Monthly Archives: November 2013

Suitors weigh up bid for Sir Philip Green’s vulnerable BHS

Suitors weigh up bid for Sir Philip Green’s vulnerable BHS

Several suitors are circling over Sir Philip Green’s BHS with a view to snapping up the struggling retailer. South African billionaire Christo Wiese is thought to be the frontrunner for the business, having publicly confirmed his interest, teaming up with former Asda boss Andy Bond.

However, private equity group Apollo, and corporate turnaround specialists including HMV’s saviour Hilco are also thought to be looking.

Mr Wiese is expected to be travelling to the UK this week to step up his interest, although, it is understood that he and his team has yet to make contact with Mr Green.

Sources close to the billionaire retailer have said privately for some time that Mr Green would be keen to offload BHS. He has been slowly closing stores across the country, while introducing products from his other businesses into BHS, including Burton, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins.

The company has struggled in recent years and made a £71m pre-tax loss last year on sales of £700m and is a shadow of its previous self when Mr Green first bought the business in 1999 for £200m.

He turned around its fortunes within a year of the purchase, leaving it valued at £1.2bn and making Mr Green the fastest paper billionaire ever.

Mr Wiese, South Africa’s third richest man with a fortune worth an estimated £2bn, already has a rich heritage in value retail, including supermarket chain Shoprite and a large stake in Pepkor, a South African clothing and footwear business where he is chairman.

He has teamed up with Mr Bond, former chief executive of Asda and is keen to expand his empire further into Europe to add to his portfolio in Poland. According to reports, he has drawn up a list of potential targets with BHS at the top.

Since Mr Wiese went public with his intentions for BHS a host of other investors have taken notice and could launch a counter bid, potentially turning the company into more of a discount brand to compete with New Look, Shop Direct and Primark.

Mr Wiese has already operated on the British high street, with businesses including the Brown and Jackson group, owner of Poundstetcher. However, some retail analysts have suggested that since Mr Green brought BHS under his Arcadia business in 2009, which includes Topshop and Miss Selfridges, rather than running it as a separate entity, any sale could lead to a lengthy unwinding process of the brand. Mr Green is not adverse to selling parts of his business empire and sold a 25 per cent stake in Topshop to private equity firm Leonard Green for around £500m.

Hilco and Mr Green both declined to comment, while Mr Wiese and Apollo were unavailable.



The New Starbucks Tea Bar: Hot or Not?

Starbucks’ first Teavana tea bar opened recently on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in New York. Starbucks made a (at first sight) boring category — coffee — interesting. Can it do the same with tea? That’s the question.

Starbucks has grown huge since its origin in 1971. The roaster, marketer and retailer of coffee operates in 62 countries, with 200.000+ people, serving handcrafted coffee, tea and other beverages and a variety of fresh food items in 19,700 stores. Wow: respect!

In 2011 Starbucks dropped the word ‘coffee’ from its logo in a move to expand beyond the coffee market and become a multi-product company. Starbucks acquired the specialty-tea retailer Teavana with 300 stand-alone stores a year ago. Now the company is opening Teavana tea bars.

“Tea has been a part of Starbucks heritage since 1971, when we were founded as Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spices, and this new store concept elevates the tea experience in the same way we’ve done for coffee,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chief executive officer in a press release. With the Teavana Tea Bar Starbucks enters the second most-consumed global beverage behind water. Tea presents a $90 billion global market opportunity.

The first Teavana Tea Bar is located at 1142 Madison Avenue (cross street: 85th Street). Starbucks describes it as “a modern tea bar with a wide range of unique hot brewed and iced teas, tea lattes and distinctive sparkling and tea fusion beverages”.

Starbucks made a (at first sight) boring category — coffee — interesting. Can they create the same Tea experience as they did for coffee? That’s the question.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I was very curious about the divided first impressions of opinion leaders like tea fans and bloggers who’ve visited the tea bar.

Nicole Martin: “I have a feeling that Teavana will fit right in with the “grab and go” culture of New York. One thing I was very impressed with was their use of the Bkon brewing system. It uses reverse atmospheric pressure to extract a perfect brew in seconds”.

Jo J: “Tea cafes/coffee & tea cafes, time to step up your game, if you are still solely carrying teabags, oh boy… and hiring trained knowledgeable tea staff must be in your immediate plans”.

