Monthly Archives: February 2015

Works begins on new £12m retail park in Nottingham

Work has begun on a new £12m retail park in Nottingham, which is expected to create hundreds of jobs. 

The Eastside Retail Park, which will be located on Daleside Road on the outskirts of Sneinton, is expected to create 200 jobs from the construction phase through to completion, alongside additional investment for the city.

Peter Gadsby, chairman of the site’s owner Cedar House Investments, said that the scheme will be a “catalyst” for regeneration in the area and will breathe new life into the eastern gateway of Nottingham.

He said: “After so many years of this five-acre former Sunlight Laundry site lying derelict, this is a significant landmark that this scheme has started on site. Eastpoint will further facilitate investment in Waterside as this area of the city continues to thrive.”

The site is 60% let with Aldi as the anchor retailer, taking up a 18,200 sq ft unit – Costa Coffee and Poundland have also confirmed they will be taking units. Gadsby added that a number of other retailers were looking to commit in the coming months.

Councillor Nick McDonald, Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for jobs and growth, said: “This scheme is significant, not least because it will catalyse our wider plans for this area of the city. What is most pleasing is that 100 jobs have already been filled by Nottingham people with another 100 to be filled before Christmas.”

As part of wider improvements to public space which accompany the development, Cedar House said that it will be contributing to works to be undertaken on the Sneinton Greenway public footpath and cycleway which runs behind the Eastpoint site.

Dubai’s Abraaj buys stake in Turkish online retailer

Private equity firm Abraaj Group has bought a minority stake in, one of the largest online retailers in Turkey, from the Dogan family, the Dubai-based firm said on Monday.

No purchase price or stake size was given in the statement, which said that Abraaj would also invest in Evmanya and Altincicadde, furniture and home accessory subsidiaries of Hepsiburada.

Cash from the purchase, made through one of Abraaj’s funds, will be used by Hepsiburada to expand its e-commerce operations in Turkey including the building of a single logistics facility to replace its existing five warehouses, the statement said.

Abraaj said it was the ninth investment it had made in Turkey., including deals for dairy products maker Yorsanand hospital chain Acibadem.

Dubai to house Middle East’s first Rainforest

Dubai is set to become home to the Middle East’s first tropical Rainforest, as the emirate continues its drive to attract tourism from all over the world.

The tropical ecosystem, which was announced by leading luxury developer Damac Properties, will be housed within the company’s Akoya Oxygen master development community as one of the premium attractions within an expansive retail and entertainment zone.

Scheduled to be completed by 2020, The Dubai Rainforest will recreate the natural environment experienced in the heart of the deepest rainforests, which cover 6 per cent of the earth’s surface. The tall, dense jungle environment will be fully recreated with many plants species integrated into the iconic dome structure. Damac Properties will ensure the integrity of the project is a natural representation of the environment through collaborations with leading Amazonian rainforest experts.

Spread across 55 million sq ft within Dubailand, Akoya Oxygen will be a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. The second phase of the project is currently available for investment, with villas and townhouses available within the green environment. The project is set around the Trump World Golf Club, Dubai – an 18-hole Championship-standard golf course, which is under design by world-famous golfer, Tiger Woods and will be managed by the Trump Organisation.

The retail and entertainment centre will be the fulcrum of the Akoya Oxygen development, housing the golf course clubhouse, the Dubai Rainforest and a selection of retail and restaurant outlets.

The Dubai Rainforest will also incorporate all of the latest outdoor and exploration equipment with a natural-looking rock face climbing wall set within the abundant nature.

The attraction will also be opened to the true romantics, looking for a very unique wedding environment. Couples will be able to exchange vows in a beautiful Rainforest clearing, followed by a sumptuous feast with the wedding party.

The project will join attractions such as the varied theme parks coming on-line, in addition to the world’s tallest fountain, the Palm Jumeirah, the Dubai Eye and the Dubai Aquarium as Dubai looks to welcome at least 20 million tourists a year by 2020. – 

NEXT plc And Burberry Group plc Continue To Soar 

It’s a fickle business to invest in, the rag trade, and the fortunes of three of the UK’s favourite fashion stocks show how differently things can turn out.

On the one hand, we have high-street supremo NEXT (LSE: NXT) and upmarket designer Burberry (LSE: BRBY)(NASDAQOTH: BURBY.US) both hitting new 52-week highs, and on the other there’s online retailer ASOS(LSE: ASC)(NASDAQOTH: ASOMF.US) sitting on a 12-month fall of 51%.

Nice gains

NEXT shares have been on a climb since mid-December, taking the price up 13% over 12 months to a closing high of 7,370p on Thursday. That leaves them on a forward P/E of 18 based on expectations for the year ended January 2015, but two more years of forecast growth would take that down to a little under 16 in two years time. That still perhaps looks a bit toppy, but quality companies can command high valuations for lengthy periods.

Burberry shareholders have had an even better year, with a 25% gain over 12 months to Thursday’s record of 1,913p — although over five years the positions are reversed, with Burberry up 204% against NEXT’s 293%.

Valuations are quite different, too, with Burberry shares afforded a P/E of 25 on forecasts for March 2015, dropping only as far as 20 by 2017. There’s a fair bit of future growth built into the current price, and Burberry might be capable of justifying it — but at these levels even the slightest disappointment could send the price down sharply.

Rocky ride

Then we come to ASOS, whose shares were trading for more than £70 at the start of 2014 before slumping to a low of just £17.42 by October. Of late there’s been a bit of a recovery, and the price has almost doubled from that depressed point to £32.48 as I write — for many a doubling in such a short period would be great news, but heart-stopping swings like this are standard fare for ASOS investors.

But it’s when we look at the firm’s P/E that our eyes really start watering. After two years of crashing earnings and a further 6% fall forecast for the year to August 2015, we’re still looking at a multiple of 79! There’s an earnings recovery pencilled in for 2016, but that would still drop the ratio only to 62 — we’d need earnings to more than quadruple to get the P/E down to the market average of 14 at today’s share price.

Aldi sees opportunity for 450 Texas stores

Essen, Germany – Global discount supermarket retailer Aldi Inc. is thinking big when it comes to Texas. According to the Dallas Morning News, Aldi sees potential for as many as 450 stores in the Lone Star State.

This would be part of a larger expansion program, announced in November, that would grow Aldi’s total U.S. store count by 650 units to about 2,000 by 2018. Southern California is another major growth target for the chain.

Wal-Mart, one of Aldi’s main U.S. competitors, is also targeting Texas for growth in its small-format Neighborhood Market stores. Aldi specializes in small stores of roughly 17,000-sq.-ft. The retailer currently operates 89 stores in Texas.  

Terror threats issued against British, American and Canadian shopping malls

The Mall of America in Minnesota. Al-Shabaab has called for attacks on shopping malls in the UK, US and Canada.
US and British security services are assessing the credibility of new threats against western shopping centres issued by Somali-based Islamist terrorists.

A propaganda video released by militant group al-Shabaab on Saturday called for strikes on five shopping centres: Oxford Street and two Westfield malls in London; the Mall of America in Minnesota; and Canada’s West Edmonton mall.

US homeland security chief Jeh Johnson said on Sunday he took the threat seriously and urged people to take care and be vigilant while shopping.

The 77-minute video was released online by the media wing of al-Shabaab, the Somali-based affiliate of al-Qaida.
It urged followers to carry out attacks on “American and Jewish-owned” shopping centres similar to the siege at the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2013, in which 67 people were killed and more than 175 wounded by four gunmen.

“We call upon our Muslim brothers, particularly those in the west, to answer the call of Allah and target the disbelievers wherever they are,” a black man in a military-style jacket, with his face covered by a headscarf, says in the video.
The man goes on to suggest an attack on the Mall of America, the biggest retail centre in the US. Map coordinates for the mall were displayed on screen.
The mall is a prominent feature of the Minneapolis-St Paul metropolitan area, home to the country’s largest population of Somali immigrants. Several men are known to have travelled from the region to the Middle East and Africa in recent years to fight with Islamist militants.

A statement from the Mall of America said its bosses were aware of the video and had implemented extra security measures.

“We will continue to monitor events with the help of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” said the statement. “As always, we take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately.”

The video also proposed strikes on Oxford Street in central London as well as Westfield malls in Stratford, east London and White City, west London.

It singled out as another target the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, which is the largest shopping mall in North America.

“What would be the implications of such an attack?” the narrator asked. “One could only imagine.”

Asked how seriously he was taking the new threat, Johnson told CNN: “I’m very concerned about the serious potential threat of independent actors here in the United States.

“Any time a terrorist organisation calls for an attack on a specific place, we’ve got to take that seriously.”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan police (MPS) said: “The MPS counter-terrorism command is aware of the video and is assessing the content.
“We remind the public that downloading extremist material may constitute an offence.”


Edcon considers sale of noncore stores

EDCON Holdings says it is considering a sale of noncore stores as it struggles under the weight of crippling debt and low apparel retail sales growth.

This comes as total debt of R19.8bn in the nine months to December 2013 had risen to R21.7bn in the same period last year, the group said during its quarterly report on Friday. In the year ended last March, Edcon reported a loss of R2.5bn.

While cash sales of merchandise rose 11.8% in the nine months to December, credit sales declined 7%. Normally, credit sales are bigger than cash sales. Retail sales of R8.8bn in the December quarter were only 0.5% higher than in the same period a year ago. Trading profit was R919m in the nine months.

The group has not named the assets it may put up for sale, but household goods retailer Boardmans and CNA, a retailer of stationery and other consumables, are clearly noncore to its clothing business.

“Edcon has initiated a process to eliminate operational inefficiencies,” group CE Jürgen Schreiber said on Friday.

“This includes the streamlining of roles and responsibilities, consolidation of certain functions, elimination of duplications and the leveraging of technological opportunities.”

Founded in 1982 by Tom Boardman, a former CE of big four bank Nedbank, Boardmans was acquired by Edcon in 2004. It now has 34 stores.

In 2007 Edcon was taken over by private equity house Bain Capital in a debt-laden R25bn buyout. But the global market crash of late 2008 and subsequent poor economic growth in SA have damaged the domestic retail environment, also depressing the credit supply growth that has always been the bedrock of retailing business models.

CNA has 195 stores across the country, selling products from stationery and newspapers to books and music CDs. The chain’s former 139 stores were rescued from liquidation by Edcon in 2002.

Despite the growth in stores and other capital investment, CNA’s then R7.4bn turnover had plunged to R2.1bn in the year to March last year. Operating profit had also declined, dropping from R163m in March 2012 to R69m last year. Edcon has not provided segmental information for the nine months to December.

Beauty, fragrances and cosmetics brands retailer Red Square’s 39 stores are another likely candidate for sale or closure. They occupy standalone stores inside shopping malls, and are a duplication of the same beauty products that can be found inside every Edgars store, usually in the same mall.

