Monthly Archives: October 2015

Vodafone says hackers broke into nearly 2,000 customer accounts this week

LONDON (Reuters) – Vodafone UK said on Saturday hackers had accessed the accounts of 1,827 of its customers this week, the second cyber attack on a British telecoms company this month.
The attackers had potentially gained access to the victims’ bank sort codes and the last four numbers of their bank accounts, along with their names and mobile telephone numbers, a Vodafone spokesman said.
“This incident was driven by criminals using email addresses and passwords acquired from an unknown source external to Vodafone,” he added in a statement.
Only a handful of those affected in the Thursday morning attack had seen any attempts to use their data for fraudulent activity on their Vodafone accounts.
“No credit or debit card numbers or details were obtained. However, this information does leave these 1,827 customers open to fraud and might also leave them open to phishing attempts,” the spokesman said.
The company was contacting all those involved and that other customers need not be concerned, he said.
  

Advertisements

Hamleys sale finalised: £100m for world’s largest toy store

The anticipated sale of renowned London toy store Hamleys has finally been confirmed.
Chinese footwear seller C.Banner International agreed to a price of £100m to purchase the store from Ludendo, the French toy store operator that has owned Hamleys since 2012.
For C.Banner, the acquisition marks the first major branch out from its home market, as well as its previous focus on the footwear industry. The company said that it has plans to expand Hamleys’ products into other department stores, and is in talks with House of Fraser, which was recently purchased by C. Banner’s strategic partner Sanpower Group.
Hamleys expanded its international portfolio in recent years. It now has 50 outlets around the world as well as an increasing presence online. CEO Gudjon Reynisson noted that its international prospects remained strong, with the possibility of having over 100 international stores in the near future. C.Banner stated that its purchase of the brand is but part one of its strategy for international expansion and business diversification.
Hamleys was originally founded in 1760 by William Hamley, under the name ‘Noah’s Ark’. It was not until 1881 that the company opened the flagship store in Regent Street that has been open for business until now. The world’s largest toy store, Hamleys has a business area of 50,000sq ft over seven storeys. 

 

Tesco to open Dorothy Perkins, Burtons and Evans branches in supermarkets

Tesco signs deal with Arcadia that will see some of its biggest brands sold in supermarket

Tesco has agreed a deal with Arcadia that will see the clothing giant sell some of its biggest brands in supermarkets.

Arcadia, run by billionaire Sir Philip Green, will open versions of its Dorothy Perkins, Burtons and Evans outlets in select Tesco stores across the country.

“Customers in the five locations told us they’d like to see more fashion options in their local area”

Tesco spokesman

Shoppers in Horwich, Culverhouse Cross, Chesterfield, and Woolwich will be able to buy items from all three Arcadia brands in their local Tesco supermarket, while only Dorothy Perkins and Burtons will open in Bradley Stoke.

In a separate agreement, Tesco will also provide space for Claire’s Accessories, Sock Shop and Pavers.
Tesco said the move will ‘complement’ its own clothing range, F&F

The brands will “complement” its own clothing label, F&F.

Chief executive Dave Lewis is attempting to turn around Tesco after a £263m fraud at the UK’s largest retailer and a subsequent boardroom shake-up. Operating profits fell 55pc to £354m in the first six months of the year, as like-for-like sales dropped 1.1pc.

Amid an ongoing grocery price war, the Arcadia deal signals Mr Lewis is attempting to spark growth and entice customers into stores by focusing more on non-food items and branching out from F&F.

“We’re always looking at new ways our stores can best serve the needs of local customers,” a Tesco spokesman said.
“Customers in the five locations told us they’d like to see more fashion options in their local area, so we decided to trial introducing some great brands to each store which complement our existing offer.”

Tesco’s deal, which was first reported by Retail Week, comes after Sainsbury’s announced it is revamping its stores in a bid to boost sales. The supermarket chain is to open smaller shops in 1,000 locations accross the UK to appeal to customers who only have time to buy a few essential items. 

