Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Selfridges plans for a £10m overhaul of its Oxford Street flagship

Selfridges is planning a £10 million overhaul of its Oxford Street flagship store in London.

Taking on-board an engineer Expedition, architecture consulting firm Gensler and construction manager Blue Sky Building, the British luxury department store is hoping to renovate the historical building in order to create greater retail space. Furthermore, it plans to build an extension behind the building, a construction of a store entrance on Duke Street and an underground tunnel which said to connect the store with the office building behind it.

The chain of high-end department stores is rumored to be also freeing space for a ‘high profile brand’ which could be situated in its ground floor.

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Giordano plans for future and pushes main label upmarket

ANALYSIS_ Hong Kong listed Giordano International plans to push its main label upmarket and raise prices by 10 to 15 percent over the next two years, giving way to its spin-off brand Beau Monde to focus on affordable apparel staples.

“What’s holding us back is two things. The first one is memory but secondly, our locations,” Chief executive Peter Lau Kwok-keun said. “We have stores where we shouldn’t have entered, at supermarkets or what we call B-minus locations,” Lau further elaborated Lau at the company’s annual results briefing.

The top executive at the Hong Kong listed apparel group publically acknowledged Giordano’s struggles with a mass market image problem due to its rapid expansion into the mainland.

“Imagine if Louis Vuitton had a small outlet in Sham Shui Po – what it would do to their brand equity. We want Beau Monde to take Giordano’s place at those supermarket locations and in two years’ time hope that Giordano will be at B or B+ locations,” he said.

Giordano pushes namesake brand upscale to regain mainland China
The Beau Monde label, which will launch in the mainland in the second quarter, sells lower cost basic apparel. “It will be a bit more like the Giordano you remember from way back when,” Lau said.

Giordano International (0709) saw annual net profit plunge by a fifth to 660 million Hong Kong dollars due to weak mainland sales and warned of more challenges ahead. Excluding the 143 million Hong Kong dollars disposal gains in 2012, profit for the year ended December 31 went down by 3 percent.

Earnings per share (EPS) were 42.6 Hong Kong cents. A final dividend of 24 Hong Kong cents was declared, taking the whole-year payout to 40 Hong Kong dollars, the same as in 2012 as highlighted by the ‘South China Morning Post’.

On the wake of the news, the firm’s shares rose 2.8 percent to 5.12 Hong Kong dollars, nearly doubling broader local benchmark index Hang Seng Index, which closed the session with gains of 1.74 percent. Tycoon Cheng Yu- tung remains as Giordano’s largest stakeholder.

In the mid-term, the apparel group faces certain challenges in their main market, mainly due to high rents in Hong Kong and a the wrong brand positioning in mainland China.

“Excess inventory, over- capacity of retail space and rising competition online will continue to depress the ability of retailers to grow volume and margins,” the company’s CEO said, stressing however that profit could only be maintained if sales grew by double digits amid soaring rents in the South Asia market.

Looking beyond the China’s broader market, Giordano sees great room for growth in the Middle East, where sales multiplied nearly by the sixfold to 632 million Hong Kong dollars last year. “We see a lot of potential in the UAE for the 2020 World Expo and of course, Doha building up for the World Cup,” managing director for Giordano Middle East Ishwar Chugani said.

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M&S opens largest international store in Kuwait

UK retail giant Marks & Spencer has announced the opening of its largest international store in Kuwait.

The new 72,000 square foot flagship store is operated by Marks & Spencer’s long term franchise partner Al-Futtaim group, which now operates 26 M&S stores across eight territories in the region.

Omar Al Futtaim, chairman of Al-Futtaim Group, joined Marc Bolland, Marks & Spencer chief executive, to officially open the shop at The View in Salmiya on Thursday.

Bolland said: “We’re delighted to officially open our largest international store in Kuwait… The Middle East is a priority market for Marks & Spencer and through our successful partnership with Al-Futtaim we are continuing to build our presence here.”

John Cooper, managing director of Marks & Spencer Al-Futtaim group MENA, added: “Through the introduction of Marks & Spencer’s largest store outside of the UK and Ireland, customers in Kuwait can now shop our most extensive fashion collections whilst also sampling the best of authentic English cuisine our M&S Café has to offer.”

The store also includes a M&S Café with seating for 60 people, its second M&S Café in the region outside of the UAE.

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Step into the Pradasphere with Harrods

May 2014 will be the month of Prada at Harrods as the Italian fashion house takes over part of the iconic store with an exhibition, café and exclusive collection

The Pradasphere will takeover Harrods in May

Prepare to land on planet Prada if you visit Harrods this May because the famed Italian fashion house is taking over part of the iconic Knightsbridge store with an exhibition, café and special collection.

The Pradasphere exhibition, situated on the fourth floor, will trace the ever-widening ambitions of Italy’s most influential fashion house and present a broad spectrum of historic collections, special projects, collaborations and experiments.

After wandering through the wonderful world of Prada, you’ll be able to take a pit stop in the very special Pradasphere café – the first ever – for refreshments.

Believe it or not, Prada has been around for 100 years. The brand was founded by current creative director Miuccia Prada’s grandfather, Mario Prada, and his brother Martino in 1913 as leather goods company. As such, Prada have created an exclusive capsule collection of ready-to-wear, bags, shoes and accessories just for Harrods inspired by iconic Prada collections from the last century.

Downstairs, Harrods’ exhibition windows will display the collection, alongside treasures from the brand’s archive.

“We are delighted to work with Italy’s finest fashion house to bring the Prada universe to life,” says Helen David, Harrods fashion director. “Pradasphere will offer our customers a singular experience and the opportunity to shop an exclusive Prada collection found nowhere else.”

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Waitrose in export South Africa export deal

StockMarketWire.com – Waitrose has announced its first export deal in South Africa. The deal means that the supermarket will be selling its products in every continent, with the exception of Antarctica, and exports to 50 countries across the globe.

In one of its biggest deals to date, more than 250 of the supermarket’s own-brand groceries – from essential Waitrose to Duchy Originals From Waitrose – are now available in Food Lover’s Market stores in South Africa.

Food Lover’s Market’s 120 stores, owned by Fruit & Veg City, draw on inspiration from across the world to create stylish and modern food emporiums for customers looking for exception quality and variety.

It will also be available in selected Fruit & Veg City’s Freshstop at Caltex service station shops.

Waitrose has, for many years, sourced fruit and wine from South Africa, supplied by Waitrose Foundation farms, which return a percentage of profits to its farm workers.

This new agreement marks another first as Waitrose products are exported to the country.

Among the items being exported to South Africa are shortbread, muesli, risotto and pasta, ice cream, sorbet, and even Waitrose wines from across France, Italy and Portugal.

Waitrose export sales grew by nearly 30 per cent last year with recent additions to the export business including South Korea, Taiwan, Ibiza, Australia and Gibraltar. Among the most popular exports are Waitrose teabags, custard creams, crackers and marmalade.

As well as meeting demand from expats, the business is seeing significant growth from local populations who are keen to try out European flavours.

A recent success story was when essential Waitrose mayonnaise launched in Chile – only for the shelves to be cleared within hours.

Waitrose business to business director David Morton said: “To be exporting to six continents is a landmark moment for us.

“South Africa’s economy is growing and we’re very pleased to be working with Food Lover’s Market to meet the rising demand for cosmopolitan flavours among their customers.

“We’ve been working closely with farms in South Africa through the Waitrose Foundation for nearly a decade so it’s fantastic to be exporting to the country as well as importing its produce.

“The past few years have seen a huge expansion of our presence around the world, and we are always on the look out for potential partners to help grow our global appeal further.”

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Superbrands uk 2014 results and reports

About Superbrands®

Superbrands commissions independent research to identify the UK’s strongest brands, as voted for by marketing experts, business professionals and thousands of British consumers. Superbrands UK is part of a global business operating in over 50 countries. Superbrands Worldwide.

2014 Results

There are two separate surveys: Consumer Superbrands (the UK’s strongest B2C brands) and Business Superbrands (the UK’s strongest B2B brands). The results of both surveys are published annually in February.

Business results full PDF

Consumer results full PDF

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Abercrombie & Fitch quarterly profit plunges

Teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co reported a 58 per cent fall in quarterly profit as it struggles to keep up with the tastes of young shoppers.

Abercrombie’s net income fell to $66.1 million, or 85 cents per share, for the fourth quarter ended February 1st.

This compares to $157.2 million, or $1.95 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding restructuring and other charges, the company earned $1.34 per share.

Revenue fell 12 per cent to $1.30 billion.

Chief executive Mike Jeffries has been struggling to reconnect with the chain’s teenage customers who are less enamoured of Abercrombie’s fashions, half-naked models and cacophonous stores.

Jeffries, who has been chief executive for nearly 22 years, has faced criticism for failing to stop the once-edgy retailer from ceding market share to “fast fashion” chains such as Forever 21 and Zara over the past couple of years.

He had also stirred controversy in the process by suggesting the company’s clothes were made for “cool” and “attractive” kids and not for “fat” people.

The board stripped Mr Jeffries of his chairman duties last month, bowing to investor pressure to reduce his control over the struggling company.

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Shoprite to open 101 stores in SA in aggressive bid to gain market share

Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson speaks at his company’s results presentation in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Despite the downturn in economic conditions, the group intends to continue with its expansion plans for South Africa. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
SHOPRITE Holdings is opening 101 new stores in South Africa before June as part of an aggressive expansion plan to gain market share in an environment in which consumers are tightening their belts.

South Africa’s largest retailer and sector bellwether reported a lower than expected 7.4% rise in first-half profit to R1.82bn on Tuesday. The performance shows the combined effects of slowing income growth and unsecured credit extension as well as the high debt burden and the rising cost of living on its core low-middle-income customer. This has intensified competition as retailers continue to vie for prime locations in a race for space and consumer’s rand.

Shoprite shares fell as much as 3.7% to R137.97, the biggest intraday decline in almost a month, according to Bloomberg.

