Monthly Archives: August 2015

Poundland gets green light for valuable merger with 99p Stores

Poundland’s anticipated acquisition of 99p Stores, which would create a combined network of around 800 UK stores, has been provisionally cleared by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The deal is valued at around £55m.
After the CMA referred the proposed takeover for an in-depth phase 2 investigation in April, the watchdog initially concluded that the merger between the two discount retailers would not be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition. As such customers would not face a reduction in choice, value or lower-quality service as a result of the merger.

The second phase of the investigation found that a merger would still face rivalry from other value retailers such as B&M, Home Bargains, Wilko and Bargain Buys, along with Tesco and to an extent Asda.
The inquiry group found that as a result of the deal, there will only be a small overall increase in the proportion of areas in which Poundland faces no competitors and, at a national level, only a third of Poundland’s stores face competition from 99p.
CMA panel members examining proposal commissioned an independent face-to-face survey of over 5,000 customers of both retailers and examined their internal documents and other commercial data.
Philip Marsden, Chair of the inquiry group, said: “There has been a significant rise in prominence of value retailers for UK shoppers. Our evidence indicates that customers are primarily attracted to Poundland and 99p because of their affordability and see them as good alternatives to each other. Nevertheless some customers can and do switch to other types of discount retail chains.
We have also seen in recent years the Big Four supermarkets engaging in intense price competition, some of which involving the promotion of £1 products. On the basis of the evidence to date, we do not think customers will be worse off from the merger.”
Poundland Chief Executive Jim McCarthy added: “We welcome the CMA’s provisional clearance of our acquisition of 99p Stores and we look forward to a satisfactory conclusion to its ‘Phase 2’ review. We continue to believe that the acquisition of 99p will be great for customers and for shareholders alike.”
The proposed transaction includes 99p Stores’ network of 251, which serve more than 2m customers a week, as well as its warehouse and distribution centre.
The CMA will publish its final report in mid-October ahead of the statutory deadline for the acquisition on October 23.

Apple takes over all 24 windows at Selfridges London

Apple has taken over all 24 windows at Selfridges on London’s Oxford Street, with a focus on the Apple Watch.

The windows have been designed to reflect both companies’ dedication to beauty and design. For its most personal device ever, Apple has collaborated with the world’s top department stores and speciality boutiques to provide bespoke shopping experiences focused on Apple Watch. 

Its shop-in-shop at Selfridges, which opened in April, has already featured unique window executions inspired by the Apple Watch User Interface (UI) and specifically imagined for the Selfridges environment, the most recent of which were Butterflies and Chromosphere. 

As with Apple’s first two window designs at Selfridges, this new Flowers installation draws on inspiration from the Apple Watch experience, specifically extracting Apple Watch faces. The Flowers face features eight blooming flowers set as a background with the time placed above. The window installation utilises this UI design and enlarges it on a grand scale to take over the 24 Selfridges windows. Windows have been filled with flowers ranging from 200mm – 1.8m in height, all featuring a unique configuration of the Apple Watch, including Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition. 

The installation comprises 24 large, 50 medium, 5,525 small flowers, and 240 small plus flowers. The flowers have all been hand sculpted by artists and these were used to create a master tool. From this, Apple produced the number of petals required out of vac-formed PETG, while the central stamen details have also been hand sculpted to form a tool, and then reproduced from cast resin for the large and medium flowers. The small flowers are a direct 3D scan from these and then scaled down and 3D printed. They are finished with a scenic paint teatment, with fine flocking details added before they were finally assembled. 

‘Customers love Apple Watch, our most personal product yet. We are thrilled that the flowers of the Apple Watch face have inspired such a beautiful design and to see it come to life in this amazing installation reflected in all 24 of Selfridges’ historic windows,’ says Paul Deneve, Apple’s vice president of Special Projects.

Linda Hewson, creative director at Selfridges, says: ‘We are delighted to have worked with Apple on this exclusive and exciting window scheme. Collaborating with Apple on such a large scale creative project continues our well-established tradition of inviting outstanding designers with a unique point of view to curate displays within our stores.’  


WHSmith accused of hiking prices at hospitals
Shop forcing people to pay almost double for some items in hospital stores

A4 notepad was £12.99 in hospital outlet compared to £8.99 on High Street

MP Paula Sherriff called the practice ‘exploitative’ and ‘completely unfair’

Comes after company demanded boarding cards at airports without passing on VAT savings 

By Steph Cockroft for MailOnline
Published: 07:40, 25 August 2015 | Updated: 09:24, 25 August 2015
WHSmith has been accused of exploiting patients by charging up to 45 per cent more in hospital stores than on the High Street.
The retailer is making NHS staff, patients and visitors pay nearly double for items such as water and notepads than they would in its traditional stores.
It comes just weeks after the company came under fire for demanding boarding cards at airports without passing on VAT savings to passengers.
WHSmith has been accused of exploiting patients by charging up to 45 per cent more in hospital stores than on the High Street

WHSmith has been accused of exploiting patients by charging up to 45 per cent more in hospital stores than on the High Street
The Independent found that a 750ml bottle of Evian water was £1.39 at its store in Hammersmith, west London, while the same item was sold for £1.69 at St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster. 
Meanwhile, an A4 notepad which sold for £8.99 on the High Street was sold for £12.99 in the hospital store – an increase of 44 per cent. 
The company has defended its practice, insisting prices are higher because hospitals demand a percentage of sales, rather than ground rent.
But Labour MP Paula Sherriff, who sits on the health select committee and used to work for the NHS, has written to the company demanding an explanation.
She said: ‘It’s exploitative and completely unfair. People are at their lowest ebb in hospital and it is simply taking advantage.’ 
According to the BBC, WHSmith was charging £1.89 for a 750ml bottle of water at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, while it was selling for £1 in one of the company’s city centre shop.
Prices of some products were significantly higher at St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster (pictured) than on the High Street 

Prices of some products were significantly higher at St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster (pictured) than on the High Street 
In South Wales, customers were charged £2.99 for a pack of Minstrels at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, while the same item was being sold for around £2 in other branches.
The chain was also charging 99p for a can of coke, compared to its 65p price on the high street. 
A 750ml bottle of Evian water was £1.39 at the WHSmith store in Hammersmith while the same item was sold for £1.69 at St Thomas’ Hospital

A 750ml bottle of Evian water was £1.39 at the WHSmith store in Hammersmith while the same item was sold for £1.69 at St Thomas’ Hospital

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the prices were ‘morally wrong’. 
‘I am shocked because they are targetting the wrong people: poorly paid staff and patients,’ she said. 
A WHSmith spokesman said the higher ‘occupation costs’ and longer opening hours led to the increased rates.

They also said that fixed prices on magazines and newspapers meant prices had to be raised elsewhere. 
They said: ‘Occupation costs in our hospital locations can be up to 40 per cent of sales, materially higher than the fixed margins we make on newspaper and magazines. 
‘In Pontefract Hospital, our occupancy costs are almost 60 per cent of sales resulting in a material loss in that store.
‘Despite this, we are committed to continuing to serve our customers in locations such as this.’ 