Jason Walker: “If Teavana succeeds at passing off mediocre specialty tea at these prices, there is good news for competitors with higher quality. Overall, the growing presence of Teavana across North America will provide new and better offerings for tea drinkers, but the Teavana I saw that day will not last long in its current form”.

Yuka Yoneda: “The tea bar also boasts one of the world’s only tea carbonating machines. We tried a sample yesterday and found that the bubbliness really allows you to enjoy tea in a totally new way”.

According to their first reactions the Teavana Tea bar is indeed a real experience, as we could expect from Starbucks. The concept will be rolled out all over the US. Will it stay the same? I am sure it will change, because that’s essential in trying to open up a new market. You should experiment, measure, learn and adapt your new concept. Learning by doing applies to Starbucks, too.

So what do you think: Will Starbucks conquer the world with Teavana tea bars as it did with coffee? Do they have a chance on your continent?


U.S. e-retail jumps 14.6% in Q3

Consumers in the United States spent $53.3 billion with e-retailers during the third quarter, up 14.6% from $46.5 billion during the same quarter last year, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc.

But e-retailers may be noticing a change as to how consumers are placing their orders. ComScore says $5.8 billionof the $53.3 billion in sales recorded in Q3 took place on mobile devices, which translates to 10.9% of all web sales during the quarter. That’s up from 9.9% a year ago, when mobile accounted for approximately $4.6 billion in web sales and Q3 web sales totaled $46.5 billion.

Smartphones accounted for 62% of mobile web sales, and tablets for the remaining 38%, comScore says. Mobile retail commerce in the United States is projected to grow 63% this year to around $34.17 billion from $20.95 billion in 2012, according to Internet Retailer’s 2014 Mobile 500, which ranks online retailers by their 2013 mobile commerce sales. The 2013 growth projection includes an estimated $8.8 billion in U.S. merchandise sales taking place on eBay Inc.

Looking only at sales taking place on desktop computers, comScore says retail e-commerce sales grew 13.4% year over year during Q3, to $47.5 billion in 2013 from $41.9 billion a year ago. “Third quarter [desktop] e-commerce spending grew 13% from a year ago, and although that marks a pretty healthy growth rate, it also represents a slight deceleration from the prior quarter,” says Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman. ComScore recorded $49.8 billion in desktop web sales in Q2 2013, meaning consumer spending from desktop computers dropped about 4.6% quarter over quarter. In 2012, there was a 2.8% decline in online sales in the third quarter compared with the second quarter. Fulgoni says this suggests a softness in discretionary spending going into the holiday season. “Nonetheless, we are confident that the growth rate in online spending will once again far exceed that in bricks-and-mortar stores, reflecting the ongoing channel shift to e-commerce.”

For its desktop e-retail estimates comScore draws on online purchase data from its panel of about 1 million U.S. online shoppers and excludes automobile and auction sales. For mobile commerce estimates, comScore says it surveys Internet users about their spending by platform across product categories and calibrates those numbers according to behavioral data it has on desktop e-commerce. Like desktop estimates, mobile commerce estimates also exclude automobile and auction sales.

The U.S. Department of Commerce releases its third quarter e-commerce estimates Nov. 22. Read more about how mobile commerce is blasting off for web retailers in Internet Retailer Magazine’s October cover story.


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Victoria Beckham’s Retail Empire Is Expanding With Another New Store

Victoria Beckham’s reign on the fashion realm is showing no signs of relenting following the news that the former Spice Girl is to set up her very first New York shop in January 2014.

It was recently announced that VB’s first ever standalone store will be popping up in London’s Mayfair sometime in the near future. And now, CEO of brand Victoria Beckham has broken the news that America is set for a Beckham invasion, too.

The Big Apple-based store is said to situated in the stylish Manhattan suburb of Chelsea, and will house Victoria’s entire US wholesale team. It will also mark the label’s first office outside of the UK.

It’s been an exciting week all round for the 39-year-old mum-of-four – Monday saw Miss B celebrating her first ever pre-collection going on sale on Net-A-Porter.

Britain’s most fashionable export really can do no wrong.




Woolworths deal ends franchises outside SA

Johannesburg – Woolworths had signed a deal to regain 100 percent control of its previously franchised stores in four African countries, the high-end retailer has said.

“The purchase marks the end of franchise stores in African countries [outside South Africa]. All investments in African countries in future will either be corporate stores or joint ventures with Woolworths,” the company said.

Woolworths owned 33 stores through franchise agreements in Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Ghana, which contributed a combined annual turnover of R1.1 billion.

