Monthly Archives: December 2014

Wishing all our readers and followers a Happy New Year

All the best for 2015


2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 39,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Shoppers spend nearly £3bn in Britain’s Boxing Day sales

Footfall on high streets is down but internet retailers see their best year ever

The research by comparison website found shoppers were planning to spend £2.9bn on the first day of sales alone.

Meanwhile market analysis firm Experian said yesterday was likely to be the “biggest and busiest ever” Boxing Day for online retailers, accounting for almost £500m of total sales.

Sales yesterday were described as “pleasantly robust” by retailers on the ground, but shops are predicting a strong showing from bargain-hunters on 27 December, the day after Boxing Day.

Jace Tyrrell, deputy CEO of the New West End Company, which represents more than 600 retailers across London’s West End, said Oxford Street was lined with “eager” bargain-hunters this morning.

“It was a good Boxing Day, but I think today and tomorrow will be even stronger,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of international visitors – I’d say three quarters of the street crowds were overseas tourists.”

He said visitors from China, the Middle East Nigeria were spending significant amounts of money on luxury items in big department stores.


Marka buys Retailcorp from Dubai World’s Istithmar for Dh220 million

has agreed to sell its retail unit to Marka for about Dh220 million as the conglomerate seeks to raise cash from asset disposals to repay lenders.

Marka, the recently listed retail and hospitality group, said it agreed to acquire Retailcorp UAE, a unit of Istithmar World, which is a part of Dubai World.

Marka expects the acquisition to pave the way for the group to become operationally profitable next year. It will be funded by a blend of the company’s own funds and bank facilities.

Marka’s listing on the Dubai Financial Market in September – a greenfield IPO, meaning it had no trading track record or substantial assets – raised about Dh275m. It has a further Dh225m in start-up capital from founding shareholders.

Through the Retailcorp deal, Marka has cemented a solid foundation in the high-growth sports retail sector, the company said.

“This acquisition is in line with our strategy to establish a diverse portfolio of assets and successful businesses,” said Jamal Al Hai, chairman of Marka.

“This deal also bolsters and diversifies Marka’s revenue sources, our bottom line, and the value we bring to our shareholders.”

However, the company’s strategy is focused on the sports, hospitality and fashion segments of the retail business and high-quality casual dining outlets in retail centres.

The plan is to offer high-value products through top-end malls in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, then expand in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, aiming to become the “leading retail operator in the GCC”.

The purchase of Retailcorp will give Marka ownership of 15 sports shops in malls across the country, with rights to sell brands that include Nike, Reebok and Adidas.

Nick Peel, chief executive of Marka, said: “The growth of the sports retail segment in the UAE and the region is outpacing what we are seeing on the global level. This is a result of factors ranging from strong population growth, rising income levels, and the pursuit of a growing number of citizens and residents adopting a healthy lifestyle, in part because of the UAE government’s support of the sports sector.”

Marka aims to expand the network of the sporting goods stores, under the brand name of Modell’s Sporting Goods, in the UAE and across the region.

Marka has signed global superstars such as the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo to promote his own designer footwear, as well as leading fashion brands such as Sonia Rykiel and Laurel. It also plans to open high-quality casual dining outlets in retail centres.

Marka also plans to open the world’s first Harper’s Bazaar Cafe in Dubai before November next year, with a target to open nine other branches in the Middle East by 2020.

Dubai World, which restructured US$25 billion of debt in 2011, is seeking to sell assets as part of plans to pay about $4.4bn of debt due next year.

Dubai World is in talks with creditors to strike a deal over $15bn worth of debt that is being restructured in long-running talks with more than 100 banks and financial institutions.

Under the terms of the new proposed deal, Dubai World will repay early and in full the $4.4bn chunk of debt that matures next year, and in return will get a four-year extension on $10.5bn of debt due in 2018.

Dubai World has been selling a number of assets, including Economic Zones World, to the port operator DP World for $2.6bn this year.

Dubai World’s portfolio includes financial investments, industrial holdings and real estate. Istithmar World’s portfolio includes consumer, industrial and financial services, hotels and commercial property sectors such as the entertainment group Cirque du Soleil and the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York.


Wishing all our readers and followers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


First Burberry Beauty Box opens in Asia –

First Burberry Beauty Box opens in Asia
Burberry has chosen Seoul as the location for its first Burberry Beauty Box store in Asia.

The design of the new store in Coex Mall draws inspiration from the Burberry Beauty Box flagship in London’s Covent Garden.

Created under the design direction of chief creative and chief executive officer Christopher Bailey, the store offers customers a range of physical and digital experiences.

Services include gifting hub The Burberry Beauty Box Bar, an in-store monogramming service for the My Burberry scent, bespoke consultations for make-up and fragrance, and make-up makeover classes.

In addition, customers are given the chance to create their own virtual monogrammed bottle of scent and can virtually “try on” lip and nail shades through a digital lip and nail bar.

The store also features a custom-built digital screen in the shape of the iconic Burberry check showcasing bespoke content on the exterior façade and a 95” screen that broadcasts Burberry Prorsum runway shows.



Sainsbury’s and Waitrose cancel deliveries after website glitches

Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have become the latest stores to suffer website meltdowns, resulting in the cancellation of Christmas deliveries for customers.

On Sunday night Sainsbury’s accidentally cancelled hundreds of online orders after a computer failure. Some customers were offered redelivery dates after Christmas.

A significant problem at – which staff told customers had resulted in the site “going into meltdown” – has led to a series of failed deliveries on Sunday night and Monday morning.

Customers are being told they will have to go to the store to collect their order or that they could cancel it. A shortage of drivers has meant redelivery was not an option, customers in south London were told on Monday morning.

Sainsbury’s said the website was now running as normal. It has apologised to customers and is investigating what went wrong.

Waitrose said all Christmas orders would be fulfilled and that in some cases customers had chosen to collect their order from their local branch. “The temporary IT problem yesterday was swiftly and successfully fixed,” said a spokesperson. “We have been in touch with any customers who might have a slight delay to their order to apologise and to arrange a delivery time to suit them.”

Customers have been venting their frustration with both stores on Twitter. “Appalling service from @waitrose. No delivery last night, no call to say it wasn’t calling – no call today to rearrange – Xmas stuff missing,” said one. “@waitrose no – still no delivery, I rang the depot at 8:44 this morning, was told I would be called back in a few minutes, 9:33 still no call,” said another. “I’m about to lose my Xmas order (booked 4 wks ago!) because your website keeps crashing and is now down completely! What to do?”

Jenny Grasham-Whalley, from Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, was offered an alternative delivery date for her Christmas shopping on 27 December.

“That date is as much use as a chocolate teapot,” she told the BBC. She was offered a £50 voucher as an apology.

Sainsbury’s said its website went down for half an hour on Sunday night. “We experienced a brief technical issue with our website last night, which has now been fixed,” a spokesperson said. “Some customers experienced difficulties with booking or amending their delivery slot. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience caused. We would like to reassure customers who did not experience issues on the website last night that their confirmed orders will be delivered as expected.”

The company said measures had been taken to ensure the problem did not happen again.

Waitrose said it was working hard to correct the problems caused in some areas, and admitted some customers might find it easier to go to their local store to collect their order.


Waitrose will be Circle Mall anchor tenant at Jumeirah Village

Nakheel says Waitrose will be Circle Mall anchor tenant

Almost a third of shop space at Nakheel’s new Circle Mall at Jumeirah Village in Dubai has been booked, less than two weeks after its launch, developer Nakheel announced on Monday.

Around 130,000 square feet at the new retail and leisure destination is accounted for, with upscale British supermarket chain Waitrose confirmed as the anchor store.

The multi-screen cinema and most of the casual dining and food court space is also already taken, said Nakheel in a statement.

Circle Mall will have 200 shops, an anchor supermarket, two department stores, a cinema and a variety of dining outlets.

It is one of several projects in Nakheel’s growing retail portfolio, which includes malls at Deira Islands, Palm Jumeirah and Jumeirah Village Triangle, souks at Deira Islands and Warsan Village, a retail complex at Palm Jumeirah’s Golden Mile and neighbourhood centres at Nakheel communities across Dubai.

Ali Rashid Lootah, chairman of Nakheel, said: “Retail expansion will continue to be a focus for Nakheel in 2015 and beyond. We are targeting 10 million sqft of leasable space through a diverse range of new projects – from large-scale malls and souk-style complexes that will attract residents and tourists from far and wide,to local centres that serve the immediate needs of people living in our communities.