Retail outlets have become increasingly common in many hospitals in recent years. 
Some NHS trusts receive a flat fee for leasing out space within their buildings, while others get a percentage of the shop’s revenue. 
WHSmith has spent the past decade focusing on these stores as high street shops fall into decline.
Last year, it raked in £72m from its travel operations which are now bigger than its high street business. 

Earlier this week, analysis claimed that the company pockets up to £10million a year by failing to pass VAT discounts from airport shops to consumers in its airport stores. 
Details of the alleged windfall come amid a passenger revolt against stores using boarding passes to claim 20 per cent VAT exemptions from those flying from the UK to outside the EU. 

UAE denies giving 100% foreign ownership to Apple

The UAE Ministry of Economy has denied giving 100 per cent foreign ownership to Apple for opening its stores in the UAE.

Bloomberg News agency, quoting two people with knowledge of the matter, said Apple is likely to be exempted from foreign ownership laws in the UAE.

The agency said the privilege was a condition for the world’s largest listed company to set up in the UAE.
But Ahmad Al Hosani, Director of Trade Registration Department, Ministry of Economy , told Gulf News that with specific reference to Apple Inc, as with all foreign companies, it is subject to the UAE’s laws and regulations.

“Apple was licenced in the UAE through the Ministry of Economy according to the requirements of, and in compliance with the Commercial Companies Law, as well as the ministerial resolution on foreign company branches. Within this mandate, branches of foreign companies in the UAE have full management rights provided they work through an Emirati service agent,” he said.
He said that global companies establish their business in the UAE according to relevant legislations including the Commercial Companies Law, which serves as a legislative umbrella for such overseas companies.

It is not clear whether Apple needs a new licence to open a store as the US company already has an office at Emaar Square, Downtown Dubai. It is also unclear who Apple’s partner in the UAE is.
Apple did not respond to Gulf News queries.
Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said in March the UAE is at an advanced stage of drafting a foreign investment law that would allow 100 per cent foreign ownership of businesses.
At present, foreigners cannot own more than 49 per cent of any UAE firm unless it is incorporated in a free zone.
Yassir Ahmad, legal consultant at Sunil Thacker Associates, said the 100 per cent foreign ownership rule will come and they [Ministry] are still studying it. It may be issued in 2016.
For the time being, he said the companies law remains unchanged. “Once it [new companies law] is official, the court will issue the order,” he said.
Apple has been the talk of the town since Tim Cook visited Dubai Mall on February 2, 2014.
Speculation has been rife the company, which does not have an official Apple store in the country, may be looking to open a flagship store at either Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates in Dubai and at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Sukhdev Singh, vice-president at market research and analysis services provider AMRB, said it is a “good move” if it happens. Apple will get a great launching pad in Dubai. From Dubai’s point of view, it shows the flexibility from the government side to attract foreign companies to set up shops in Dubai and use it as a launching pad. “Both ways it works well,” he said.

New BhS Owner Seeks £70m For Revival Plan

New BhS Owner Seeks £70m For Revival Plan

The new owners of BhS, the department store chain, are in talks to raise tens of millions of pounds in funding just months after acquiring it from Sir Philip Green, the billionaire retailer.
Sky News has learnt that Retail Acquisitions, the little-known vehicle which bought BhS in March for £1, is in talks with several potential providers of additional debt facilities, including an unidentified hedge fund.

The chain’s management wants to sign a deal to secure up to ‎£70m in new financing by the end of September, when big rent bills will fall due across the high street.
However, people close to BhS insisted this weekend that it was “business as usual” for the company and that the new funds were not a sign of impending financial distress.
Sources said the talks with prospective new financial partners were expected to lead to a deal soon.
In a statement issued to Sky News, a spokesman for Retail Acquisitions confirmed the talks:
“We have said all along that we would refinance to help accelerate the turnaround plan for the UK business.
“Every penny raised will support the regeneration of our portfolio of stores, returning this iconic British brand to its rightful place on the high street. 
“We are excited about the future and are pleased that major financial companies share our optimism.‎”
BhS operates 171 stores in the UK and 78 abroad, although it has been forced to remortgage its flagship shop on London’s Oxford Street since buying the chain from Sir Philip.
Darren Topp, BhS’s chief executive, said recently that trading had been ahead of management’s expectations since the takeover‎, although many fashion and homeware retailers have complained of a brutal high street environment.
Sir Philip, who owns the Arcadia fashion empire whose brands include Dorothy Perkins and Top Shop, brought 15 years of ownership at BhS to an end when he offloaded the business to Retail Acquisitions.
Documents subsequently emerged showing that the Monaco-based tycoon continued to have a financial exposure to BhS in the form of a £40m loan to the company.
Little was known about the protagonists behind BhS’s new owner: they included a former racing driver, solicitor and stockbroker, but collectively boasted little experience of retailing.
Under the new regime, Mr Topp has decided to push more aggressively into food retailing despite the difficult conditions facing much larger rivals.
He has signed a deal with Booker to supply BhS’s convenience food offering, and struck agreements with Claires Accessories, Compass Group and Debenhams to bolster other areas of the department store group’s offering.
“The aim is to restore the chain as an iconic British high street brand – serving families with good-quality clothing, homeware and food,” said a source.
An announcement about deals to expand stores in the Middle East and Africa, with 35 new stores being planned, was imminent, they added.

Apple Store Opening In Dubai Delayed

The highly anticipated Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) retail store opening in Dubai was delayed and may not open until October or even later. The store, which would have been a first for the United Arab Emirates, is set to be located inside the Mall of Emirates. Everything else involving the upcoming store opening remains unchanged.
It was reported earlier this year that Apple would launch their largest retail store ever in the UAE. They would use the store’s massive space to create an exciting way to present products and services. Apple’s entry into the UAE market is a great move for the company as it will provide another stream of revenue. Earlier this week, there was a report that the UAE government caved into Apple’s request to modify laws pertaining to foreign ownership as Apple’s strong history as a formidable company with a proven track record.
Apple worked with UAE government to have the right to open up retail store

Ministry of Economy’s director of trade registration Ahmad Al-Hosani explained, “Apple was licensed in the U.A.E. through the Ministry of Economy according to the requirements of, and in compliance with the Commercial Companies Law, as well as the ministerial resolution on foreign company branches.”
Local regulations mandate all businesses operating in the United Arab Emirates need to be owned at least 51% owned by Emiratis or entirely owned by them if they are not based in free zones. The UAE government is working on a law to benefit foreign companies (like Apple) to operate in the country.
Apple knows the UAE is a desirable market with over 17 million active mobile subscribers. 61% of that group own smartphones, and the iPhone 5S was considered on the of the most popular phones in the country as of 4th quarter of 2014.

Hamleys’ rival toys with takeover

Hamleys will face fresh competition when The Toy Store opens on Oxford Street
THE MIDDLE Eastern owner of Hamleys’ rival, The Toy Store, is said to be considering a takeover bid for the country’s most famous toy shop.
Gulf Greetings has sent a letter of intent to Hamleys’ French owner Ludendo, highlighting its interest in acquiring the iconic Hamleys names, according to Retail Week.
It is the second time this year that Hamleys has been at the centre of bid speculation. Ludendo was reportedly in talks last month with House of Fraser’s Chinese owner Sanpower over a potential sale. 
The news also comes as The Toy Store prepares to challenge Hamleys by opening a huge 27,000 sq ft store on Oxford Street in the West One shopping centre next to Bond Street Tube station.
Hamleys was established by Cornishman William Hamley in 1760 in High Holborn and was originally known as Noah’s Ark.  