The transactions are subject to Competition Commission approval in Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland.

Chief executive Ian Moir said he was pleased to have concluded the transaction.

“These are good businesses that have been well managed by our franchisee, Mr Ish Handa. The conclusion of this transaction gives Woolworths a business of scale, boosts profitability of our African operations and positions us for growth in these countries.”

Handa has managed the establishment and growth of Woolworths franchise stores in these countries since 1988 and will be appointed as a non-executive director of Woolworths in Botswana and Namibia.

In the year to June, the group acquired eight franchised stores in Lesotho and Kenya for R67 million. In the previous financial year, 34 South African franchised stores and 10 in the rest of Africa were returned to management control for R451m.

“Woolworths plans further investments in these countries and has significant expansion plans over the next few years,” the company said.

Two years ago the company announced plans to regain control over its franchises, saying it did not wish to be both a franchiser and an operator.

36One Asset Management analyst Jean Pierre Verster said it seemed as if Woolworths was having a tough time expanding into the rest of Africa as there were many logistical and infrastructural challenges.

He said the company could be buying back its stores to gain more control of its brand and operations to address these challenges.


Discount Retailer Poundland Plots £900m Float

Discount Retailer Poundland Plots £900m Float

Poundland has picked banks to lead a flotation that could underline the stellar growth in the discount retail sector by valuing it at as much as £900m.

Sky News has learnt that Warburg Pincus, the private equity firm which controls Poundland, has picked Credit Suisse and JP Morgan to oversee a listing in the coming months. The appointments are expected to be confirmed in the next few days.

The flotation of Poundland will lay the foundations for an ambitious expansion of the chain, which currently operates 450 shops and has set a target of more than doubling that estate to 1,000 “over time”.

Last year, the company reported a 15% rise in total sales to £880m, and a 15.6% increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to £45.4m.

Bankers say Poundland could be valued at up to 20 times that profits figure, meaning it would be worth in the region of £900m. Such a valuation would effectively put the company beyond the reach of rival private equity firms such as CVC Capital, which have been mulling potential bids for Poundland.

The chain has grown rapidly as consumers have sought to economise, and says it sells more than 1,000 branded products at the same price-point. These include, it says, 6 million Toblerone chocolate bars a year, 5 million bags of sugar and 500,000 garden gnomes.

Mr McCarthy, who stands to make a massive windfall from the flotation, said when reporting the group’s full-year results last month that it had been “a year of tremendous progress”.

“In the UK, Poundland is powering ahead. Our single price point and our amazing value are appealing to an increasingly broad section of UK shoppers,” he said.

“We opened a net 51 new stores in the year and that rate of growth has continued into the current year. I’m confident that over time Poundland will have over 1,000 stores across the UK.”

Poundland is chaired by Andrew Higginson, who was a senior executive at Tesco during Sir Terry Leahy’s stint at the helm. Also a non-executive director of BSkyB, the owner of Sky News, Mr Higginson recently led an unsuccessful bid to acquire 315 branches from Royal Bank of Scotland.

Sir Terry now chairs B&M Retail, another leading discount retailer backed by private equity funding, which is also drawing up plans to list on the stock market next year. It could be worth well over £1bn when it does so.

Rothschild, the investment bank, has been advising Poundland on its options, while Credit Suisse and JP Morgan will act as bookrunners responsible for placing the shares that are sold.

Warburg Pincus and Poundland both declined to comment.


Abercrombie & Fitch to shut down Gilly Hicks underwear stores including five in UK

Abercrombie & Fitch is to shut down its 20 Gilly Hicks underwear stores around the world, including five in the UK.


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John Lewis books entire X Factor ad break for Christmas campaign in ITV first

John Lewis has booked an entire ad break in Saturday’s X Factor for its Christmas campaign, Retail Week has learned. It is the first time the hit ITV show has devoted the whole slot to one brand.John-Lewis

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High ranking executives let go at Dunnes Stores

High ranking executives let go at Dunnes Stores

Shake-up at Dunnes Stores results in high level redundancies

Nov 4 2013

In a surprising move that has been greeted by dismay within the company, a total of up to 18 high ranking executives are believed to have been let go at Dunnes Stores last week.
The executives, including Dunnes Stores’ chief of security, Damian O’Reilly, are understood to have learnt their fate from management last Friday, 1 November

What’s more, a number of Dunnes’ senior staff have also returned to the UK in recent times, with Andrew Rigney, who was head of operations, amongst them.