“The reaction to Circle Mall, and to other recently-launched Nakheel projectsproves that retailers – be they global household brand names or individual entrepreneurs – are hungry for new spacewhere they can expand their business and capitalise on Dubai’s growth.”

Located between Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Al Khail Road and Hessa Street, Circle Mall will serve hundreds of thousands of people living in and around Jumeirah Village.

Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2015.

Nakheel on Sunday announced a second extension to Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai, adding another 640,000 sq ft of shop space and a multi-storey car park to the complex.

The developer also confirmed plans to release a tender for the construction of Deira Islands Mall in January.


Fossil to invest USD6.3m to open 25 outlets in India

US-based watchmaker Fossil will invest up to INR40 crore (INR400 million, USD6.3m) to open 25 retail outlets in India by 2017 as it aims to reposition itself from a watch brand to a fashion lifestyle brand.

The company, known for its range of watches, will sell non-watch products such as leather bags for women and men, wallets, eye-wear and jewellery through its retail outlets in the country.

“We want to re-position Fossil from a watch brand to a fashion lifestyle brand. We will focus on developing non-watch categories. We will sell these products only through our retail stores. We plan to open 25 outlets by 2017 and will invest INR35-40 crore,” Fossil India Brand Head Sumit Ghosh told PTI.


Ikea opens biggest store in the world in South Korea — in pictures

Swedish furniture retailer Ikea has opened its biggest store in the world in South Korea’s southern city of Gwangmyeong, with the 131,550 square metre outlet hoping to attract millions of people with its inexpensive, self-assembly products.

Ikea, now present in 43 countries with 365 stores, plans to grow its South Korean outlets to five by 2020. Ahn Eun-na / News1 / Reuters
Hide caption







Top 10 most valued African brands 2014

Top 10 most valued African brands 2014

In today’s hyper-connected world brand image is everything.
In today’s hyper-connected world brand image is everything. You only have to consider the likes of Facebook, Tesla, Coca-Cola and Nike to recognise this. Without a strong image and trusted name, beating the competition is but a pipedream.

African Business Review reveals the most valued African brands in 2014


MTN has again topped the Brand Africa 100 list as the most admired and most valuable African brand. Valued at over $5.4 billion, MTN is the largest telecommunication company in Africa and has been pivotal in opening lines of communication across the continent. The region relies heavily on mobile communication for payment, business and healthcare, and MTN has been instrumental in making this possible from an infrastructure and operational perspective.


Absa Group Limited is one of Africa’s major financial services providers offering personal and business banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management as well as Bancassurance. ABSA stands for “Amalgamated Banks of South Africa”, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of ABSA Group Limited.


The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is the state oil corporation through which the federal government of Nigeria regulates and participates in the country’s petroleum industry. It is the most trusted oil and gas company in Africa.


Eskom is a South African electricity public utility, established in 1923 as the Electricity Supply Commission (ESCOM) by the government of South Africa. It was also known by its Afrikaans name Elektrisiteitsvoorsieningskommissie (EVKOM). The two acronyms were combined in 1986 and the company is now known as Eskom. The utility is the largest producer of electricity in Africa, is among the top seven utilities in the world in terms of generation capacity and among the top nine in terms of sales.


Shoprite is a South African based retail and fast food company. It operates over 1,200 corporate and 270 franchise outlets in 16 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands.


The Dangote Group is the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa and one of the largest in Africa. It generated revenue in excess of US$3 billion in 2013. The group is one of the leading diversified business conglomerates in Africa. The company employs more than 26,000 people and is headed up by acclaimed businessman Aliko Dangote.


Woolworths Holdings Limited is a South African chain of retail stores and one of the largest in the country. It is modeled on Marks & Spencer, based in the United Kingdom.


Globacom Limited is a Nigerian multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria. GLO is a privately owned telecommunications carrier that started operations on 29 August 2003.

9.Pick n Pay

Pick n Pay is the second largest supermarket chain store in South Africa, established in 1967. It can also be found in other regions of southern Africa, such as Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Namibia as well as Mauritius and had plans to open in Malawi.


Vodacom Group Limited is an African mobile communications company, providing voice, messaging, data and converged services to over 55 million customers. It is part of the global Vodafone Group.


Empire-builder Wiese heads for the High Street UK

NOT content with nailing down the largest takeover in South African corporate history, 71-year-old retail magnate Christo Wiese has now set his sights on expanding his empire in Britain’s retail market.

Wiese has assembled a team of experts to build a new retail brand under Pepkor UK Retail Limited. It will be run by Andy Bond, the former boss of UK supermarket chain Asda, now owned by Walmart.

Mr Wiese said he’d been looking to launch in the UK for some time.

“We’ve got a team together there headed by Andy and we are looking for opportunities in the fashionable value retail combination,” he said. “We think that’s where the growth area is in the UK market.”

Pepkor, which owns Pep and Ackermans, will be sold to Markus Jooste’s Steinhoff for R62.8bn in a deal announced two weeks ago.

Though Pepkor does make a large amount of money in Eastern Europe, this expansion into Western Europe is different. It is also likely to satisfy one of Wiese’s long-held ambitions of expanding into the UK.

Last year, Mr Wiese was rumoured to be part of a takeover bid for BHS, the department store chain controlled by Sir Philip Green, according to The Telegraph.

Mr Wiese dismissed th e rumours. ” Philip and I are friends, and a few years ago I spoke to him briefly about his operation at BHS — but there were no discussions or anything like that in terms of an acquisition,” he said.

Mr Wiese said there was no specific timetable just yet and no launch date.

However, details in the British media this week said the project to launch the new discount fashion chain was codenamed Project 50 — apparently because the plan is to establish 50 stores within two months of the business launching.

Mr Wiese will reportedly put an initial £20m into the project, and it will be the biggest fashion chain launch for more than a decade to hit city centres. Similar to Pep and Ackermans in South Africa, the plan will be to sell “affordable fashion” at prices competing with the supermarkets, catering for mothers and children specifically.

Property agent Savills has been appointed to lead the search for stores from 279m² to 465m², according to the UK’s Financial Mail on Sunday.

The paper said the first lease was expected to be signed within days with others to follow.

The timing is partially driven by the low cost of High Street retail space, which has dropped substantially over the past few years.

Mr Bond, who is chairman of online cycling retailer Wiggle, ran Asda’s George clothing business during its rapid expansion. He is running Project 50 with Adrian Mountford, who used to run Sainsbury’s Tu clothing business. Former head of merchandising at Marks & Spencer Cathy Haydon is on board, as is Mark Jackson, the finance director of Pepkor UK who was previously finance director at Heal’s department store.

The group will have its headquarters in Watford, Hertfordshire.

The Financial Mail said the project represents a major vote of confidence in the beleaguered High Street as the strategy depends on a renewed demand for access to local shops.

“They are targeting secondary High Streets, many of which have been deserted by bigger shops in favour of out-of-town retail parks or shopping centres.”

The article quoted a source as saying: “This is an ambitious project to create a new national chain of shops. The view is that the death of the High Street has been overstated. It’s just changing shape. A typical High Street has B&M Bargains and Tesco Express, but not a credible clothing shop.”

“A lot of secondary High Streets in the UK are under-served by good quality clothing and family fashion. This will appeal to the value seeking mum,” said he source.

The Telegraph said the retailer would be entering a fiercely competitive market. As well as dominant players such as Marks & Spencer and Next, Pepkor would be taking on discount chains such as Primark, Matalan and TK Maxx.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/831/43370396/files/2014/12/img_1865.jpg acquired by Net-a-Porter Group acquired by Net-a-Porter Group

After selling the last of it’s remaining stock at 70 percent off earlier this week, struggling premium retailer has stop trading and sold off it’s domain name to online giant Net-a-Porter Group.

The website itself is no longer active and a message has been posted which reads: “We are sorry to inform you that is no longer trading. We thank you for your loyal custom and we are pleased to introduce you to the Net-a-Porter Group – the destination for luxury fashion and style online.” Welcome to the Net-a-Porter Group will honour all sales and orders places as well as returns following its return policy. It is understood that brick-and-mortar store in Whiteley’s shopping center in Bayswater, London continue to trade until the end of next month. The store first opened this June, and offered customers the chance to try on products before placing an order for either in store or at home delivery.

The premium sales retailer had been struggling for quite sometime prior to the announcement of the takeover. In September, the retailer revealed its decision to pause it’s business “to review all strategic options,” but declinced to comment on what these options may be. also cancelled all orders for Spring ’15.