Divisions of the group are in talks with labour unions over possible retrenchments, according to sources within the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union

Primark sales on track for 16% rise y-o-y

Sales at Primark are set to come in 16 per cent higher than last year according to a pre close period trading update from parent company Associated British Foods plc.

ABF said on Monday morning that sales at the fast fashion retailer were expected to rise thanks to an 11 per cent increase in retail selling space and high sales densities in stores open less than a year.

On the back of a weakening euro against the sterling, total Primark sales are expected to be 12 per cent ahead of the same period last year at actual exchange rates.

ABF told investors this morning: “All five of our French stores opened over the last year have traded exceptionally well. Sales for the group in the last three months, including the important Christmas period, were strong and cumulative like-for-like sales have improved since the January trading update and are now level with last year.”

Total first half like-for-like sales growth for ABF’s retail arm were held back by unseasonably warm weather in the autumn across northern Europe, impacting both existing stores and new store openings in the Netherlands and Germany, however total sales in northern continental Europe were “well ahead” of last year.

Looking ahead, ABF said it was planning to continue investment into expanding warehouse capacity in Europe, with plans to open a new warehouse in the autumn in Bor, on the western border of the Czech Republic, for stores in Austria and Germany.In the States, ABF said it had signed eight leases for stores in the north east, including seven from Sears. Six store locations have also now been announced including Downtown Crossing in Boston and five in shopping malls.

Speaking in light of the update across the entire group, ABF stated: “Primark has performed well and its expansion is continuing, Grocery is expected to deliver a first half operating profit in line with last year, and Ingredients and Agriculture have made excellent progress in operating profit building on their very positive performances last year. As previously indicated, profitability at AB Sugar will be substantially lower.”


SuperValu records €2.58 billion in sales in 2014

SuperValu has announced that it recorded retail sales of €2.58 billion in 2014. The Musgrave Group says this represents a new milestone for the brand, following the addition of 24 former Superquinn stores to the business in February 2014. As a result, SuperValu now holds 24.9% market share and serves over 2.6 million customers every week.

SuperValu plans to invest €18 million in opening four new stores in 2015, which will add 280 jobs to the SuperValu network. Some of the locations will include Athlone and Kilcock. Together with its retail partners, SuperValu employs approximately 14,500 colleagues, making it one of the State’s largest private sector employers.

Commenting at the SuperValu national conference in Killarney today, Martin Kelleher, managing director of SuperValu, said: “We are satisfied with our current trading performance, having finished the year well with a good Christmas trading period.”

“We will continue to drive the momentum behind SuperValu into 2015 through our food leadership programme, commitment to local suppliers through initiatives like Food Academy, and exceptional value through quality own brand products and promotions.”

“Quality is where SuperValu really stands out,” he added, noting that its butcher counters have 100% fresh Irish meat. “The fact that the majority of our stores are independently owned means that our retail partners can source local products that you simply won’t find on shelves anywhere else. We have really leveraged this over the past year through the Food Academy programme, helping over two hundred small Irish suppliers gain their first listing with a grocery retailer.”

One of the major achievements by SuperValu in 2014 was the establishment of the Food Academy programme, which is a joint initiative between SuperValu, Bord Bia, the Local Enterprise Office Network to support small food companies in Ireland.

In total, 200 small food producers supported by the Food Academy will generate sales worth €10 million with SuperValu in 2015. Thirty high performing small food companies have also graduated to Food Academy Advance, the next stage of the programme, to allow them to scale up and secure national listings with SuperValu.


UK’s Dune targets Saudi Arabia for expansion in 2015

Shoe retailer Dune says it will open three new stores in Saud Arabia within the next year, as part of continued expansion in the Middle East.

Dune’s international franchise director Ben Jobling told Arabian Business that the company has identified three locations for new stores in Riyadh and Jeddah after identifying a growing and “increasingly visible” global retail sector in the kingdom.

Jobling is in Dubai this week to launch Dune’s new season collection. Eighteen months ago the brand began global roll-out of a new store concept that places greater emphasis on menswear and accessories, for example with a dedicated accessories wall and more space for men’s shoes.

Dune outlets in Abu Dhabi Mall and Dubai Mall were the first two stores in the Middle East to be refurbished in this way last year.

Jobling said the changes had contributed to a 30% rise in Dune accessories sales globally in the past 18 months, and had pushed menswear to account for 25% of the business from 10%-15% in 2013.

Dune, which is part of Apparel Group, has 25 stores across the region – 12 in the UAE, six in Saudi, three in Kuwait, and two each in Bahrain and Qatar. It hopes to open more stores in the UAE in the next five years, but nothing is planned as yet, Jobling said.


Rental spikes by malls in Dubai put squeeze on retailers

Dubai: After enduring a less than impressive sales performance in the fourth quarter of last year, many of Dubai’s retailers are starting to feel the extra burden imposed on them by higher rentals in Dubai’s malls.

At some of the leading shopping destinations, rental increases have shot up by an average 25-30 per cent on lease renewals, pushing rentals well above the Dh1,000-Dh1,100 a square foot range.

Some of the retailers are particularly cut up over new terms that have been added to their lease renewals.

“With each renewal term, the pressure on a retailer gets magnified — some malls are stipulating that the retailer should meet a higher percentage on sales numbers if the contract is not to be terminated,” said one retailer who operates mid-value apparel outlets at some of the leading malls and who decided to shut down a couple of locations. “This hikes are done arbitrarily and leaves hardly any scope for the retailer to voice his concerns.

“It’s a case of pay up or head for the exit. The authorities need to intervene in the retail marketplace as they had done in residential. Rental hikes on the part of malls should be justified.”

There is another clause brought in by some malls that is giving retailers a lot of heartburn — this states that a mall management has the right to ask a tenant to vacate the premises if the outlet fails to meet set targets in sales growth over consecutive months.

Retailers complain that mall managements are raising the ante even as the sector sees a marked dip in volume of business conducted over the last three to five months.

“Through the fourth quarter of 2014, retail sector sales in Dubai could have dipped by 10 to 25 per cent,” said Andrew Williamson, Head of Retail at JLL MENA, the consultancy. “All the major malls had substantial rental increases last year — but it’s already getting clear that at certain rate levels it becomes impossible for retailers to function.

“In the short-term, higher rentals are definitely a concern for the retail market here.”

A high rental regime in a soft market hits the small and mid-sized retailers disproportionately. Unlike the big retail groups, they do not have the spread of operations — such as being anchor tenants — or multiple lines to prop up their sales numbers. And in a tight market, shoppers tend to cut down on their discretionary spending habits, which is where a good majority of the smaller players (including those operating in the F & B space) function.

Shopping mall owners declined to talk on the record about 2015 rental trends and whether they had brought in new terms and conditions in their lease agreements.

But their point was that new retail space at the leading malls in Dubai is going for a premium because of the sheer demand that is there for any expansion or new stock creation.

To back their claims, they point to the long waiting list of aspirants waiting to sign up for space. These retailers if they do find space have to get in at the higher rentals that are being quoted. “There were several lease renewals that took place three or five years ago when these malls had just opened — there is no way those rental terms will apply now,” said an official at a mall developer.

But retailers are far from being mollified by such statements. “There is already immense pressure from the brand principal to get into one of the prestige malls and they are not satisfied by openings in secondary locations,” said a retailer.

“For my latest renewal, I got hit with a 20+7+7 per cent increase over the next three years, and that’s excessive.” (This work out to a 20 per cent increase in rental in the first year, and 7 per cent each for the succeeding two years. Most lease terms at malls are set to three-year contracts.)

According to Ajai Dayal, CEO of the retail advisory Tridayle Consult, “The reason is that the (super-) regional malls are sucking in traffic from all the other locations, and therefore they feel that they can ask — and get — whatever they wish. More so, since they all have long waiting lists of people just wanting to get in somehow. As for now, it does not seem that this situation is going to change.”


EDCON’s dismal results for the third quarter

Edcon on the brink after poor quarterlies

EDCON’s dismal results for the third quarter to December reinforce analysts’ views that the once high-flying clothing retailer has little future in its present form.

The heavily indebted group, the largest nonfood retailer in the country, which was bought in 2007 by Bain Capital for R25-billion in South Africa’s largest private equity deal, reported marginally higher sales for the three months.

However, its sales figures were far behind those of major rivals, such as Mr Price, for the same period.

But more worrying was that Edcon’s financing costs soared 20.6% to R856-million for the quarter, due to its increased debt levels and higher effective interest rates.

The weak performance in the most profitable quarter for retailers prompted management to comment obliquely on the group’s crippling debt position. “Edcon continues to assess ways to improve the capital structure,” the financial results noted.

This referred to the process of eliminating operational inefficiencies initiated after that quarter.

“This includes the streamlining of roles and responsibilities … and the leveraging of technological opportunities. This process will result in a reduction of headcount within Edcon’s head office,” the group said.

But it seems to be too little, too late, say analysts, who believe Edcon will struggle to avoid business rescue.

A buyout of part or all of Edcon is the most favourable outlook for the bondholders.

“They can’t continue like this,” retail analyst Syd Vianello said. “They’re getting closer and closer to D-day.”

Edcon’s bonds, which have plummeted in value in recent months, are pricing the group as if it were insolvent.

Vianello said that in any capital restructuring, it was unlikely that the bondholders would agree to take equity in Edcon in return for their debt.

And Bain Capital was unlikely to put in more cash.


Alshaya to expand training and employment opportunities for Saudi women in retail

Alshaya partners with Princess Nora Bint AbdulRahman University to expand training and employment opportunities for Saudi women in retail

Kuwait, 22 February 2015: M.H. Alshaya Co., the leading international retail franchise operator, and the Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to build a strategic partnership and further develop Alshaya’s successful Retail Academy, with the aim of ensuring that more Saudi women are trained in retail skills and employed in the retail sector.
Mr Mohammed Abdulaziz Alshaya, the Executive Chairman of M.H. Alshaya Co., and H.E. Dr Huda Al-Ameel, Rector of the Princess Nora Bint AbdulRahman University, signed the agreement last week at a ceremony at the university campus in Riyadh.

The new partnership covers three main areas – training, recruitment, and investment – to enhance the skills of Saudi women and improve their career prospects in the Saudi retail sector. The agreement will see Alshaya relocate its successful Retail Academy from its current location in Riyadh to the campus of Princess Nora Bint AbdulRahman University.

The partnership will allow the Alshaya Retail Academy to expand the scope of its operations, both increasing the number of trainees it can accept and giving students of the University access to additional modules in practical retail skills, such as customer service, communication and sales. The relocation will not affect the Academy’s existing eligibility requirements, which require that prospective trainees simply have a high school certificate.
“It’s a great opportunity for our female students to receive specialised retail training from Alshaya, which is a leading retail company,” said Dr Al-Ameel. “We are delighted that we will create better access to training and recruitment in the retail sector, right here from our campus in Riyadh. This is just the first step in our partnership, and we hope we will build on it the near future.”

