,000 shares windfall to 1,750 workers.

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Apple’s New Causeway Bay Retail Store in Hong Kong Unveiled (pics)

Earlier this week, we noted that this weekend’s group of Apple retail store grand openings would be headlined by the company’s Causeway Bay flagship location in Hong Kong. The store features three levels, with a 30-foot tall glass curtain wall making a significant impact on the shopping center.

With the store set to open to the public tomorrow, Apple has been putting the finishing touches on it and has unveiled the store for passersby to see. ifoAppleStore’s Gary Allen pointed to an image posted to Flickr showing showing the full scale of the store’s glass facade.

M.I.C. gadget has also posted a number of photos of the store, as well as a short video giving a glimpse of the store from the outside.

As we previously noted, Apple is also opening new stores tomorrow in the following cities: Chengdu, China; Melbourne, Australia; and Malmö, Sweden. Apple is also opening its replacement Third Street Promenade store in Santa Monica, California tomorrow, moving into a much larger space. The new store is one of the first to use a design based on that of the Upper West Side store in Manhattan, with similar stores having already opened in Houston and Palo Alto.

Finally, Apple is opening a replacement Rockway store in New Jersey tomorrow, allowing Apple to close one of its last “mini-stores” in the U.S.

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Starbucks to More Than Double China Staff to 30,000 by 2015

Starbucks Corp. (SBUX), the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, will more than double China staff to 30,000 by 2015 as part of its expansion in the world’s second-largest economy.

“The Starbucks business here is in its infancy in terms of development and growth,” John Culver, head of Starbucks in China and Asia Pacific, said in an interview today in the southern Chinese city of Yunnan. Starbucks currently has 12,000 employees in the country.

The Seattle-based coffee chain is boosting headcount as it pushes to more than double local stores to 1,500 by 2015. The Asian nation is set to be its largest market outside the U.S. in two years as it expands to counter slower economic growth in developed markets.

In its China expansion, the cappuccino and latte maker will face pressure from rising costs and wages. The country’s consumer price index rose 2 percent from a year earlier in November.

Business in China is “very healthy” and the coffee chain operator will continue to maintain its margins in the world’s most populous nation, Culver said.

The company will also focus on growing the number of wholly-owned stores in the China and Asia Pacific region and sees new stores being the growth driver next year, Culver said. They will account for two-thirds of the region’s sales growth, an increase from less than a third three to five years ago, he said.

China’s coffee shop market is forecast to surge 55 percent to 4.5 billion yuan ($720 million) in 2015 from 2.9 billion yuan last year, according to data from research company Euromonitor International. The company today opened a support center for local coffee farmers in Yunnan.

China and Asia Pacific revenues rose 23 percent in the fourth quarter to $198 million, Starbucks reported on Nov. 1. This compares with a 9 percent rise in the company’s sales from the Americas.

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ASOS Plc Q1 Retail Sales Up 30%

ASOS plc (ASC.L) reported first-quarter total retail sales of 165.8 million pounds compared to 127.1 million pounds prior year, an increase of 30 percent. Total group revenues were 169.4 million pounds compared to 130.7 million pounds last year.

UK retail sales were up 24 percent for the period. The company said its UK performance was ahead of expectations, driven by better conversion of traffic alongside continued investment in both proposition and pricing. International business grew by 34 percent and now accounts for 63% of the company’s total retail sales.

Nick Robertson, CEO, commented: “We remain positive in our outlook and continue to trade in line with expectations.”

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Zara owners announce £1.3 billion profits

Inditex, the parent company of Zara, made an astonishing £1.3 billion in profits over the nine months to October 31.

But, the 27 per cent rise was not the only significant advancement the company made. In the same time frame they have also opened 360 new stores in 54 different markets and created 6,598 new jobs, reports BBC news

Last week, the Spain-based company celebrated the opening of their 6,000 store with the launch of a new 16,200-square-foot Zara UK flagship on London’s Oxford Street. The high-street chain is loved for its ability to quickly adopt catwalk trends and reproduce them at a consumer-friendly price point and rapid speed.

The Duchess of Cambridge has been spotted in Zara pieces a number of times, which goes some way to explaining it’s huge rise in popularity over the last 18 months. In December 2011, she wore a £69 lace-print dress from the shop which proceeded to sell out country wide. She also chose a cornflower-blue dress from the brand for her appearance the day after her wedding.

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John Lewis posts highest ever weekly sales

LONDON – British retailer John Lewis Plc posted its highest ever total weekly sales from its online and physical stores due to a pre-Christmas shopping rush.

The group recorded a total of 142 million pounds ($227.49 million) of sales in the week ending Saturday, 8 Dec., up 15 percent on the same period last year.

“It’s a record week by 9 million pounds, which really has taken us aback. It’s a level of increase we just hadn’t anticipated,” said Andrew Murphy, John Lewis Retail Director.