“The average South African consumer is not in great shape. Low-income consumers spend 89% of net income to service debt, yet need 70% of income just to cover essential living expenses. It’s been a tough year, the rise in fuel and electricity costs is not helping…and GDP (gross domestic product) projections don’t show a good picture for South Africa,” CEO Whitey Basson said.

According to the group, the direct e-toll cost to date for its fleet was R4m, which will raise the price of food for Gauteng customers.

Revenue rose 9.7% to R51bn in the six months to December 31. A dividend of 132c a share was declared, 7.3% up on a year ago.

Shoprite’s South African supermarket unit, its largest division, increased turnover 7.6% to R38.275bn. Average internal food inflation for the six months was 3.8%, compared to official food inflation of 5.2%. 36One Asset Management equity analyst Daniel Isaacs, said the group’s results “were a bit light.”

“That sort of growth rate especially for SA is quite slow, the middle segment consumer is under pressure, Shoprite is putting through inflation that is lower than the inflation they’re experiencing which talks reinvesting in price points to accommodate a weak consumer and that would cause margins to squeeze a bit. These guys are in a tough space, mainly because of where the consumers is,” he said.

Shoprite closed its stores on December 15 for the funeral of former South African President Nelson Mandela, a decision which cost about R260m in sales.

Chris Gilmour, an analyst at Absa Investments said the group’s result typified what was happening at that lower-end of the market.

“People are taking predominantly more strain than their middle and upper-end peers in the market, it was a softer result than might otherwise been expected but when you are this big and when you have such a huge lead in market share, that is inevitably going to be what happens,” he said.

Despite the economic downturn, the group is maintaining its new store programme in order to reap the benefits when economic conditions improve.

“It has become a jungle out there, in which your ability to survive is being tested everyday,” the group’s deputy MD Carel Goosen said at the analyst presentation.

Over the past 12 months Shoprite has added net 104 corporate stores, more trading space compared to any of its competitors.

Absa Investments analyst Chris Gilmour said Shoprite’s market share was “comfortably above 34%”.

“They are still a clear leader, they are way, way, beyond any competitor, but you’re going to see this crazy, irrational, dysfunctional race for market share because of what’s injected into the market — predominantly by Massmart — by big, sustained discounting,” Mr Gilmour said.

“The big boys can’t afford to let a little bit of market share escape their grasp … they are clinging on to existing market share and they will throw space at it and make it a nicer shopping experience, and try to get people through the doors.We are going to have more space put into what is becoming an increasingly crowded market out there,” he said.

Pick n Pay, which is in the midst of a turnaround strategy, is aiming for 4.5% space growth. In its food business, Woolworths is looking at growth of 8% this year. In August, Massmart said it would open 90 stores over three years.

“With the exception of a few, we see across the board that guys are going very aggressive with space. We are becoming a bit of an overtraded market from a space point of view and the race for space is pretty much “keep your competitors at bay issue. Retailers don’t want to lose out because that’s what their competitors are doing …they have to go for space even though it might be cannibalising existing stores,” Mr Isaacs said.

Shoprite’s expansion will extend to Africa’s resource-rich countries such as Angola, where its five Shoprite stores sold more Red Bull than all 382 Shoprite stores in South Africa.

Despite prevalent risks such as lack of infrastructure and red tape, the group, like other retailers, is growing its footprint on the continent as urbanisation and rising affluence fuel a boom in fast-growing cities, with a middle class clamouring for high-quality branded goods.

Sales in its rest of Africa division increased by 28.1% in rand terms and 14.9% in constant currencies.

“In our non-SA portfolio, our average return on our buildings is 13.01% in dollar terms … the return on investments for the six months on an annualised basis is in excess of 45%. So now you know why we are so keen to investing in non-SA,” Mr Basson said.

Shoprite has earned its stripes as continental kingpin.

Part of its success it no doubt owes to its first -mover status — it began its expansion in 1995, and its non-South African supermarket operations now span 16 countries in Africa‚ with 163 stores. Shoprite is now partnering with South African developers to further growth in Africa.

The group will open 44 additional supermarkets in the rest of Africa by June 2015, in countries like Nigeria, Zambia and Angola. It will also extend its MediRite Pharmacy, Computicket and Money Market services to various African markets and is in the process of planning distribution centres in Angola and Nigeria.

“That’s [Africa] where the real action is…and they’ve carved out their niche. Africa is the differentiator when it comes to Shoprite…its fascinating and underlines again why they were so visionary back in the 1990s. The stakes are getting higher and they have a huge advantage because they understand it and it’s taken them so long. It’s growing nicely for them. Shareholders are happy with this. The relatively small amount of stores that they are rolling out is as hard as you can try because getting the land in the difficult…the growing rate for land is around $4m an acre. But they have a keener nose than anyone out there,” Mr Gilmour said. Shoprite has exited Tanzania after ten years in the country, selling its business to Kenya based retail group Nakumatt.

“We just couldn’t compete with the informal trade. We closed it… it’s just a waste of time for us to expand in a market where we can’t get the optimum size for having enough stores to make a meaningful contribution to us. The west coast is so much more profitable to us,” Mr Basson said.

Other markets may also be on the cards for the group.

“Europe is recovering nicely, there are some small B-grade supermarkets that could come up for sale or joint ventures; we are keeping our hands on them because we have lots of money and young talent that can run the business,” Mr Basson noted.

Despite the present weaker industry demand for durable goods, the group’s furniture division reported healthy turnover growth of 10.5%, due to the strong performance of its dominant OK Furniture chain.

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Burger King plans whopper expansion in South Africa

Empowerment investment company Grand Parade Investments (GPI) is relishing the prospect of its Burger King investment munching rapidly into the market share of the local fast food sector.

GPI, which secured the Burger King master agreement for South Africa in late 2012, already has 10 outlets scattered through Cape Town and Gauteng. GPI’s results released on Tuesday showed Burger King generated a better-than-expected R38m in revenue in the six months to December.

The strong revenue figure is perhaps not that surprising since social media is inundated with reports of long queues outside certain Burger King stores as consumers clamour for a taste of the iconic ” Whopper” burger.

CEO of GPI Alan Keet said the revenue generated in the interim stemmed mainly from four Cape Town-based outlets with a smidgen of additional revenue churned out by an additional Burger King that opened in the city in early December.

“Trade (in Burger King) remains brisk and turnover is exceeding budget by 65%,” Mr Keet said. “So far the revenue generated from Burger King has by far exceeded our expectations.

“The stores are shooting the lights out .”

Mr Keet said Burger King’s push into Gauteng, where a handful of stores now operated, looked most promising too. Six Burger Kings operated in Cape Town, and four in Gauteng.

“One of our stores in Pretoria West, situated in a Sasol forecourt, is already beating sales in our first store in Adderley Street in Cape Town,” Mr Keet said.

The flagship food-court Burger King outlet in Rivonia was beating the first Cape Town store sales by one-and-half times.

Mr Keet believed GPI’s target of 100 stores within five years would be comfortably exceeded. The firm, with gearing of just 11%, had more than enough balance sheet capacity to aggressively roll out Burger King outlets.

GPI was committed to paying dividends to its many community-based shareholders.

Co-op hoists ‘for sale’ sign over farms and pharmacies

Co-op hoists ‘for sale’ sign over farms and pharmacies

The Co-operative Group has hoisted the ‘for sale’ sign over its farming and pharmacy businesses as it seeks to reduce its £1.2bn debt pile amid mounting losses.

The troubled mutual – which is in the midst of a group-wide strategy review aimed at finding ways of generating new capital – is on track to make losses in excess of between £1.5-2bn for the 2013 financial year.

The Co-op would not comment on reports that those losses could be £2bn, ahead of preliminary results for the year to December 2013 scheduled for March 26.

However Mr Sutherland did admit to The Telegraph a week ago that the Co-op’s 2013 results would be “ugly” and the worst in its history.

In a brief statement, the Co-op confirmed that it has deemed its farms business – thought to be worth in the tens of millions of pounds – as “non-core” and has begun a sales process.

The business runs 15 farms and employs some 200 people.

It also said that it has begun “exploring options” for its pharmacy business, which operates from 750 shops and has more than 6,500 staff. The statement confirmed that that process could lead to all or part of the pharmacy division being sold.

The pharmacy operation generated £28.2m of operating profits in 2012 on sales of £764m.

It serves approximately 200,000 customers a week, but the bulk of its trade comes from fulfilling NHS prescriptions, which is an increasingly difficult business to make money from due to Government cuts.

It is run entirely separately from its supermarket business. To grow it is thought the business would need to be integrated with supermarkets, which would require significant investment of the like the Co-op cannot currently afford.

If both divisions were to go, it would leave the Co-op with retail, banking, insurance, funerals, electrical and legal services as its main operating businesses.

The sales will be seen as the next step in stripping back the Co-op to its core operations, following the sale of its life insurance arm to Royal London last year, and the loss of control of its banking arm following its £1.5bn recapitalisation in December.

Co-op Group chief executive Euan Sutherland, who is leading the overhaul, signalled in an interview last week that the farming business was vulnerable.

“The point to understand about farms is people think we have farmland which produces product which comes into our shops. That’s not necessarily true,” he said.

“We have lots of land, some of it farmland, some of it not, very little of it produces any product that goes into our shops, less than 2pc … This was an historic period of investments over a long period of time.”

Peter Marks, Mr Sutherland’s predecessor, has said publicly he tried to sell the farming business when he was in office – but was blocked by doing so by the group board.

Unlike most organisations, the Co-op’s unique structure means that its board – which has the final say on major strategic decisions – is made up of elected members from its national structure of committees.

The pharmacy business dates back to 1945, and is the third largest chemist in the UK, after Boots the Chemist and Lloyds Pharmacy.

Its value to such larger trade players is questionable, however, given the size of its two main rivals and the likelihood of competition inquiries, and so the most obvious acquirer may be a financial backer such as a private equity house.