Sales up at FatFace as brand enters US market

Lifestyle clothing brand FatFace has announced that its total sales increased by 2.7% to £205.4m for the 52 weeks to 30th May 2015.
The UK retailer puts the increase of sales down to the continued growth of e-commerce and UK store expansion. Fat Face invested £9m across its stores, ecommerce and IT during the period – a record for the business.
Online sales increased by 11.1% and now represent over 16.2% of overall sales compared to 14.9% in the previous year. Web visits also climbed 16.5% to 19m while visits via a tablet or smartphone grew from 57% to 64% in the year.
The company attributed lower EBITDA of £36.5m, compared to £39.3m in the prior year, to the unseasonably warm weather in the second quarter and increased capex investment.
Fat Face increased its store estate by 8% to span more than 350,000 square feet during the year and now plans to take the brand to the US. The retailer now has a live dedicated US website and the opening of physical US stores scheduled for the fourth quarter of the current financial year.
Anthony Thompson, Chief Executive of FatFace, said: “It’s been a year of consolidation and investment for the business in variable market conditions. We were pleased to increase total sales by continuing to meet our customers’ needs through improving our product range, store estate and e-commerce offer.
After a difficult second quarter where the sector as a whole was impacted by the unexpectedly warm weather, we traded well through the Christmas period and over the year have continued to maintain our focus on being a full price retailer.
The year ahead is a particularly exciting one as we take the FatFace brand to the US. Our dedicated US website is already live and we look forward to the phased roll-out of physical stores, initially on the East Coast. We see a clear opportunity to offer US customers a brand which typifies an active, outdoor lifestyle but we will take a cautious and measured approach to make sure we get it right. With this, and our plans in the UK, we head into the next chapter for the business with confidence.” 


Apple Reportedly Granted Ownership Exemption to Open Retail Stores in U.A.E.

Apple Said to Plan Dubai Stores After Winning Exemptions
Apple Inc. has been granted an exemption from foreign ownership laws in the United Arab Emirates that will allow it 100 percent control of operations in the country, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The dispensation was a condition for the world’s largest listed company to set up in the U.A.E., the people said, asking not to be identified as the plans are private. Apple will open its first Middle East store in Dubai this year and then Abu Dhabi after securing the privileges, according to the people.
Under local regulations, all businesses operating in the U.A.E. must be 51 percent owned by Emiratis or a company wholly owned by them unless they are based in free-zones. The government is working on a new foreign investment law that would allow 100 percent foreign ownership in some industries, Minister of Economy Sultan Al Mansoori said in March.
“Apple was licensed in the U.A.E. through the Ministry of Economy according to the requirements of, and in compliance with the Commercial Companies Law, as well as the ministerial resolution on foreign company branches,” Ahmad Al-Hosani, director of trade registration at the Ministry of Economy, said in an e-mailed statement.
The U.A.E. is an attractive market for Apple, whose iPhone business makes up 63 percent of its revenue in the most recent quarter. There are about 17 million active mobile subscriptions in the U.A.E. and 61 percent of them are smartphones, according to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. The iPhone 5s was the most popular handset in the country in the fourth quarter of 2014, the latest figures from the regulator show.
A spokeswoman for Apple in Dubai didn’t respond to calls and e-mails requesting comment. 


TFG launches tween-focused clothing brand

The Foschini Group has launched the first entirely tween-focused brand in South Africa, Soda Bloc. The new fashion brand aims to kit out fashionistas aged 9 to 16 in clothing, accessories and footwear to suit their lifestyles…
TFG launches tween-focused clothing brand”Soda Bloc inspires tweens to be youths: be fun, be different, be informed, be the future, be cool, and be yourself. Created for older children, but with their parents best interests at heart, Soda Bloc collections are fashionable and fun loving, but relevant for the age group,” said Alex Harris, Head of Soda Bloc.

Expect casual cool in hoodies, track pants, sneakers, tees with prints and quirky slogans like: ‘My favourite days are days when everyone is really happy’, ‘Good vibes only’,and ‘Being nice makes you cool’.
Store openings

TFG will open 11 Soda Bloc stores across the country before the end of 2015, with further stores opening in South Africa and Africa in 2016. The first Soda Bloc stores to open in August include the Liberty Promenade and Tygervalley Shopping Centre’s in Cape Town, Sandton City in Joburg, and Hemingways Mall in East London.
September store openings will take place at Bay West Mall in Port Elizabeth, the Mall of the South in Joburg and the Mall of the North in Pretoria, whilst further stores will open in Joburg (Clearwater Mall, Greenstone Shopping Centre and Eloff Street) and Pretoria (Middleburg Mall) in October and November.
“We saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the market and took it! We are very excited to launch Soda Bloc to South African consumers. Our goal is to provide fashion that’s on-trend and affordable to a broad audience,” said Harris. 


Reed disposes of Regent Street Flagship

British fashion retailer Austin Reed has announced that it plans on selling its Regent Street Flagship store following the closure of 31 stores earlier this year.
The company, which also includes mainstream womenswear retailers Viyella and CC has appointed property agents James Andrew International to sell its 35,000 sq ft store at 100 Regent Street. The sale is estimated to net the retailer over £20m. The rent is currently around £1.7m but could go up following sale and review.
The clothing retailer is already viewing alternative stores in the West End.
A great deal of interest is expected for the Regent Street space. While talks are still at early stages, clothing retailer Mango, who occupies the neighbouring store, has suggested it may be interested in expanding, while other retailers including Uniqlo could also be eyeing the property.
A source close to the situation said: “It has a big basement of 12,000 sq ft which is not being used, and two upper floors, so it is a big space that will attract a lot of interest”.
The sale of the flagship store comes after the debt-laden retailer was forced to strike a voluntary company agreement with its landlords in January this year. Austin Reed, which currently has around 166 stores, also received a three-year rescue loan from investment firm Alteri in June.
“Despite the CVA and two cash injections, they’re still not trading well,” a supplier told Drapers. 


Asda records worst-ever quarterly sales figures

Asda has recorded its worst-ever quarterly sales figures.

Asda has had its worst sales performance in its 50 year history, hit by ferocious competition for customers in which rivals have slashed prices and issued millions of discount vouchers.
Asda boss Andy Clarke insisted the supermarket had reached its “nadir” and would bounce back after revealing a 4.7% fall in sales at established stores in the three months to 30 June.
The decline cements Asda’s position as the worst performer of the UK’s big four grocers, which have all recorded falling sales amid a slide in the cost of food commodities and a price war sparked by the rising popularity of discounters such as Aldi and Lidl.
Last month, Asda lost its position as the UK’s second-biggest supermarket to Sainsbury’s. In May, it had revealed a 3.9% fall in sales at its established stores for the 15 weeks to 19 April, already the Walmart-owned chain’s worst sales figures since the 1990s.
Clarke said: “The market is in exceptionally challenging times … We have certainly hit our nadir. Every business has got to have one and this is ours. We are on an upward trend and we have got positive green shoots [in the coming quarter].”
He hinted that the retailer was seeing a rise in underlying sales and dismissed rivals’ price cuts as a “short-term position to drive traffic”, which could not be sustained.