Alshaya will also operate a recruitment office on campus to help female students have better access to employment opportunities at Alshaya. With over 600 stores and 40 international brands in KSA, Alshaya can offer Saudi women a range of career opportunities in retail, which is one of the fastest-growing industries in the Kingdom.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr Alshaya said Alshaya was committed to training Saudi women and developing their skills. “Princess Nora Bint AbdulRahman University shares our vision of helping women contribute to the growth of the economy in KSA. This partnership will help us support more Saudi women, to provide them with much-needed retail skills, and offer them access to careers that will fulfill their future ambitions,” he said.

The Alshaya Retail Academy was established in Riyadh in December 2012 in partnership with the Ministry of Labour’s Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF). It provides Saudi women with specialised training on retail skills, prepares them to join the retail market, and offers them guaranteed jobs when they graduate. From a zero base in 2012, Alshaya has made great progress in creating roles for women and now employs more than 1,600 women across its business in KSA.

You can also follow M.H. Alshaya on Facebook.

About M.H. Alshaya Co.
M.H. Alshaya Co. is a leading international franchise operator for over 70 of the world’s most recognised retail brands including Starbucks, H&M, Mothercare, Debenhams, American Eagle Outfitters, P.F. Chang’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Victoria’s Secret, Boots, Pottery Barn and KidZania. The company operates over 2,600 stores across diverse customer sectors: Fashion & Footwear, Health & Beauty, Food, Optics, Pharmacy, Home Furnishings and Leisure & Entertainment.

Alshaya’s stores can be found in markets across the Middle East and North Africa, Russia, Turkey and Europe and the company employs more than 40,000 people from over 110 nationalities.

The company has established itself as the industry leader across these territories through a combination of local market understanding and a comprehensive commitment to customer service. Growth in each of its operating divisions and brands is supported by continuous investment in talent and infrastructure. It applies best practices in retail operations, merchandising, marketing, information technology, logistics, real estate, human resources and financial controls.

M.H. Alshaya Co. is the retail business of the Alshaya Group, which was founded in Kuwait in 1890 and today represents one of the most dynamic companies in the Middle East. In addition to its retail operations, the Alshaya Group is active in a number of other sectors including real estate, automotive, hotels, trading and investments. Learn more about the company at or on Facebook at


MTN could outsource retail operations

MTN could outsource management of its retail stores and field staff, with an industry insider suggesting a deal with Brightstar is on the cards. By Lloyd Gedye.

MTN could outsource management of its retail stores and field staff, with an industry insider suggesting a deal with Brightstar is on the cards.

The industry insider said telecommunications multinational Brightstar is busy headhunting a range of individuals from senior staff to juniors, recruiting from the ranks of Vodacom, Samsung and LG.

Brightstar is the world’s largest specialised wireless distributor and offers a range of ancillary services to these markets. It has set up shop in eight African countries including Nigeria, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana and Egypt.

Contacted by the Mail & Guardian this week, MTN admitted it was “engaged in a reconsideration” of its supply chain, as part of its drive to become a more efficient company.

But the company said no contracts had been signed, so the matter could not be discussed.

Brightstar’s vice-president of global marketing and communications, Deb Miller, referred all queries about the mooted deal to MTN.

The industry insider said there was speculation in the job market, with some of the telecom’s staff unsure if they will keep their jobs.

The insider said that when Nashua Mobile closed last year, 3 500 staff were affected. The potential job losses at MTN could be huge as it has a much larger retail presence.

The insider said the scope of the work of the deal did not appear to be finalised yet, but could stretch from total store management to sourcing staff for the stores.

The scope could also include running promotions and interacting with handset manufacturers.

“This is a strategic move by MTN,” said the insider. “They are going back to being a network operator. Retail is a different beast. They don’t have control over it.”

The news of a potential deal between the telecoms operator and Brightstar comes at a time when there is speculation that more than 500 staff could be affected in the ongoing restructuring of MTN Business.

The company retrenched 476 staff in 2014; trade union Solidarity voiced its concerns about regular retrenchment processes at the mobile operator.

MTN is losing substantial market share to rival Cell C, dropping from a 32% market share to a 27% market share in 2014.

According to a Blue Label interim report released this week, MTN dropped two percentage points in the prepaid market between June and November last year.

In 2013, Brightstar reported global gross revenues of US$10,5bn and employs about 9 000 people on six continents.

In October 2011, MTN South Africa partnered with Brightstar, an agreement whereby the company was to provide the mobile operator with device portfolio management services and supply chain services.

Brightstar was responsible for the telecom’s full portfolio of handsets, data devices, laptops and tablets.

The argument put forward by MTN for the review of its operations was that it would free up the company to serve its customers better.

Its executive for group corporate affairs, Chris Maroleng, said: “MTN South Africa has not concluded any contract and as such it would be premature to comment on this matter. We have nothing to hide. No contracts have been signed.”

Maroleng also pointed out MTN was in a closed period with its results set to be announced on 4 March. — (c) 2015 Mail & Guardian


Christopher Kane opens the doors to his first ever store in Mayfair

The Scottish designer has landed on London’s luxurious Mount Street alongside his London Fashion Week peers

BY Olivia Lidbury | 19 February 2015

The boutiques lining Mount Street in Mayfair already read like a who’s who of the most exciting London Fashion Week designers: Roksanda, Roland Mouret, Nicholas Kirkwood are there – and now Christopher Kane is joining the gang.

The Scotsman’s first store has opened for trading at numbers 6 to 7, just a stone’s throw from the upmarket Connaught Hotel. Kane, a Central Saint Martins graduate who first made waves with his MA collection in 2006, told WWD how: “This is the first time we will be able to present the entire universe of what we do and interact directly with our customer, really getting to know and understand them.”

Kane’s creativity and innovation with fabrics – not to mention being championed by Donatella Versace – swiftly made him one of the brightest names on the London Fashion Week schedule. His catwalk collections translated into sales and eventually, piqued the interest of luxury conglomerate Kering, which owns large stakes in luxury heavyweights Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Gucci. The group acquired 51 per cent of the brand in 2013 and plans for a flagship store was part of the deal.

The investment also afforded North Lanarkshire-born Kane – whose design studio is in the grittier but hip neighbourhood of Dalston – to branch out into handbag and shoe lines. It also allowed him to relax; once the deal was signed he told he hadn’t suffered a single sleepless night.

The conceptual, minimalist store is set over two floors and was conceived by John Pawson.



US fashion label Michael Kors to open Belfast shop

US fashion designer Michael Kors is opening a shop in Belfast’s Victoria Square Shopping Centre – just as record-low inflation leaves consumers with more cash to spend.

Not since Elvis was in the charts has our disposable income stretched so far, and with the improved spending power comes the prospect of indulging one of our favourite pastimes: shopping.

The New York label with a familiar MK monogram has become a popular appendage hanging from fashionistas’ handbags and emblazoned across their wristwatches.

The city centre fashion and accessories store will be its second in Ireland, following their debut venture in Dublin.

Criona Collins, director of retail at Lambert Smith Hampton, said new investments reflected a wider, upward trend in consumer confidence as well as a vote of confidence in Northern Ireland itself.

“After everything we’ve gone through here, in terms of the worst recession and our own internal turmoil in Northern Ireland, we are seeing the first glimmers of hope and retailers being encouraged to invest here,” Ms Collins said.

She described the recent investments by the likes of Swarovski jewellers, YO! Sushi restaurant and Goldsmith’s Boutique in Victoria Square as a “reflection of the optimism in the marketplace”.

“It’s a really good barometer because two or three years ago we wouldn’t have been in such a comfortable position for them, when there was still too much fragility in the market.

“Now that there’s been a period of stability, and with inflation rates remaining low, this is a sign of growing optimism. There’s still a bit of fragility but growth is slow and steady and safe and not spiralling out of control,” she said.

Karise Hutchinson, head of the enterprise and business department at the University of Ulster, said shrewd retailers like Michael Kors knew their customers also had high expectations.

“It is no longer purely a transactional experience, but consumers expect an inspirational and motivational experience.”

Belfast FashionWeek director Cathy Martin also welcomed the news of Michael Kors’ impending arrival but said existing suppliers could be affected by the move.

“Any addition to the fashion landscape is always a good thing in terms of customer choice,” she said. “We do already have a number of independently-owned stores who stock Michael Kors products, so I am sorry for them that this store will offer competition, but there are always new brands and designers’ collections to source to keep the offer fresh for everyone.”

News of Victoria Square’s new tenant comes after shopping footfall here fell 2.4% in January.


Asda reveals expansion plans after difficult year

Asda is to invest £600m opening 17 new supermarkets and revamping 62 more, despite undergoing a tough 12 months of flatlining sales and profits.

This year’s expansion plans are in sharp contrast to Asda’s major rival Tesco, which is shutting stores and selling off development sites. Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have also reined in expansion.

Asda plans to open six large superstores, 11 supermarkets and 36 petrol station outlets in the year ahead as well as adding more than 150 new locations where shoppers can pick up groceries ordered online.

“Whether they are 50,000 sq ft or 10,000 sq ft, the majority of customers still want to come and do their shop in a store,” said Andy Clarke, Asda’s chief executive. “We have fewer large stores and an opportunity to open more supermarkets than some of our competitors.” He said Asda was particularly keen on opening stores in the south of England and London.

The supermarket is also reworking its logo, introducing a sunshine element and the slogan “Save money. Live better” – which is used by its parent company, Walmart. The new company slogan replaces Asda’s “saving you money every day” line which has been in place for six years.

In a tough market that Clarke said was going through “one of its most challenging and changeable periods in history”, Asda said total sales rose 0.5% for the year to 4 January after it opened 17 new stores. Profits rose by about the same amount. But underlying sales, which exclude new store openings, fell by 1% – the first annual decline since 2008.

The figures were dragged down by a difficult final three months of the year when sales at established stores fell 2.6%. Asda blamed heavy use of discount vouchers for a significant step-down in performance from the 1.6% fall it recorded in the previous quarter.

For the key Christmas period, that put Asda ahead of Morrisons, where sales fell by 3.1% in the six weeks to 4 January, but behind Tesco where sales fell 0.3% over almost exactly the same period and Sainsbury’s where sales fell 1.7% in the three months to 3 January.

“I am pleased with a solid performance in an incredibly difficult market,” said Clarke. “The pace of change accelerated in 2014 and will continue in 2015 which will be a very challenging year.”
Clarke said the step-down in performance was a result of Asda’s refusal to follow its rivals by sending out thousands of discount vouchers and reflected “a competitive market where retailers took a decision to drive unprofitable sales”.