The confirmations come ahead not only of the mutual’s full-year results but also of Mr Sutherland’s strategy review announcement, scheduled to take place at the Co-op’s annual meeting in early May.

That meeting will also see the publication of the results of the ‘Have your say’ survey of members, suppliers and customers, which in its first week elicited more than 80,000 responses.

The survey, being conducted by YouGov, is aimed at understanding what different constituent groups want from an organisation like the Co-op in the 21st century.

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Mamas and Papas refocuses its international expansion

Mamas and Papas is undergoing a major roll-out programme overseas that will see the company build 100 stores in China and 25 stores in Russia.

Tim Maule, deputy chief executive of Mamas and Papas, says that the company’s new-found global reputation has allowed the firm to reassess its international business.

“We started trading around the world five years ago in a small way and we’re now in 59 countries through a variety of channels – franchising, distribution partners, and trading directly with retail chains,” he said. “We choose the model that works best in the market, where there is the most potential”.

The modus operandi in China and Russia is franchise, where 100 stores in China and 25 stores in Russia are scheduled to open in the next year.

Franchising in the US, however, is uncommon according to Maule, and therefore the company will continue to act as a supplier to larger retailers there.

Maule is also keen on Middle East: “It’s a mature store estate related to the acceptance of the brand and the economy that goes from strength to strength”.

With multichannel retail fast-becoming an essential necessity for retailers, it’s no wonder that British companies are working hard to improve their offering. Furthermore, research has shown that customers will often research the online and physical store before making a purchase, meaning that a robust multichannel platform is essential.

Mr Maule said: “We take an omni-channel view, working with our retail partners. Customers will often look at our site and buy in the stores. If they buy from Babies R Us then we’re thrilled and if they buy online with us then we are also thrilled”.
http://www.myretailmedia.com/blog/10568/mamas_and_papas_refocuses_its_international_expansion.php

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Starbucks Ireland profit up 47% in 2012

The Irish arm of coffee giant, Starbucks increased its profits after tax by 47 per cent to €721,327 in 2012 – but paid no corporation tax.

Accounts just filed by Ritea Ltd – formerly Starbucks Coffee Company (Ireland) Ltd – show it increased operating profits 40 per cent to €801,416, from €570,450. Net interest payments of €80,089 ate in to that figure.

Starbucks signed an agreement with Dublin-based Entertainment Enterprises Group, run by Colum and Ciaran Butler, just before the end of its 2012 financial year for the group to license Starbucks’ 17 stores in Ireland.

Starbucks now has 33 outlets in the greater Dublin area – less than a decade after the first Starbucks in Ireland opened at Dundrum Town centre in 2005.

The only corporation tax paid by Starbucks’ Irish arm was €34,980 in 2011. During that six-year period, it paid €5.7 million in royalty and licensing fees to its parent company

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Macy’s Q4 profit up 11% but sales miss; opening four new stores

New York – Macy’s Inc.’s fourth-quarter profit increased 11%, but the chain’s sales missed forecasts as ongoing winter storms caused a sales slump in January. The company also announced plans for new Macy’s stores in Sarasota, Fla.; Las Vegas; and The Bronx, N.Y., in fiscal 2014. A new Bloomingdale’s will open in Palo Alto, Calif., to replace an older store in the same shopping center.

Macy’s reported net income of $811 million during the fourth quarter, up 5% from $730 million in the same period a year earlier. Sales dropped 1.6% to $9.2 billion from $9.35 billion. Analysts had expected a more modest decline to about $9.28 billion. Same-store sales grew 1.4% for the quarter, less than the 2.5% projected by Wall Street.

During the full fiscal year, net income rose 19% to about $1.45 billion. Net sales totaled $27.93 million, up 0.9% from $27.69 million. Same-store sales increased 1.9%.

Although same-store sales in November and December 2013 rose 3.6% due to strong holiday performance, a worse-than-expected post-holiday slump in January 2014 led to Macy’s net sales loss for the quarter. Macy’s said severe weather resulted in 244 Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores across the country being shut at some point during the month.

Macy’s credited part of its net income growth to its ability to place more of the 2,500 employees who were laid off in January 2014 into new jobs than it had expected. In addition, Macy’s said its core business strategies, My Macy’s localization, Omni-channel integration and Magic Selling, which are known by the acronym of M.O.M, helped drive profitability and will continue to do so in the future.

“As has been the case since we began implementing these strategies in the 2008/2009 period, our competitive advantage is in the unique combination of localization, omni-channel and enhanced customer engagement,” said Terry J. Lundrgen, president, chairman and CEO of Macy’s. “Customers are able to shop for and buy the products that they want and prefer in our stores, via mobile devices and on computers in a shopping environment that delivers outstanding value and is supported with great service. “

The company is reiterating its annual sales and earning guidance, initially provided on January 8, 2014. Same-store sales growth in fiscal 2014 is expected in the range of 2.5-3%. Earnings of $4.40 to $4.50 per share are expected in 2014.

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CANADA’S TOP 20 MALLS BY TWITTER FOLLOWERS

By Melissa R.

We’ve put together a list of Canada’s top 20 malls, ranked by number of Twitter followers. Interestingly, one of these is a parody twitter account dedicated to a small, dated East Vancouver mall. Also, few malls in Quebec appear to utilize Twitter.

Besides Facebook, Twitter is an excellent source of information on malls and their new stores, promotions, sales, new merchandise, events and guest appearances. Some malls even include fashion tips and outfit ideas in their Twitter posts.

Here is our list of the top 20 malls by Twitter followers as of February 23rd, 2014:

West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, AB: 12.7K followers (Twitter rounds once an account reaches over 10,000 followers)
Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto, ON: 8,762 followers
Chinook Centre, Calgary, AB: 8,485 followers
Toronto Eaton Centre, Toronto, ON: 7,612 followers
Core Shopping Centre, Calgary, AB: 6,398 followers
Kingsgate Mall (parody account), Vancouver, BC: 6,001 followers
Metropolis at Metrotown, Burnaby, BC: 5,392 followers
Upper Canada Mall, Newmarket, ON: 5,352 followers
Mic Mac Mall, Dartmouth, NS: 3,614 followers
Oshawa Centre, Oshawa, ON: 3,563 followers
The Bay Centre, Victoria, BC: 3,442 followers
Vaughan Mills, Vaughan, ON: 3,086 followers
Mapleview Centre, Burlington, ON: 3,036 followers
Guildford Town Centre, Surrey, BC: 2,583 followers
Square One Mall, Mississauga, ON: 2,535 followers
Crossiron Mills, Calgary, AB: 2,492 followers
Coquitlam Centre, Coquitlam, BC: 2,479 followers
Bayshore Shopping Centre, Ottawa, ON: 2,435 followers
White Oaks Mall, London ON: 2,358 followers
Halifax Shopping Centre, Halifax, NS: 2,344 followers
If you exclude the parody Twitter account for Vancouver’s Kingsgate Mall, #20 would be Toronto’s Sherway Gardens with 2,180 followers. Humour appears to play a role in getting Twitter followers: Kingsgate’s Twitter account surpasses any mall in the Greater Vancouver area, far above Canada’s most productive mall (Pacific Centre with 1,061 followers) and Vancouver’s popular Oakridge Centre, with 1,416 Twitter followers.

An honourable mention goes to Central CityShopping Centre in Surrey BC with 2,289 Twitter followers, which would have been #20 on our list (ahead of Sherway Gardens). However, since it also houses an office tower and a campus for Simon Fraser University, which could contribute towards the number of followers received, we left it off the list.

As with our list of top Canadian malls by Facebook followers, West Edmonton Mall and Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre are tops for Twitter followers. Both malls are extremely active on social media and post up-to-the-minute happenings on both Twitter and Facebook.

There don’t seem to be any trends when it comes to how many Twitter followers a particular mall has. Very few of these malls made our Top malls by Facebook likes list and some post on Twitter multiple times a day, while others only update a few times a week. While most of these malls are in major cities or located near tourist attractions or border crossings, a few of these malls (Upper Canada Mall, White Oaks Mall and Mapleview Centre) are located an hour or two drive away from the closest major city.

Interestingly, few malls in Quebec have Twitter accounts. While reseraching this article, we were only able to locate a handful that have Twitter accounts. These include Carrefour Laval, Laval (1,807 followers), Centre Rockland, Montreal (839 followers), Place Montreal Trust, Montreal, (402 followers), Les Promeades Gatineau, Gatineau (279 followers), Carrefour Angrignon, Montreal (229 followers) and Les Galeries de Hull (45 followers). We may have missed a few but overall, it’s surprising how many large Quebec malls lack Twitter accounts.

While we’re on the topic of Twitter, Retail Insider has a busy Twitter feed where we tweet and re-tweets Canadian retail news. Feel free to follow us on Twitter as well.

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Apple wants to open own stores in India

Apple Inc, the maker of iPhones and iPads, has asked the government to relax the local sourcing clause in its policy on foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail. Though government officials seem to have ruled this out for now, the proposal has not yet been closed.

The company’s senior management executives recently met officials in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), which governs the country’s FDI policy, and sought an exception to be made for the technology giant.

“They (Apple) have clearly told us that they cannot adhere to the sourcing norms as they hardly use any hardware for their products. We have also told them that while the government is keen on investments, it cannot make exceptions. However, we can analyse a company’s needs on a case by case basis,” a senior DIPP official told Business Standard.

The official added that the company was “keen to invest in India, buoyed by the demand for its products, which is rising every year”.

DIPP is internally examining what methodology it can work out in this case, where a firm keen to invest in India does minimal sourcing.

The Cupertino, US-based company has since 2006 been keen to enter India by setting up wholly-owned retail stores. Its hope of opening its own stores across the country were renewed when the government in January 2012 allowed 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail.

Apple is weighing various options to establish its stores in India. As part of this, it has asked the government to relax the sourcing norms. The company has told DIPP its iPhones and iPads hardly have any hardware content, while its laptops are assembled products.