 

Marks & Spencer website is shut down after furious customers log in only to find other people’s personal details being displayed

London-based retailer suspends website but denies it’s been hacked

Customers claim they can see order histories and addresses of others

Happened when they logged on to register new ‘Sparks’ reward cards

By Mark Duell and Amanda Williams for MailOnline
Published: 21:18, 27 October 2015 | Updated: 11:20, 28 October 2015
Marks & Spencer customers were left fuming last night after logging into their online accounts to find other users’ personal details.
The London-based retailer, which has more than 1,300 stores worldwide, temporarily suspended its website while the ‘technical issue’ is investigated – but strongly denied it had been hacked.
Customers claimed they could see order histories, personal addresses and other details of different account holders online when they logged on to register new ‘Sparks’ reward cards.
Problems: M&S customers claimed they could see order histories, personal addresses and other details of different account holders online when they logged on to register new ‘Sparks’ reward cards 

Problems: M&S customers claimed they could see order histories, personal addresses and other details of different account holders online when they logged on to register new ‘Sparks’ reward cards 
‘We’ll be back soon’: The retailer suspended its website after the ‘technical issue’ and posted this image online

‘We’ll be back soon’: The retailer suspended its website after the ‘technical issue’ and posted this image online
Helen Jones, from Oswestry, told the MailOnline she was horrified to log into her account and find that someone had ordered three items in a completely different size.
She said: ‘I had gone out during the day and was given this card to join the scheme, a Sparks card. 
‘The site was really a bit iffy and I couldn’t get to register the stupid card. I must have tried about 15 times. 
I went into the My Account section to change my password and it showed I had ordered three garments – not in my size – which came to around £45. 
‘I hit the page with personal address, and I could see the name, date of birth, address, email, postcode and mobile number of a different woman. 
‘It has given me great reservations. What if my account details are being bandied around left, right and centre? It is a huge data protection issue, especially off the back of what happened with TalkTalk.
‘It is another huge hitch on a major retail site. It does make you wonder if have they been hacked. I really don’t think they should be taking this too lightly.’ 

Customer Sue Price tweeted: ‘Serious problem with my online account – showing someone else’s full personal details and order history.’
And software developer Elizabeth Lynch added: ‘Just tried to create a new account and got shown other user’s Sparks points, basket, cards, delivery address. #Problem.’
Meanwhile customer David Collier from Bournemouth said last night that his girlfriend had created an account and was ‘presented with five other people’s account details’.
And Debbie Dilks from Worthing said on Facebook: ‘I have just found the name, address, email address, date of birth and mobile and landline number of a lady I have never met. This is appalling.’ 
Problem: Sue Price was among customers who logged into their accounts to find other users’ personal details

Problem: Sue Price was among customers who logged into their accounts to find other users’ personal details
Concerns: David Collier told how his girlfriend created an account and saw the details of five other people

Concerns: David Collier told how his girlfriend created an account and saw the details of five other people
Report: Customer Alex Brown said he could see someone else’s mobile number on his online account 

Report: Customer Alex Brown said he could see someone else’s mobile number on his online account 
Different details: A Twitter user named ‘Sarah’ described the incident as a ‘major cock-up’ for M&S

Different details: A Twitter user named ‘Sarah’ described the incident as a ‘major cock-up’ for M&S
Serious problem with my online account – showing someone else’s full personal details and order history

A spokeswoman for the company said: ‘Due to a technical issue we temporarily suspended our website last night. 
‘This allowed us to thoroughly investigate and resolve the issue and quickly restore service for our customers. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused.’
  

UAE Apple Stores to Open This Thursday! (Pictures)

Customers and fans of the half-eaten fruit will get a full Apple experience when the company’s first stores open in the UAE this Thursday, October 29, according to a senior vice president of retail and online stores at Apple, Angela Ahrendts, reported an article in gulfnews.com.
“The retail stores are simply to give customers another experience, [Customers] can all buy online, they can all buy through our partners, but then they have wonderful retail stores where they can come to and do workshops, [to] be further educated on their products,” said Angela, from the company headquarters in Cupertine, California.
So, what can customers expect in the Dubai stores? The Dubai store is being designed with the unique concept of trees inside. Angela says, “The trees just make it cooler and warmer, [with] all of the little dabs of colour that come from them. So hopefully it will be a more calming experience versus the more hectic experience that we get in many of our flagship cities.”
She said Apple wants the environment to be calmer and more inviting and to be more locally relevant, reported the article. “It’s a big, philosophical part of the evolution of Apple retail,” adds Angela. 
While the basic design will have the same iconic hallmarks, such as the big oak table, glass counters, certain features will make the environment more warm and dynamic. 
Apple’s latest flagship smartphone, the iPhone 6s was launched in the UAE on October 9. 