Clarke, the longest-serving boss of the major UK grocers, said Asda had the right strategy, despite the performance slipping further from the previous quarter.

He said the US owners were right behind him and any rumours that he was under pressure to leave were wrong. “Let’s silence that one. I’m here presenting today’s results and I’m here to stay,” Clarke said. “[The strategy] is working and we are wholly committed, as our parents are, to seeing it through no matter what the short-term disruption might be around us.”
He said Asda’s profit margins remained steady compared with last year, while it had not been forced to write off dozens of unwanted stores or development sites like rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
But Clarke admitted Asda needed to speed up its efforts to improve online shopping services and the quality of fresh food, as well as the expansion of its George brand and the move into petrol forecourts to win back shoppers.
Asda will invest a quarter more on the quality of its food in the second half of its financial year than it did in the same period last year. It has also changed its marketing to flag up services in its bigger stores, such as online shopping pickup points, petrol pumps and opticians, as well as cheap prices.
The retailer’s traditional emphasis on price had begun to look stale in a market saturated with red banners, discount vouchers and tough competition from Aldi and Lidl which remain considerably cheaper than Asda on their limited basket of goods.
Clarke said Asda was continuing to invest in price cuts with the objective of narrowing the gap with discounters and at least maintaining its lead on rivals Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. “We have broadened our appeal giving us real confidence as we move forward,” he added.
Asda has been one of the biggest losers amid a nascent recovery at Tesco, which has been cutting prices and putting thousands more staff back into stores in an attempt to improve service.
The Walmart-owned chain has also suffered because the vast majority of its stores are out-of-town supermarkets, which have lost favour with shoppers who are increasingly turning to small local stores.
The supermarket is belatedly trying to get a foot in that game by moving into petrol forecourt stores. It is in the process of converting 15 petrol stations it bought last year. Clarke said in May that Asda expected to have 100 such outlets within the next five years.
Asda’s poor sales figures come after a tough few weeks in which dairy farmers marched cows through its stores in protest at low prices they were being paid for milk.
Asda pledged last week to raise the amount it paid farmers per litre to 28p. But Clarke said on Tuesday that it would not promise to pay farmers a minimum based on the cost of production in the same way as Tesco or Sainsbury’s. He said Asda’s deal with the Arla milk processing group, which is owned by farmers, gave them the best overall deal on milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt.
Until the last fortnight, Arla was paying farmers one of the lowest prices in the market.
Rival opens new front in price war
Sainsbury’s is opening a new front in the price war with Asda by taking its Brand Match promotion online.
The scheme promises money-off vouchers if shoppers could have bought goods cheaper at Asda, as long as they put at least 10 items in their basket.
The supermarket has been running the scheme in stores for four years after it was originally dreamt up by Mike Coupe, now the chief executive. Initially it matched prices against both Tesco and Asda but Tesco was excluded from the scheme last September.
Sainsbury’s said it was taking the Brand Match online because of customer demand. Last year the supermarket chain issued more than 230m coupons under the scheme with more than half showing a comparable branded shop was cheaper at Sainsbury’s compared with Asda.
The supermarket is also likely to be hoping to boost the pace of sales growth. Sainsbury’s online sales rose just 7% in the year to March compared with an 11.5% rise in online grocery sales at Tesco and 19.6% at Asda last year.

The supermarket also recently launched its clothing brand Tu online across the country.

Irish clothing retailer Primark opening eight stores in USA

Primark store Oxford Street London

The firm opened its first store in the UK in 1973

The Irish clothing retailer Primark has announced it is to open its first store in the United States.

The shop will open at Downtown Crossing in Boston in September.
Primark said it planned to open a further seven stores in the USA and had chosen stores that were located close to areas of high-urban density and that would benefit from high levels of existing customer footfall.
The firm will use a distribution centre in Pennsylvania.
The first store opened in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland in 1969.
In 1973, the firm opened its first store in the UK and branched out into Europe in 2006 with the opening of its first shop in Spain.
In the Republic of Ireland, the firm trades under the name Penneys.

Airport VAT row: customers threaten not to show boarding passes

Shops at airports are facing a consumer revolt over claims that retailers are asking customers to show boarding cards to avoid paying VAT without passing discounts on to customers.

Customers of prominent stores including WH Smith, Boots and Dixons have pledged on social media not to show their boarding passes at airports and urged their followers to do the same.
They have also been demanding answers from the stores about whether they are passing on to customers the VAT savings they make at airports.

There is growing concern that information on boarding cards is being used to claim VAT relief on sales to travellers leaving the EU.
Retailers do not have to pay 20% VAT on goods sold to customers travelling outside the EU.
The revolt comes after Treasury minister David Gauke said some retailers were not passing on savings to customers. Speaking to the Independent, he said: “The VAT relief at airports is intended to reduce prices for travellers, not as a windfall gain for shops.
“While many retailers do pass this saving on to customers, it is disappointing that some are choosing not to. We urge all airside retailers to use this relief for the benefit of their customers.”
The shadow culture secretary, Chris Bryant, was among those on Twitter saying he would refuse to show his boarding pass at airport stores.
— Chris Bryant MP (@RhonddaBryant) August 12, 2015

I’m certainly not showing my boarding pass to airport retailers. What message must this send to tourists? Rip-off Britain?
At Heathrow on Wednesday, passenger Owen Evans, 32, blamed the government for not preventing retailers from taking advantage of the loophole.
“It should be made illegal,” he said. “If the shops are playing the system, it’s the government’s fault for allowing them to do that. Anyone would do that if it’s legal. Obviously you want to do the best for your business. But obviously it’s not providing the best service for your customers.”
Jonathan Stanton, head of digital retail at Nintendo and a regular traveller, said he wanted the VAT he had paid in duty-free shops to be refunded. He said he felt cheated. “It’s unfair if they pocket the money,” he said. “It’s basically the VAT that we pay and they are pocketing it.

“It doesn’t make any difference to me today, but I have just come back from LA and I’m going to New York in a few weeks. I would probably like them to give me the VAT back at the point of purchase.”