Last month the online retailer began discounting all it’s current season stock by 40 percent and then increase the discount to 50 percent before selling it’s remaining items with a 70 percent discount. Over the past few months has also experience a series of high-profile director departures, including the exit of it’s co-founder Andrew Curran, fashion director Carmen Borgonovo, trading director Joanna Stephenson and chief executive David Worby. was first launched in 2006 by Andrew Curran and his former spouse Sarah Curran. The premium online retailer did well in its early years and went on to become one of the fastest growing e-commerce businesses in the UK. However the husband and wife team went on to divorce in 2011, and in 2013 both founders left the company.

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MySale co-founder and chief executive Carl Jackson shared his intentions to purchase up to 3 million pounds worth of shares, leading to a jump in shares from the fashion etailer on Wednesday, after a profit warning hit its majority shareholders earlier this week.

Close to 140 million pounds was cut off the online retailer’s brand value after MySale issued a profit warning which said pre-tax profits would be “materially below marketing expectations,” due to challenging trading conditions in its home markets.

Share prices dropped over 60 percent, which left shareholders including Sir Philip Green from Arcadia Group and Mike Ashley will multimillion pound paper losses. Green’s Shelton Capital Fund, which is controlled by his Monaco-based wife Tina, held a 22.5 percent stake in MySale, which saw 30 million pounds scrapped of its value.

However Jackson, who currently holds a 34.8 percent stake together with his brother James, is now considering the purchase of company shares equal to nearly 3 percent. MySale, which offers online flash sales on various brands, debut on the junior stock market plunged on listing after a misplaced decimal point listed the shares in pounds rather than pence. News of Jackson’s insterest to buy shares lead to share prices creeping back up 3.5 p to 69.5 p on Wednesday.

But in order to aquire the shares, Jackson first needs the support of shareholders holding a 50 percent stake or more under City rules to avoid having to make a full bid for it. Green shared his support of Jackson’s intent to purchase the share: “If people stand up and are willing to go into the market and buy shares I think that’s a good signal,” he said to the Guardian.

“We still have confidence in them. Nothing has changed. Dozens of companies have a misstep before going forward.”


Cotton On taking off in rapid expansion plan

FASHION retailer Cotton On has stepped up its rapid expansion, opening 61 stores in 60 days.

The Geelong-based group has launched new stores in eight countries, including 36 in Australia.

Cotton On said the new shops were opened in response to market demand and supported by a new website launched in October.

The roll out started on October 17.

Along with the new Australian stores, the group has launched nine in South Africa, five in New Zealand and three in both the Philippines and Malaysia.

Two stores were opened in the US, two in Singapore and one in Brazil.

Cotton On said its ability to get products to market fast supported the new shops, helping them replenish stock overnight.

Group chief executive Peter Johnson said the retailer was also growing online.

Cotton On’s sales on “Cyber Monday” were up 400 per cent compared with a year earlier.

Cyber Monday, which generally falls in the first week of December, is a retail sales event created in the US to encourage consumers to shop online.

It is modelled on Black Friday — the retail sales event at shops the US following their Thanksgiving Day public holiday on the fourth Thursday every November. Cyber Monday is the following Monday.

Cyber Monday turnover on Cotton On’s new website was up 300 per cent on the previous record for any online sale.

“The online shopping experience needs to be accessible, easy to navigate and work seamlessly with the demands of our customers’ lifestyles,” Mr Johnson said.

Bricks and mortar stores continued to draw in the crowds also, the group said.

The new South African stores is Cotton On’s biggest in the world.

More than 5000 customers flocked to the shop on its first day, with the store breaking the group’s first-day trading record.


It’s panic Saturday! High street shoppers set to spend £1.2BILLION in a single day in last-minute scramble for gifts

After the chaos of Black Friday and Manic Monday, shoppers are set to spend a staggering £2.1million every minute shops are open on ‘Panic Saturday.’

By closing time on Saturday, last minute shoppers will have spent a total of £1.2billion on last-minute gifts and groceries on the high street.

The predictions would see sales on ‘Panic Saturday’ easily outspend other big shopping days in the run up to Christmas such as Black Friday – £810million, Cyber Monday – £650 million and Manic Monday- £676.5million.

The predictions would see sales on ‘Panic Saturday’ easily outspend other big shopping days in the run up to Christmas such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Manic Monday
The predictions would see sales on ‘Panic Saturday’ easily outspend other big shopping days in the run up to Christmas such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Manic Monday

After the chaos of Black Friday and Manic Monday, shoppers (pictured on Londn’s Oxford Street) are set to spend a staggering 2.1million every minute shops are open on ‘Panic Saturday
After the chaos of Black Friday and Manic Monday, shoppers (pictured on Londn’s Oxford Street) are set to spend a staggering 2.1million every minute shops are open on ‘Panic Saturday

The Black Friday sales saw thousands of shoppers on a frantic hunt for Christmas bargains after retailers slashed up to 80 per cent from big-ticket items such as televisions and tablet computers.

Police had to be called in to stop fighting at dozens of stores and made a number of arrests after security guards found themselves unable to deal with the scrums.

But this Saturday is predicted to be even busier with an estimated 13 million consumers descending on the high street to spend £2.1 million for every minute the shops are open, at an average of £92.31 per person.

Poor weather, unpredictable deliveries and earlier sales are expected to drive 60.9 million shoppers to the high street between Saturday and Christmas Eve – up 14 per cent on last year – who will spend a total of £4.74billion, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) for

But those averse to crowds are advised to stay home on Tuesday next week for what is expected to be the busiest single high street shopping day ahead of Christmas.

Visa Europe predicts shoppers will spend £1.3 billion on Tuesday alone on the high street, or £15,278 every second, on its cards.

By closing time on Saturday, last minute shoppers will have spent a total of £1.2billion on last-minute gifts and groceries on the high street
By closing time on Saturday, last minute shoppers will have spent a total of £1.2billion on last-minute gifts and groceries on the high street

It estimates 34 million transactions will take place, with numbers peaking in the lunch hour break between 1pm and 2pm.

Despite the rise of Black Friday, which saw high street spending of over £1 billion this year, Visa predicts that the high street will continue to see its busiest day two days before Christmas.

Overall, the seven day period before Christmas Day is predicted to see a 7% increase in spending and an 8 per cent increase in transactions on the same period last year.

Visa Europe managing director for the UK and Ireland, Kevin Jenkins, said: ‘Black Friday kick-started Christmas on the high street and online this year but the busiest bricks and mortar day will likely remain in its traditional slot close to Christmas.

‘Retailers’ multi-channel approach should cause a surge in footfall from click-and-collect sales too, with the opportunity for further shopping in-store when consumers arrive.

‘Across Tuesday December 23 we are likely to see £1.3 billion spent in total. Lunch hour should prove the most popular time for a shopping trip, either for last minute gifts or final ingredients for Christmas dinner.’

Sales on Black Friday (pictured at Asda in Wembley, London) caused chaos in some shops as hundreds rushed to get the best deals
Sales on Black Friday (pictured at Asda in Wembley, London) caused chaos in some shops as hundreds rushed to get the best deals managing director Claire Davenport said: ‘With Christmas Day falling later in the week this year, consumers feel that there is still plenty of time to complete their shopping.

‘Panic Saturday kicks off a big week for retailers and we’re expecting to see a huge increase in traffic to our site this weekend.’

Data from payment processing company Worldpay suggests Britain’s department stores can expect to double their takings this weekend, with outlets in the north of England set to benefit the most from Panic Saturday.

Worldpay UK managing director Dave Hobday said: ‘Department stores are magnets for shoppers who find themselves in the last-chance saloon in the final few days before Christmas.

‘Many of these eleventh-hour shoppers will be breaking into a cold sweat at the thought of heading to the high street on the busiest shopping day of the year and praying for someone to take the pain away.’ managing director Claire Davenport said: ‘With Christmas Day falling later in the week this year, consumers feel that there is still plenty of time to complete their shopping.

‘Panic Saturday kicks off a big week for retailers and we’re expecting to see a huge increase in traffic to our site this weekend.’

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/831/43370396/files/2014/12/img_1863.jpg ceases trading

If you’ve logged on to in the past few weeks you’ll have noticed mind-boggling discounts on current season designer stock.

Escalating from a generous 30 per cent to a too-good-to-be-true 70 per cent off, the wheels have finally come off as today the luxury e-tail site ceased trading.

Cannily, its digital rival, has acquired some of its assets.