According to the present FDI policy on single-brand retail, for proposals involving foreign equity in excess of 51 per cent, it is necessary for the company to source 30 per cent of its contents from the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises. In the first instance, this procurement requirement has to be met as an average of five years’ total value of goods purchased from April 1 of the year during which the first tranche of FDI is brought in. Thereafter, it is to be met on an annual basis.

At present, Apple Inc’s 45 ‘Apple Premium Resellers’ in India are run under the franchisee model with partners.

Reliance Retail, one such partner, operates 22 stores known by the name of iStores. Redington India is another partner. Apple also sells its products through multi-brand electronic stores like Reliance Digital and Croma. Globally, Apple Inc operates more than 360 wholly-owned stores in 12 countries. Currently, Apple consumers in India face difficulties in after-sales service.

As a result of this, the company’s market share remains a low two-three per cent. Besides, pricing also becomes an issue, as Apple products are highly priced in this market.

Besides, the company has only one registered office, in Bangalore. According to the International Data Corporation, Samsung, with a 33 per cent market share, is the clear leader in India’s smartphones category. It is followed by Micromax (17 per cent) and Karbonn (11 per cent).

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Supervalu to create 210 jobs as it plans to open three new stores

Supervalu is set to open three new stores in 2014 as part of a € 7 million investment by its independent retail partners. The expansion will result in the creation of 210 jobs, and will bring the grocery chain’s number of outlets up to 226.
The Musgraves-owned grocery chain will also invest a further € 12 million in the expansion and refurbishment of 45 stores this year. This comes on top of the € 20 million in-store investment programme in the former Superquinn network, which was announced earlier this year.
The grocery chain saw its sales increase by 1 per cent in 2013, up to €2.1 billion, resulting in its market share growing to 20.1 per cent. Since the name change of the 24 Superquinn stores earlier this month, Supervalu now has a combined market share of 25.2 per cent and is the largest Irish grocery brand in the country.
Speaking at the Supervalu national conference in Killarney today, Martin Kelleher, managing director of Supervalu, said that the chain’s own brand range had proven popular with customers, with sales increasing by 9 per cent last year.

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Mothercare boss Simon Calver quits

Mothercare boss Simon Calver has resigned as chief executive from immediate effect.

The news comes six weeks after the retailer issued a profit warning. Group worldwide sales fell 6.1% in the 12 weeks to 4 January, with UK like-for-like sales down 4%. The group made a loss of £21.7m in the UK in its last financial year.

Mothercare hasn’t given any reason for Calver’s exit.

In a statement, Mothercare chairman Alan Parker said: “Since Simon Calver joined Mothercare PLC in April 2012, under his leadership the company has made progress in implementing the Transformation and Growth plan.

“In particular, Simon Calver’s e-commerce expertise has allowed Mothercare to accelerate its development as a multi-channel retailer in the UK. We wish him well in the future.

“Mothercare has a strong executive management team which is very capable of running the business in the interim while the search for a new CEO is under way.”

Calver’s contract entitles him to £250,000 in lieu of six months’ notice. He will not receive a bonus for the 2014 financial year.

Calver was appointed chief executive of Mothercare in April 2012. He also co-founded LOVEFiLM, the online DVD and Digital Entertainment company, now part of Amazon Inc.

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Hobbs chief exec Nicky Dulieu to leave

Nicky Dulieu, chief executive of Hobbs is to leave the retailer after five years.

Dulieu, who joined the womenswear chain in 2006, is expected to remain in her position until spring and will continue to work with the retailer after standing down from the top role, according to Draper’s sister magazine Retail Week.

Dulieu joined Hobbs as finance director before being promoted to managing director then chief executive in 2009. Prior to joining the chain she worked at Marks & Spencer for more than 20 years.

This move comes just a month after Hobbs’ owner 3i wrote down the value of its investment in the womenswear retailer by 40% after poor trading in the last quarter of 2013.

Private equity firm 3i, which bought Hobbs in 2004 for £111m, said that the value of its 47% stake in the business had dropped by £14m since September 2013, when it was valued at £35m. Its value in Hobbs had already experienced a significant drop since March last year, when its investment stood at £47m.

Last month the retailer also appointed former New Look boss Phil Wrigley as chairman, replacing Ian MacRitchie.

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Crocs reports 8.8 percent revenue rise in FY 2013

REPORT_ Crocs has reported financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2013. Its GAAP revenue increased 1.6 percent and 6.2 percent in the 2013 fourth quarter and the full year, respectively. On a constant currency basis, revenue increased 4.1 percent and 8.8 percent in the 2013 fourth quarter and full year, respectively.
The Niwot headquartered company reported a net loss of 0.76 dollars and net income of 0.12 dollars per diluted share on a GAAP basis in the 2013 fourth quarter and the full year, respectively. Excluding certain non-recurring, unusual and infrequent charges, the company reported a non-GAAP net loss of 0.20 dollars and non-GAAP net income of 0.82 dollars per diluted share in the 2013 fourth quarter and the full year.

According to John McCarvel, President and Chief Executive Officer, of Crocs, “We delivered balanced performance in the fourth quarter despite the challenging retail environment in North America. On a constant currency basis, 2013 revenue grew by 4 percent for the quarter and 9 percent for the full year. The full-year revenue growth was driven by a solid 7 percent increase in wholesale revenue, with particular strength in Europe, as well as our global retail expansion.”

In the fourth quarter of 2013, the company incurred a GAAP net loss of 66.9 million dollars, compared with a net loss of 3.6 million dollars in the comparable quarter in the prior year. The company reported a non-GAAP net loss of 17.7 million dollars in the quarter compared with non-GAAP net income of 4.4 million dollars in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The company generated net income of 10.4 million dollars for the full year 2013, compared with net income of 131.3 million dollars in 2012. The company generated non-GAAP net income of 72.8 million dollars for the full year 2013 compared with non-GAAP net income of 129.1 million dollars during 2012.

Thomas J. Smach, Crocs Chairman of the Board, commented, “As we look forward, 2014 will be a significant transition period for the company. We will recruit a new CEO who will work with the reconstituted board to refine the company’s short-term and long-term strategic plans, which will include prioritizing earnings over top-line growth. We will focus on improving financial performance, particularly in the Americas and Japan, as well as enhancing our global retail execution.”

For the first quarter of 2014, the company expects revenue between 305 million dollars and 315 million dollars. As previously announced by the company, McCarvel intends to retire as President, Chief Executive Officer and board member by April 30, 2014.

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Flip Flop Shops (US) to Announce Major Development for the Middle East

27 Jan 2014 – Flip Flop Shops®, one of the fastest growing retail chains in North America, announced a master franchise agreement with major Middle East fashion leader, Al Mana Fashion Group, W.L.L., a subsidiary of Al Mana Group. The agreement includes significant global expansion with the development of 50 Flip Flop Shops retail locations throughout the region, including shops in Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. The new Flip Flop Shops locations will begin opening in early 2014, and will be developed throughout the region over the next ten years.

This is the largest deal in Flip Flop Shops’ history and an impressive international play for this one-of-a-kind company that encourages everyone to “Live… Work…Play With Their Toes Exposed®.” The franchise-based company is the first retailer of its kind devoted exclusively to the latest styles of flip flops and casual footwear from the world’s hottest brands, including Quiksilver, ROXY, SANÜK, OluKai and more. Its mission is to help people “Free Their Toes®” and embrace the relaxing benefits of flip flops and casual footwear for healthier, low stress living. It’s more than just a shop…it’s a lifestyle.

“This is a true testament to the strength of the Flip Flop Shops brand and model. And to be partnering with an internationally renowned fashion retailer such as Al Mana Group is something I consider one of our most significant successes as we expand globally,” said Brian Curin, the President and Co-Founder of Flip Flop Shops (size 10). “The Middle East is currently one of the hottest retail markets in the world, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner to bring our unique offering to this region.”

Representing some of the world’s major international companies, Al Mana Group is involved in some of the largest and most lucrative projects in Qatar and throughout the Middle East.

“Flip Flop Shops is a unique and very marketable addition to our collection of major worldwide fashion brands,” said Andrew Fairall, General Manager of Al Mana Fashion Group’s Sports Division. “We are looking forward to opening the first retail location in Qatar, and announcing that we have dozens of franchise opportunities available throughout the region.”

Flip Flop Shops operates nearly 100 locations globally, and has more than 100 shops in the development pipeline, not including this new, expansive Middle East development. The company’s explosive growth and expansion has greatly helped mature the flip flops and casual footwear industry segment into a year-round contender. In 2013, Flip Flop Shops was named to the Inc. 500 | 5,000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S. for the fourth year running, boasting 860-percent growth in the last three years alone.

“The Flip Flop Shops concept has done phenomenally well since we introduced it in North America, and after visiting the Middle East a few years ago, I knew it would be a great market for our brand,” adds Darin Kraetsch, the CEO of Flip Flop Shops (size 10). “Al Mana Group successfully represents only the best concepts and brands, and I’m excited to watch our franchise development continue with this partnership.”

About Flip Flop Shops

Founded in 2004, Flip Flop Shops is the authentic retail chain exclusively devoted to the hottest brands and latest styles of flip flops and casual footwear. Its mission is to help people “Free Their Toes®” and embrace the relaxing benefits of flip flops and casual footwear for a healthier, low stress lifestyle. In addition to being an Environmentally Responsible Retailer™, one of the company’s major initiatives is the Heart to Sole: Creating a Stress-Free America campaign, designed to reduce stress levels, improve heart health and support the American Heart Association.

The company began franchising in 2008 and now operates more than 100 shops globally with 100-plus in the worldwide development pipeline. The executive team boasts more than 50 years of experience building and growing some of the world’s fastest-growing franchise concepts, category leaders and some of the world’s most well-known brands, including Cold Stone Creamery, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Nike and OfficeZilla.com. Flip Flop Shops has been awarded the International Council of Shopping Centers’ prestigious “Hot Retailer Award,” and ranked eighth among franchise in the 2013 Inc. 500 | 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies.