He said this year, and potentially next, would continue to be very tough for grocery retailers. But Clarke said he would not be diverted by “kneejerk short-term decisions” and “gimmicks”.

Analysts said Asda’s performance was disappointing and it was losing market share, as Tesco and Morrisons appeared to be undergoing a revival. “With both of its key competitors regrouping, Asda may find the going quite challenging in the year ahead,” said Clive Black of Shore Capital.

Asda cut prices by £300m last year and plans to invest at least £700m in more cuts over the next four years. The supermarket claims it is now at least 8% cheaper than its “big four” rivals and has halved the price gap with discounters to 10% over the last two years.


One Direction pop-up store to open at Dubai Mall

The latest One Direction pop-up store is coming to Dubai for just nine days.
The shop, 1D World, will be open at Dubai Mall near the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater zoo, ground floor, between Friday February 20 and Saturday February 28.

Fans will get the chance to win one of five pairs of Diamond standing tickets for the band’s performance at the Dubai Sevens Stadium, on April 4 – claimed to be the largest concert ever staged in the Middle East.

They can also get their hands on exclusive One Direction merchandise, which is not available in other stores or concerts, including several T-shirt designs, posters and life-size cutouts of each band member.

Thomas Ovesen, CEO of Done Events, said: “We are thrilled to be able to offer Middle East Directioners another unique 1D opportunity, with the chance to grab some exclusive merchandise ahead of their April 4 Dubai show.
“Fans should be quick though, the store in The Dubai Mall is only open for just nine days”

A spokesperson for The Dubai Mall said: “We are always striving to bring the best and most exclusive events and retail experiences for The Dubai Mall visitors. Our partnership with Done Events continues this ambition and certainly brings all Directioners in Dubai a once in a lifetime opportunity to get their favourite 1D merchandise and souvenir products.”


Kenneth Cole names former Timberland and Macy’s exec as CEO

New York – Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. has appointed apparel industry veteran Marc Schneider as CEO, effective Feb. 23. Schneider will assume responsibility for the company’s retail, outlet, e-commerce, international, licensing and wholesale businesses. He takes over from founder Kenneth Cole, who has served as interim CEO since February 2011.

“Over the last year we have been working on transformative initiatives to better position the company for future global growth,” stated Cole, who will continue as executive chairman and chief creative officer.

Schneider was most recently at PVH Corp., where he was group president of the Heritage brands. Prior to PVH, he served as the senior VP and an officer at Timberland.

Previously, Schneider held several leadership positions in retail organizations, including division VP and group VP of the men’s division at Macy’s.


Apple reveals new gorgeous West Lake store in China(pics)

Posted on February 18, 2015 by Buster Hein—3 comments

Apple’s architectural firm, Foster + Partners, released pictures of the gorgeous new West Lake store in Hangzhou that was recently completed. The new Apple Store was covered by an incredible mural during construction, but the finished all-glass facade is even more stunning.

The firm says West Lake store was made in close collaboration between Apple and Foster + Partners’ engineers to create the perfect environment to view products. The end result is a 15-metre-high glazed box with a design that “combines an understanding of the local context with the philosophy of simplicity, beauty and technical innovation that characterises Apple’s products.”

Check out the store’s floating staircase below:


To give the staircase a floating impression, treads on either side of the space are held in place by discreet bolts embedded into the glass. It looks simple but is actually a hugely complex engineering feat.

Apple has created some of the biggest technological advances in the use of glass, thanks to its shiny iTemples that dot the globe. The construction of the West Lake store’s facade, which comprises 11 large double-glazed panels, would have been difficult for other companies to pull off. The West Lake store is one of five Angela Ahrednts said would open in China before Chinese New Year, which starts tomorrow.westlake-store2
To keep the space from blinding visitors with light during the day, Apple also has a series of blinds hidden in the ceiling. The white ceiling is opaque during the day, but dramatically illuminated at night by custom light panels that don’t just emit a perfect even glow, they also absorb noise.


Even the extremely thin floor structure of the West Lake store is high tech, made possible by tuned mass dampers to eliminate the vibration. The designers created the second level to give the impression of a floating stage in the center of the space – a new living room for the city.







Apple redesigning stores to make them more suitable for Apple Watch

New York — Jonathan Ive, senior VP of design at Apple, is working on a redesign of Apple stores to make them feel more like a “natural” environment for the forthcoming Apple Watch, according to an article in The New Yorker.

“Ive has begun to work with (Angela) Ahrendts, Apple’s senior VP of retail, on a redesign-as yet unannounced-of the Apple Stores,” author Ian Parker writes in the article.

Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry, joined Apple in 2014 as senior VP of retail and online stores with a mandate to focus on “the customer experience.”

With its Genius Bar and accessible wireless displays, Apple’s sleek store design has won plaudits — and been copied the world over — since it first debuted some 13 years ago.

The New Yorker article revealed the news in a paragraph about a display cabinet for the Apple Watch, and then quoted Ives repeating a comment he had heard: “I’m not going to buy a watch if I can’t stand on carpet.” (Apple stores currently have hardwood floors.)

Ive joined Apple in 1992, first as a consultant and then as a full-time employee. He has been hailed as the creative soul of Apple and a design wizard. Ive has been given greater responsibility at the tech giant in recent years and is now in charge of design of both hardware and software in future products.

The details confirm a separate earlier report which said that Ahrendts is spearheading major physical changes for Apple’s retail stores. Some changes, such as new seating areas, are expected to be implemented before the launch of the Apple Watch in April.


Tesco has named John Allan, as its new chairman.

Mr Allan replaces Sir Richard Broadbent, who announced he would step down after Tesco uncovered a £263m accounting scandal last September.

The Tesco board voted unanimously in favour of Mr Allan in what is thought to have been a straight fight with Archie Norman, the chairman of ITV and former boss of Tesco’s rival Asda.

The appointment of a new chairman is one of the final parts of Tesco’s turnaround plan, which is designed to reverse a slump in sales and profits. Dave Lewis arrived as the new chief executive last September and has lowered prices, closed stores and is cutting up to 10,000 jobs.

Tesco shareholders had been calling for more retail experience on the board. Mr Allan spent eight years at former supermarket chain Fine Fare in the 1970s and 80s and was the chairman of Dixons Retail for five years before its merger with Carphone Warehouse last year. He was also chief executive of logistics group Exel.

Patrick Cescau, the senior independent director who led the search of the new chairman, said: “Following a deep and thorough process run by a committee of independent non-executive directors, the board unanimously agreed that John Allan was the right candidate to chair Tesco at this important time.

“On behalf of the board I would like to thank Richard for his work as chairman. He has served the business with unflinching commitment through a period of unprecedented change, and put in place a new senior leadership team for the next stage of Tesco’s development.”

Mr Allan said he was “very pleased to be taking on this role at such a critical moment for the business”.

He will join Tesco on March 1 and be paid £650,000, more than Sir Richard’s £625,000. He will resign from his role as non-executive director at Dixons Carphone and Royal Mail, and has stepped down from his position as a senior adviser to Alix Partners with immediate effect. He will continue as chairman of Barratt and WorldPay.

Tesco confirmed Mr Allan as its new chairman on the day one of the best-known fund managers in the City accused the company of offering a “reward for failure” by making a £2.1m payout to former executives.

Tesco made the termination payments to Philip Clarke and Laurie McIlwee, the chief executive and finance director who left last year. The company initially withheld the payment after the accounting scandal emerged, but admitted earlier this month that it had no legal grounds to do so.

However, the head of corporate governance at Old Mutual Global Investors has criticised the payment and called on companies to install shorter notice periods on executives contracts. Old Mutual’s key fund manager is Richard Buxton, who told the Telegraph last week that he has bought Tesco shares for the first time in five years.

Paul Emerton, head of UK stewardship and governance at Old Mutual said: “The recent announcement by Tesco that its former CEO and CFO would receive termination payments of £1.21m and £0.97m, respectively, provided further evidence that the UK-executive-director standard service contracts based on a 12-month notice period offer a reward for failure.

“As Tesco management noted, in the absence of gross misconduct by either individual, these are contractual payments which the company is obliged to make. However, the performance of Tesco over recent years, combined with the investigation regarding accounting revealed last year, make a total payment of more than £2m inappropriate and show 12-month contracts to be an anachronism.

“In light of this, Old Mutual Global Investors has reviewed the application of our policy on governance and voting. We expect that any service contracts for main board directors at UK-listed companies in existence from March 2016 will have notice periods – and consequential compensatory payments – of substantially shorter than 12 months.

“There may be exceptions where salaries and compensatory arrangements are at particularly low levels but otherwise, it will be difficult to support – and we would therefore generally vote against – the remuneration arrangements of companies who do not meet our required standard, particularly when we vote at company general meetings.”


Telkom says it will close ‘some’ of its 95 Telkom Direct Stores

Telkom says it will close ‘some’ of its 95 Telkom Direct Stores as part of a restructuring plan announced on Monday (16 February).

The company aims to “unlock further cost efficiencies” within four areas of the business, namely, certain Telkom’s Direct Stores, Call Centres, IT Legacy Systems and internal printing and Supply Chain and Properties.

Telkom said it has completed a stringent procurement process and has identified external companies to undertake call centre operations, the management of IT legacy systems, a company to undertake the management of Telkom warehouses in the Supply Chain area of the business, as well as a company to take over internal printing activities.

Trade union, Solidarity said that the process, which Telkom denied, could possibly affect as many as 10 000 employees.

Solidarity said that Telkom is planning to restructure its field force division; however, the telecoms firm denied this.

“A Section 197 process has been initiated for staff impacted in these areas of the business. These affected employees will be transferred to their new employers in the coming months,” the telco said in a statement.

It said that a meeting with Organised Labour took place on Monday morning. “The official consultation process will begin on Friday this week, with more consultations to following over the coming weeks. Affected staff have also been informed.”

Telkom said further that it conducted detailed analyses of the viability of all the Telkom Direct Stores.
“The research has shown that it is, unfortunately, no longer viable to continue running some of the company’s 95 stores. It is clear that significant cost efficiencies can be realised, by closing down these unviable stores,” it said.

“These affected employees have today been notified of the decision and, in terms of the Labour Relations Act, have been issued with Section 189 Notices.”

“Telkom will explore every option to place the affected employees impacted by this process in other areas of the business. Should such attempts be unsuccessful, some of the affected employees may unfortunately be retrenched,” it said.


Dubai’s ‘Aladdin City’ is coming next year

aladdin cityDubai MunicipalityThe towers will reach heights of 34, 26 and 25 storeys

Dubai has given the green light to yet another outrageous building project – a 4,000-acre complex of towers inspired by characters from Arabian Nights, including Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor.

“Aladdin City” will feature six towers, some designed to resemble Aladdin’s magic lamp, linked by air-conditioned bridges with moving walkways (magic carpets?).