The colder weather across Britain boosted fashion sales, particularly sales of coats, scarves and knitwear in both menswear and womenswear. Toys and electronics also saw major uplifts.

Murphy said sales were also helped as another British retailer, electrical chain Comet, entered administration in November.

It was also a record week for online sales, which totaled 42 million pounds, with the company’s highest ever one-day online sales of 7.3 million pounds recorded on Monday.

“There’s no doubt that online is growing significantly faster,” Murphy said.

One third of online sales are collected in store, a trend that Murphy said shows customers acknowledge the relevance of having a physical location.

The performance of stores differed across regions. Of the 35 stores that were open at this time last year, 15 have increased sales and 10 have seen sales decline.

Murphy told Reuters that the Midlands, with the exception of the city of Birmingham, remains one of the toughest regions for the group.

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New Middelburg Mall draws record turnouts

Middelburg Mall may be a newcomer to the South African retail scene, but it has already attracted over three-million shoppers since it opened in April this year, and retailers are reporting excellent trading densities across the board.

With this level of success, it is little wonder that Middelburg Mall Centre Manager Mike Tammadge has a positive outlook for retail, both in South Africa and at Middelburg Mall.

In fact, with the mall’s longer holiday shopping hours, he is expecting a record turnout this festive season.

Tammadge says: “Retail sales in South Africa continue to growth year-on-year by an average 6.4%. Looking at specific categories, textiles, clothing and footwear should continue to trade well. For the festive season, fashion always trades strongly followed closely by consumables.”

The shopping mall has a valuable role in society, believes Tammadge, which remains strong and relevant, despite online buying trends.

However, Tammadge believes that retailers must embrace new technologies. “It’s a case of do or die. Right now, it’s a combination of mall shopping and easy access to product information online that is working.”

“Shopping online is increasing in South Africa. This is confirmed by the number of major retailers embracing it. However shoppers continue to support mall-shopping more than ever,” says Tammadge. “Today’s shoppers want to have the choice and the shopping experience. When it comes to experience, malls offer much more. They are a place to interact with products in a pleasant environment.”

The continued growth of the retail centre sector validates this.

“The shopping experience is critical and at Middelburg Mall we recognise this,” says Tammadge. Middelburg Mall created a festive experience with its charming Christmas Decor, which is extensive by most standards.

“It been well received by shoppers and retailers alike. It’s Middelburg Mall’s first Christmas and we felt that a traditional theme was definitely the way to go,” says Tammadge.

He also stresses that it is important for a mall to interact with its community, like Children’s entertainment, which Middelburg Mall is dishing up a-plenty this festive season.

“The impact of a shopping mall on a community is far-reaching,” says Tammadge. “With Middelburg Mall, it was the catalyst behind the extensive construction taking place in Middelburg area. A development boom is underway in Middelburg across retail, industrial, commercial and residential property. We are proud to be part of this thriving community.”

For Middelburg Mall, the positive retail sales trend and its growing community will both drive trading success. “The continued growth in foot traffic will ensure that retail targets will be met and mostly exceeded, this festive season,” says Tammadge.

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Musgrave acquires two stores in receivership

Cork-based retail group Musgrave has acquired two Supervalu stores that had gone into receivership, securing almost 90 jobs.

Musgrave, which controls the Supervalu brand, acquired premises in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, and in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, from receivers who were appointed to the businesses last year.

The Clonmel premises was previously controlled by a company part-owned by John Ronan, the owner of the controversial Vita Cortex foam manufacturing factory in Cork. Workers from the Vita Cortex plant were involved in a sit-in last Christmas that lasted 161 days after it closed down.

They were protesting because Vita Cortex said it didn’t have funds to make redundancy payments to the workers.

A confidential deal was eventually brokered in May this year with Mr Ronan agreeing to what was described as a “significant improvement” on an earlier deal that he offered.

The Supervalu premises in Kilkenny was run by GBC Supermarkets, a company that had been controlled by John Fraher and John Ronan.

One of their firms had also developed the site. The companies had been unable to service loans that had been held with AIB and Bank of Ireland.

The Supervalu in Clonmel had been operated by a firm called Peleton, also placed in receivership last year. Peleton was part-owned by Mr Ronan.

It had been put up for sale by receiver for NAMA, Declan Taite of RSM Farrell Grant Sparks.

“This is an extremely positive result for the employees and management of the two supermarkets as the local employment is protected,” said Mr Taite yesterday.

It’s not the first time that Musgrave has stepped in to acquire Supervalu premises that became bogged down in owners’ financial difficulties.

One of the country’s busiest Supervalu stores – in Churchtown, south Dublin – was placed in receivership on instructions from Bank of Scotland (Ireland) last year after its owner, businessman Jim Treacy, got into financial difficulties related to a luxury £35m (€43m) golf resort in Northern Ireland at Lough Erne.

That development will play host next year to world leaders including US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin for a G8 meeting. The Lough Erne development is currently for sale.

Mr Treacy said that he put about £10m of his own money into the development.

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