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LONDON DRUGS RATED #1 BRAND IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

Richmond, BC-based London Drugs has been rated the best brand in British Columbia, according to Ipsos Reid and BC Business magazine. Ipsos Reid created a top 10 list while BC Business Magazine polled readers for their ‘most loved’ brands. Impressively, London Drugs won both.

“London Drugs almost tripled the average BC brand score when it came to consumers referring to a ‘brand that I trust,'” said Michael Rodenburgh, executive Vice President of Ipsos Reid in Western Canada. “The company also more than doubled average BC scores in the categories of a ‘brand I’m likely to interact with,’ and a ‘brand that I see everywhere.'”

Ipsos Reid’s top 10 list is as follows:

1. London Drugs

2. WestJet

3. Save-on-Foods

4. White Spot

5. SunRype

6. Vancouver Canucks

7. BC Hydro

8. The Keg

9. BCAA

10. Chevron

BC Business Magazine’s ‘most loved’ study based its conclusions on eight factors: contribution to British Columbia, engagement, innovation, presence, relevance, social responsibility, trust, and uniqueness.

“Here in British Columbia, we have some extraordinary brands that have succeeded in making a name for themselves on the local, national and global scenes,” said Rodenburgh. “For those brands defined as the most loved in BC, they have meaning in our daily lives. We couldn’t imagine this beautiful province without them.”

London Drugs is a private company that was founded by Sam Bass in 1945. It began as a small drug store that was eventually acquired in 1976 by the H.Y. Louie Company. The chain is comprised of 77 store locations, 50 of which are in British Columbia (mostly in Greater Vancouver). Alberta has 21 stores ( including nine in the Edmonton area and eight in metropolitan Calgary) and there are two stores in Regina, two in Saskatoon and one in Winnipeg.

The company has expanded its operations well beyond those of the original drug store, making it a go-to shopping destination for many. London Drugs stores offer merchandise and services such as electronics, grocery items, pharmaceuticals, health and beauty products, photofinishing, insurance service, furniture, toys and housewares.

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Marks & Spencer returns to The Netherlands

Today marks the opening of M&S department store in The Hague, The Netherlands. Located on the busy high-street, de Grote Marktstraat, the 52,000 square foot store spans three floors and includes a 7,500 square foot food hall, making it the largest M&S store in the EU outside of the UK.
M&S open new flagship store in The Hague
The opening of the flagship store in The Hague marks M&S official re-entry into the Dutch market, after the department store group shut down its previous store in the city and withdrew from the country over ten years.

“The spectacular De Markies renovation at the heart of The Hague offers us a unique opportunity to offer our customers something truly special. As our largest store on the Continent, we’re showcasing our most extensive fashion and food offer in The Netherlands. We’re really looking forward to welcoming customers to the store today,” commented Marc Bolland, chief executive at M&S, who will be joined by the UK Ambassador to The Netherlands, Sir Geoffrey Adams to officially celebrate the store’s opening.

Although M&S opened a smaller store in de Kalverstraat in Amsterdam last year April, which features a food hall and e-boutique, it was more of “a teaser” for the flagship store to come, commented Francois Smeyers, regional director for M&S Europe. Alongside with M&S’s Dutch website, Marksandspencer.nl, and M&S Food pilots at a number of BP tank stations throughout the country, M&S has build up its brand presence in the country.

“The [Kalverstraat] store is trading really well, absolutely. For us, it was the confirmation needed to confirm that it was a good idea to return to The Netherlands. The Dutch public has embraced us. That is also evident in the number of visitors the store draws and the amount of orders placed in the webshop, The Netherlands is already ranked in the top 10 of online shoppers,” adds Smeyers.

He comments that the flagaship store in The Hague focuses on the British identity of the department store retailer. The flagship store offers M&S’s Best of British Spring/Summer capsule clothing line, as well as the department stores other menswear, womenswear, lingerie and childrenswear. The store also offers customers the chance to online items online in-store via sales associates iPads, with free delivery for picking up orders in-store.

In 2016, M&S plans on opening an even bigger flagship store (66,000 square feet) on the Rokin in Amsterdam.

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Joe Fresh to open 120 stores in 25 countries

Joe Fresh to open 120 stores in 25 countries

This photo from May 2013 shows a shopper walking past the Joe Fresh store on Fifth Avenue in New York. Joe Fresh plans a major international expansion, says parent company Loblaw. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)
Grocery giant Loblaw Companies Ltd. is taking its Joe Fresh discount clothing line overseas in a major expansion that will target fashionistas in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South Korea.

The company said Thursday the plan includes the addition of 120 Joe Fresh stores in 25 countries within the next four years.

“This is representative of what has been a longstanding belief on our part that there is an international level of opportunity for the Joe Fresh brand and lots of people interested in helping us realize that,” said Galen G. Weston, the company’s executive chairman.

Currently, Loblaw sells the apparel brand at more than 300 locations across Canada, including 12 standalone and studio stores, and six U.S. locations in New York and New Jersey.

Loblaw e-commerce pilot planned

Loblaw president Vicente Trius said the company, which has Canada’s largest grocery business, will also be experimenting with expanding its e-commerce platform, by running a test pilot on a “click and collect” option for food and consumables at three of its Toronto stores.

This online strategy, which has been gaining popularity in the U.K., allows customers to purchase their items online and then pick them up in the store.

Earlier Thursday, Loblaw reported better fourth-quarter financial results than analysts were expecting.

The company had $183 million or 65 cents per share of adjusted net earnings in the fourth quarter, down 1.1 per cent from a year earlier but 10 cents above the general estimate.

Revenue was up 2.3 per cent to $7.64 billion, also better than expected.

Same-store sales, an important measure in the retail industry, edged up 0.6 per cent compared with a year earlier.

Same-store sales rose slightly

Trius said it was important to note that the same-store sales, from locations open at least a year, benefited from the timing of the Thanksgiving holiday but were hurt by an ice storm in Eastern Canada and a strike in Alberta.

Analysts had estimated 55 cents of adjusted earnings and less than $7.6 billion of revenue in the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Among the fastest growing sources of revenue for Loblaw was its Presidents Choice financial services segment, which contributed $204 million in the quarter, up 15.9 per cent from a year earlier.

Its newly spun off Choice Properties real estate trust contributed $165 million of revenue to the parent company in the fourth quarter.

The main retail segment, which operates under several grocery banners and the Joe Fresh clothing chain, had $7.41 billion of sales, up 1.8 per cent or $130 million from $7.29 billion.

The grocery retailer’s net income — which isn’t as closely tracked by analysts — fell to $127 million or 45 cents per share, down 8.6 per cent from $139 million a year earlier.

Grocery retail competition

Loblaw said its net income was down primarily because of higher interest expenses and other financing charges.

Like other Canadian retailers, Loblaw is facing intense competition from its domestic and foreign rivals — including Sobeys, Metro, Wal-Mart and the newcomer Target, which entered the market about a year ago.

Trius says Loblaws expects the environment will remain intense throughout 2014, with some easing in the second half of the year.

“The competitive landscape has fundamentally changed with new competitors growing strongly and incumbents competing to maintain share,” Trius said.

Trius said Loblaw will continue to expand its “fresh” foods, which has been a key driver for customer traffic, through sourcing, assortment and merchandising.

The fresh category — mostly produce — generates higher margins than other food categories and a better fresh offering can also drive other traffic, he said.

Fresh juice bars idea

“Growing fresh penetration is also a good thing for our bottom line,” Trius said.

Customers will also soon see fresh juice bars pop up in 100 Loblaw stores in Ontario, Atlantic Canada and Quebec beginning the spring.

The fruit bars, which will offer more than 30 different options, will fit in with the grocer’s fresh food push, and also be a cost-effective way for it to use fruit from its markets.

Last month, the company’s Provigo subsidiary announced that it will spend about $110 million this year on renovations and upgrades to its Quebec stores — about $10 million more than it did in 2013.

In addition, Loblaw is in the process of acquiring Shoppers Drug Mart, which will be operated as a separate division with complementary products.

The company said Thursday that the regulatory process appears to be on track and it expects the deal to be approved by the end of March.

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In pictures: top 10 most valuable brands in the world 2014

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Bottega Veneta opens enlarged flagship store in Singapore

Covering 435 square meters, more than double the previous size and now spanning two floors, the new Bottega Veneta flagship store in Singapore at Marina Bay offers a more complete selection of products for men and women including ready-to-wear, handbags, accessories, shoes, luggage, eyewear, home decoration, fragrance and jewellery on each level.
Among the notable design features are aerodynamically shaped, vertical window louvers of palm wood and steel, finely crafted display counters with slide-out billiard-cloth presentation pads, walls covered with ultra-suede, mohair furniture upholstery, and custom-dyed, pure New Zealand wool carpets. A quiet, sensuous palette of matte neutrals and earth tones further enhances the privacy, sophistication and ease of the shopping experience.
“I am thrilled to be able to offer a more complete selection to our customers in Singapore, especially the inclusion of men’s ready to wear,” says Creative Director Tomas Maier. “We are always looking to the future and how we can further elevate the experience as well as the service we provide, and we could not be more pleased to offer our loyal clients in Singapore this luxurious and more spacious Marina Bay Sands boutique,” says Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO of Bottega Veneta.

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Mango invests 20 million euros in expanding Violeta

Violeta Andic Maytek, niece of the president of Mango, Isak Andic, has announced an ambitious expansion plan for the recently launched label Violeta by Mango, the latest project from the brand that offers fashion in sizes 40 to 52. Mango plans to open about 100 stores, the first of them in Spain, France, Germany, Russia and Turkey. Violeta by Mango plans to open an average of 60 points of sales each year, explained executives at parent group Mango.

“Some will be Violeta fully branded shops and other will be spaces within Mango stores, since the group’s strategy is opening macro-stores to include all brands,” said Violeta Andic Maytek in an interview with Spanish newspaper ‘Expansion’.

Violeta will have its own design and patterns- although much of its manufacturing is to be done by the same suppliers as Mango’s.