    
    
    
 
  

Morrisons’ staff to sue retailer over payroll leak

Thousands of Morrisons’ employees are to sue the supermarket giant in what is believed to be Britain’s biggest ever claim in relation to a breach of data security.
It follows the posting on the internet of the bank, salary and National Insurance details of almost 100,000 members of staff by a former colleague with a grudge.
Andrew Skelton was jailed for eight years in July following a trial at Bradford Crown Court which heard that he sent the information to newspapers and placed it on data sharing websites.
Skelton, who worked as a senior internal auditor at Morrisons’ Bradford head office, had previously been suspected of dealing controlled drugs at work.
More than 2,000 of his ex-colleagues are now to pursue a group claim against the retailer following a hearing before Senior Master Barbara Fontaine at the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in London.
Nick McAleenan, a Data Privacy lawyer at JMW Solicitors, said there will be a four-month period in which other Morrisons’ employees who were affected could join the group action.
He added that the case had important implications for “every employee and every employer” in the country.
“Whenever employers are given personal details of their staff, they have a duty to look after them.
That is especially important given that most companies now gather and manage such material digitally and, as a result, it can be accessed and distributed relatively easily if the information is not protected.
My clients’ position is that Morrisons failed to prevent a data leak which exposed tens of thousands of its employees to the very real risk of identity theft and potential loss.
In particular, they are worried about the possibility of money being taken from their bank accounts and – in the case of younger clients – negative consequences for their credit rating.”
Skelton’s trial was told that he took Morrisons’ payroll information and then leaked the details of 99,998 employees after being disciplined for a previous incident in which he was accused of using the company’s mailroom to ship parcels to his private eBay customers.
McAleenan said the claim to be filed by his clients would allege that Morrisons was ultimately responsible for breaches of privacy, confidence and data protection law.
He added: “I expect that we may well see other employees who might have been dissuaded from making a claim on their own deciding to join with their colleagues because of the group momentum which has now been established 

 

Microsoft’s flagship New York retail store opens on Surface Book’s launch day

Six years after stepping into the retail market with smaller mall outlets, Microsoft is literally taking the wraps off its flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on Monday, the same day as the general release of its Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book devices.
The new flagship, along with a Sydney store due to open in time for the holiday season, signals a global expansion and renewed commitment to reaching out to customers through retail as key Windows 10 devices ship into a flagging PC market.
For the Fifth Avenue store’s grand opening, Microsoft plans deals on Surface devices, the lowest price anywhere for XBox One consoles and accessories, Microsoft Band 2 purchase before the Oct. 30 general availability, a performance by rapper Pitbull at Rockefeller Center in the evening and a “Halo 5: Guardians” midnight launch event. The new store will also be the only one, for the moment, where consumers can see HoloLens and Surface Hub displayed.
The store itself, set to be unveiled in a curtain-dropping ceremony at noon local time, is just a few blocks south of Apple’s flagship, the now-iconic giant glass cube encasing the Apple logo.
Overall, Microsoft seems to have emulated the sleek ambience of the Apple stores. The glass facade of the Fifth Avenue store, erected with minimal structural attachments so as to seem to disappear when you enter, allows light to flood into three floors of retail space, complete with streamlined, Scandinavian-designed type tables and an “Answer Desk,” the company’s response to Apple’s Genius Bar.
Microsoft’s fagship Fifth Avenue store in ManhattanMarc Ferranti

The interior of Microsoft’s flagship Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan, with the street-facing windows still under wraps right before the grand opening on Oct. 26, 2015.
On a pre-opening press tour of the store, the space at first glance seemed to be a bit busier than what you experience in Apple stores—with possibly more, and smaller, clusters of tables—but not unpleasantly so. Microsoft has emphasized video displays, placing 198 LCD monitors throughout three floors and a 30-foot, two-story video tower with 36 monitors acting as the store’s centerpiece.
“It would be bad to compete directly with Apple,” said eMarketer retail analyst Yoram Wurmser. “Apple has had incredible success peddling luxury to consumers in the form of technology products that have become a status symbol.”
The large footprint of the new store gives Microsoft a chance to create unique branding that it hasn’t been able to in small outlets or with third-party retail partners, Wurmser said.
“Microsoft wants to create an environment stressing its commitment to the Surface and other new products,” Wurmser said, adding that retail stores have a multiplier effect on sales for companies that mainly sell via the Web and through channels. Consumers who visit a company’s retail outlet tend to spend much more overall on its products than people who never go to one of the business’s brick and mortar stores, Wurmser added.
Microsoft has established more than 110 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, but the company wanted to wait for the right moment to establish a flagship. “Having a flagship has been a goal of ours since the beginning, but it also was really important for us to have the right location,” said Kelly Soligon, general manager for worldwide marketing for Microsoft retail and online stores.
Microsoft’s Fifth Avenue store in ManhattanMarc Ferranti