Of the boarding card checks, he added: “I thought it was just a security requirement. It was never explained to me at the time.”
A spokeswoman for Boots said customers were asked to show boarding cards at airports. She said: “It is not compulsory to ask for [boarding cards] so if someone doesn’t want to show it we won’t force it.”
In a statement the company said information on boarding passes was used to ensure accurate accounting. It said: “Our airport store teams are asked to request and scan boarding cards to ensure the accuracy of our accounting records, which includes the accurate reporting of VAT. We request our customers’ boarding cards so that our VAT accounting is in line with the HMRC’s requirements.
It added: “The HMRC and airports accept that this is general practice for all retailers located within airport terminals. Our pricing in airport stores is consistent with our London prices and VAT is not taken into account when setting prices of products. Showing a boarding card is not a compulsory requirement and any of our customers that do not wish to share this information can shop with us without the boarding card being scanned.”
A former WH Smith employee at Manchester airport, who did not wish to be named, told the Guardian that store staff were told to check boarding passes as part of an unexplained “survey”.
She explained: “When processing a purchase airside, a window on the till pops up that had two options: EU or non-EU. There’s no apparent way to bypass this screen and you couldn’t proceed to payment without pressing an option, which means we were always pressed to ask for the boarding card. I was told that if customer didn’t have their boarding pass on them or refused to show it, to select the non-EU option as a default. It was never explained to me what the actual reason behind this procedure was, just that it was some sort of survey.”
The shopworkers’ union Usdaw urged customers at airport shops not to take out their frustration on store staff.
A spokesman said: “Checkout operators are only asking for boarding passes because they are required to by their employer. So whilst customers may choose to not comply with this request as a protest, I hope they will do so politely and in a way that respects shopworkers. Over two-thirds of retail staff are verbally abused by customers and we wouldn’t want this issue to contribute further to that worrying statistic.”
WH Smith confirmed that staff in its airport stores requested customers to show boarding passes, but conceded: “There is no obligation on the part of the customer” to do so.
It said dual pricing would be impossible to implement, even though many duty-free shops already display two prices – one for those flying within the EU and a lower price for those flying outside the EU.
WH Smith said: “Whilst much of what we sell, eg newspapers, magazines and books, is fixed price and does not attract VAT, any VAT relief associated with the identification of customers travelling outside of the EU is reported in accordance with UK legislation, and any relief obtained is reflected in our single price and extensive promotional offers provided to all of our customers. Operational and financial system constraints make any form of ‘dual pricing’ for our extensive product file a practical impossibility.
“The destination data, regardless of whether it is to the UK, EU or beyond, allows WH Smith to analyse the purchasing trends by time of day and by product category for customers travelling to different locations, and assists us in product ranging and placement decisions at our airport stores. This information is limited to the IATA three-digit destination airport codes, which form the basis of IATA’s worldwide airport database and does not give access to any personal data of WH Smith customers.”
Customers have expressed frustration at WH Smith’s refusal to offer dual prices.
— Stuart Menges (@bluestulondon) August 12, 2015

@WHSmith so it’s impossible to charge two different prices at an airport? With an electronic till? I’d suggest trying slightly harder
— Dan Beasley (@danbeasley1) August 12, 2015

@WHSmith Impossible for you to have dual pricing in airports? You do already if you pay VAT on EU flights & not elsewhere. One giant scam.
Others were annoyed at being directed to WH Smith’s self-service checkouts where it is impossible to buy items, including newspapers which are VAT-free, without scanning a boarding pass.
— Rich (@claireandrich) August 12, 2015

@skynews whsmith self service require a boarding pass to scan-otherwise you can’t buy it-more expensively than the high Street.
A statement from Dixons Travel confirmed that its customers were also asked to show boarding passes, but added that “this is only on request and has not caused any reported issues”.
It said its airport stores followed standard practice by offering a single price for products for passengers to both UK and EU destinations.
Many Twitter users have vowed to refuse to show boarding passes at airport stores. They included the classical music broadcaster Petroc Trelawny.
— Petroc Trelawny (@PetrocTrelawny) August 12, 2015

oh to fly somewhere again so I can enjoy the small pleasure of refusing to show my boarding pass when I buy essentials at Boots and Smiths
Here’s a sample of others:
— Kevin Moore (@unfkblvbl) August 12, 2015

@whsmith @boots Last time I ever show you my boarding pass you slimebags. Unbelievable!!!
— Joe McCabe (@josephmccabe) August 12, 2015

Quite looking forward to refusing to show my boarding pass at WH Smiths or boots when I go to the airport next week
— George Preston (@YourLocalGP) August 12, 2015

@WHSmith going through Heathrow this morning. Following VAT revelations in news this morning,in your stores do I HAVE to give boarding pass?
— david oliver (@mancunianmedic) August 9, 2015

@Laconic_doc next time they ask in Heathrow WH Smith or Boots I will refuse and tell them they have no legal right to ask for boarding pass
It is not a legal requirement for passengers to show their boarding cards when buying supposedly duty-free goods. But customers reported problems when they refused to show their boarding passes.
— Saul Fowler (@LewesianDragon) August 12, 2015

@BBCBreakfast I declined to show boarding pass at Dixons, LGW last month. Was told ‘it is the law’ – would not process sale without it.
In a email to the Guardian, Fowler added: “I flew out of Gatwick last month and needed a pair of headphones. When asked by Dixons staff for my BP I said I would rather not show it, which I think flummoxed them. I was told that they couldn’t process the transaction without it. I said that I wasn’t required to show my boarding pass and that’s when I was told ‘it’s the law’.
“After an ‘it’s not’, ‘it is’ exchange, I left the headphones on the desk and walked away wondering whether the staff actually believed that it was the law or whether that was the line they were asked to tow [sic] by management.”

— Dr Aisha K Gill (@DrAishaKGill) August 11, 2015

@Peston I bought a bottle of water at Gatwick airport and questioned why I had to show my boarding pass in Boots. They were not impressed.

M&S loses second member of senior management in a month

Less than a month since Marks and Spencer’s Head of General Merchandise, John Dixon, announced his shock departure (after 26 years with the business), the British retailer’s Womenswear Director has also left.  
Frances Russell was tasked with the challenge of turning the high street bellwether’s Womenswear division around. She was assumed the best person for the job nearly three years ago after she showed promise looking after buying and merchandising across lingerie, followed by a 2 year stint with beauty. Russell has a strong womenswear background, having served as Brand Director of plus-size fashion retailer Evans and menswear specialist Burton. Prior to that she was with the Burton group for 14 years, bringing to M&S a rather unrivalled understanding of the supply chain, as well as buying, merchandising and trading experience.
But Britain’s biggest clothing retailer has been struggling with its womenswear category for four years, with declines every quarter bar one in April this year. When Chief Exec Marc Bolland revealed the company’s annual profits some weeks later, he described the underachieving performance of the non-food business over the previous 12 months as “not good enough”.
Russell will be replaced by Jo Jenkins who, like Russell once did, heads up the lingerie and beauty division, including the majorly successful ranges by British model Rosie Huntington-Whitely.
It is understood that Steve Rowe, former Head of Food and Dixon’s replacement, made an internal announcement to senior staff on Tuesday afternoon in which he said there should be better collaboration within M&S’s womenswear department.
An M&S spokesperson said: “We are pleased to promote Jo Jenkins into the expanded role of Director of Womenswear, Lingerie & Beauty. She has a wealth of experience, with excellent product knowledge and great customer understanding. Frances Russell has left the business. We’d like to thank her for her significant contribution to M&S and wish her all the best for the future.”
M&S controls around 10% of the UK’s fashion market but the problem with having all that clothing space is that there’s a strong need to appeal to a wide demographic, but the retailer has been criticised in the past for focusing its efforts on older consumers.

Jimmy Choo opens new flagship store in Hong Kong, Harbour City

Jimmy Choo’s newest flagship store is its largest in Hong Kong, covering 158-square-metre flagship. Set in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, on Canton Road within the Gateway Arcade (Harbour City) the new Jimmy Choo store is the first store of the brand in Hong Kong to provide a full range of men and women’s products ranging from bags, small leather goods, and shoes.