Construction will begin next year, and although the total cost has yet to be revealed, Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality, told the Future of Dubai website that it had the funds to finance the project .

The towers will reach heights of 34, 26 and 25 storeys, and will include offices, at least one hotel, and parking for 900 cars.

aladdin cityDubai MunicipalityAladdin City will have six towers, some in the shape of the Arabian Night’s character’s lamp

Mr Lootah has previously said that Aladdin City’s towers will be “icons of legends of the past with a touch of beauty and tourism characteristic of the city.”

Although located in the historic Dubai Creek area, where wooden sailing boats still cross the river mouth and traders exchange goods in the souks, the new development is outside the area that is currently bidding for World Heritage status from Unesco.

The complex is the latest in a string of ambitious building projects in Dubai. The Dubai Frame, an 150-metre-high, 93-metre-wide structure similar to the Grande Arche de la Defense in Paris, is scheduled to open in the second half of this year.

Dubai Municipality, the emirate’s city council, is also overseeing construction of the Desert Rose, which is expected to cost 30 billion Emirati dirhams (£5.3bn).

It will be a “sustainable” satellite city with housing for 160,000 people. Building work is planned to begin next year, according to .

Some projects have been in the pipeline for years, but have yet to materialise. The Dubai Eye, which has been billed as the world’s largest ferris wheel, was due to open in 2015, according to the Daily Mail, but now has a more likely completion date of 2018.




Victoria Beckham to expand fashion line to Asia

Watched by her adoring family, Victoria Beckham brought a sexy vision of fall/winter to an intimate New York runway Show Sunday and confided that she plans to open a second store in Asia. The one-time pop star, mother of four and wife of retired English football superstar David Beckham, has won plaudits in the fashion industry for designing beautiful collections that flatter women’s bodies.

Beckham summed up her collection backstage as sexy, liberating and full of bounce, after showcasing dresses with full skirts, textured knits with high necks, oversized coats with swinging bodies. She said that 2015 would see her spend a lot of time in Asia, where “as things currently stand” she plans to open a second store after the success of her Dover Street boutique in London. She told AFP bashfully that she “can’t say” where the shop would be, but that she was planning a trip to Hong Kong and Beijing within weeks. “I’m coming very, very, very soon,” she told reporters. “I’m really looking forward to it. The women really understand fashion.”

A more intimate catwalk show than many at Fashion Week, Beckham treated guests to steaming glasses of Earl Grey tea, handed as they came in from minus 9 Celsius (16 Fahrenheit) temperatures outside. Held in the imposing surrounds of Cipriani restaurant on Broadway, the 65-foot (20 meter) high ceilings of the 1921 building, soaring marble columns, inlaid floors and murals handed a neo-Renaissance elegance to proceedings.

Ankle platform boots
Beckham broke fashion rules by pairing navy and black, and there were splashes of orange but otherwise she stuck to her timeless classic palate of white, gray, cream, black. Woolen coats and dresses with embellished with large buttons down the front, at the hip, on the back. Long, tight skirts were paired with chunky knits with sleeves puffed at the elbow and dresses were sleeveless. The models wore black ankle boots with towering platform heels. She made a fleeting appearance at the end of the show, her trademark pout accompanied by a bashful wave, but was chatty, charming and polite to her family and reporters backstage. “I love having them here. They’re so supportive of what I do. We all support each other,” she said. “I stand on a football pitch, freezing cold, for hours on end watching the boys and I’ve always supported David doing the same thing.”(AFP)


Tesco to cut up to 10,000 jobs

Up to 10,000 jobs could go at Tesco as boss Dave Lewis wields the axe in an attempt to turnaround Britain’s biggest retailer.

The scale of the job losses highlights the challenge facing the company as it tries to recover from a slump in sales and profits.

The Telegraph understands that up to 6,000 jobs will go from Tesco’s head offices and 43 stores that it is closing, while the rest of the jobs are at risk from a dramatic overhaul of how the company runs its stores.

Mr Lewis wants to remove an entire layer of management from Tesco shops. The managers affected, who work between the store manager and shop assistants, will be offered alternative roles, but it is not clear if these will be on the same level of pay or even full-time.

The cuts will be compared to Mr Lewis’s overhaul of Unilever in the UK almost a decade ago, when he earned the name “Drastic Dave” for cutting hundreds of jobs and scrapping products.

Thousands of jobs have already been lost in the supermarket industry as the “big four”, Tesco, Asda, J Sainsbury and Wm Morrison, respond to falling profits and the growing threat of the discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Asda announced 1,360 redundancies last year after shaking up its management structure, while Morrisons cut 2,600 jobs in a similar move. Sainsbury’s said in January that it would cut 500 jobs at its offices.

Tesco is the biggest retailer in the country and the biggest private sector employer. It employs more than 310,000 staff across 3,330 stores.

The company began consultations with staff at the end of January. Head office employees have been offered the chance to apply for voluntary redundancy. The final number of job losses will be determined by the result of the consultation process and whether in-store staff accept alternative roles.

Mr Lewis has said he wants to cut head office costs by 30pc and save £250m per year in costs across the business as Tesco looks to fund price cuts and shore up its balance sheet. Tesco will close 43 stores and its corporate headquarters in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire as part of the cost-cutting drive.

Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital, said Mr Lewis wanted to “simplify” Tesco. He said the company’s structure was that of a global business, which now needed to change given that Tesco has sold its businesses in the US and Japan and must focus on improving trading in the UK.

He added: “Tesco needs to fund material price cuts.”

The latest industry sales figures from Kantar showed that Tesco sales are growing in the UK for the first time in a year. However, the company has already warned that group trading profits in this financial year will not exceed £1.4bn, down from £3.3bn last year, and analysts have claimed Tesco is losing money in the UK at present.

The company is still on the hunt for a chairman to work alongside Mr Lewis, who replaced Philip Clarke last September.

Sir Richard Broadbent said he would stand down as chairman after Tesco became embroiled in an accounting scandal. The company is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over the £263m blackhole in its accounts, while the Groceries Code Adjudicator is also examining Tesco’s treatment of suppliers.

John Allan, the chairman of housebuilder Barratt Developments, is the hot favourite to replace Sir Richard after Sir Ian Cheshire, the former boss of DIY retailer Kingfisher, pulled out of the race.

However, City sources have said that Mr Allan is also a contender to succeed Donald Brydon as chairman of Royal Mail, throwing into doubt the prospect of him joining Tesco.

Tesco declined to comment on the job losses.


Zara opens 1st homewares store in Australia, plans more

First it was fashion and now it’s homewares for the fashion conscious with the opening of Zara Home at the Highpoint shopping centre in Melbourne.

It’s the first homewares store by the Spanish group Inditex – the owner of the Zara label – in Australia but more are planned. There are suggestions the Macquarie Centre in Sydney will be considered for its first NSW site.

Zara, which is the biggest fast-fashion retailer in the world, has offered homewares in other countries, as does its rival and second-biggest global retailer, Swedish H&M.

H&M opened its first NSW store in the Macquarie Centre last year.

Offering branded furnishings and home accessories follows on from the trend set in hotels a decade ago and started by Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast and the Bulgari in Bali.

Zara Home will join Victoria’s first Dior Perfume & Beauty Boutique, which opened last December at Highpoint, and United States-based health club Crunch Fitness, which will open its first business in Victoria at the centre next month.

GPT Group’s head of retail, Vanessa Orth, said the introduction of Zara Home at Highpoint was a positive attraction for the mall.

Highpoint Property Group managing director Terry Christofides said the Highpoint catchment area was in one of the fastest-growing economic regions in Australia.

Mr Christofides said the $300 million redevelopment of Highpoint enabled the centre to introduce the first David Jones to Melbourne’s west and Highpoint was the only shopping centre in Australia with both Zara and Topshop under one roof.

Highpoint is owned jointly by the GPT Wholesale Shopping Centre Fund, the GPT Group and the Highpoint Property Group.


Prada opens new store in Auckland

Prada recently opened a new store on Queen Street in Auckland, establishing a presence in the city’s prestigious shopping district.

The new space, designed by architect Roberto Baciocchi, covers a total area of 350 square metres, spread over two floors, and houses the women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, leather goods, accessories and footwear collections.

The external façade appears as a single large glass wall overlooking the street. The ground and first floor windows are framed by slim black marble profiles.

The space dedicated to men features masculine materials and finishes: ebony floorboards and walls, palladium and crystal display cases defined by saffiano detailing in bright blue hues and light cotto-coloured leather sofas.


Lululemon store coming to Dubai

Dubai: Majid Al Futtaim Fashion has signed an agreement with Lululemon Athletica to open stores under the brand in five countries in the Middle East, with the first due to open in Dubai in the fall, according to a statement on Sunday.
The agreement covers a five-year term, with an exclusive licence for stores and showrooms in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait. The other regional stores will open starting next year.
Lululemon, which is a yoga-inspired technical athletic apparel brand for women and men, has 289 stores and 50 showrooms globally.


Bahrain’s Dragon City set for official launch in September

Bahrain’s Dragon City, a major retail project infused with Chinese architectural and cultural aspects, is set to be inaugurated in September, it was announced on Sunday.

ZG Keung, the vice-president of China Max Company, said in comments published by Bahrain News Agency that construction of the Dragon City project will be completed in June, with wholesale and retail trade facilities becoming operational.

The Dragon City project, which is a 115,000 square metre development being built in the southwest corner of Diyar Al Muharraq city, will incorporate 780 shops with a special area of 4,500 square metres, designated for warehousing.

The landmark project also includes a 6,000 square metre dining street and car parking for 1,500 vehicles and is expected to attract more than half a million visitors a year.

Keung told BNA that the Dragon City will contribute significantly to the national economy of Bahrain and will provide jobs and training opportunities and will attract considerable Chinese investments in addition to large numbers of tourists from China.

He said he is confident the project will follow the success story of the DragonMart retail operation in Dubai.

He added that Dragon City in Bahrain will become a re-exportation centre for Chinese products from Bahrain to the countries of the region.


India’s retail market expected to double in next 5 years

India’s retail market expected to double in next 5 years: report
Mumbai: India’s retail market is expected to double to $1 trillion by 2020 from $600 billion in 2015 driven by income growth, urbanization and attitudinal shifts, a new report said.

While the overall retail market will grow at 12% per annum, modern trade will grow twice as fast at 20% per annum, and traditional trade at 10%, said the Boston Consulting Group and Retailers Association of India report titled Retail 2020: Retrospect, Reinvent, Rewrite.

Modern trade includes supermarkets, hypermarkets and other organized retail outlets, while much smaller grocery stores are classified under traditional channels.

Modern trade is expected to grow three times to $180 billion in 2020 from $60 billion in 2015 and e-commerce at an even faster clip to quadruple in the same time to become a $60-70 billion market, said the report.