Violeta by Mango: 20 million euros and 60 stores per year

Expansion plans for the brand have an initial capital of 20 million euros and, according to market sources, estimates are that of the Mango’s latest project’s revenue coming in the region of 50 million euros in 2014.

“Creating Violeta was Isak Andic’s idea and then my team and I have developed the concept,” said in an interview the niece of the founder of Mango.

In response to the controversy caused around the launch of the brand, Violeta Andic notes that “there has been a confusion as Violeta is not born as a mark of plus sizes, but as a brand with different pattern making, aimed at women with curves”.

“We wanted to adapt the seams and armholes to our kind of woman, and Mango has chosen this line because we believe that is a market that offers opportunities,” she adds.

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Babyshop to open 15 stores in the UAE by 2016

Babyshop to open 15 stores in the UAE by 2016

The region is set to have up to 30 stores in the next three years

Dubai: Babyshop plans to open between 15 and 18 stores in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) this year.

However, revenue growth is expected to drop from 19 per cent in 2013 to 16 per cent this year, Vinod Talreja, the company’s CEO, told Gulf News. He declined to disclose revenue for 2013.

Established in 1973, Babyshop has 195 stores in 14 countries in Mena. Around 50 per cent of its customers in the UAE are Emirati and other Arab nationalities, according to Talreja.

Babyshop is expanding its presence in smaller towns in the UAE and is considering opening stores in areas such as Kalba and Dibba. “It will be a cornerstone of our strategy going forward,” Ruban Shanmugarajah, general manager of Babyshop, said during a press conference on Tuesday.

The children retailer, part of retail and hospitality group Landmark, is set to have between 28 and 30 new stores in Mena by 2016. With an investment of Dh150 million, the company expects to open 15 of those stores across the UAE, including six in Abu Dhabi.

Talreja said that Babyshop is interested in expanding in new malls in Dubai once they are completed. 


Retailers that want to expand in Dubai are currently looking at existing and community malls, as well as new major malls once they are completed, according to Mat Green, head of research for the UAE at CBRE. He expects new major malls to enter the market starting from 2017.

Currently major malls in the emirate are “running close to full occupancy” and are undergoing expansion, reflecting the shortage of retail space, according to Green.

Babyshop has 40 stores across the UAE, in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain. The company recently opened outlets in the World Trade Centre Mall, Deerfield Town Centre, Ruwais Mall and Dubai Outlet Mall.

Stores are set to open in existing malls, including Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall and possibly Deira City Centre in Dubai, as well as community malls and co-operatives. It has partnered with Emirates Cooperative to open a store in Hatta. More Babyshop high street stores are also on the way.

In Saudi Arabia, one of Babyshop’s fastest growing markets, up to 15 stores are expected to open this year.

In addition, March will see the opening of Babyshop stores in Jordan’s Irbid City Centre, Libya and Iraq.

While the company is looking at entering Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, it hopes to expand internationally, according to Talreja. “These are large population countries and we feel there is a good potential to be there,” he said.

Meanwhile, plans are underway for renovating stores in the region.

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Edcon to Cut Jobs at Clothes Retailer Edgars to Boost Earnings

Edcon Holdings (Pty) Ltd., South Africa’s largest clothing retailer, plans to cut jobs at its 13,000-employee Edgars chain starting May as it aims to reduce costs at the flagship division.

“The chain is still below its productivity and efficiency targets,” Debbie Millar, a spokeswoman for the Johannesburg-based company, said in an e-mail today. “Any job losses are regrettable.”

Edcon, controlled by U.S. private-equity firm Bain Capital Partners LLC., has been revamping some of its 190 Edgars stores in an effort to improve market share. The chain has started selling international brands including T.M. Lewin, Dune London, Tom Tailor, Lucky Brand, and Lipsy as concessions in the shops.

The company, which also owns the C&A and Jet chains in South Africa, has started a consultation process with affected employees and will provide exact numbers of job losses later in the process, Millar said. Not all Edgars stores will lose staff and job cuts will include managers, she said. The chain employs about 13,000, including temporary workers.

Edcon second-quarter sales rose and losses narrowed as trading at lower-price units improved and the company introduced new brands, Edcon said Nov. 21. Retail sales advanced 5.9 percent to 6 billion rand ($552 million) in the three months to Sept. 28 and cash sales grew 17.4 percent.

Bain, based in Boston, bought Edcon in 2007 for 25 billion rand in an effort to tap rising consumer spending in Africa’s largest economy. South African retail sales growth slowed to 3.5 percent in December from a revised 4.4 percent the month before. Edcon will report third-quarter earnings on Feb. 20.

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H&M BRAND COS LOOKING TO OPEN CANADIAN STORES

Sources tell us that H&M’s upscale label ‘COS’ is seeking Canadian retail space for free-standing COS stores. It has looked at several retail spaces on Toronto’s Bloor Street, though we’ve been told that no deals have been signed at this time. Sources tell us that Vancouver and Montreal are also on the list for possible new stores, while Edmonton and other Canadian cities may soon follow.

For those unfamiliar, COS is H&M’s upscale label offering higher-end materials and more ‘classic’ designs. COS’ designs have been compared to higher-priced fashion labels Marni, Jil Sander and Céline. Launched by Swedish apparel giant H&M in 2007, COS stands for ‘Collection of Style’. Its first store outside of Europe opened in June of 2013. COS currently has 82 stores worldwide and appears to be expanding aggressively as it has recently signed leases to open stores in the United States and Australia. Its first American location will open this April in New York’s Soho district.

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Woolworths to open fashion brand stores across SA

WOOLWORTHS plans to open up to 18 Country Road and Trenery stores in South Africa over the next three years.

The upmarket retailer, which expects to launch Australian fashion brands Witchery and Mimco in South Africa in March, planned to open up to 47 of these stores in South Africa over the same period, it said last week.

This major expansion is part of the Woolworths group’s plan to become the leading fashion retailer in the southern hemisphere.

“There is a huge opportunity for this business to own (the) southern hemisphere. We want to make sure that in being big we take the gain of economies of scale,” CEO Ian Moir said last week.

“We want to have a single sourcing approach across our business to combine the volumes of the entire Country Road group with the entire Woolies group and make sure we drive those volumes so we get better product at better prices and we can pass that on to customers.”

Country Road‚ Woolworths’ 88%-owned subsidiary, concluded the acquisition of 40-year-old fashion retailer Witchery Group from Gresham Private Equity for A$172m (R1.6bn) in October. Woolworths will try to emulate the success it has had with Country Road and Trenery in South Africa, with Witchery and Mimco.

The Cape Town-based group has ramped up its clothing procurement strategy, allowing it to shorten lead times, as it focuses on a quick-response model. The arrival in South Africa of global powerhouses like Zara, Topshop and soon H&M and Forever 21 has seen other local players including Truworths, Edcon and Foschini Group increase efficiency.

Woolworths can now get to the market in just five to seven weeks with more than 30% of its goods, where previously it took more than 11 months to get to market.

“Our merchandise cycle is quicker than it ever was, we are faster to the market and we continue to trade in season,” Mr Moir said.

Along with more competitive prices, the retailer has invested heavily in new systems and established a merchant academy to train its buyers, planners, technologists and designers. It has also identified global “centres of excellence” in China, Bangladesh, India, Madagascar and Mauritius to drive innovation and differential product, aided by better relationships with suppliers.

The group wants to continue to grow its fashion credibility, stretch its brand across various categories and geography.

“We can take Country Road kidswear into Woo lies stores to give a complete tiering across our offer. So we have that good, better and best offer,” Mr Moir said.

Woolworth’s classic or more mature customer would not be forgotten, the group said.

Looking ahead, Mr Moir said the demographic of the South African market was changing. Woolworths needed to attract younger black customers if it was going to continue being successful.

About 50% of Woolworths’ sales are now generated from a black customer base.

Woolworth s’ loyalty programme — WRewards — is proving instrumental as customer data allow the group to drive promotions, segment merchandise, plan the layout of its stores, and get shoppers to cross from one category to another.

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Wendy’s sells 70 restaurants in Dallas area

Dublin, Ohio — The Wendy’s Company announced the sale of 70 restaurants in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex to Texas-based MUY Hamburger Partners, a Wendy’s franchisee. The transaction is designed to promote new restaurant growth and reimaging, while generating a more predictable revenue stream for the company.

Wendy’s is geographically concentrating its restaurant ownership through the sale of about 415 company-operated restaurants in 13 U.S. markets, primarily in the West. The company has completed the market-by-market sale of 314 restaurants so far, and now expects to complete all of the sales by the end of the first quarter 2014.

With the purchase of the Dallas-Ft. Worth restaurants, MUY Hamburger Partners, will now operate a total of 87 Wendy’s restaurants in Texas. The purchase agreement includes a commitment to reimage selected restaurants in Wendy’s contemporary new store design, as well as development plans for new restaurants.

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The Fashion District opens at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates

A host of new international fashion brands have opened in the first phase of the redevelopment of Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.
The Fashion District – a Dhs100 million investment of new stores – officially opened this week. More brands and restaurants will be launched until 2015, as part of the mall’s vision of Evolution 2015.The mall’s owner, Majid Al Futtaim, is investing Dhs1 billion in total in the overall redevelopment.”A couple of stores will be relocated and some will be added to maintain the traffic balance of the mall,” Dimitri Vazelakis, executive manager director of shopping malls for Majid Al Futtaim, said. The changes include revamping the cinema to make it 4D.”It will be much larger than the existing cinema,” Vazelakis added.The aim of the Fashion District is to bring in a more diverse range of luxury fashion brands.International clothing houses, such as Halston Heritage (pictured), Elie Tahari, Alice & Olivia and Japanese brand Kenzo are being launched for the first time in the UAE.The senior property management director for malls, Fuad Mansoor Sharaf, said: “With a quarter of the Fashion District dedicated to first-time brands, Mall of the Emirates is underscoring its leadership in the region’s industry, attracting unique brands from across the world.”