Designed with the brand’s signature design elements of elegance paired with sophistication, the space epitomises modern, everyday glamour with a palette of satin gold, light pink marble, with an oyster stone and mother of pearl chevron floor.
The new Jimmy Choo flagship store in Hong Kong features a Made-to-order service. Unfortunately, the service is only available to women for the moment; however it is ideal for ladies who are looking to make their shoe dreams a reality. The service presents a range of signature styles that can be custom made in a variety of colourways, textures, and finishes with personalised style preferences, such as monogramming the sole of the shoe.

Girl’s Best Friend’ Claire’s Now in SA

The Clicks Group is pleased to bring Claire’s, one of the world’s leading specialty retailers of fashionable jewellery and accessories for young women, teens, tweens, and kids, to South Africa.  

Known as the number 1 ear piercer in the world, having pierced over 90 million ears globally, and with over 50 years of fashion accessories retailing experience, Claire’s is the go-to destination for all the latest, hottest trends in jewellery, hair accessories, and cosmetics.
“Claire’s is the perfect brand fit for Clicks,” says Alex Anson-Esparza, Merchandise and Marketing Executive at Clicks. “Claire’s speaks to our youth market and extends our fashion and hair accessories offering. It provides an interesting and fun store experience in a ‘treasure hunt’ setting that encourages customers to explore and find the perfect buys for herself and her bestie.”
Claire’s inspires fashion creativity and provides inspirational products that accommodate and reflect all personalities, moods, and attitudes. From babies to young adults, Claire’s offers a wide range of jewellery, beauty must-haves, and hair- and fashion- accessories. Claire’s also connects with its customers during important personal milestones – be it a first ear piercing, a first day at school, a first date, or a first job.
The first Claire’s store is located at Shop F66, Upper Level, Cavendish Square, Claremont, in Cape Town. Pop in between 18 and 31 July, and enjoy the launch offer of 10% off all merchandise. As of September 2015, the Claire’s range will be available within 80 selected Clicks stores nationwide.

Robbins announces plans to develop restaurants across Ireland

Baskin-Robbins, the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops, today announced plans to develop restaurants across Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland. This effort is part of Dunkin’ Brands’ ongoing strategy to increase its presence across Europe, a key region for the Baskin-Robbins brand, as it continues to grow globally.
Baskin-Robbins is looking to recruit qualified, well-capitalised multi-unit licensee groups with deep retail or foodservice operating experience to develop the brand across Ireland in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford/Wexford and Belfast. The brand is seeking two franchise groups to develop five locations in the Republic of Ireland and three shops in Northern Ireland over the next several years, or a single group for the entire territory. Ideal licensee candidates will have strong financial backgrounds, knowledge of their local consumers and a proven track record of success in the restaurant industry.
“Ireland represents a tremendous opportunity for Baskin-Robbins as we look to continue growing the brand internationally,” said Jeremy Vitaro, vice president of international development for Dunkin’ Brands. “We feel our value proposition – high-quality ice cream, ice cream cakes and frozen beverages, served in a friendly environment and at a great value – will resonate well with consumers throughout Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland.”
Baskin-Robbins has a strong presence globally, with more than 7,500 Baskin-Robbins locations in nearly 50 countries worldwide. The brand currently has over 500 restaurants across Europe, including more than 140 Baskin-Robbins locations in the United Kingdom.

10 Dubai projects to watch out for

10 Dubai projects to watch out for
These mixed-use developments in Dubai boast several superlatives and are set to transform the city’s skyline,l
Dubai never ceases to amaze you. With several iconic buildings such as the Burj Al Arab, the Palm Jumeirah and Burj Khalifa, the city is an epitome of architectural largesse. In the current property development cycle, the city’s promoters have envisaged ambitious projects whose cumulative value runs into hundreds of billions of dirhams.
We have rounded up 10 promising mixed-use projects taking shape in Dubai. These include the Dubai Canal, Mall of the World, Deira Islands, The Dubai Eye and Mohammed Bin Rashid City, to name a few. With Dubai often described as the city of superlatives, these projects don’t disappoint and boast some unique features. These include the world’s largest Ferris Wheel, a park bigger than Hyde Park in London, the world’s largest shopping mall, the world’s biggest indoor theme park, the world’s largest lagoon, the world’s tallest twin towers,
floating hotels and restaurants lining the Dubai Canal, among others.
City Walk
Location: Al Wasl Road
Developer: Meraas Holding
Description: It’s a mixed-use development offering residential and retail space. The residential component comprises 21 low-rise buildings of ground plus three to four storeys offering 28 to 32 units per building. In total, the development is expected to offer 600 units with a mix of one-, two and three-bedroom apartments. With regards to the retail space, phase one of the project is already open, offering 13,000 square metres GLA of space. Phase two is expected to see retail addition of 10,000 square metres.