A spokesperson for the company told The Telegraph today: “The Net-a-Porter Group confirms that it has acquired some the Company’s assets, including its URL, which will help direct returning customers to The Net-a-Porter group,” adding how the company “has not acquired or any of its liabilities.”

The only functioning part of My-Wardrobe’s business now is that it will continue to accept returns until January 16, 2015.

The site was founded in 2006 by former sub-editor Sarah Curran MBE and her now ex-husband Andrew in conjunction with a boutique called Powder in north London. As online sales quickly outperformed those of the store, they decided to concentrate on making the website a global destination for accessible luxury fashion. Several cash injections from private equity firms ensued to secure its global reach, and in 2012 it ceased stocking menswear to focus on further global expansion and hired a fashion director from glossy magazine Harper’s Bazaar.

Curran left the business in July 2013 at which point Andrew Curran, together with another group of investors, stepped in with a cash injection, but the money ran by November, forcing the company into administration.

Cutting costs meant the business’s headquarters – including buyers and the press office – were moved to Nottingham, where its warehouse and customer service team were based from the beginning.

But co-founder Curran resigned in April this year and the day-to-day running of the business was undertaken by Steven Tucker, My-Wardrobe’s financial backer.

And then, an almighty u-turn occurred; Tucker opened a bricks-and-mortar ‘store’ in Whiteley’s shopping centre in West London, a place where customers could try on the products found on the website before ordering them online. This concept was pitched as a “positive start for My-Wardrobe” by a spokesperson.


Tiger prepares to open seven more stores across the UK

Danish value retailer Tiger is preparing to open four new stores in the South of England and three elsewhere in the UK.

Tiger prepares to open seven more stores across the UK

The retailer is expanding in London and the South East with four new stores all signed and due to open in the first half of 2015.

The stores, which range between 1,500 sq ft and 3,000 sq ft in size, will open in St Albans in Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, Islington, North London, and at the future Crossrail train station at Canary Wharf, which is due to open in May next year.

Tiger operates in the UK under different separately-owned regional divisions and is understood to be preparing to open stores in Bristol, Dundee and Exeter under different regional management.

Philip Bier, managing director for Tiger Retail, which has responsibility for London and the South East, said that his division was in line for “EBITDA grown of at least 40% on last year”, in its full year.

Speaking to Retail Week he said: “I can’t contain myself with excitement over Christmas. It’s been going really really well; so far December like-for-likes are very strong”.

Bier said that as a national group the Tiger portfolio is likely to be around 75 by the end of 2016. It currently stands at 42, 30 of which are in the Southeast where it made its debut in 2010.

Property agent Plus Shops Retail acts for Tiger.


American Apparel fires Dov Charney

fired its founder and chief executive officer Dov Charney, ending a six month period of uncertainty.

Charney’s tenure at the fashion label was awash with allegations of sexual assault and misconduct. On 18 June the board of American Apparel suspended Charney for allegedly misusing funds and helping to spread nude photographs of a former employee. Since then, Charney served as a paid consultant to the business.

A deal that would have helped Charney remain at American Apparel fell through in December.

“I’m proud of what I created at American Apparel and am confident that, as its largest shareholder, I will have a strong relationship with the company in the years ahead,” Charney said in an emailed statement.

“Naturally, I am disappointed with the circumstances,” he added.

Paula Schneider will take over as chief executive from 5 January


Apple suspends online sales in Russia amid currency turmoil

Apple suspends online sales in Russia amid currency turmoil

“Extreme” swings in the value of the Russian Ruble have caused Apple to temporarily shutter its online store in the Eurasian nation, after a midnight interest rate hike sent the currency plunging nearly 20 percent.

“Our online store in Russia is currently unavailable while we review pricing,” Apple public relations representative Alan Hely told Bloomberg. This is Apple’s second currency-related move in as many months as the Ruble continues its free fall; the company raised the price of the iPhone 6 in Russia by 25 percent in November.

In the past week, the Ruble has closed as high as 77 and as low as 54 per U.S. dollar after opening 2014 at 32 per dollar. It experienced a dramatic 19 percent decline on Tuesday, after the central bank raised interest rates by 6.5 percentage points in the middle of the night.

“I am speechless,” one emerging markets analyst told the publication when asked about the Ruble’s slide, going on to call it “a failure for the central bank.”

Apple CFO Luca Maestri addressed foreign exchange issues during the company’s Q4 2014 earnings call in October, reassuring investors that Apple has anticipated problems with foreign currency fluctuation.

“It’s a fact of life if the U.S. dollar strengthens, that creates a headwind for us both in revenue and margins for our business outside of the United States,” Maestri said. “We have a comprehensive hedging program in place that mitigates the impact of foreign exchange. Over time, of course, these hedges roll off and get replaced by new hedges at new spot levels, and so the protection that you get from a hedging program is temporary.”

Apple’s online store in Russia opened in June of last year. It is the only direct sales path for Russian consumers, as there are no brick-and-mortar Apple stores in the country.


Louis Vuitton opens first European airport store at Heathrow T5

UK. Louis Vuitton has opened its first European airport store, and only its second worldwide, at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5. As reported, the 301sq m store is part of a new luxury retail environment in expanded space at the terminal.

The striking store houses a selection of the brand’s leather goods, women’s ready to wear and shoes, accessories, sunglasses, fine jewellery and watches.

Inside, beige leathers, polished plaster in light gold, smoked teakwood and antique brass metalwork communicate a feeling of warmth. The exterior of the store is flanked by a series of striped glass ‘fins’ finished in bronzed anodized aluminium. A window display of transparent units hung by Louis Vuitton belts recall the brand’s artisan heritage and allow visibility into the store.

The outside of the store also features an installation by contemporary French painter, photographer and filmmaker Ange Leccia.

A specially commissioned short film entitled ‘Giraglia’ will play on a digital screen set into the 6 m façade of the store. The film carries on the marine them embraced by Louis Vuitton’s Cruise 2015 collection, the launch of which coincided with the Heathrow opening.

“The store is dedicated to Louis Vuitton’s travel heritage and welcomes the modern explorer to journey through an entirely new retail concept,” the brand and airport company said in a joint statement.

The companies emphasised the brand’s long established connection with travel, with its first iconic ‘aero-trunks’ designed for hot air balloons in 1910.

“Since then, Louis Vuitton and the succeeding generations have invented trunks and luggage – from check-in to carry-on – anticipating the needs of the modern traveller,” the companies added.


Lululemon expanding children’s brand

Dive Brief:
After expanding its offerings to men, Lululemon Athletica has turned to expanding its brand for young children as its next market.

Its Ivivva Athletica brand, first launched in 2009 in Canada, has seen Q3 sales grow 37% and Q2 sales grow 36% in the quarter, and will open 20 more stores this month.

Ivivva Athletica offers sports bras, leggings, yoga pants, leotards, jackets, and hoodies using Lululemon’s patented materials in sizes 4 to 14.

The company and many analysts view the children’s market, which includes children as young as six, to be helpful to Lululemon’s bottom line after several missteps and increased competition that have dinged its prospects in the last year or two.

The question is whether the company can continue to sell its clothes for younger girls at the premium prices it charges — less expensive than its flagship brand but more than that offered by other retailers, which could also begin to boost its offerings for younger people. Also vexing are reports that some of the clothes have seen the pilling issues that Lululemon aficionados have complained about in the past


World’s largest Apple store to open in Februaryin Dubai

Apple store planned for Dubai is expected to open in February next year, according to reports.
Earlier this year, Apple confirmed plans to open a store in the region, which was underlined by a series of job listings for stores in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
7Days newspaper reports that a source close to Apple’s operations in the UAE has said Apple’s new store will open in February next year in the Mall of Emirates, which is currently undergoing a $272m expansion.
UAE-based Khansaheb Civil Engineering confirmed last month that work on the first phase of the expansion project will be completed in January/February next year.

The new store in the Mall of Emirates is expected to be its biggest outlet in the world, bigger than its current flagship outlet – the 23,000 sq ft Grand Central Store in New York.
Apple CEO Tim Cook visited the UAE in February this year, meeting with Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed, as well as a number of Apple resellers.
The Abu Dhabi store is expected to open next year as well.


Harvey Nichols confirms plan for Doha store in 2017

Luxury retailer Harvey Nichols has confirmed plans to a new store in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

The department store group said it has signed a licence agreement with Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Group to open an outlet in Doha Festival City.

The 80,000 square feet store is scheduled to open in the first three months of 2017 and will sell an “exclusive edit” of fashion, homeware and beauty brands, the firm said.