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Royal Family Welcomes Starbucks to Brunei, the Company’s 64th Country

Starbucks Coffee Company celebrates two significant milestones in Southeast Asia, opening its first store in Brunei – the company’s 64th global market – and its 100th store in Singapore.

It’s not often a royal family is on hand for the opening of a Starbucks store. A celebration marking Starbucks first store in Brunei included Her Royal Highness Pengrian Anak Isteri, sister of the Queen consort of Brunei Pengiran Anak Saleha, and many members of her family.

Brunei is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia. For reference, iti is just a little smaller than the U.S. state of Delaware. The Starbucks opened February 16, 2014 at one of the most popular shopping destinations in Brunei, Mabohai Mall.

“The Starbucks China and Asia Pacific region continues to be at the forefront of the company’s global expansion initiatives, and we continue to be humbled by the warm reception we receive from our customers.” said John Culver, group president, Starbucks Coffee China and Asia Pacific, Channel Development and Emerging Brands. “Our continued success in the region is because of the passionate partners (employees) – across what is now 15 markets in the region – who deliver the unique Starbucks Experience to our customers every day. Those moments of connection between the barista and customer are just as important with the opening of our first store in Brunei and the 100th store in Singapore.”

The first Brunei Starbucks® store has been designed to reflect Starbucks 43-year coffee heritage, while embracing the country’s distinctive local traditions and culture. Key features include a ‘slow bar’ which allows customers to enjoy their favorite Starbucks® whole bean coffee, using the traditional Pour-Over brewing method, and a floor-to-ceiling glass window that brings the tranquility of the nearby Tasek Lama Recreational Park into the store. In addition, this store features locally-sourced furnishings, including traditional baskets from the local markets which have been repurposed as decorative artwork within the store.

This store opening milestone marks Starbucks 15th market in its China and Asia Pacific region and its 64th market globally.

“We’re thrilled to bring the Starbucks Experience to customers in Brunei, and are confident that our stores will become a gathering place where our customers can connect with family and friends,” said Jeff Hansberry, president, Starbucks China and Asia Pacific.

As Starbucks continues its ambitious growth momentum across the China and Asia Pacific region, it is committed to growing through a locally-relevant and community-focused approach. While the 100th store in Singapore is testament to Starbucks continued market leadership, it also serves to deepen the brand’s relationship with the neighborhood that it serves.

Starbucks nearly decade-long alliance with the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) provides an opportunity for members of the community to receive the necessary job training and support that enable people with autism to join the workforce and lead more independent lifestyles. Six partners with autism have been hired to work at the store, with the goal to expand the relationship with the Autism Resource Centre in the coming years. Read more about Starbucks Singapore store.

The company is on track to expand its footprint by adding approximately 750 stores across Starbucks China and Asia Pacific region this year. Southeast Asia will play a significant role in this growth, driven both within existing markets – including Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines – as well as new markets such as Brunei.

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Woolworths reports strong results, highlighting success of the Group’s strategic focus

Woolworths announced strong results for the 26 weeks ended 29 December 2013, reporting a 16.0% increase in revenue and a 21.1% improvement in profit before tax.
Highlights
• Revenue +16.0%
• Profit before tax +21.1%
• Headline earnings per share +17.2%
• Return on equity at 55.9%

Headline earnings rose 17.2% to 192.4 cents and the group generated a return on equity of 55.9%. The directors declared an interim cash dividend of 101.0 cents per share, up 17.4% on last year.

Commenting on the results, CEO Ian Moir said “We are pleased with these results. All segments of the business performed well but the stars were our food business and the Country Road Group in Australia. We continue to build stronger, more profitable customer relationships through our WRewards programme and our focus on the upper-end consumer segment is really paying off.”

The Clothing & General Merchandise business performed well in an increasingly promotion-led apparel environment. Woolworths’ clothing sales grew 9.7%, which was ahead of the South African apparel market. Price movement was 3.8% and good volume growth was achieved.

In the Food division, Woolworths’ supermarket strategy, aimed at capturing a greater share of their customers’ total food shop also showed success. The Food business traded strongly throughout the period, and well ahead of the market with increased promotional pricing significantly changing customer perceptions.

All four brands (Witchery, Mimco, Country Road and Trenery) in the Country Road stable performed strongly in both Australia and South Africa. With the inclusion of Witchery for the full period, sales increased 27.5% in Australian dollars. Gross margins improved significantly from 61.3% to 63.0% and profit before tax grew by 50%. Country Road is now a significant rand hedge, contributing over 20% of profits.

The Woolworths Financial Services debtors book reflected year on year growth of 13.8% The quality of the book remains strong despite the broader credit environment.

The Woolworths business in the rest of Africa continues to trade well. The company has completed negotiations for the conversion of 33 of its previously franchised stores in Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Ghana, which will bring focus to the sub-Saharan region and build critical mass for merchandising, store operations and supply chain.

Looking forward, Moir concluded “Although we believe economic conditions in South Africa will remain constrained, especially in the lower and middle income segments of the market where consumer debt levels remain under pressure, the upper income segment in which we operate continues to show resilience. Trading for the first six weeks of the second half of the financial year has been positive. We expect South African sales growth to be broadly in line with the first half and to remain ahead of the market in Australia.”

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Boohoo.com prepares for £500m float

Online fashion retailer Boohoo.com is expected to enter the stock exchange in a £500million float within the next fortnight.

The Manchester-based business, which reported a £3.2million profit on £67m turnover for the year ending February 2013, will start selling shares to the public in March this year.

It is believed that the company is majority owned by four siblings of founder Mahmud Kamani, who launched Boohoo.com in 2006 with business partner Carol Kane.

The retailer sells its own brand of “trend-led clothing” to “fashion forward females” worldwide. It has won several industry accolades including the 2012 Lorraine High Street Fashion Awards, beating established brands such as Next and ASOS in the Best Online Retailer category.

The company – which stocks over 8,000 products – said that it has a unique supply chain which means that new fashions can go from design to delivery “in a matter of weeks”.

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UAE retailer named one of world’s fastest growing firms

UAE-based EMKE Group, which runs the Lulu chain of supermarkets, has been named among the fastest growing retailers in the world over a five-year period.

The company, headed by Indian Yusuffali MA, was ranked 11th in a list of the biggest growing retail businesses published by Deloitte, which also listed the world’s 250 biggest names in the sector.

Deloitte said the retailer averaged compound annual growth rate of more than 25 percent between 2007-12.

It added that the group’s revenues in 2012 exceeded $4.5bn.

EMKE Group is the only entry in the global 250 list (ranked 197th), which was headed by US giant Wal-Mart whose revenues in 2012 were put at $469bn, followed by the UK’s Tesco.

EMKE Group has said it plans to open 42 new Lulu Hypermarkets in the next two years.

Yusuffali MA, who was ranked the 40th richest Indian on the planet with a fortune of $2.2bn, said despite numbering 104 stores in the Middle East his Abu Dhabi-based company had no signs of slowing down.

It will open seven new hypermarkets in the UAE in 2014-15, six in Oman, four each in Qatar and Kuwait, three each in Bahrain and Egypt and 15 in Saudi Arabia.

New markets were also being pursued in Malaysia, Indonesia, Iraq, Algeria, Morocco and Libya.

To beef up its retail and exports business, the group was also investing heavily in developing a logistics centre and cold storage facility in Kochi.

Deloitte said that despite tough economic conditions, revenues for the world’s 250 largest retailers reached $4.3 trillion for the last fiscal year (June 2012 through June 2013).

The average size of the top 250 retailers exceeded $17bn according to the 2014 Global Powers of Retailing report from Deloitte.

“The global retail industry got off to a difficult start in the last year,” said James Babb, clients and industries leader at Deloitte Middle East. “However, it is encouraging to see that the world’s leading retailers were able to plough on through the difficult period to reap the rewards of increased consumer spend.

“This has served to provide a much needed boost to global revenues with nearly 80 percent of the top 250 (199 companies) retailers posting an increase in retail revenue.”

Emerging market retailers accounted for more than half (26) of the world’s 50 fastest-growing retailers, Deloitte added.

Babb added: “Latin American retailers led the way with 15 percent retail revenue growth followed by retailers in the Middle East/Africa region at 13.5 percent. Retailers are successfully adapting their strategies to adequately cater to the growing middle-class consumers in emerging economies where there is strong demand for consumer goods, ranging from cars and electronics to personal care products.”

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HomeServe In Record Retail Mis-Selling Fine

Domestic repair insurance firm HomeServe has been hit with the largest fine ever imposed on a retailer.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the £30.6m penalty was for “serious, systemic and long-running failings”.
The FCA said that for six years the company targeted customers in a profit-driven culture.
The fine related to company activity between 2005 and 2011.
HomeServe has already paid £12.9m to customers affected, with the total expected to rise to £16.8m.
FCA director Tracey McDermott said: “HomeServe is another example of a firm that has acted without proper regard for its customers over a long period of time.
“HomeServe promises to provide customers with peace of mind when things go wrong.
“In fact the firm’s culture, controls and remuneration structures meant that staff were focused on quantity not quality and there were customers that paid the price for that.”
The company temporarily suspended telephone sales and launched a costly review into its marketing and training processes in October 2011 when it was accused of mis-selling policies to customers.
In a statement to Sky News, HomeServe chief executive Richard Harpin said: “We acknowledge the FCA’s final notice which brings its investigation to a conclusion.
“We sincerely regret that some customers have been affected by these issues. We have transformed the business, rebuilding and strengthening the management team, retraining staff and restructuring systems and controls.
“We have worked very hard over the last two years to put customers back at the heart of our business and we are committed to offering valuable products with a high quality of service.”
The FCA investigation lasted 18 months into the firm that sold insurance for and fixed homeowners’ boilers and burst pipes.
Last April, HomeServe was fined £750,000 by telecoms regulator Ofcom for breaching rules on silent and abandoned calls.
The following month, the-then regulator, the Financial Services Authority – later replaced by the FCA – placed it under investigation.