You can build it, but will they come? Waiting for customers at Microsoft’s Fifth Avenue store before the grand opening on Oct. 26, 2015.
The size of the store—Microsoft has leased over 22,000 square feet in the building altogether—allows the company to do things that it can’t in smaller spaces, Soligon said. The store makes the most of the video displays, offering a Culture Wall designed to showcase local landmarks, and a community theater with space for up to 60 people for educational workshops and special events. Through the store, Microsoft also wants to forge ties to community organizations with an emphasis on STEM training, and as part of the grand opening has awarded more than $3 million in grants to various local cultural and educational groups.
While Microsoft needs to create its own unique branding, it would do well to emulate Apple’s top-notch service, eMarketer’s Wurmser said. To that end, Microsoft is employing more than 160 store employees speaking 19 different languages, Soligon said. Part of the multiplier effect of a store in this location is its visibility to thousands of tourists who gather in New York’s premier upscale shopping district.
“We wanted to do it right,” Soligon said. “We’re beyond excited to be in this location.” 

    
 

UK retail brand Debenhams is set to enter Australia

Debenhams 1_tcm87-18098In what could proclaim a noteworthy shake up to the Australian retail area, influential UK retail establishment brand Debenhams is set to enter the Australian retail segment in 2016. Worldwide clothing and homewares retailer Pepkor, which possesses Australian retail chain Harris Scarfe, is slated to convey Debenhams to Australia on account of an arrangement in which it has turned into a franchise of the brand.
The Australian opening, expected to be staged, would be Debenham’s first entry into the Southern Hemisphere and could present robust new rivalry for Australian retail chains Myers and David Jones. Debenhams gloats an aggressive position in the UK retail advertise, where it holds a main three business sector position in womenswear and menswear and a main 10 offer in childrenswear, and in addition a number two business sector position in premium wellbeing and magnificence. Around the world, it as of now works 240 stores crosswise over 27 nations.
Under the game plan with Pepkor, Debenhams items, including the brand’s ‘Architects at Debenhams’ extent, will be wholesaled and retailed inside of Harris Scarfe stores. A devoted Debenhams e-business site will be propelled in Australia and standalone stores will begin to show up in retail focuses the nation over.
Jason Murray, overseeing chief of Pepkor South East Asia, recommended the tie-up won’t just acquaint another brand with Australia yet will likewise “renew and develop” Harris Scarfe through the presentation of another wholesale game plan and more back office scale. Harris Scarfe’s CEO Graham Deane said it would supplement the Australian brand’s general development technique.”For our faithful clients, the organization conveys access to an energizing scope of sound, worldwide retail establishment brands. For our group, the chance to be a piece of a standout amongst the most energizing retail establishment stories in the locale, and our supply and property accomplices will welcome the expansion of such a plainly separated and elite range that will make us a much more grounded destination for all darlings of shopping,” Deane said.
The entry of the British most loved comes months after bits of gossip spread that its UK adversary Marks and Spencers – with which Debenhams would vie for the British ex-pat market specifically – was ready to set up a series of stores on Australian soil as a major aspect of its worldwide extension arranges. Following year and a half of theory, a report issued by Deloitte in January 2015 raised desires that M&S’ landing in Australia was impending. Those desires need to date been dashed with no formal declaration yet made by the notable retailer, best known for its nourishment and apparel lines.

  