It is the first high-end, international department store to be confirmed as a tenant by Doha Festival City.

Qatar is an attractive market for luxury Western retailers because it boasts one of the highest global levels of disposable income and GDP per person of more than $100,000 a year.

“Doha is an exciting market for Harvey Nichols due to the significant growth we are seeing in the country,” chief executive Stacey Cartwright said in a statement.

Upon completion, Doha Festival City Mall will be Qatar’s largest shopping mall with a gross leasable area of some 250,000 square metres.

It will house 550 outlets including 85 restaurants and cafes, the country’s first-of-its-kind Entertainment Zone, which will include VOX Cinemas and a snow park, and will feature around 8,000 parking spaces.

Phase one of the mall was completed last March and included the construction of Qatar’s first IKEA store.


Skechers to invest $30m opening 142 new stores in GCC

US sports shoe company will invest up to $30 million opening new stores across the GCC by 2018, according to the company president.

Michael Greenberg, president of California-based Skechers, told Gulf News that the company will open an addition 142 stores in region, bringing the total of 180, in an expansion plan that will double its current number to 1,000 stores globally.

“The company is growing nicely. This year, we’ll end at approximately $2.4 billion in revenue [from $1.84 billion in 2013]. In 2015, we’re looking at anywhere from $2.8 billion to $3 billion in sales,” he told Gulf News.

The company’s revenue in the GCC is expected to grow to $95 million this year, which is will be up from $50 million in 2013.

Having shipped 2.5 million shoes to the Middle East in 2014, Skechers expects to deliver over four million pairs next year.

The company will also look to develop its product categories in 2015, but will not look to enter the luxury segment of the market.


Halfords opens new concept store for Cycle Republic

Halfords has launched a new cycling-only concept store in central London under the name Cycle Republic.

The retailer is reviving the brand after it closed the specialist shops five years ago.

The new 4,000 square metre site in Euston Square aims to deliver convenience, premium editions and an extensive range of parts, accessories and clothing. The store will also offer click and collect through

The range of 13 bikes have been picked especially for the city cyclist and include £7,000 Pinarello road bikes, Cinelli road bikes, Quella fixies, the Boardman brand, and bikes by Victoria Pendleton.

The Euston team of 16 will provide bike servicing and repairs with courtesy bikes offered in cases of more extensive repairs. Cyclists can also take bikes on a test ride in a new ‘try before you buy’ scheme.

The store has over 1,000 new lines exclusive to Cycle Republic with 60% new products across clothing, helmets and footwear. To reflect the increasing number of women cyclists, the in-store range comprises 30% female-specific products.

Halfords chief executive Matt Davies said: “Opening the doors of Cycle Republic Euston Square is a major milestone for us. The in store range, colleague expertise and enthusiasm are perfect for making cycling more accessible to London and we look forward to welcoming the cycling community.”




Woolworths opens second store in Ghana

Woolworths has opened a new store in Accra’s upmarket West Hills Mall, the retailer’s second store in Ghana. At 555sqm, the new store is large enough to meet growing Ghana’s demand for Woolworths modern product offerings. The West Hills Mall store stocks a comprehensive range of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as beauty, footwear and accessories.

Woolies opens second store in Ghana”We are delighted to be able to meet our customers’ growing expectations and needs by opening a new store in a great location and we are optimistic about our future in Ghana,” said Paula Disberry, Woolworths Group Director, Retail Operations. Ghana remains a compelling growth opportunity for Woolworths. The economy has shown successive year-on-year economic growth, coupled with rising household incomes, increasing urbanisation and a significant emerging middle class.”
“Woolworths is investing in staff development programmes with an emphasis on growing retail skills,” added Disberry.

Woolworths currently has 63 stores in 11 African countries outside of South Africa including Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique and Mauritius. Woolworths will continue to invest in new stores as well as extensions and modernisations on the continent.


PetSmart sold to BC Partners in $8.7bn deal

UK investor BC Partners last night beat larger US rivals to clinch the world’s biggest private equity takeover this year, striking a $8.7bn (£5.5bn) deal to land pet retailer PetSmart.

BC, the former owner of big brand UK firms such as Foxtons and the defunct Phones4U, will pay $83 per share alongside a team of investors for the New York-listed retailer, which sells everything from dog Santa hats to cat bow ties.

The deal, the biggest leveraged buyout since Blackstone bought Gates Global for $5.4bn in April, came after a hotly-contested auction led by JP Morgan that attracted interest from Apollo Global Management and KKR.

“PetSmart is an iconic brand and the category leader in the growing pet retail industry,” BC Partners man aging partner Raymond Svider said.

BC will invest alongside a number of investors in its funds, including La Caisse and StepStone. PetSmart’s second-biggest shareholder Longview Asset Management has said it will back the BC offer.

The retailer had been under pressure from activist investor Jana Partners, which disclosed a 9.9 per cent holding in July.

The $83 a share price offered by BC – which was advised by EY on the deal – is a 39 per cent pre mium to PetSmart’s share price be – fore Jana revealed its holding.


Primark opens its first flagship store in the Netherlands

Primark opens its first flagship store in the Netherlands

“Primark’s success has shown everyone that an Irish company can compete with the best brands in the world,” said John Neary, ambassador for Ireland for the Netherlands during the opening of its first flagship store in the Netherlands on Thursday morning.

Located at Spui 50, in the Hague, the new 5,296 square meter flagship store encompasses of all Primark’s latest store concepts, as well as its full product assortment, ranging from its core basics to catwalk based trends and fluffy onesies. Spanning three floors, the flagship store is the twelfth Primark location to open in the Netherlands, but the first flagship store established in the country.

Primark opens its first flagship store in the Netherlands
“Our new store in the Hague is the most beautiful store to date,” stated Breege o’Donoghue, Group Director, business development and new markets at Primark during her opening speech. The flagship store is the first in the country to feature the retailer’s new lingerie and beauty concepts, as well as improved focus on Primark’s expanding men’s wear and footwear collections.

Primark continues to enjoy much fanfare at new store openings in Europe

“There is no other store in the world like Primark where you can buy a complete new outfit or a necklace like my crown jewels here for under fifty euros,” she added, whilst gesturing to her glittery, statement necklace.

Primark’s mottos which reflect their brand DNA, such as ‘there’s nothing like us on the high streets’ and ‘look good, pay less,’ have helped set the Irish value retailer apart from other fast-fashion retailers like Forever 21 and H&M over the years and gained consumers attention throughout Europe. Primark opens its first flagship store in the Netherlands

With over 164 stores throughout the UK, a new Primark store opening may not blow British shoppers away, but overseas in continental Europe the retailer is sailing on a upward wave of demand, with shoppers clamoring to get their hands on their latest wears. In the past new store openings have attracted massive crowds and the flagship store opening in the Hague was no different from the rest.

Primark opens its first flagship store in the Netherlands
During the opening in the Hague, visitors of all ages lined up outside in the rain and faced heavy winds to be among the first shoppers to ever enter the new store. Inside the store’s updated interior, complete with flat screen monitors playing Primark’s newest Christmas adverts, sales staff were given a quick pep talk before the doors opened to the eagerly awaiting crowds at 11 am sharp. Primark opens its first flagship store in the Netherlands

To ensure things run smoothly at the debut flagship store, a whopping 433 new full-time and part-time employees were hired, which brings Primark’s staff count in the Netherlands to 3,600 and its total personnel number to over 60,000. Of the new staff hired for the new flagship store, 170 employees were on hand for the first opening day, greeting customers by the front doors with Primark’s traditional blue balloons. Primark opens its first flagship store in the Netherlands
“After all the successful openings in the Netherlands, this year was definitely one of the best. The store looks amazing and we are very happy with this special location at Spui. We invited everyone to come in and have a look at our winter and Christmas collections” said o’Donoghue, before the blue ribbon was cut and Primark store number 287 was officially opened.

Primark opens its first flagship store in the Netherlands
Photos: Simon Trel Simon Trel





Supreme Court sides with Amazon in warehouse worker pay case

In a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that Amazon warehouse workers need not be paid for time spent in security checks.
Workers had sued the temp agency contracted with Amazon, Integrity Staffing Solutions, saying they should be paid because the security checks were “integral and indispensable” to their work, the definition under the law to require pay for activities before or after work hours.
But the justices agree that the security checks didn’t rise to the level of “integral and indispensable.” The ruling will affect other similar suits against Amazon and other businesses.
Dive Insight:

This long-anticipated ruling is important to Amazon’s bottom line; it now can avoid the added costs of both paying workers and for the potential loss due to employee theft. That is no small consideration: inventory loss due to employee theft cost U.S. retailers $34.5 billion in 2011, according to the National Retail Security Survey.