Expert comments: Erik Volkers, senior consultant, research and consultancy, CBRE Middle East – The Avenue which forms phase 1 of the retail is currently operational and is fully occupied while phase 2 (the City Walk) is expected to open in 2016. Although, details are not disclosed by Meraas, a few of the residential blocks under construction have been sold to investors.
Dubai Canal
Location: Along Safa Park
Development cost: Dh2 billion
Completion date: 2016
Description: The project aims to link the Dubai Creek with the Arabian Gulf via a canal through Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Safa Park and Jumeirah 2. Phase one includes a 16-lane flyover on Sheikh Zayed Road under which the canal will flow. Phase two encompasses the construction of six-lane bridges on Al Wasl and Jumeirah Roads above the canal, enabling the passage of yachts. Features 4,500 apartments, 44 townhouses, 19 villas, 65,000 square metres of office space, 37,000 square metre of retail, sports centre, public park, hotels.
Expert comments: Erik Volkers – Originally launched during the last development cycle, the Dubai Canal has been reworked and launched. Works on the project are already under way with RTA road infrastructure works currently in progress to divert Sheikh Zayed Road traffic and allow future phases of the work to complete.
Pearl Jumeirah
Location: Off Jumeirah coastline
Developer: Meraas Holding
Area: 8.3 million square feet
Description: The project is developed on reclaimed land. It is segregated into seven residential areas with 300 villa plots. Other components include a town centre, pre-school facility, hospitality projects overlooking the waterfront, two open beaches and a two-kilometre promenade. Pearl Jumeirah is a component of the Jumeirah Gardens master development that Meraas unveiled in 2008 and later modified.
Expert comments: Erik Volkers – Land plots were sold to investors on freehold title with a permission to build villas with a height of ground plus one floor. All plots released by the developer have been grabbed by investors. Craig Plumb, head of research at JLL Mena – Adjacent to Le Mer, a major beachfront development under construction and the reason why the older public beaches are closed, the project involves creation of new islands.
Deira islands
Developer: Nakheel
Area: 15.3 square kilometres
Construction progress: Nakheel has appointed a marine engineering contractor to deliver the coastline and breakwaters.
Description: Nakheel’s reincarnation of the Palm Deira, the project is made up of four islands. The islands will offer opportunities for mixed-use waterfront development, all masterplanned by Nakheel. They will feature hotels, residential, commercial and retail units. The island will add more than 40 kilometres (including 21 kilometres of beachfront) to Dubai’s existing coastline. The project will also include a 250-key hotel, an amphitheatre with a capacity of 30,000 people and marina facilities. Nakheel will build a 750-room four-star beachfront resort in partnership with RIU Hotels & Resorts, a Spanish hotel operator. Deira Mall and Deira Islands Night Souq are part of the mix. The mall will be surrounded by the 16-tower Deira Islands Towers community, comprising over 2,400 apartments and townhouses.
Dubai Opera
Location: The Opera District, Downtown Dubai
Developer: Emaar Properties Development cost: Billions of dirhams (not disclosed)
Description: Touted to rival the Sydney Opera House, Dubai Opera is a multi-format venue for opera, theatre, concerts, art exhibitions, film and sports events. It is styled on wooden dhows, the traditional sailing vessels of the Arabian Gulf. Set to commence operations in 2016, Dubai Opera is designed to have three basic formats to support theatre, concerts and a flat floor for events and exhibitions. The Opera District will also house a museum of modern art, two art hotels, design studios and galleries. It features a 66-storey residential tower, Opera Grand, with over 200 two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments.
Akoya by Damac
Location: Al Qudra Road
Developer: Damac Properties
Development cost: Over Dh22 billion
Sales price: Villas begin at Dh1.5 million and apartments at Dh730,000
Area: 42 million square feet
Completion date: First residents will move in within the next six months with the full project set for completion by 2019.
Description: A master community being built around an 18-hole Trump International golf course designed by Gil Hanse, it features 2,200 villas and 10 low-rise buildings. A clubhouse will open in the first quarter of 2016. The golf course is scheduled to open in December 2015. Includes The Drive, a retail strip similar to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Akoya Oxygen, an adjacent community by the same developer, will host the Dubai Rainforest.
Mall of the World
Location: Al Sufouh 1
Developer: Dubai Holding
Development cost: Dh25 billion
Total area: 48m square feet
Description: Features the world’s largest mall spanning eight million square feet, 80 hotels and 20 hotel apartments will add 20,000 rooms, seven kilometre retail promenade reminiscent of London’s Oxford Street, wellness district catering to medical tourists and the world’s biggest indoor theme park. The entire development will be covered by a glass dome that will open during winter months. It will also benefit from air-conditioned retail streets.
Expert comments: Erik Volkers – At this stage, there is still scant information available on the wider project. To date, there is no real understanding of when the first phases of the development will be delivered and how the project will be phased.
Mohammed bin Rashid City
Development cost: Dh30 billion
Area: 54 million square feet
Completion date: 2018-’19
Description: Dubai Holding and Emaar Properties joined hands in November 2012 to conceptualise MBR City. It will feature the biggest family entertainment centre in the region (in collaboration with Universal Studios), 100 hotels, a public park 30 per cent bigger than London’s Hyde Park and the largest area for art galleries in the Middle East and North Africa. Meydan and Sobha Group entered into a joint venture to develop District One, which boasts the world’s largest manmade lagoon. The first batch of luxury villas are on schedule for a mid-2016 handover. MBR City District 11 incorporates staffing accommodation for Emirates airline pilots. The Meydan One project will be home to the world’s tallest residential tower – the 161-floor Dubai One.
Dubai Creek Harbour
Location: Ras Al Khor
Developer: Emaar and Dubai Holding
Development cost: Dh3 billion
Description: Will host the world’s tallest twin towers. Project proposed to be three times the size of Downtown. 39,000 apartments, villas, hotels and hotel apartments, marinas and a mall that offers both inside and outside shopping options.
Expert comments: Erik Volkers – Previously known as The Lagoons (initially launched in 2005, placed on hold in 2008 – now being redesigned), this master plan is a city in itself. The first phase, the Dubai Creek Residences has been launched. It is a cluster of six towers.
Bluewaters Island
Location: Off the coast of Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)
Developer: Meraas Holding
Development cost: Dh6 billion
Description: The Bluewaters Island is a reclaimed land located towards the south-western end of Dubai. It will feature retail, residential, hospitality and entertainment zones. It lies in proximity to Dubai Marina, JBR and the Palm Jumeirah. It can be accessible through Sheikh Zayed Road, Sufouh Road and Al Marsa Road. The main attraction is the 210-metre Ferris wheel ‘Dubai Eye’. A footbridge will be constructed to link the Island with the JBR waterfront. The island is anticipated to attract more than three million visitors per annum.
Expert comments: Erik Volkers – Land has been reclaimed and contract on the bridge connecting the island with Sheikh Zayed Road has been awarded and is under construction. As of June 2015, the base of the Ferris Wheel is visible from JBR.
Other notable projects coming up include the Dubai Frame, a structure resembling a huge window frame that will offer visitors a view of New Dubai on one side and old landmarks such as Deira and Karama on the other, in Zabeel Park; the Meydan One project featuring the world’s tallest residential tower; Dubai Parks & Resorts’ three theme parks in Jebel Ali; the Habtoor Palace coming up on the site of the former Metropolitan Hotel which will feature a theatre that can stage Broadway-style shows, etc.
Besides the semi-government real estate companies such as Emaar, Dubai Holding, Meraas and Nakheel, smaller private developers have also hopped onto the property bandwagon in the run-up to Expo 2020 in Dubai. A few significant projects include Town Square by Nshama, a project aimed at the affordable sector, including buyers with income between Dh15,000 to Dh30,000 per month, Danube’s projects Glitz in Dubai Studio City and Dreamz in Al Furjan, and Diamond Developers’ Sustainable City, a low-carbon emission community on Al Qudra Road.
Brand associations also hold allure for developers and investors in Dubai. Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan endorsed The Royal Estates, a gated community in Dubai Investment Park in August 2014. While the actor will be the face of the luxury township, his wife Gauri Khan, an interior designer, will handle the home decor for the 2,000 units.
Meanwhile, luxury property developer Damac Properties has partnered with the Trump Organisation to manage and operate two golf courses designed by Gil Hanse and Tiger Woods in its upcoming communities Akoya by Damac and Akoya Oxygen respectively.
Other iconic projects announced include the Dh500 million Dubai Museum of the Future near Emirates Towers on Sheikh Zayed Road, Aladdin City, a cluster of three towers being built across the Dubai Creek, and the Dubai Police Museum which will resemble a policeman’s cap.
These developments are sure to transform the Dubai skyline beyond recognition. Let’s wait and watch.

Fashion retailer New Look to open first menswear shops


Fashion retailer New Look plans to open a chain of menswear stores in one of the first moves by its new billionaire owner.

And while it says it has no immediate plans to open here, it’s something which could be considered in the future.
It now operates around two dozen stores in Northern Ireland.
The firm, which runs more than 800 stores in 21 countries, said it plans to open five stand-alone menswear units in the UK, following on from successful trials at its Oxford Circus flagship.
Chief creative officer Roger Wightman said: “Menswear is a key strategic priority for New Look, and the opening of menswear stand-alone stores represents a natural next step for us.”
In May Brait, an investment vehicle of the South African retail billionaire Christo Wiese, snapped up a 90% stake in New Look for £780m.
New Look has signed leases on the first of its three menswear shops in the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Wigan and Portsmouth. It is in the middle of negotiations over leases with landlords for the two other stores. The firm has around 570 UK stores. Menswear currently represents 3% of the retailer’s group sales, but it said it plans to boost this to 15% over the medium term.
It added Christopher Englinde is due to join the group as global director of menswear from Swedish rival H&M in September.
The group also posted adjusted first quarter pre-tax profit up 9% to £19.3m in the 13 weeks to June 27 compared to a year ago, with like-for-like sales up 4.1%, boosted by strong trading across the business.
It said during the period it incurred £93m of transaction costs relating to the Brait acquisition and a subsequent refinancing, that resulted in a statutory pre-tax loss of £73.1m.
The business said it upgraded a further 23 shops in the quarter, bringing the number of stores under its new layout to 351.