In an earlier report by the Irish Independent, a spokeswoman for Dunnes Stores confirmed that its finance director Liam McGreal and Pat O’Donoghue, the group’s director of corporate services and company secretary, had left the company.

It is understood that O’Donoghue left some weeks ago and that McGreal parted with the Dublin-based group over a week ago.

The spokeswoman said: “We are not in a position to say why they have left”.

Following these defections, four of the old management guard remain in place. Andrew Street, chief operating officer; Dick Reeves, director of food; John McNiffe, director of store operations, and Margaret Heffernan.

With John McNiffe back on top an industry insider told ShelfLife: “McNiffe is back in charge and it would seem it’s a case of the old dog for the hard road.”

Meanwhile Harry Mullen, former chief of personnel is understood to have been reallocated to the position of store manager at Dunnes Stores Rathmines.

An industry source told ShelfLife the retailer’s turnover is allegedly down with an accompanying “big fall in margin”. Drapery and homeware departments, it would seem, are not performing as hoped.

Our source said an usually mild winter to date has affected sales of “heavy winter woollies” with the market proving “a lot slower in taking off this year”.

On a more positive note, Dunnes Stores has fared better in grocery sales due to strong promotions and discounting, but nevertheless its margin is thought to have been severely dented by poorer fashion and homeware sales.

The latest supermarket share figures from Kantar Worldpanel in Ireland, published for the 12 weeks ending 13 October, show Dunnes’ ‘Shop and Save’ campaign helped to drive sales growth of 5%, and boosted its market share by one percentage point to 23%.

David Berry, commercial director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Many of the grocery retailers have been actively targeting shoppers with money saving vouchers in recent months and this has led to a change in consumer shopping habits. Shoppers have switched from the ‘little and often’ approach to stocking up, making fewer trips, but purchasing more items per shop.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that cost cutting at the UK arm of Dunnes Stores meant that profits there actually jumped last year, despite falling sales.

Pre-tax profits at Dunnes’ British branch soared by 29% to £15.9m (€18.5m) in the year ending to February – despite sales falling by 5% to £157m.

Dunnes Stores has unlimited status in Ireland and is subsequently not required to file annual accounts to the Companies Office.


Profits rise at UK arm of Dunnes Stores

Pretax profits at the UK arm of Irish-owned retail giant Dunnes Stores last year increased by 29 per cent to £15.9 million (€18.5m). According to returns just lodged by Dunnes Stores (Bangor) Ltd to Companies House in the UK, the firm enjoyed the profit upswing in spite of revenues decreasing by 5 per cent from £166.3 million to £157.5 million in the 12 months to the end of February 2nd, 2013.

The main factor behind the increase in pretax profits from £12.37million to £15.94 million was the firm’s cost of sales decreasing by 9.5 per cent from £107.5 million to £97.2 million.

The Newry-registered firm’s revenues are generated in the UK and the North, with it operating 23 stores in the North, six in England and five in Scotland.


Wiese confirms interest in BHS acquisition

South African billionaire Christo Wiese has confirmed that he is interested in making a bid for British retailers.

According to the Mail on Sunday, Wiese said that although there was “nothing hard on the table”, BHS “may well be one that we end up looking at.”

Wiese, who has a personal fortune of £2.2bn, is chairman of South African investment and holding company Pepkor, which manages a portfolio of value retail companies. These include Pep and Ackermans in South Africa and Best & Less in Australia.

The clothing giant is looking to invest in UK companies, after setting up a UK team led by formed Asda chief executive Andy Bond.

It is understood that Wiese has also expressed an interest in Poundworld and Poundstretcher, the second of which he has run in the past.


Selfridges is bidding to take over Arnotts.

RETAIL EXPERTS have celebrated the news that London retail chain Selfridges is bidding to take over Arnotts.

It emerged over the weekend that the London retail giant, controlled by billionaire Canadian businessman Galen Weston is vying for a stake in Ireland’s largest department store. Mr Weston also owns Brown Thomas – meaning the two largest and most famous department stores in Ireland could join forces.

“It will be fantastic if they succeed,” said retail consultant Eddie Shanahan, a former head of merchandising at Arnotts. “It would mean one of the most professional retail management teams in Europe, if not the world, will come to the rescue of a company that’s been struggling.”