But that doesn’t mean the controversy is over. Amazon’s warehouse working conditions have become infamous, and the fact that the Supreme Court has sanctioned the e-retail giant’s failure to pay for extra time in security lines will do little for its dubious reputation for harsh policies toward workers.


Al Habtoor Group announces three new projects worth $547m

Dubai-based Al Habtoor Group has announced three new projects including a polo resort and club, a four-star hotel and a residential community, worth a total AED2bn ($547m).

The Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club, worth $270m, will include a five-star hotel with 136 rooms and 162 bungalows, a polo club, a polo academy, a riding school with 500 stables and three professional polo fields.

It would be built in three stages, with the hotel opening last in early 2017, CEO Mohammed Al Habtoor said.

The Metropolitan Sheikh Zayed Rd marks the return of the group’s first hotel brand. The original Metropolitan, which opened in 1979, was demolished in 2012 to make way for Al Habtoor City, near Dubai Downtown.

The new hotel also will include the former Red Lion English pub and Don Corleone Italian restaurant. Graded four stars, it will have 334 rooms and is due for completion in 2016.

Chairman Khalaf Al Habtoor said he had promised to return the Red Lion pub when the Metropolitan closed.

“Today, I am delivering on that promise. I am not nostalgic, but I am conscious of what our customers want and I am confident that this new hotel will become a new destination in Dubai,” he said.

The group also is building Oasis Villas next to the Metropolitan in Jumeirah.

The community will include 74 villas with between four and six bedrooms each, as well as a communal gym, pool, children’s play area and jogging track.

Khalaf Al Habtoor said the projects were mostly financed through the group’s cash flow, with a “small” amount of local finance.

The announcement came a day after analysts Knight Frank said the Dubai real estate market had recorded its first quarterly decline in four years, with prices falling more than five percent between June and September, although it remained 12.5 percent up on Q3, 2013.

Khalaf Al Habtoor said he was not deterred by the market report and believed Dubai real estate was performing well.

“It doesn’t matter that sometimes there’s a little bit of fluctuation or a little bit of slight tolerance,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Al Habtoor Group also confirmed it was expecting to close a deal on President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield, US, on December 16.

It also is constructing its self-titled city, which is expected to include three luxury Starwood hotels, St Regis, W hotel and the Westin, on the Dubai Water Canal.

The chairman also said more projects were close to being confirmed and he expected to announce them in the near future.




Abercrombie CEO steps down

In a memo released Tuesday morning, Abercrombie & Fitch announced that CEO Michael Jeffries, who has been in the position since 1992, will retire effective immediately.
In addition to the chief executive position, Jeffries will also retire from his spot on the retailer’s board of directors.
Abercrombie’s Arthur Martinez, currently the non-executive chairman of the board, will take over as CEO. The board has also established a new office of the chairman, which will “oversee the company’s strategic direction,” according to a statement released by the company.

Abercrombie & Fitch is in a tough spot, recently lowering its full-year profit forecast and reporting Q3 same-store sales falling 8% and overall sales sliding 12% over the last year. The retailer has been struggling to keep up with the shifting preferences of its target teen shoppers, experimenting with changes like removing its signature label from its clothes, lightening up stores, and changing up its merchandising strategy.

Perhaps these modifications weren’t enough to lift the retailer out of its funk. In a statement released on Tuesday, Jeffries said that he believed now “was the right time for new leadership to take the company forward in the next phase of its development.”

At press time, Abercrombie stock was up nearly 7% over Monday’s closing price on news of Jeffries’ retirement.


Marks & Spencer Shares Slide Amid Delays to Online Deliveries

most in more than two months after the U.K.’s largest clothing retailer experienced delays delivering some customers’ online orders at the busiest time of the year.

M&S today confirmed reports that its Castle Donington distribution center in central England is struggling to process a surge of online orders prompted by the Black Friday weekend. The stock was down 3.1 percent at 1:38 p.m. in London.

The “vast majority” of orders are being delivered on time, spokesman Daniel Himsworth said in an e-mail.

The news adds to concern that the company’s strategy to consolidate 110 warehouses nationwide into six distribution centers will undermine attempts to restore online sales growth, which Chief Executive Officer Marc Bolland told investors on Nov. 5 would occur by the end of last month.

February’s introduction of a redesigned website has weighed on Bolland’s attempts to turn around M&S’s clothing division after three years of declining same-store sales. The retailer’s upscale food division has performed better amid a grocery price war that has squeezed the profitability of big supermarkets from Tesco Plc (TSCO) to Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc. (MRW)

Marks & Spencer customers are not currently able to place in-store click-and-collect orders for the next day, while standard deliveries to home addresses, normally promised within five days, are now guided to take as long as 10.

“Our customer is always our top priority and that is why we’ve extended some of our delivery options,” Himsworth said.

The delays have led to a deluge of complaints from customers on the retailer’s Facebook page. The company said it will still offer next-day delivery for 3.99 pounds ($6.24).


Dubai Shopping Festival set to begin in January

Dubai Shopping Festival’s 20th edition will begin on January 1 and last till February 1, top official from Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) said on Sunday.

This year the festival is held under the theme “A Journey of Celebrations” with a spectacular calendar of events that embraces DSF’ key pillars of shopping, entertainment and winnings.

“Celebrating the 20th edition of DSF is a huge experience. The festival’s long and rich history mirror Dubai’s journey of becoming an international shopping destination with an incredibly diverse range of retail experiences from luxury malls to traditional souks to high street shopping, luxury boutiques and unbeatable bargains,” Laila Mohammed Suhail, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, said.

According to the official, mega raffles will offer visitors and residents the opportunity to win Infiniti Mega Raffle which will offer two luxury Infiniti cars and AED100,000 in cash everyday to one lucky shopper during the 32-day long of the festival.

Other popular raffles will include the Nissan Grand Raffle offering one lucky winner one Nissan car everyday during the festival for lucky winners.

The festival has also set aside 100kg gold and 40 carats of diamond to be given away as prizes.

A 8-kilometer long chain made of 160 kilos gold will also be displayed during the festival, the official said.


South Africa Retailers want Eskom to review move to weekend load-shedding

Eskom again implemented countrywide rotational load-shedding throughout SA on Sunday, as well as on Saturday.

It has opted for weekend load-shedding so it can build up its reserves of water and diesel for the week ahead, on the grounds that this limits the disruption to manufacturing and other businesses. However, this approach does not favour retailers, which have been hard hit by the lack of electricity in shopping malls.

Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona will outline the prospect of further disruptions this week and for the rest of month at a media briefing on Monday. The utility has suffered a multiplicity of problems, which have worsened the lack of generation capacity.

Unforeseen technical problems at power stations, depleted water reserves, and diesel supply problems at its peaking power stations on Friday meant Eskom had to ratchet up its load-shedding programme to the more frequent and intense stage three on Friday and Saturday, but was able to revert to stage two on Sunday once reserves had been restored.

Depleted diesel reserves required the shutdown of two of its open-cycle gas turbine power stations, which use the fuel to generate electricity. In addition, the Drakensberg and Palmiet pumped storage schemes, which use water to generate electricity, have reduced output because of depleted water reserves, and a further 1,000MW of capacity went offline on Friday when three coal-powered units tripped due to technical faults.

The National Clothing Retail Federation of SA has urged Eskom to review rotational load-shedding over weekends and to engage with business more actively in limiting the fallout from the energy crisis.

“Power outages over consecutive weekends have had a severe impact on the retail sector as a whole, which contributes about R650bn a year to the economy and is a major collector of the more than R220bn paid annually in value added tax to government,” the federation’s executive director, Michael Lawrence, said.

“The effect is not only on federation members. Local manufacturers on whom federation members rely for a competitive edge because of their ability to produce the latest fashions quickly are losing production time and materials through waste resulting from disruptions.”

Mall owners were having to contend with lower turnover by tenants and reduced parking income.

“Opting for power outages right through the peak shopping season will inevitably mean lower trading revenues, which in turn will translate into lower value added and other taxes paid to government and further constrain its ability to address priority needs in housing, healthcare and education,” Lawrence said.

The federation, which represents major retailers such as Edgars, Mr Price, Queenspark, Foschini, Truworths and Woolworths, called on the government to share its turnaround plan for Eskom as soon as possible. It should also seek private sector contributions to solutions to the energy crisis and Eskom’s operational problems.