By 2020, average household income will increase three times to $18,448 from $6393 in 2010. Moreover, urbanisation will increase to 40% from 31% and over 200 million households will be nuclear, representing a 25-50% higher consumption per capita spend. Also, attitudinal shifts will be seen as 75% of the population will belong to generation I, that is they were below 14 years of age when the economy started opening and hence will have higher consumption levels, said the report.

Additionally, digital is also shaping the way consumers buy. There are currently 35 million people buying online and this will increase to 100 million in the next two years, said Gaurav Kapur, head of industry for retail and automotive, Google India at the Retailers Association of India’s Retail Leadership Summit 2015 in Mumbai while sharing that the online growth is being driven by the tier III and tier IV cities. Consumers are buying everything online; even big-ticket items like houses, cars and two wheelers, said Kapur.
The rapid growth of e-commerce has retailers thinking of their multi-channel strategy. “E-commerce cannot be ignored,” said Neville Noronha, chief executive officer, Avenue Supermarts Ltd, which runs the D’Mart retail chain, adding his company is evaluating its e-commerce strategy.
Even the Dubai-based Landmark Group which runs department store chain Lifestyle and Max in India is looking at leveraging different channels. “We want to invest in omni-channel,” said Ramanathan Hariharan, chief executive officer, Landmark Group.
Currently, most brick and mortar companies don’t have a good multichannel offering and hence, in the short term, pure play e-commerce companies are winning, said Abheek Singhi, senior partner and director, BCG Mumbai while sharing that in the long term, multi-channel retail will gain ground.
Meanwhile, brick and mortar retail challenges remain. For instance, the sales per square foot at Indian retail stores at Rs.1,500-2,000 per square foot is much lower than the international average of Rs.8,000-12,000 per sq. ft. Even the gross margins are lower in India by 7-8% than the international standards and the rentals are higher by 1.5-3% on an average, said the report.


Marissa Mayer is firing people at Yahoo

According to several sources, many people on Thursday lost their jobs at Yahoo.

Management is describing the firings as part of an organizational realignment, or restructuring, and not as a general layoff.

It is unclear how many people are being fired. The cuts are across multiple groups.

A source close to Yahoo employees tells us, “People [are] kind of shell-shocked.”

We have heard that some of the cuts are coming in Mike Kern’s group. He is the senior vice president of product homepage and verticals. We’re told that engineers are not being let go, but product managers, designers, and program managers are.

One source, who is in touch with Yahoo employees but not one of them, told us that dismissed employees were being offered two months’ severance, though their 2014 year-end bonuses are being withheld.

We reached out to Yahoo for comment on this story and will update it with any response.

CEO Marissa Mayer has been under pressure to cut costs at Yahoo since before she formally accepted the job in 2012. Instead of deploying broad layoffs, Mayer has favored a system that ranks employees and dismisses those with poor scores.

However, Yahoo’s year-end is upon us, and it is possible that Thursday’s widespread firings are part of that program.

The system is unpopular with many employees. In 2013, employee gripes over it culminated in a meeting in which Mayer read to employees from a children’s book.


SuperGroup CEO steps down to revert to Founder title

Chief Executive of SuperGroup, Julian Dunkerton is to step down from his current role and will instead become “Founder and Product and Brand Director” of the company.

With immediate effect, SuperGroup, makers of ‘urban’ clothing label Superdry will be led by Euan Sutherland.

Dunkerton, who began his career selling clothes out of bin bags in London with a £2,000 loan from his father said: ““With the number of opportunities SuperGroup has available and the increasing complexity of the business, now is the right time to bring in a CEO of Euan’s calibre.

“Having worked with him on the board for two years, I am certain our skills will be complementary and look forward to delivering the continued growth of the Superdry brand together.”

Sutherland, former head of Superdrug, B&Q and for a brief ten month period, the Co-op Group said of his new position: “SuperGroup is a great business with a strong brand and I am truly delighted to be taking on the challenge of delivering its growth potential. The business is at an exciting stage of its development and has numerous opportunities for growth.

“I admire what the business has achieved and am excited about being part of the team that will deliver the strategy. Julian and I work well together and have a shared ambition to succeed with the global roll out of the Superdry brand.”


Superdry clothing stores to open in Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Azerbaijan’s PNN Group will open two stores selling SuperGroup’s Superdry clothing label in Russia in the coming months, despite gloomy expectations for consumer sentiment due to a slump in the rouble and a foundering economy.

SuperGroup said two franchised stores would open at the end of April and further expansion would depend on how they perform.

“There will be step decision on the remainder of the planned rollout. All of those stores will only be in Moscow,” a spokesman for SuperGroup said.

Superdry is the first foreign fashion brand to enter the Russian retail market this year. Several others, including privately-owned British retailer New Look [NEWOON.UL], have recently left or scaled down their presence.

Russian consumer sentiment has plunged to historic lows because of high inflation and interest rates.

Property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield said PNN Group had exclusive rights to represent the fashion brand in Russia and would open two Superdry stores in Moscow shopping malls with floor space of 850 and 900 square metres, adding it planned to open more than 10 stores in Russia before 2020.

Superdry products are sold in more than 100 countries via its own UK and European standalone retail stores, as well as via concessions, franchised and licensed stores and its website.

The firm has said it has expansion plans “everywhere”, with Germany being the main focus in Europe. It sees markets such as the United States and China as offering potential.


John Lewis makes SECOND online price blunder in a month

The elusive Maclaren buggy
Shoppers who thought they’d bagged a bargain buggy from John Lewis have been left disappointed – after the discount turned out to be a mistake.

On Saturday, the John Lewis website showed the Maclaren Quest Sport 2013 Buggy Black/Champagne at the knocked-down price of £40. It was originally priced at £145, and had been previously reduced to £138 and £48.

But the sale price was an error, as the buggy has been discontinued. John Lewis has now informed parents who were eagerly awaiting their strollers that their orders have been cancelled.

One shopper, Jenny Bushataj, said she contacted the firm at the weekend but only heard that the order was cancelled on Tuesday.

She said: “They made the mistake about £48 and they made a further mistake at £40. It just doesn’t seem right.

“I am a bit disappointed. I have got a young son so it would have been handy.

“I paid through PayPal – it came out automatically of my bank account. It hasn’t been refunded yet.”

The disappearing buggy phenomenon comes just one month after shoppers rushed to buy £40 laptops from John Lewis – only to find the price was a mistake.

A John Lewis spokeswoman confirmed that the orders have been cancelled and the payments have not been taken from would-be shoppers. How quickly shoppers are refunded depends on their credit card issuer.

She said: “The buggy came on the site at the incorrect selling price of £40. It was a discontinued product so it was uploaded by mistake.

“As soon as we became aware of it we took down the item and cancelled the sales.

“We understand the customers are disappointed and have issued £25 of online credit as a gesture of goodwill.”


The Dubai Mall ….welcoming over 80 million visitors in 2014.

Dubai Mall is ‘centre of world retail’

UAE locals and expats enjoy at Dubai Mall. Photo by Patrick Castillo
Surpassing annual footfall figures achieved by the world’s most popular tourist destinations and key international airports, The Dubai Mall is once again the ‘world’s most-visited lifestyle destination’ welcoming over 80 million visitors in 2014.

For the fourth consecutive year, the flagship mall asset of Emaar Malls continues to appeal to global visitors and retail enthusiasts as a must-visit destination with its world class lifestyle, retail and entertainment offering.

Mohamad Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Malls, said, “This is another historic milestone for Dubai, with a record 80 million visitors to The Dubai Mall in 2014. No other global tourist destination or even airports, which traditionally have the highest footfall, achieved the significant visitor arrivals The Dubai Mall recorded.

“With wholesale and retail accounting for nearly 30 percent of Dubai’s real GDP, The Dubai Mall continues to make a sterling contribution to our city’s diversified economic growth, as envisioned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.”

The visitor numbers recorded in the mall were higher than footfall figures provided in 2014 by ‘Business Insider’ with Times Square, New York City at 39.2 million; Niagara Falls at 22.5 million; Central Park New York at 37.5 million; Union Station, Washington DC at 32.85 million; Disneyworld’s Magic Kingdom Orlando at 17.5 million and Eiffel Tower in Paris at 7 million, among others.

The contribution of The Dubai Mall to the city’s retail sector is significant, and is estimated to account for about 5 percent of Dubai’s GDP. Tenant sales recorded across the mall’s 1,200 plus retail stores and 200 F&B outlets at the mall, cumulatively grew by 14 percent in 2014, with growth seen across categories including fashion, luxury jewellery, footwear, sports and recreation, health and beauty, entertainment and food.

The popularity of the mall as the must-visit destination was further highlighted by the strong social media engagement of The Dubai Mall from people around the world. One of the Top 10 geo-tagged locations globally on Instagram (@thedubaimall), the mall also has over 1.5 million fans on Facebook, the highest for any shopping mall destination in the world.

The Dubai Mall also leads in social engagement over Twitter (@TheDubaiMall) with over 250,000 followers. The Twitter feed of the mall has the most audience in the UAE, which is 80 percent more than the second most popular Twitter handle from the UAE. It is also the fastest growing profile in the country.

Nasser Rafi, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Malls, said: “We are proud to have welcomed 80 million visitors to The Dubai Mall, who enjoy our best in class retail, entertainment and leisure offers. We are committed to creating memorable experiences for our customers not only within the mall environment, but also to be engaging and connecting with people around the world on our social platforms.

“While we set records in visitor arrivals and social media engagement in 2014, we are now looking to take the mall experience to beyond the extraordinary with the expansion of our Fashion Avenue by adding another 1 million sq ft (built up area) and a further 150 high-end and luxury international brands. Our vision is to deliver an unmatched experience for our visitors.”

As a world leader in family-leisure and entertainment, The Dubai Mall’s attractions also include SEGA Republic, the largest indoor theme park of its kind; KidZania , the dedicated children’s city; Dubai Ice Rink, an Olympic sized ice rink; and the 22-screen Reel Cinemas that can seat over 2,800 people. The mall also serves as the gateway to At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY, the world’s tallest observatory deck.



JCPenney expanding Disney shops to additional 116 stores

Plano, Texas — J.C. Penney Co. said it plans to expand its in-store Disney shop concept, currently featured in 565 stores, to an additional 116 stores this year. The retailer also announced a collaboration with the upcoming Disney live-action “Cinderella” movie, including the sale of apparel, dolls and a “deluxe” ball gown with “make-believe ‘glass'” slippers based on the costume in the movie.

“Appealing to children, parents and grandparents alike, as well as a diverse range of nostalgic collectors who have a strong affinity for Disney, the Disney shop inside J.C. Penney has become one of our most popular brands,” said Lesa Nelson, senior VP of children’s at J.C. Penney. “We are constantly looking for ways to collaborate with Disney – a highly revered, family-friendly brand – and couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of promoting the release of ‘Cinderella.’”