Walgreens to buy Rite Aid for $17.2bn

©Bloomberg
Walgreens Boots Alliance, the US’s second-largest pharmacy chain by sales, has agreed to buy smaller rival Rite Aid for $17.2bn including debt, in the latest move by billionaire chief executive Stefano Pessina to build a global drugstore group.
Walgreens will pay $9 in cash for each Rite Aid share, representing a 48 per cent premium to Monday’s closing price, the companies said in a statement. At the offer price, Rite Aid has an equity value of $9.45bn with net debt of $7.75bn.
Earlier news of the talks had sent shares in Rite Aid up 43 per cent to $8.67 in New York. However, in after-hours trading the shares were down 7.7 per cent at $8 as bankers cautioned the deal could face regulatory hurdles. Walgreens Boots shares closed 6.4 per cent higher at $95.16 before falling slightly in after-hours trading.
Rite Aid has 4,561 pharmacies concentrated mainly on the east and west coasts, compared with Walgreens’ 8,232, though it is closing around 200. The footprint of the combined company could raise competition issues, which could force divestitures at some locations, analysts said.
A deal will help Walgreens expand in regions where it has less of a presence such as the northeast US. It could make it the largest purchaser of branded and generic drugs globally, giving it a “huge cost advantage”, said Vishnu Lekraj, a senior healthcare analyst at Morningstar.
Mr Pessina said the deal was “another step” in its global strategy. “Our complementary retail pharmacy footprints in the US will create an even better network, with more health and wellness solutions available in stores and online.”
Walgreens said it expected to realise cost savings of more than $1bn from the deal. “The transaction is expected to be accretive to Walgreens Boots Alliance’s adjusted earnings per share in its first full year after completion,” the company said.
The companies will initially operate as separate entities but will be integrated over time.
Mr Pessina, 74, who was named chief executive of Walgreens Boots in July after spending seven months as its acting chief, leads the company’s dealmaking strategy. He engineered the combination of Boots of the UK and Walgreens, and speculation had been rife that he would continue to look for more acquisitions.
The healthcare industry — from drug companies to insurers and pharmacy chains — has gone through a wave of consolidation, amid the expansion of government-supported healthcare access under Obamacare. The reform includes provisions aimed at driving down costs, and aims to broaden access to healthcare for some of the country’s poorest.
Mr Pessina told investors this year that the American industry was “ready for another round” as he expected Washington to “exert their power” to squeeze costs, which would dent profit margins.
“Everyone is trying to get bigger and better” to try to leverage scale and improve pricing power with suppliers, Mr Lekraj said, referring to the healthcare industry as a whole.
He added that the deal could also help Walgreens incrementally when it comes to negotiating reimbursement rates with so-called pharmacy benefit managers. These act as intermediaries between drug companies and insurers.
Mr Pessina’s move to take over Rite Aid, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, would return Walgreens to its status as the biggest drugstore chain in the US, topping CVC Health, which has also grown recently through acquisitions.

The deal would also give Mr Pessina and Walgreens access to Rite Aid’s heath insurance business, something he had been keen to acquire.

  
From ft.com

The Debenhams Coup: CEO attacked by unimpressed investors

Debenhams CEO Michael Sharp has announced that he will be stepping down from the business in 2016. 
This news comes following speculation that city stockbroker Cenkos Securities was attempting to rally boardroom support against Sharp, who investors claim has failed in his recovery efforts for the department store chain. The stockbroker managed to gather support from some of Debenhams’ biggest shareholders, including Mukesh Jagtiani, Schroders and Old Mutual, who between them own around 25% of the chain. 
Debenhams issued two financial warnings in 2013, and has struggled to compete against rivals like House of Fraser and M&S. The store has cut back on sales days and has attempted to revive its revenue through increased concessions. 
However, there is evidence that Sharp’s ‘evolution not revolution’ strategy is bearing fruit. The news of his departure came just as Debenhams revealed its full year results. For the 52 week period ending August 29, pre-tax profits rose by 7.3% to £113.5m, in line with market expectations. The company’s net debt was reduced by £41.7m to £319.8m, whilst like-for-like online sales saw an increase of 1.3% 
Debenhams Chairman Nigel Northridge, who has also been targeted by Cenkos, said that Debenhams had made “good progress” under Sharp. 
“He has worked enormously hard to develop the company’s strategy and the benefits of this are really starting to show in the results,” he continued. 
Sharp will continue his role at Debenhams through the Christmas trading period until a replacement has been found. 
“I believe Debenhams is now capable of competing in the ever-changing and challenging world of multi-channel retailing,” Sharp said. “I accepted the job of chief executive with the intention of spending five years in the role and although it will be difficult to leave a fabulous company like Debenhams, now is the right time for the board to begin the process of identifying my successor.” 
Sharp, who took on the role of CEO in 2011, has been with the company for 30 years, having started at its predecessor the Burton Group in 1985. Group Trading Director Suzanne Harlow has been identified as a possible successor to Sharp. 

 

Alshaya Named Best Multi-Brand Franchise Operator in Middle East and North Africa

MENAFA award recognises Alshaya’s leadership in bringing international retail brands to the region