Selfridges is bidding for a stake in Arnotts that was put up for sale by bad bank IBRC and Ulster Bank, who took control of the company in 2010. The banks control about €315m worth of loans attached to Arnotts. Many of these were accumulated by the store’s troubled purchase of properties in the Abbey Street area of Dublin known as the Northern Quarter, where Arnotts’ flagship outlet is based.

These loans form part of a portfolio called ‘Evergreen’, which also includes loans attached to the Topaz garage chain. The first round of bidding for ‘Evergreen’ has already been completed; the second stage of the bidding process is being announced today. Bidders who offer more than the value placed on these assets by an independent assessment will move to the next round.

Private equity firm Palladin Capital is also rumoured to be bidding for the Arnotts loans.


“If Selfridges take control, they will not try to compete with themselves,” said Mr Shanahan. “We will see Arnotts become less like Brown Thomas, not more.

“Selfridges have a very experienced, global team who understand that the iconic Arnotts brand has a place in the market – mid-range is important, and it’s coming back.”

Arnotts lost its way, he said, by losing focus on its customers and trying to remodel itself on its high-end rival.

“In addition to its property woes, Arnotts tried to become too like Brown Thomas. It focused on someone else’s customer, and forgot its own – raising price points and bringing in American brands that Irish people didn’t recognise, for example. Selfridges would do the opposite – return it to the store it used to be, which emphasised value and offered a huge range,” he added.


Management team takes full control at Mountain Warehouse in £85 million deal

The management team of outdoor retailer Mountain Warehouse has taken full control of the business following the acquisition of a minority shareholding from LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group.

The £85 million deal, which was led by Mountain Warehouse founder and chief executive Mark Neale, was backed by Royal Bank of Scotland and Alcentra.

The transaction has enabled the Mountain Warehouse team to take full ownership of the 169-strong chain, while providing an exit for LDC which acquired a significant minority shareholding in August 2010 as part of a £47 million buyout.

Since LDC’s investment, Mountain Warehouse has grown its turnover £47.5 million to £75.6 million in the year ending February 2013. The retailer has also opened 60 stores and created over 500 jobs in the period.

Commenting on the deal, Neale said: “We have had fantastic support from LDC in helping us expand the business despite tough market conditions. Having had four private equity investors over the last 16 years, we have now taken the opportunity to buy back full control and to push ahead with our exciting expansion plans. I am delighted that RBS and Alcentra are backing the team for this important next phase of growth.”

Neale said that he now sees potential to expand to 300 stores across Europe and to grow Mountain Warehouse’s online business, which is now shipping to more than 100 countries. The retailer has seen like-for-like sales increase by around 10% in the year to date with online sales more than doubling.

Bertie Aykroyd, investment director at LDC, said: “Mark and his team have delivered a strong performance in some of the most difficult conditions the retail sector has seen for many years. Thanks to a clear strategy, a highly capable team and a strong proposition, they’ve taken the business to the next level where it can now continue to grow and develop.”


52% of Mumbai’s 40-odd malls struggling

MUMBAI: The credit card swiper at her desk makes Supriya Maiti burst into a fit of helpless laughter. The machine hasn’t belched a bill in almost a year, despite the sign on the jewellery showroom’s glass door that says “20% off”.
Even if that number were 50, Maiti is sure no one would walk into her first-floor store at Thane’s Eternity mall, where, since January, escalators have become stairs. “We have suffered 100% loss,” says Maiti, who kills time listening to Hindi songs on her cellphone, watching TV soaps and conversing with salesgirl Tejaswini Mane about things like cockroaches in the food court. The once-thriving Eternity mall today bears all the symptoms of a phantom mall.

And its retail doom reflects the reality at over half of the 40-odd malls in the city, which are now haunted by low footfalls and high vacancy. According to a recent Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India survey, up to 52% malls in Mumbai are lying vacant — a figure second only to Delhi. “A majority of the retail failures have been because of failure of design or not having adequately strong brands,” says Shubhranshu Pani, managing director, retail services of global property consultants , Jones Lang LaSalle India. While poor location, bad parking facilities and competition from malls with multinational brands are other reasons, “a peculiarity of Mumbai is the cost of real estate” , says Gulam Zia, executive director , retail, advisory and hospitality, Knight Frank India. Retail gloom: Lease costs high at malls, footfalls low.