Penney will premiere a 30-second “Cinderella”-inspired broadcast spot during its sponsorship of the 87th Academy Awards on Feb. 22. Showcasing a fashion assortment from Penney, including a “Cinderella” costume from the Disney shop, the spot will show how everyday occasions can become a fairy tale moment.


Work starts on the new Westgate Oxford Shopping Centre

The Westgate Oxford Alliance, a joint venture between Land Securities and The Crown Estate, has announced that it is to start work on its £440 million Westgate Oxford shopping centre development.

Construction work is set to start in this Spring and preparatory is due to begin imminently. The new 800,000 square foot retail and leisure scheme in Oxford city centre is expected to complete in autumn 2017.

Under the scheme’s plans, the existing Westgate centre in the west end of Oxford will be transformed to include over 100 new stores, 25 restaurants and cafes, a boutique cinema, roof top terrace dining and new public spaces.

Retailers that have signed up to the new centre include H&M, Superdry, Schuh, Goldsmiths, John Lewis, Next, Primark and Michael Kors. The development is now 28% pre-let.

Transforming the retail leisure experience in Oxford

Robert Noel, Land Securities chief executive, said: “Today we’ve taken a significant step towards creating our vision for a world-class retail and leisure destination in Oxford, having worked hard with our customers and the community to shape the right scheme. Alongside our growing list of customers, we are committed to creating a new Westgate Oxford which not only complements the city’s beauty and heritage status but also enhances its global reputation as a great place to spend time.”

Paul Clark, director of investment and asset management at The Crown Estate, added: “This significant milestone underscores our commitment to this ambitious redevelopment which will totally transform the retail and leisure experience in Oxford and stand out as one of the best schemes of its kind in the UK.”

The development is expected to generate up to 1,000 construction jobs with a further 3,400 retail positions opening up once the centre is completed.


J. Crew’s hipster sister label is FINALLY set to become available to Brits

Madewell goes global! J. Crew’s hipster sister label is FINALLY set to become available to Brits

The label will be available on from February 25
Madewell, the denim-focused younger sister of J. Crew, is to become available in the UK for the first time thanks to a new partnership with

The fashion label, which is hugely popular in the U.S. for its hipster aesthetic and accessible price tag, is currently only available to buy in North America and Japan via its retail stores and website.

But from February 25, the new spring/summer 2015 collection will be stocked alongside high-end designer labels at, finally making it shoppable for Brits.

Somsack Sikhounmuong, Head of Design at Madewell said in a press release that ‘new customers and fans have been requesting Madewell overseas for years.

‘You can’t beat the edit, presentation and incredible company we ‘d be keeping on Net-a-Porter,’ he said.

Madewell has also joined forces with Nordstrom, which will be selling its wares in stores across the U.S. and online from March 2.

The two new partnerships are clear evidence of J. Crew chairman and chief executive Mickey Drexler’s fresh focus on the Madewell brand – already successful with profits up 36 per cent to $171.7 million in the past year.

Mr Drexler, who acquired the Madewell Label in 2003 before selling it to J. Crew, said in a New York Times interview on Thursday: ‘I would like Madewell jeans to be the Levi’s of its generation.’

Alexa Chung models for Madewell: Available in the UK soon

But he insists that the new partnerships with Net-a-porter and Nordstrom are not the first steps in making Madewell a wholesale-style label.

‘As we looked at the availability of our products, we started to look at distribution differently,’ he told WWD. ‘This, for us, is really a new beginning. I wouldn’t call it necessarily a wholesale distribution. I would just call it distribution that makes sense from a customer point of view, from a brand point of view, from a Nordstrom and Net-a-porter point of view. . .

‘Where can you buy Madewell and J. Crew? We are not a wholesaler by nature. We have a small distribution. It’s scarce.’

Mr Sikhounmuong, a former J. Crew designer, who has been heading up the creative team at Madewell for over a year now, can also be credited with the label’s financial success.

Since seizing the helm, the designer has broadened the denim-focused offering to include more ‘grown-up’ pieces such as leather jackets, army-inspired jumpsuits and shirts hand-embroidered by Mexican artisans.

How sage stuffing can boost your memory, and other surprising ways herbs can improve your health






Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont keen on Tesco Lotus deal

Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont keen on Tesco Lotus deal
One of the richest men in Thailand has approached Tesco about a multi-billion pound deal to buy its business in the country.

Dhanin Chearavanont is understood to have approached Tesco in December about a deal and, although he was rejected, the tycoon is considering another bid.

Mr Chearavanont already controls the retail group Siam Makro in Thailand and acquiring Tesco Lotus would increase his control of the market.

However, Dave Lewis, chief executive, is considering selling off the company’s international assets as Britain’s biggest retailer tries to bounce back from an accounting scandal and a slump in domestic sales.

Mr Chearavanont is understood to have appointed UBS and Siam Commercial Bank to help finance and advise on a bid for Tesco Lotus alongside Bank of America, which was already assisting the tycoon, according to Reuters. However, Mr Chearavanont and Tesco are not currently in discussions about a deal for Tesco Lotus, which is valued at roughly $10bn (£6.6bn), and the company has given no public indication that is ready to sell the business.

In contrast, Tesco is actively working on a deal to sell part or all of Dunnhumby, the analytics business behind the Clubcard loyalty scheme.

Goldman Sachs has been appointed by Tesco to explore strategic options for Dunnhumby, which has been valued at as much as £2bn.

It is understood that Tesco is focusing on the sale of a majority stake in Dunnhumby, rather than a full disposal or IPO. This would allow the retailer to main some influence over the business.

Tesco has owned Dunnhumby for a decade and its tools are central to the Clubcard scheme because it allows the company to analyse customer shopping patterns and issue personalised vouchers. If Tesco maintained a stake in Dunnhumby then it could direct its future investments and block rival retailers from using its tools.

Mr Lewis has insisted that Clubcard remains a “very important part” of Tesco’s offer to shoppers.



Abu Dhabi Crown Prince details UAE leaders’ vision of future without oil

DUBAI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Monday detailed the leadership’s vision and plans for a future without oil.

Sheikh Mohammed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said the nation’s unity and diversification of economy would ensure a sound future for generations to come.

He said investments in education, nuclear energy and the military would secure the UAE for a post-oil future in 50 years.

“There won’t be any rivers but what is well known is there won’t be any oil or gas,” Sheikh Mohammed said in his opening address to the Government Summit.

“This is something we are thinking about in our governments and we’re thinking about the future generations for the next 50 years.

“This is what our founding fathers fought for and something that our future generation will also suffer from, which is why it is very important to think about.”

He said the nation’s future and unity must involve every citizen.

“A distinguished government always aims at making sure that every citizen is a part of the national wealth,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

“Building a nation is not limited to the government. It is the obligation of every resident.”

The founding President, Sheikh Zayed, knew the value of national unity and was committed to developing it, Sheikh Mohammed said.

“It is the strength of a nation. He has united the UAE and said our unity is our real wealth, to ensure our sustainability and continued progress in the face of international challenges.”

Development of human resources, education, health, innovation, a diversified economy and security have generated the UAE’s strong economy, he said.

This is “everything that would actually create a country that is leading and a pioneer worldwide”, Sheikh Mohammed said.

“We were lagging behind in education and we knew it. Education led us to raise several questions.

“At this current time, when we have a lot of wealth, we need to invest and put all our efforts and resources into education because maybe in 50 years, when we might have the last barrel of oil, the question is: when it is shipped abroad, will we be sad?

“If we are investing today in the right sectors, I can tell you we will celebrate at that moment.”

But Sheikh Mohammed said there were many challenges to planning education.

“Each one of us has followed a different education in different places but there must be a clear vision from the country’s leadership as to the learning outcome for the next 25 or more years,” he said.

“Oil and gas are truly our real source of income today so we need as of today to stress that learning outcomes should create human capital to help and serve us in the next 50 years and beyond.

“This is not just to plan for the next 12 years, but for 25 years and beyond.”

Oil makes up 39 per cent of the UAE’s gross domestic product, according to figures from Moody’s Investors Service.

Sheikh Mohammed said investments in nuclear energy would result in a reliable source of clean power.

“Hopefully, at the end of the programme, 25 per cent of the UAE’s power needs will be covered by clean, nuclear energy,” he said.

“It is a huge programme and we hope a new plant will be launched in 2017.”

Another arm to the diversified economy, Strata Manufacturing, which produces composite aircraft parts for Airbus and Boeing, shows the vital role Emirati women are playing in the country’s future.

Women make up 83 per cent of the workforce at Strata’s Al Ain plant.

“Women play a very important role,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “These examples, the diversity of our economy and its strength will allow us to face all the challenges of today’s world, especially with the decreasing oil prices.

“The oil sector today is in a crisis and it is true that there are fears, but sometimes we forget that, in 2008, oil prices were higher than what they are today and they declined to lower than today – but the ship kept going forward.”

He said the UAE was also focused on providing security to its citizens and residents.

“For many decades, we faced regional challenges,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

“For more than 70 years in the Middle East, we witnessed a lot of events and the UAE has constantly tried to send a positive message to the world that the Middle East has a lot to offer and we are here to stay.”

He talked of the many Emiratis who volunteered for military service when Kuwait was invaded in 1990.

“They said they had an obligation to fulfil, although some were in their sixties and some were children,” he said.

“We are definitely, in the region, going through a very difficult time but we have God’s guidance and the determination of our men and women.”

Sheikh Mohammed then read out the names of Emiratis who insisted on serving nine months in military service, despite being exempt on medical grounds.

“Our community and society is unified. With this fabric of sons and daughters, the positivity that exists inside of us and dedication, our future in this country will always be forward and successful.”

Emiratis who volunteered for the military

These patriotic Emiratis were named by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed as having voluntarily entered a nine-month national military service despite being medically unfit or the only son in the family


Poundland seeks to buy 99p Stores for £55m

Budget retailer Poundland has said it wants to buy 99p Stores for £55m, subject to approval by competition authorities.

The two firms have signed a conditional deal for £47.5m in cash and £7.5m in stock.

The sale, should it go through, includes 99p Stores’ network of 251 shops, which trade as 99p Stores and Family Bargains.

Discounters in the UK have been taking market share from supermarkets.

Over time, 99p Stores will be converted to Poundland shops, a spokeswoman for the firm said. The deal is subject to approval by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Poundland chief executive Jim McCarthy said: “Through working together, Poundland will improve choice, value and service for 99p Stores’ customers, bringing Poundland’s proven know-how and range to 99p Stores.”

Since 1990, Poundland has opened almost 600 shops in the UK, Ireland and Spain, and plans to open 16 new shops per year for the next two years in the UK and Ireland.

It trades as Poundland in the UK, and Dealz in Ireland and Spain.