United Arab Emirates, 22 October 2015: International retail franchise operator M.H. Alshaya Co. has been named Best Multi-Brand Franchise Operator in the Middle East and North Africa by the Middle East and North Africa Franchise Association (MENAFA). Alshaya received the award this week from His Highness Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khaled Al-Saud, Honorary Chairman of MENAFA at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Middle East Franchise Exhibition and Forum at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai on October 20th 2015
Commenting on the award Omar Al-Haza’a, Vice President of MENAFA said: “Alshaya has been an innovator in retail franchising for over 30 years and has played a leading role in bringing some of the world’s best known brands such as Mothercare, H&M, Debenhams, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks and The Cheesecake Factory to consumers here in the Middle East. Operating across a broad range of sectors including fashion, food and health & beauty, and with over 3,000 stores, cafes and restaurants in its portfolio, Alshaya’s scale, together with its proven commitment to operational excellence made them a clear winner in our eyes.”
John Hadden, Senior Vice President for Retail Property, who collected the award on behalf of Alshaya, said that the award reflected the company’s unwavering commitment to growth and to providing Middle East consumers with a wide range of shopping and dining experiences.
“The Middle East consumer is brand savvy – they love international brands – and we have worked hard to build franchise partnerships with some of the world’s best loved brands in order to bring an exciting choice of well-loved cafes, stores and restaurants to our customers across the region. We are delighted to receive this award which recognises that commitment and which celebrates the strength of franchising in the Middle East.”
The MENA Franchise Awards for Excellence in Franchising are designed to recognise exceptional performance in franchising, with the goal of encouraging operators to raise the bar on service and their offering. 

 

Hamleys to be sold to Chinese footwear retailer

Hamleys, the 255-year-old toy retailer, is on the verge of being bought by a Chinese footwear company.

C.banner International Holdings is expected to confirm a deal on Thursday to buy the business for about £100m.
The company released a statement on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange saying it had requested the suspension of its shares pending the release of an announcement in relation to a possible acquisition.
The expected deal comes in a week that has seen a state visit to Britain by President Xi Jinping that sealed £40bn worth of trade deals, including an £18bn investment in the Hinkley Point nuclear plant, controlled by EDF of France.
Hamleys is best known for its flagship store on Regent Street in London, where it hosts children’s parties and where Father Christmas will soon greet youngsters.

The retailer has expanded across the UK – adding stores in Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester – and overseas in recent years, including opening Europe’s largest toystore in Moscow in March. It is also said to be considering expansion into the US.
Hamleys was bought by the French retailer Groupe Ludendo in 2012. It was previously owned by a consortium of investors including the Icelandic bank Landsbanki, which collapsed in the financial crash.
Hamleys was launched as Noah’s Ark in 1760 by William Hamley, a Cornishman from Bodmin, who stocked tin soldiers, wooden horses and rag dolls.
In 1881, a new branch of the shop opened in Regent Street, although at a different location from its current one.
In the late 1920s, Hamleys faced tough times, and in 1931 was forced to close. It reopened later that year after being bought out by Walter Lines, co-owner of Tri-ang Toys. Lines was rewarded with a royal warrant from Queen Mary in 1938.
The Regent Street store was bombed five times during the second world war and staff are said to have served at the shop entrance wearing tin hats during the blitz.
Hamleys was issued with a second royal warrant by Queen Elizabeth II, who bought toys there for her children in 1955. 

 

Brooks Brothers announces joint venture to accelerate growth in Greater China

Brooks Brothers Group has teamed up with Walton Brown Group, a subsidiary of The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, in a joint venture that will drive Brooks Brothers’ market expansion in Greater China
The 50/50 joint venture, which has an initial term of 10 years commencing January 2016, will take over the management of Brooks Brothers’ existing retail network of 90 stores in Greater China and drive plans to open more than 10 points of sale in the first two years across key cities in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
In addition to freestanding stores, the joint venture partnership will include investment in a multi-channel distribution platform providing wholesale, outlets, travel retail and e-commerce channels to bolster brand presence and fuel business growth in the region.
In addition to Brooks Brothers’ ready-to-wear menswear and accessories collections, the product offerings will include a women’s collection by fashion designer Zac Posen who has been appointed as creative director for women’s wear. His first women’s collection for Brooks Brothers will debut in Spring/Summer 2016 and will be available worldwide.
Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and chief executive of Brooks Brothers, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Walton Brown on this exciting joint venture which enables us to develop long-term growth strategies across multiple online and offline distribution channels especially in China, one of our most important growth markets for our global business. We are confident in China’s growth prospects in the premium sector for the coming years and this is the optimal time for us to position Brooks Brothers for long term sustainable growth.”
Following the formation of the joint venture, Brooks Brothers and Walton Brown will establish a corporate office and showroom in Hong Kong in early 2016.
Brooks Brothers operates more than 460 stores worldwide including over 130 retail stores in the Asia Pacific region.
Thomson Cheng, president of Walton Brown, said, “In the 12 years Brooks Brothers has been operating in China, the brand has built a strong following of customers who subscribe to its unique heritage and rich history of design and quality craftsmanship. With the foundation in place, we believe the brand has enormous potential with the new generation of sophisticated and prosperous consumers in China and with the launch of the online business in 2016 we will be able to significantly increase reach with this consumer segment.” 