Source: Business Day


Mexx declared bankrupt

The court of Amsterdam declared Dutch fashion chain Mexx bankrupt on Thursday. Its shops, however, will remain open for the time being. The news comes shortly after the announcement of a new flagship store in Amsterdam and the reopening of the webshop for the holidays.

Court-appointed trustee Frits Kemp blamed the poor economic conditions that have plagued the fashion industry for the company’s dilemma. According to him, keeping the stores open as long as possible will help to sell remaining stock and might attract buyers more easily.

Mexx shops to remain open

Mexx has been having difficulties for some time now. Since the departure of founder Rattan Chadha, things seemed to go downhill. Over the past two years, the company has had three different CEOs and management teams. After the departure of Thomas Grote in May 2012, Doug Diemoz was at the helm. In August 2013, the company closed the doors of the store on the Kalverstraat in Amsterdam; a location it had kept for twenty years. In the same week, Diemoz was replaced by a three-person management team. In early March, Mexx decided to close its webshop, a move that created quite a stir in the industry.

The bankruptcy of Mexx touches all major business units: Mexx Europe International; Mexx Holding Netherlands; Mexx Europe and Mexx Euro Production. The brand has stores in fifty countries. Of the 315 European stores, most are operated as franchisees. The company has about 1,500 employees.

Since 2011, Mexx is owned by US investment company The Gores Group. A minority interest also remains in the hands of the Liz Claiborne Group.


Ermenegildo Zegna opens first flagship store Singapore at Paragon

The first Ermenegildo Zegna store in Singapore is located within the Paragon mall and covers 342 sqm. The space features the full range of ‘Sartorial’ and ‘Upper Casual’ offering and also the Z ZEGNA debut collection, designed by Paul Surridge and Murray Scallon for an urban trendsetter, which is presented in its own dedicated area.

Leather goods and the brands’ licensing products including Ermenegildo Zegna Eyewear, Fragrances and Underwear are also displayed complemented by textile accessories. A large luxury space in the center of the store is dominated by a fireplace and selected artwork which creates the ideal atmosphere for clients to enjoy the privilege of the Su Misura service with its’ innumerable variety of textiles.



South African billionaire plans to launch major new fashion retailer in the UK

The South African billionaire Christo Wiese is planning an assault on the UK retail market and has built a collection of heavyweight figures from the industry to lead his plans.

A new company called Pepkor UK Retail Limited, named after Mr Wiese’s holding group, has been registered at Companies House with a team of directors led by the former boss of Asda, Andy Bond.

Pepkor is understood to be planning a new discount fashion chain in the UK, which had been code-named Project 50 because the plan is to open 50 stores within two months of the business launching.

The retail chain will be targeted at mothers and children and sell a range of affordable fashion products similar to what is on offer in Britain’s supermarkets.

The senior team assembled by Pepkor includes Mr Bond, who is also the chairman of online cycling retailer Wiggle, and Mark Jackson, the finance director of Pepkor UK who previously held the same role at department store Heal’s.

The other members of the team are Catherine Haydon, the trading director, who used to be head of merchandising at Marks & Spencer, Adrian Mountford, previously of Matalan and Sainsbury’s clothing arm Tu, and Mark Elliott, an ex-Bain consultant and a business partner of Mr Bond.

Savills, the property agent, has been hired by Pepkor to lead a search for 3,000 sq ft to 5,000 sq ft high street stores and rental agreements on properties could be agreed within days.

Mr Wiese is thought to be worth more than £2bn and last year was linked with a takeover of BHS, the department store chain controlled by Sir Philip Green.

The plan to launch a new retail chain could be a boost to beleaguered high streets across the UK, and Pepkor will look to take advantage of a fall in rents in secondary towns.

However, Pepkor will be attempting to enter a fiercely competitive market. As well as dominant players such as Marks & Spencer and Next, Pepkor will be taking on discount chains such as Primark, Matalan and TK Maxx.


Prince Alwaleed tops 2014 Arab Rich List with $28.1bn

click here to see the full list

Abdulaziz Al Saud has topped the 2014 Arabian Business Rich List with a personal fortune of $28.1bn, in a new survey published by the magazine on Sunday.

The prince, who chairs Kingdom Holding, saw his wealth slip from $31.2bn last year, following a 20 percent fall in the company’s share price over the past year. However the magazine noted that his privately held assets, notably his real estate and media interests, had performed strongly, reducing the impact of the fall in Kingdom Holding shares. It was the 11th year in succession that the prince has taken the number one slot on the list.

The annual listing of the word’s 50 richest Arabs saw the Saudi-based Olayan family placed second on $12bn, with Brazil based Joseph Safra third on $11.9bn.

Egypt’s Sawiris family was ranked fourth with $11.3bn, one place ahead of Saudi Arabia’s Issam Al Zahid on $11.2bn.

Damac chairman Hussain Sajwani made his first ever appearance on the list, ranked 22nd with $4bn. The top 50 was propped up by Morocco’s Anas Sefrioui with $1.5bn.

The combined wealth of the 50 richest Arabs came in at $255.86bn, a 3.9 percent fall on the previous year – the first fall in total wealth since 2008. The average wealth of the top 50 now stands at $5.11bn. Although the figure is down on last year’s average of $5.32bn, it still represents a 28 percent rise since 2008.


Claire’s Stores Q3 disappoints

Chicago – Claire’s Stores Inc. had a disappointing third quarter, slightly increasing its net loss to $26.82 million from $25.47 million. A variety of expenses continued to outweigh Claire’s gross profit.

Net sales totaled $350.7 million, down 2% from $356.94 million. The decrease was attributable to the effect of store closures, a consolidated 1.4% decrease in same-store sales and an unfavorable foreign currency translation effect on the company’s non-U.S. sales, partially offset by new store sales and an increase in shipments to franchisees. So far, Claire’s is reporting flat same-store sales for the fourth quarter.


Abu Dhabi in talks to raise funds to build its largest ever mall

Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Co (TDIC) is in the process of completing the financing to allow it to build the largest shopping mall in the emirate, it said on Monday.

Abu Dhabi, seeking to capitalise on surging retail demand, has already opened two shopping malls in little more than a year as it attempts to match glitzier neighbour Dubai.

TDIC declined to give details about the financing for the new project – known as The District – but four people aware of the matter said the state-owned company was in talks with banks about raising a loan.

A funding deal is expected to be finalised by the end of January, allowing building work to start by March or April, said one of the people, a company source speaking on condition of anonymity as the information is not public.

As talks were at a preliminary stage it was too early to determine the value of the loan, two banking sources said.

TDIC is partnering on The District with L Real Estate, a global property development and investment fund sponsored by LVMH, the French luxury goods company, according to TDIC’s website.

They are hoping to tap rising retail sales in the United Arab Emirates – up 5 percent to $66 billion in 2013, according to consultancy AT Kearney – boosted by a growing and youthful population and strong tourist numbers.

“TDIC and its joint venture partner are in the process of completing the capital structure for The District mall on Saadiyat island,” the Abu Dhabi firm said in response to Reuters queries about the financing of the project.

“Details of specific financing are not being released until such time as the process is completed.”

Construction work on the project, which will hold more than 550 units across 269,000 square metres of leasable space, is scheduled to be completed by 2017, the website said.

TDIC, which is also building branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi, has – like other UAE companies – been taking advantage of low interest rates to raise fresh capital or refinance existing debt.

In June, it secured bank financing to repay $2 billion in maturing bonds this year and said it was in the process of finalising two separate financing agreements in 2014.


Zara opens flagship store on Shanghai’s Nanjing East Road

Retail In Asia
Zara has opened a flagship store on Shanghai’s busiest shopping street Nanjing East Road.

The new store has a commercial space of more than 2,000 square metres spread over four floors and showcases Zara’s new store image. The company said it will include all of Zara’s collections – Woman, Man and Kids.

The new store has been fully renovated and features an elegant façade which combines classic pillars with metallic meshing, where full height window displays invite the attention of passers-by. It also incorporates all the green-building criteria stipulated by Zara’s parent group Inditex.

In accordance with the Group’s environmental plan known as Sustainable Inditex 2011-2015, the new eco-efficient store consumes 30% less energy and half as much water compared with a conventional store.


Bvlgari, Valentino, Hublot and Piaget open at Miami Design District

Miami Design District debuted its Palm Court, and the southern half of Paseo Ponti, the pedestrian street that will eventually go from 38th to 42nd streets. Several luxury stores have opened in time for Miami Art 2014.