Thane’s Eternity mall is a classic example of what many malls in Mumbai look like today. It offers no respite from the heat in the form of air-conditioning. The dimlylit second floor, which houses the food court, has more construction workers than patrons. Some big brands recently wound up here and many shops have been replaced by real estate offices. The few retail outlets that remain are in a state of perpetual sale. Alok Tibrewal of Kouns Avenue, a garment shop promising ‘Buy 2 get 5 free’, is praying for the success of Krrish 3. “We get walk-ins only when a good movie is on.” Bad design, lack of strong brands, and poor location and parking facilities have led to the failure of most of these malls. Costs are an added factor. As malls don’t fall under an urban plan, there are no reserved spaces for them unlike hospitals or hotels.

They are constructed in spaces that compete with commercial and residential prices, so automatically, the lease costs for retailers rise and may not be affordable to all. In the recent past, Santacruz’s Milan mall and Vashi’s City Center shut shop while a host of others such as Citi mall in Andheri seem to be dragging their feet. Dreams mall, one of the biggest in Bhandup, today lies mostly vacant except for a banquet hall, a few offices and a multiplex. “Shop for Rent” signs adorn Atria mall in south Mumbai and at Vashi’s Palm Beach Galleria, a supermarket recently held a 70% sale before winding up.

A major problem, says Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India , is that malls are built by real estate firms. “They are not accustomed to creating spaces where success is not in leasing out but in ensuring customer footfalls,” he says. This formula for success is what industry insiders like to call the “right mix” —a good location, great tenants, balance of tenant sizes and some compelling competitive advantage for a mall. “Customers do not like malls that are half empty or ones that seem to have a lot of new store set-up happening during shopping hours,” says Rajagopalan, adding some malls are created without appointing a mall manager or mall management company.

At Cine Wonder, Thane’s first-ever mall, for instance, guards have no idea if the mall has an office. Ten days ago, the management was handed over to a registered society whose challenges would be “funding and maintenance ,” says Ajay Singh, a member of this society. The lift is only meant for patrons of the third-floor multiplex and the only toilets open to patrons are staff toilets. The first and second floor have just a few bulbs in the name of electricity, which makes it a haunt for couples. However, Sanjeev S, who runs a gifting store called Shubechha here, says he isn’t moving out as his overhead costs are low. “If I shift to a high-end mall, I’d have to shell out thrice the amount, and the customer will have to bear this loss,” he says.

Though he admits competition from MNCs has meant the demise of “shops,” the key to survival is in offering “something different,” feels Sanjeev S. Perhaps it is this USP that’s worked for Sushant Prabhu, co-owner of Headbangers, a music merchandise outlet. Housed in the largely decrepit Om Heera Panna mall at Oshiwara, now chiefly occupied by production units, “we are the only store selling T-shirts in this locality,” says Prabhu.

Though many malls have begun leasing out retail space to offices, this may not always be a good idea, feels Gulam Zia. “It may not promise returns especially if the mall is located in a residential area ,” he says. Dying malls, says Shubranshu Pani, need to redefine themselves by redesign, re-tenanting appropriately and managing better with event promotions.


Dubai’s Apparel inks deal for over 40 new stores

Apparel Group, the Dubai retail conglomerate, has signed up for 40 shops in malls operated by Line Investment & Property (LIP) as it sees significant growth in the UAE market.

On the signing of the contract, Nilesh Ved, chairman and founder of Apparel Group, said: “We see a big growth in UAE market and have recently opened 50 plus shops in Abu Dhabi starting with Al Wahda Mall, Dalma Mall, Deerfields Town Centre and so on. We are glad to partner with Line Investment.”

The Apparel Group represents more than 50 international brands in Middle East markets, including Tim Hortons, Aldo, Nine West, Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole, and Inglot.

The retail firm, which started operations in 1996, has now expanded to 750 stores in 14 countries worldwide.

Raja Abdulkhader, director – Line Investments & Property, said Apparel’s 40 plus units will be opening during the remainder of this year and in 2014.

Apparel already operate in many of LIP’s malls including Al Wadha, Khalidiyah and Mushrif.

LIP’s new projects set to open in early 2014 include LuLu Mall, Fujairah, Ruwais Mall, Ruwais and Barari Outlet Mall, Al Ain.

Line Investments & Property (LIP) is the shopping mall development and management division of Abu Dhabi based LuLu Group International.

LIP currently manages more than 6.3 million sq ft of retails space across 12 shopping centres in the Middle East and India targets to expand to 9 million sq ft across 15 malls by 2015.