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Prada’s Sales Are Soaring Because It Adopted Apple’s Strategy

Prada’s sales have climbed a whopping 9% this year.
The reason for their smashing success?

The luxury handbag maker has been limiting selling its product through wholesale channels, reports Kyle Stock at Bloomberg Businessweek.

Instead, Prada opened 79 retail stores around the world this year.

Apple is most famous for adopting this strategy, according to Businessweek.

“The theory, perhaps best refined by Apple, is that a company with a particularly strong brand can benefit by controlling as much as possible about where and how its products get sold—and to whom,” Stock writes. “Selling via a staff that it trains, in a store it designs, insulates such companies and their customers from increasingly mall-like department stores and potentially surly salesmen.”

By controlling how and where their bags are sold, Prada is ensuring that the customer experience is impeccable.

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Retail news is now available on flipboard …

Retail news is now available on flipboard …please follow us for the latest retail news

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January 2014 parker review : South African retail news

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HERE

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Global Powers of Retailing 2014 Retail Beyond begins

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HERE

The Global Powers of Retailing report identifies the 250 largest retailers around the world for the past fiscal year- but it is much more than a list. It also examines trends for retailers to consider as they plan their growth strategies; provides a global economic outlook for retail; and discusses “Q” ratio – a way of drawing inferences about the future performance of retailers based on current financial information.

This year’s report includes two exciting features. Its section on “Retail Beyond” takes a provocative look at how existing technologies could conceivably converge and further transform the already complex relationship between retailers and consumers. And, for the first time ever, the report includes a list and analysis of the world’s top 50 e-retailers.

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Superquinn stores to be renamed SuperValu

It has been in business for 54 years, but the Superquinn brand will be checking out of the Irish grocery market for good tomorrow.

Cork wholesale group Musgrave, which acquired the business for €229 million in October 2011, has decided to ditch the Superquinn name and rebrand its supermarkets under the SuperValu banner.

All 24 Superquinn stores will be renamed as SuperValu from tomorrow, consigning the Superquinn name to grocery chain heaven.

SuperValu managing director Martin Kelleher said the name change follows an “excellent performance” by SuperValu over the Christmas period when it was the top performing supermarket with its market share increasing to 20.1 per cent for the last 12 weeks of 2013.

“Since announcing our plans to rename Superquinn as SuperValu in August, the consumer response has been very positive demonstrating that both brands are better together,” he added.

The expanded SuperValu network will now consist of 223 stores with a turnover of €2.6 billion and 14,500 employees.

SuperValu is also currently implementing a €20 million in-store investment programme which will see the former Superquinn network upgraded with a new focus on service, range, quality and value. This is in addition to €10 million invested during 2013.

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Qatar wealth fund pumps $412m into Harrods

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has invested £250m ($412m) into London luxury department store Harrods since acquiring it four years ago, a senior executive revealed.

Ahmad Al-Sayed, CEO of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), said in a rare public appearance that the UK would remain a “main destination” for the fund, which was a “long-term investor” in the country, the Telegraph reported.

QIA, with around $110bn in assets, is one of the world’s richest sovereign funds and receives approximately $29.3bn per year from the oil and gas-rich Gulf state’s government.

Through Qatar Holding, QIA owns a number of stakes in prominent British companies, including grocer J Sainsbury, Barclays and the holding company which owns Heathrow Airport.

Investments in Harrods, which it acquired in 2010 for £1.5bn in 2010, include a 30,000 sqft Fashion Lab, the world’s largest collection of luxury shoes, and a new glass chandelier.

The fund is in the process of putting together a management team to find potential sites in “prime cities” for a previously announced Harrods hotel brand.

Al-Sayed added that the fund was looking at possibly investing in infrastructure projects in the UK, particularly focused around the energy sector. “We are looking for opportunities,” he was quoted as saying.

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Morrisons founding family considers taking chain private

5:57PM GMT 12 Feb 201414 Comments
Shares in Wm Morrison surged by as much as 5pc on Tuesday as speculation mounted in the City that the family that founded the supermarket group is trying to orchestrate a £7bn private equity buy-out.
The Morrison family owns roughly 9.5pc and has approached a collection of private equity groups in an attempt to drive a turnaround at the retailer, it was claimed.
Morrisons endured a torrid Christmas and data from Kantar this week showed its sales down another 4pc since then.
Sir Ken Morrison, the former chief executive, said he was “quite surprised” to see the Bloomberg news report.
However, Sir Ken gave up his role as a trustee of the family shareholdings in 2011 and a younger generation of the family – led by Susan Pritchard, his niece – is understood to be now controlling the investment.
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Carlyle, CVC and Apax are thought to be among the private equity firms that were approached over a possible deal, but have not shown an interest.
A takeover of the chain would cost roughly £7bn, meaning a collection of funds would probably have to team up to lead a deal.
The shares fell back to close the day up 0.6 at 237.8p.
Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital, said: “Given Morrisons trading weakness and relatively low valuation, such headlines and potential initiatives are to be expected to some degree at this time, in our view.
“Indeed, we would expect a number of serious private equity investors to be running the rule over Morrisons.”
Morrisons and the private equity firms declined to comment.

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First mobile mall launched in the MidEast

A new mobile phone app, which claims to be the region’s first mobile mall, was launched in Dubai on Tuesday and is hoping to replicate its success in Europe and North America.

Branded as SAMY, the award-winning app enables merchants and shopping centres to extend their reach to smartphone users and engage with potential new customers. It offers straightforward sales, gift cards, special mobile offers and loyalty systems on the same synchronised mobile platform.

It is currently used by both consumers and merchants in 16 countries including the USA, Canada, Italy and Switzerland. The app also has a network of 35,000 merchants, 100 brands, over 2 million mobile subscribers and has already generated 13 million engagements between consumers and merchants.

“The UAE has a fast growing population of smart phone users supported by telecommunication facilities that are cutting edge. Smartphones and mobile apps have become necessities in everyday living from office work to shopping,” said Yousef Shreim, president of Igniva Technologies, the company behind SAMY.

“It is a strategic decision to initially introduce SAMY in the UAE, as we prepare the launch of the app in Turkey and other GCC countries, where there are likewise a promising outlook for mobile marketing and engagement solutions,” Shreim added.

The SAMY platform includes an iPhone (iOS) and Android based mobile application for consumers plus a cloud-based campaign manager and middleware integration software for businesses to deliver mobile marketing content.

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Flip Flop Shops expands to South Africa

Atlanta-based Flip Flop Shops is expanding to South Africa. The news comes on the heels of the company’s announcement in late January it has inked a franchise deal with Al Mana Fashion Group to open 50 stores in the Middle East.

The company says it will develop 25 additional shops throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mauritius.

“The global footwear market is a nearly $200 billion industry, and the growth within the flip flops and casual footwear segment is explosive,” said Brian Curin, the President and Co-Founder of Flip Flop Shops. “Flip Flop Shops’ continued expansion into new international markets, including Canada, the Caribbean, the Middle East and now South Africa, is proof positive that consumers worldwide are looking to embrace the lifestyle benefits of more relaxed, casual footwear.”

The expansion is part of a master franchise agreement with Barefoot, an experienced retail group in the region. The first Flip Flop Shops location is expected to open by mid-year, with additional shops opening throughout the region over the next 10 years, Flip Flop Shops said.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Flip Flop Shops runs nearly 100 locations globally and has more than 100 shops in development, not including the expansion to the Middle East and South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mauritius.

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Marks & Spencer poised to enter Australian market

British department store group Marks & Spencer is reportedly speeding up plans to step into the Australian market, which is part of the group’s Chief Executive Officer Marc Bolland’s strategy to turn M&S into an international multi-channel retailer.

M&S was previously thought to be looking for potential retail locations in Sydney, with sources naming a 44 million pound redevelopment site on George Street as one of the possible areas. Now it appears to be that the company has appointed two new directors to a corporate vehicle known as Marks & Spencer (Australia) Pty Ltd, which was unused for nearly seven years and is searching for additional retail locations according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Last December, M&S reported to the corporate regulator that two directors had been named in to the division Marks & Spencer (Australia ) Pty Ltd, one a Melissa Lovell, who is a corporate lawyer at oil and gas firm Santos and the other a Anthony Clarke, assistant company secretary of the M&S Group company in the UK. Industry insiders see this move as a step forward into entering the Australian market.

Although M&S currently had 766 stores throughout the UK and runs 418 stores in a number of European and Asian countries, the department store group is thought to be preparing to enter the Australian market on a somewhat smaller scale.

In cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong, M&S operates out a of small retail scheme, focusing on fashion, beauty and premium food sales. So far this retail scheme has been working well in these markets and now it speculated that M&S will apply the same small scale scheme in Australia, instead of opening up larger department stores to compete with established stores such as David Jones and Myer.

Similar to its stores in Hong Kong and Singapore, the small M&S stores will most likely be around 2,000 square meters and have fashion and beauty product assortment take up 80 percent of the retail space, with the remaining space going to luxury food offering, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

By creating stand-alone stores, M&S can establish a solid brand presence and build it up with its multi-channel strategy, while competing with other fashion retailers such as H&M and Uniqlo, which are poised to enter the Australian market this year.

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Poundland to open stores in spain

Poundland, the UK’s leading high street fixed price discounter has announced it is to open a number of stores in Spain under the Dealz fascia.

Possible wider roll out

Poundland has outlined plans to open 10 stores in Spain over a two-year period ahead of a possible wider roll out if the trial is successful. The retailer will be using the Dealz fascia, which is currently used in Ireland, where Poundland has 31 stores after launching in 2011.

Capability to generate financial returns

Commenting on the announcement, Jim McCarthy, Chief Executive of Poundland commented “The success of Dealz in Ireland was a clear demonstration that we have the capability to generate positive financial returns in new geographies quickly. We need to be very careful and thorough in our evaluation of further European expansion opportunities and we are confident that our offer and our model suits the Spanish market well.”

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