 

H&M opens SA store

Johannesburg – Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer, is hoping to give South African shoppers that good old quintessential shopping experience that puts everything around the customer.
After launching its first local shop at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Friday, H&M now has its sights set on opening stores in Johannesburg, starting with Sandton City.
Par Darj, the country manager for H&M South Africa, told Business Report that the group would differentiate itself by focusing on what it did best, and that was being a traditional retailer.
He said H&M, popularly known for high-quality yet very easy and affordable fashion, represented what was known in-house as “democratic fashion”.
H&M’s vision is centred on being a retailer of “fashion and quality in a sustainable way”, said Darj, whose career at H&M has spanned major markets, including being country manager for the US between 1999 and 2001, and country controller for H&M England in the 1980s.
Fashion orientated
“In South Africa we see a very fashion oriented market… and there is a very big fashion interest, especially if you look at the middle class and the aspirational market,” he said in an interview on Friday.
He said even people who might not currently have the means to buy fashion represented an opportunity as H&M was about providing affordable, high-quality fashion for all. “We call it democratic fashion,” Darj added.
He said H&M’s core focus was selling fashion not running finance operations, hence it offered no store credit unlike a lot of other retailers.
“If you want to be a bank that is fine. We will focus on retail,” Darj said, noting that a lot of retailers have had their fingers burnt trying to be a bank and a retailer. “We don’t offer credit, but you can pay with your credit card,” he said.
Indeed, South African retailers are currently between a rock and a hard place as high consumer debt weighs on household spending and competition puts pressure on margins.
Darj said H&M’s foray into South Africa had already resulted in about 600 jobs in the run up to the opening of the V&A Waterfront and Sandton City stores. Darj said H&M planned to have as many as 1 500 people employed within 12 months.
“We would like to hire people with a good attitude and an interest in fashion,” he said, adding that some 60 associates had already been sent to Sweden for training.
In the long run, H&M planned to use South Africa as a springboard to the rest of southern Africa, as well as to east and west Africa. H&M was exploring the feasibility of opening a local manufacturing facility, Darj said.
“Last year we opened a production factory in Ethiopia. We are also producing from Turkey. We will see what is possible in South Africa,” he said.
H&M’s arrival caps a busy few months as South Africa’s large shopping centres have already been experiencing good demand for space from other top international brands including Zara, Burberry, Cotton On and Top Shop.
JP Verster, an analyst at 36One Asset Management, said on Friday that H&M would probably learn from the expansion strategies of its peers Zara and Cotton On.
“H&M will choose which expansion strategy to follow in South Africa. It can either choose from Zara, which had a cautious strategy of opening a handful of stores in South Africa, or Cotton On”, which had an aggressive strategy, Verster said.
H&M operates 3 500 stores in 57 countries. Egypt and Morocco have, so far, been the only two African countries where it operates. The Sandton City store is scheduled to open later this month.

  

Amazon sues more than 1,000 people over ‘fake reviews’

Amazon is taking legal action against more than 1,000 people it claims provide fake reviews on its website.
The online retail giant said in the lawsuit, filed in the US on Friday, that its brand reputation is being tarnished by “false, misleading and inauthentic” reviews.
Amazon claims the 1,114 defendants, termed “John Does” as the company said it is unaware of their real names, offer their false review service for as little as five dollars (£3.25) on the website Fiverr.com, with most promising 5-star reviews for a seller’s products.
Advertisement
The latest legal action comes after Amazon sued a number of websites in April for selling fake reviews.
Despite successful efforts to remove such ads from the site before, Amazon said taking away individual listings does not address the “root cause” of the issue or provide a strong enough deterrent to those “bad actors engaged in creating and purchasing fraudulent product reviews”.
“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate”
– legal action
The legal action says: “Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate.”
The firm said it had investigated the defendants and found many of them request text from the sellers for the reviews, and take steps to avoid detection by using multiple accounts and unique IP addresses.
It added that the defendants acted in the knowledge that Amazon – which described itself as “Earth’s most customer-centric company” and detailed how it pioneered the system of customer reviews 20 years ago – does not allow paid for or fictional reviews. 

 

Nakheel awards $626m Dubai retail development deals

Dubai-based master developer Nakheel has awarded construction contracts worth nearly Dh2.3 billion ($626 millon) for three major projects in its growing retail portfolio.
The company has confirmed the builders of Deira Islands Night Souk, Warsan Souk and The Circle Mall, which, combined, offer nearly 2.3 million sq ft of retail space and over 6,700 shopping, dining and entertainment outlets.