LloydsPharmacy opens first UK franchise store

LloydsPharmacy opens first UK franchise store
LloydsPharmacy has opened its first ever UK franchise store in Gloucester.

As well as adopting the LloydsPharmacy identity, the store has been refurbished in line with LloydsPharmacy owner Celesio’s European pharmacy network design.

Celesio has already transformed more than 300 pharmacies in its UK network and the Gloucester store is the first independent to join the programme as part of a franchise agreement.

Nigel Swift, marketing and sales director at Celesio UK, said: “The launch of the first LloydsPharmacy franchise store is a very exciting time for us. We have spoken to a lot of pharmacy entrepreneurs about what they’d like us to offer and created a compelling proposition, including complete end-to-end solutions, welcoming independent pharmacies into the LloydsPharmacy brand.”

Swift said the new franchise will benefit from access to a number of LloydsPharmacy support services including HR provision, IT infrastructure, pharmacy and retail standard operating procedures, store design and category management.


City Airport £200m expansion gets go ahead

City Airport £200m expansion gets go-ahead but campaigners say it will create ‘ghettos and misery’

A £200million expansion of London City airport was today hailed as a “vital boost to London’s aviation capacity” as it was given planning approval.

Newham Council last night gave the green light to an extended terminal, a new taxi-way and additional parking stands for larger aircraft at the airport in east London.

A new six-storey four-star hotel with up to 260 bedrooms will also be built on site.

The expansion will increase the number of take-offs and landings at the airport from 70,000 a year to 111,000 and will almost double the number of passengers to six million a year by 2023.

The number of stands for aircraft will increase from 18 to 25, and the newer, larger planes they will accommodate will expand the airport’s reach from destinations in western Europe to Russia and North Africa.

It has been described as a boost for London’s aviation capacity while uncertainty hangs over proposals for further runways at either Gatwick or Heathrow.

The development will create 2,000 new jobs, at least 35 per cent of which will be given to people in Newham and strengthen the airport’s position as a preferred choice for business travellers.

The expansion involves the tripling of the size of the airport terminal to 51,800 square feet and will see the number of flights increase from 38 to 45 during peak morning and evening flight times.

It is expected to double the contribution to the local and UK economy from the airport from £750million to £1.5billion by 2023.

Building work, subject to final planning approval being given by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, is expected to start by the end of the year, with the first new aircraft seen on the runway in 2016.

imgExpansion: it is hoped the plans will be a major boost for the capital Airport chief executive Declan Collier said it was a major boost to London’s economy and would provide an urgent increase in air capacity the capital “desperately” needs.
He said: “Expansion will allow us to increase the flight capacity over the next few years that London so badly needs now.

“This is a great result for the capital and will be a catalyst for significant inward economic growth and regeneration.

“It will deliver a world-class international gateway to Newham and London and generate additional short-haul aviation capacity for the UK.”

London City airport’s expansion has been met by opposition by campaigners concerned about air and noise pollution.

Tamsin Omond, representing neighbours, said: “The impact on people already suffering from very high levels of air and noise pollution will be immense.

“More air traffic over one of the most densely populated areas in London does not seem to be to be a development that will make people live, work and stay in this part of London.”

Robert Barnstone, from the anti-expansion group Hacan East, said: “The expansion will create noise ghettos and misery for hundreds of thousands of people living below the flight path.”

The airport and council planners say they do not expect an increase in noise levels because the new fleet of Bombardier C Series aircraft would be quieter but admitted homes will be affected by the increase in flight numbers.


Argos to open digital stores in Sainsbury’s supermarkets

Argos and Sainbury’s have teamed up to open 10 new Argos digital stores within existing Sainsbury’s supermarkets. This will bring extra choice and convenience to Sainsbury’s and Argos customers who will have access to the combined ranges in the convenience of a supermarket.

These new format Argos digital stores will provide customers with a choice of more than 20,000 non-grocery products which they can either buy instantly in-store via tablets, or reserve online for easy collection within hours, the same or the following day. An extended range of around 40,000 products can also be ordered in store for home delivery. The Argos digital stores in Sainsbury’s will range in size from around 92 sq m to more than 464 sq m.


Topshop said to have shuttered all Japanese stores

It seems as if British high street retailer Topshop may not be big in Japan after all. The fashion chain has reportedly closed all five of its stores in Japan, with local store operators claiming that the store’s future within the country remains unclear.

According to a report from Nikkei Asian Review, Topshop shut down both flagship stores in Tokyo, which now have signs hanging on their doors stating they are shut as of January 31, 2015. The store in Mirraza Shinjuku, close to Shinjuku Station is reportedly still full of merchandise, according to WWD, whilst Topshop’s store in Laforet Mall, in Harajuku is empty due to ongoing maintenance at the complex.

The shopping center claims it was suddenly informed on the evening of January 30 that the Topshop unit would not open from February onwards. Other Topshop locations at Colette Mare in Yokohama, Aeon Mall Makuhari New City in Chiba and Lucua, in Osaka have also been closed without prior warning.

Topshop said to have shuttered all Japanese stores
Topshop reportedly set to exit Japan

Topshop, owned by parent company Arcadia Group Limited, previously had plans to make it big in Japan, opening its first stores in 2006. Then in 2008, the group handed over the rights to Topshop to a new company known as T’s, which was jointly financed by Mori Retail Systems and JBF Partners.

The company aimed to open “ten or more stores in Tokyo and other major Japanese cities within the next two to three years,” at the time. However, 7 years down the line, it seems as if Topshop may have be overly ambitious with its plans to expand within the country.

A spokesperson for Mori Retail system, confirmed to WWD that they had ended their partnership with Topshop last May and only oversaw the operation of the retail unit in Harajuku. The spokesperson noted that Mori had been told on January 30 that the store in Harajuku would be shut at the end of the next day, even though the store’s lease was not due to expire until the end of February. Topshop’s management informed him this decision was partly to due with a lack of store staff, which had shrunken to a point where the fashion retailer was unable to run the store.

Topshop’s store operator T’s previously reported sales of 3.5 billion yen (19.64 million pounds) for the year which ended February 2014, according to a private to a private-sector credit research company. However, over the past year local sales have declined.

With a number of international fast-fashion labels pushing into Japan, such as H&M and Forever 21, who both operate store in the vicinity of Topshop’s location in Laforet, Harajuku, pressure for Topshop to perform well has been mounting. Increasing competition from local Japanese fashion retailers may have also played a role in Topshop’s quiet withdrawal.

Topshop continues to trade online in Japan via fashion retailer Zozotown.



Amazon wants to buy some of RadioShack’s stores

Amazon is considering buying some RadioShack stores, according to Bloomberg. It would mean the e-commerce giant would finally have a presence in the physical retail market, having previously stopped at simply pondering a flagship store in Manhattan.

So far Amazon has only built pop-up shops and Kindle vending machines.

Amazon has discussed acquiring some RadioShack outlets, Bloomberg reports, as the US electronics franchise prepares for bankruptcy. Yesterday, the New York Stock Exchange declared action to delist the common stock of RadioShack. Trading in shares of RadioShack was to cease with immediate effect.

Amazon is reportedly looking into using the branches as showcases for its hardware. They might also be used for pick-up and drop-off points for online customers.

This would be Amazon’s biggest ever venture into traditional retail. RadioShack has more than 4,000 stores, though it’s unclear whether Amazon wants to buy all of them. Also, Amazon could face bidding competition from Sprint and the investment group behind Brookstone, which are also potential candidates. Or, in fact, the three companies could even share the spoils.

Amazon’s brick-and-mortar store plan in New York City, which had holiday shopping in mind, was probably the main indicator of the company’s advances into customer-facing selling. It was to act as a hub: somewhere for consumers to buy, exchange, order, return, and tellingly put a face to the brand they use so often. It never happened.


Amazon’s first bricks-and-mortar store opens in … Indiana

Amazon has opened its first physical store – not in downtown Manhattan but on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The e-tailer calls it a “customer order pickup and drop-off location”, which will allow Purdue students to collect orders of textbooks as well as other goods, and make returns.

The “store” bears an uncanny resemblance to a room into which Amazon has put lockers where customers can collect orders using a code.

However, it will be staffed by Amazon employees who work at one of the company’s five facilities in Indiana. Customers will also have the option of asking a staff member to open a locker for them.

‘Adds convenience’

Paul Ryder, vice-president of media and student programmes at Amazon, said it planned to open more such centres at other universities.
Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University, said the aim was to make books and other supplies more affordable for students. “The opening of the Amazon@Purdue location adds convenience to the mix,” he said.

The move appears to be a way of promoting Amazon Student, which gives university students the benefits of its Prime membership scheme, such as free shipping and video and music streaming for $49 (£32) a year – half the usual price.

A second location will open later this year on the Purdue campus.

Amazon is inviting other educational institutions to work with it and open similar centres on their campuses.

Reports late last year suggested that the company was set to open its first physical store on the ground floor of a building it has leased on 34th St, opposite the Empire State building in New York City, in time for the Christmas shopping rush. No store has yet materialised.


Three new Apple retail stores are being planned for New York

The boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn are each getting an Apple retail store, a first for each. A new store is also being planned for the Upper East Side of Manhattan on 74th Street.

The new store at Queens Center Mall should open for business before the end of year. The opening of the Upper East Side store should follow.

As 9to5Mac notes:

News of the additional Upper East Side store broke out in mid-2014 and the store is expected to open by the end of 2015. However, our source says that the store’s development is running behind because Apple is still seeking nearby offsite space to house employees. Apple utilizes off-site spaces for a significant number of stores, including the Grand Central Terminal Store, as break rooms, meeting centers, and management offices.

The store in Brooklyn was originally supposed to open this spring. However, the Williamsburg store might not open now until early 2016.

There are currently 17 Apple retail stores in New York State. Of these, five are located in Manhattan, with another one found in nearby Staten Island.

As we noted earlier in the day, Apple is in the process of adding new retail stores in China, ahead of the Chinese New Year on Feb. 19. The company is scheduled to open a new retail store at the Joy City shopping mall in the Nankai district of Tianjin at 10 a.m. local time on Saturday, Feb. 7.

The event takes place just a week after Apple opened its second store in Chongqing, located in the Jiefangbei district, and a couple of weeks after the inauguration of the company’s West Lake shop, which is the largest Apple store not only in China, but in the whole of Asia.

Apple hopes to open 25 new retail stores in China in the next two years.

I’m thrilled to see that China isn’t the only place Apple is expanding the company’s retail arm. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing about more 2015 U.S. store openings in the coming days and weeks.



Forever 21 to open on Fifth Avenue

New York — Forever 21 will open a five-level store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, taking over the space that formerly housed an H&M.

The new Forever 21, which is located on Fifth between 51st and 52nd Streets, is scheduled to open on Feb. 7.