Selfridges becomes the first store to launch its Christmas range

It’s August 3rd

– and Selfridges becomes the first store to launch its Christmas range with just 143 shopping days to go…
Selfridges launches its festive shop, despite there still being 143 shopping days to go until Christmas Day

Store in London’s Oxford Street has filled 3,000 square feet on its fourth floor with decorations and gifts 

Customers, Holly and Ken Martin, from the US, bought a Christmas 2015 bauble to mark their UK holiday

Staff reveal they have been preparing for this year’s Yuletide store since Christmas last year   

The summer holidays are still in full swing with parts of Britain basking in temperatures of 25 degrees.
But Santa was spotted making himself at home in a London department store today.
With 143 shopping days to go until Christmas, Selfridges has opened the doors of its winter wonderland.

Christmas has come early: With 143 shopping days to go Selfridges has become the first store to launch its Christmas range
 Even Father Christmas was present, having taken a day’s break from his North Pole workshop to welcome shoppers


The Yuletide shop has filled 3,000 square feet on its fourth floor with festive gifts and decorations.
Geraldine James, Selfridges Christmas home and decorations buyer, said: ‘Despite the summer weather, we’re in full festive mode here at Selfridges.
‘We’ve been working on this year’s Christmas Shop since Christmas last year.
‘We have so many customers visiting from all over the world and eager to snap up festive souvenirs on their summer holidays, which they can’t buy at home.
‘So, we have to make sure we’re ready to showcase Christmas decorations they will truly treasure.’
For shoppers who like to plan ahead, trends for Christmas 2015 include personalised decorations, black and white monochrome and Magical Forest, which includes wood-based decorations and woodland creatures.
The store also revealed that this year’s Christmas theme is Journey to the Stars, with a special line of decorations called Moonlight Magic launched today.
The shop’s first customers, Holly and Ken Martin, from Pennsylvania in the US, bought a Christmas 2015 bauble to mark their UK holiday.
Each of the thousands of Selfridges glass baubles have been designed exclusively for the store and were individually mouth-blown from a supplier in Hungary.
Selfridges opens Christmas shop at beginning of AUGUST


When fully open, the store will include more than 60,000 baubles, over 120 cracker options and more than 1,250 cards and wrapping paper designs
The second phase of the shop’s opening will be in Autumn, when the floor space devoted to all things festive will be more than doubled to 60,000 square feet.
Open fully, the store will include more than 60,000 baubles, over 120 cracker options, and more than 1,250 different cards and wrapping paper designs.
But for now, it is all hands on deck – especially for the man in charge. When asked whether he should be taking it easy in August, Father Christmas said: ‘Relaxing? Oh I’m afraid not.
‘Christmas is all year round – I do take a little break in January but now is build up time, getting ready for the big day.’

Boux Avenue to open Oxford Street store

Lingerie retailer Boux Avenue has announced that it will open a flagship store on London’s Oxford Street, later this year.
The 3,000 square foot store will become the most central London store for the retailer and is expected to open as early as September or October. It will offer the brand’s full range of lingerie, swimwear, nightwear and accessories.
Commenting on the Oxford Street store opening, owner Theo Paphitis said: “I feel very proud that we are in a position to be able to bring Boux Avenue to one of the most prestigious high streets in the world.
“Taking our place in the fashion capital on Oxford Street will amplify our position in the market, as well as further cement our status as the ultimate lingerie destination. It’s a real milestone especially for such a young brand but really highlights how far the brand has come in such a short period of time.”
Boux Avenue was founded in 2011 and has 25 stores in the UK. By 2016, the retailer is targeting 28 stores in the UK as well as significant expansion overseas, with countries including Russia, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil earmarked for possible locations.

Keen footwear launches in Dubai

Products available at Sun & Sand Sports, Adventure HQ, Impressions

Dubai: US-based footwear brand Keen has launched its product range in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), according to company statement on Tuesday.
The brand’s products are being distributed in the GCC countries by Hadi Enterprises, a division of Al Abbas Group.
The products are available at Hadi’s retail showroom and selected outlets of Sun & Sand Sports, Adventure HQ, Impressions, Sports One, K Corner and TOG across the UAE.

John Lewis hoping to attract the fashion crowd with new in-store boutiques

Department store group John Lewis is hoping to attract fashionistas with new boutiques in its large stores showcasing top brands including Nike and Bruuns Bazaar.

Known for its hold on Middle England, the group is raising its fashion appeal with the new concept called ‘Found at John Lewis’.
The first will be launched at its Birmingham store when it opens in September. This will be followed by Liverpool in November.
John Lewis has more than 30 department stores across the UK.

LVMH owned Sephora makes global airport debut with Abu Dhabi Duty Free

UAE. LVMH-owned beauty retailer Sephora has made its global airport debut at Abu Dhabi International, through Abu Dhabi Duty Free and retail partner DFS. The airport will be home to two pop-up Sephora outlets, in terminals 1 and 3. 

The stores will open between 1 August and 31 October. The offer will include Sephora’s own private label range Made In Sephora. 

Celebrating Sephora’s debut at Abu Dhabi International Airport (left to right): Sephora Middle East Head of Operations Miriam Von Loewenfeld; Made in Sephora Senior Manager Hasmik Panossian; Abu Dhabi Airports CEO Eng. Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei and Abu Dhabi Airports Chief Operations Officer Eng. Ahmad Al Haddabi
The airport company noted: “The addition of Sephora to the roster of brands on offer at Abu Dhabi International Airport is consistent with the company’s objective of delivering an outstanding passenger experience. Beauty & Fragrance was the biggest selling product category in 2014, with a 31% share of duty free turnover, helping to increase overall annual sales by almost +10%. 
Abu Dhabi Airports Acting Chief Commercial Officer Dan Cappell said: “We are delighted to welcome Sephora to Abu Dhabi Duty Free and to be the first airport to host them in a duty free retail space managed and operated by our retailer partner DFS. Beauty & Fragrance is an important part of our offering to passengers and the choice of leading brands has increased to meet their demands. Sephora, with its unique, open-sell shopping environment, perfectly complements our commitment to offer travellers a world-class, unique shopping experience within the airport.” 
Abu Dhabi Duty Free has placed a strong emphasis on the growing P&C business, notably with the addition of a fragrance boutique, opened by DFS, in 2014; now the offer has been bolstered by the introduction of Sephora, a first for the airport channel
Owned by leading luxury goods group Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), Sephora is the leading chain of fragrances & cosmetics stores in France, and also has a powerful beauty presence in countries around the world. It offers skincare, fragrance, body and haircare goods in addition to its own private label. The brand operates around 1,900 stores in 29 countries worldwide, including 24 stores in the Middle East.