The court itself is spectacular, with a reproduction of R. Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome serving as a centerpiece. A sculpture of Le Corbusier stands nearby, contemplating the dome.

New luxury stores at Miami Design District’s Palm Court include Valentino, Bulgari, Piaget, Hublot, Tag Heuer, IWC, Jaeger Le-Coultre, Vacheron Constantin.

Bvlgari and Piaget stores at Miami Desig District, Palm Court (photo


Canada Goose targets US market with NY office

Luxury outerwear and apparel brand Canada Goose is targeting the US market with the opening of its New York City office to house a dedicated sales team.

The move is a reflection of the brand’s explosive growth in the US market, where revenues for the luxury brand have increased by more than 45 percent in the last year alone. The Canadian label has been gaining momentum in the US over the past five years, marked by the opening of its US headquarters in Denver in 2013, which serves the outdoor and ski market. Additionally, the company became the Official Outerwear Sponsor of the Sundance Film Festival.

The New York office is located in the historical landmark Starrett-Lehigh building in West Chelsea covering 3,000 square foot of space, which includes a sales office as well as a showroom to provide customers with an opportunity to experience the true Canada Goose culture and environment.

“The demand for products that deliver the best in performance and design from authentic brands is stronger than ever,” said Dani Reiss, president & CEO, Canada Goose. “Whether it’s a modern explorer trekking through city streets or on an Antarctic expedition, people want to buy the very best – and they’ve embraced us on an epic level as a result.”

Canada Goose opens New York office

Reiss added: “The US is our fastest growing market and New York is the perfect place for us to meet that demand and fuel additional growth.”

Currently Canada Goose products are sold at premium US retailers including Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Paragon Sporting Goods, The Tannery and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as in more than 50 countries.

The label spans across fashion, lifestyle and outdoor categories and has enjoyed incredible success in the last decade, growing more than 4,000 percent with current revenues surpassing 200 million dollars.


Famous Brands to open Debonairs Pizza outlet in Angola

Famous Brands to open Debonairs Pizza outlet in Angola

Shoprite Angola will operate and manage the Debonairs Pizza brand in the country to complement Shoprite’s existing Hungry Lion brand.

The first Debonairs Pizza site will open in January 2015 in the city of Benguela, which is located about 540km from Angola’s capital, Luanda. This opening will soon be followed by six further Debonairs Pizza restaurants across Angola.

“This initiative comes on the back of a successful pilot concept introduced last year when Shoprite opened a Debonairs Pizza counter inside a Shoprite supermarket in Eldorado Park, Gauteng. We plan to strengthen our alliance with Shoprite and discussions are underway to explore additional opportunities and synergies that we believe exist in selected markets,” Famous Brands’ CEO of food services, Darren Hele, said.

Debonairs Pizza comprises a network of more than 500 restaurants that have been opened since 1991. Following the Angola store opening, Debonairs Pizza will be represented in 14 countries across Africa and the Middle East.


Sony’s Xperia Aquatech, world’s first underwater store, opens in Dubai — in pictures

The Japanese electronics giant Sony on Thursday opened Xperia Aquatech Store, the world’s first underwater store, at The World Islands off the coast of the Dubai.





Finisterre opens first London store

Finisterre opens first London store
Surf brand Finisterre has opened its first London store at Seven Dials.

As well as stocking the full Finisterre clothing range and surf goods from around the world, the 1,500 square foot store will include a standalone coffee shop serving Small Batch coffee from 8am each day.

In addition, the shop will display prototypes of the new Finisterre wetsuit, which is currently undergoing R&D testing ahead of a Winter 2015 launch and will be available to be test driven from the store from January 2015.

The space will also host regular events, including photographic exhibitions, talks and film showings, as well as product clinic from Finisterre and other cold water surf brands.

Finisterre founder Tom Kay said: “The opening of the store is a big moment for us. We’re excited to bring the entire brand and product experience under one roof in the nation’s capital.”


Burberry opens new flagship store in Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills flagship store. The new store on Rodeo Drive, created under the design direction of Christopher Bailey, showcases the brand’s physical and digital worlds through the Burberry Retail Theatre concept, where interior video walls and in-store digital screens showcase brand content and broadcast live events.

Located over four floors, the new flagship is set on the corner of Rodeo Drive and Dayton Way. Burberry Beverly Hills has been designed to offer multi-sensory experiences for customers, featuring exclusive spaces, products and services. The store comprises a mixture of event space, entertainment hub, private space and store.

With the occasion of the new opening, Burberry hosted its Art of The Trench traveling exhibit, launching a dedicated short film.


Prada opens men’s store in Frankfurt, Germany

Prada opened earlier this week its new men’s store in Germany, in the financial capital of Frankfurt. The new Prada men’s store which covers 1,000 sqm on two floors, is situated on the prestigious Goetheplatz. The store features the complete range of ready to wear and accessories, including “Made to Order” and “Made to Measure” services.





Hunter’s new global flagship will serve as model for future stores

London – Hunter, the British footwear and outdoor brand, opened its first global flagship, on London’s high-profile Regent Street. The 5,300-sq.-ft. store presents the retailer’s full collection, from its signature Wellington boots to outwear and accessories.

“Our global flagship store delivers a retail concept that will form the basis of future retail opportunities in key cities such as Tokyo and New York, “ stated James Seuss, CEO, Hunter, which was founded in 1856. “It was important to establish our first retail presence on London’s Regent Street, one of the most iconic shopping streets in the world, staying true to our heritage as a British brand.”

Designed in collaboration by Hunter creative director Alasdhair Willis in collaboration with U.K. design firm Checkland Kindleysides, the store offers a modern take on British countryside icons. It features a barn-like structure that carries through from the street windows to the inside of the store, or the ground floor. Featuring Hunter barn doors in the brand’s iconic red, the gates form the backdrop of the windows and open to unveil the inside of the space. A gabion dry stone wall creates a backdrop displaying Hunter’s Original Wellington boots, first introduced in 1956.

The first floor offers a surreal take on an enclosed English garden, with the collection displayed against a backdrop of topiary hedges, which pop as illuminated pieces of art. The hand-made green ceramic floor tiles hint at an archetypal well-kept British lawn.

Seating areas, fashioned to reference a rural boot room, are positioned in key locations on the ground and first floors. Each features headphones for customers to listen to curated soundtracks that evoke experiences associated with product within the space.

The kid’s retail space, in the basement has a distinctly different feel. The playful space is a contrast of Hunter red and white, and is designed to feel as if the basement has been part dipped in red rubber.




Mulberry expected to announce 1 million pound loss

heritage label, is predicted to report a hefty loss later this week when the company publishes its first-half year results.

Analysts at Barclays are forecasting a one million pound loss in the premium label’s first half year results, a speedy decline from the 7.2 million pound pre-tax profit Mulberry posted for the same period last year, according to The Sunday Times.

The prediction comes after the label posted three profit warnings earlier this year, following the loss of its former creative director last summer. Mulberry previously reported its revenues for the first-half year were down 17 percent to 64.7 million pounds for the six months to September 30 in October, adding that “actual trading conditions have been more difficult than expected in part due to the continuing headwinds affecting the luxury sector”.

Mulberry predicted to announce significant loss

At the time the company added that “profit before tax for the full year to March 2015 is expected to be significantly below current expectations”. However, Mulberry seems to have set its revival dreams on its latest hire, creative director Johnny Coca, who will join the luxury label in July 8 from Céline, where he is currently the brand’s head design director for leather goods, footwear, hard accessories, jewelry and sunglasses.

After a 15 month period without a creative director, the Mulberry has managed to find a successor for its former head Emma Hill, who left after a disagreement with Mulberry’s then chief executive Bruno Guillon. Despite Guillon swift exit from the luxury brand this April, Godfrey Davis, who return to the company as executive chairman, felt it was more important to hire the right creative director first, to ensure the two would be “compatible.”

Mulberry expected to announce 1 million pound loss
“A great creative director gives us extra impetus,” said Davis to the Financial Times on the label’s new appointment. “With a creative director, the whole thing comes together.” Davies added that he hopes Mulberry’s new creative leader will be able to fulfill Guillon former aim of lifting the brand’s current market positioning, whilst ensuring the label also remains true its roots as a “pukka” business, offering quality, luxury items at a fair prices to professional women around the world.

Barclays forecast seems to be in line with Mulberry’s aim for its comeback, and adds the luxury label is still on course to return to the black, predicting a 4 million pound profit for the entire year. The heritage label has been known to perform better during its second half, which includes the important Christmas period.