 

Nakheel has awarded a Dh1.17-billion contract to United Engineering Construction (Unec) for the Deira Islands Night Souk and Boardwalk project.
On completion, Deira Islands Night Souk will stretch almost 2 km along Deira Islands’ waterfront and boast 5,300 shops and nearly 100 quayside cafes and restaurants.
Located just across from mainland Dubai, the Night Souk will be easily accessible by road and water, and within walking distance of hotels, residences and Deira Mall, Nakheel’s other major retail project at the islands.
All 1.2 million sq ft of leasable space at the Night Souk was snapped up by budding Emirati entrepreneurs within five days of its launch, said the Dubai developer in its statement.
The Night Souk will bring together a new generation of local traders at Dubai’s oldest and most traditional business hub, and is set to be one of the emirate’s biggest new attractions for residents and tourists.
The construction of the Night Souk is due for completion in 2018., the statement said.
For Warsan Souk, a new retail complex with 1,170 shops including two department stores and 30 cafes and restaurants with indoor and outdoor dining, the contract worth Dh775 million has been given to Ginco General Contracting.
Located between Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road and Manama Road, next to International City, Warsan Souk will be a vibrant, modern destination, innovatively-designed as a modern take on the traditional souk.
With 650,000 sq ft of retail space, the souk will be spread across eight buildings, each comprising two floors of retail with three-bedroom townhouses – 433 in total – built above, said the statement from the Dubai developer.
Already fully leased and due for completion in 2018, Warsan Souk forms part of Nakheel’s Warsan Village gated community of 934 homes, currently under construction, it added.
The last contract worth Dh353.75 million was clinched by Gulf Technical Construction Company for the Circle Mall, one of Nakheel’s largest master communities.
Located at Jumeirah Village Circle, The Circle Mall has 432,000 sq ft of retail space housing 235 shops, a multi-screen cinema, a health clinic, a multitude of cafes and restaurants and a food court.  
The Circle Mall, strategically positioned Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Al Khail Road and Hessa Street, will serve hundreds of thousands of people living in Jumeirah Village and surrounding areas, and provide a new leisure destination for residents and tourists across the rest of Dubai, said Nakheel in its statement.
Around half of the leasable space at Circle Mall is booked. Construction will begin shortly, with anticipated completion in early 2018, it added.
Confirmed tenants at The Circle Mall include Spinneys, Oscar Cinemas, Sports Market, Early Learning Centre, Mamas & Papas, Grand Optics, Tips & Toes, Bare Salon and Supercare Pharmacy.
Cafes and restaurants coming to The Circle Mall include Jamaica Blue, Café Nero, London Dairy, Wendy’s, Barbecue Delights, Russo’s New York Pizzeria, Nando and Al Arrab, it added.
According to Nakheel, its retail project portfolio is expected to become the biggest in the UAE, with 10 new large-scale developments and a growing collection of community retail centres on the way.
The company has more than 10 million sq ft of leasable retail space in the pipeline, adding to the 3.4 million already in operation at its Dragon Mart and Ibn Battuta Mall developments.
Projects range from large malls and souk-style complexes that will attract UAE residents and tourists to local centres that provide a focal point for shopping, dining and socialising for the people living at Nakheel communities, it added.-TradeArabia News Service 

 

Black Friday sales forecast to top £1bn

Retailers hit by difficulty of delivering spike in goods sold online 
M&S executive says he does not believe Black Friday added to total sales

Internet sales soared 92% on Black Friday and shop footfall was up 10%   

But in following tend days, shoppers on the High Street were down 3% 

Retailers are set for a fiercely competitive Black Friday this year with sales forecast to top £1billion on that one day.
But experts and executives warn the discounting frenzy may not add to total sales over the year and could be a real threat to profitability.
Black Friday falls on November 27, but Amazon is expected to offer discounts from November 1. An early collapse into discounting could devastate the retail market.
Excitment: Cheerleaders at the Asda store in Wembley, north west London during last year’s Black Friday

Excitment: Cheerleaders at the Asda store in Wembley, north west London during last year’s Black Friday

Among those who have warned that Black Friday may do stores no good is Marks & Spencer’s Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director for marketing.
He said: ‘In totality I do not believe it added to sales last year.
‘It’s too early to call this year – the UK retail market is clearly in a better place in terms of consumer mindset. But I do not believe those big spikes dramatically inflate the outcome of the season. You just have a reshaping of spending.’
The warning is echoed by the trade body for internet retailers, which has estimated that sales will be up more than 20 per cent on last year’s figure of £810million.
Andy Mulcahy, spokesman for the Interactive Media in Retail Group, said: ‘Last year was seismic. Black Friday caught on in a way that no one saw happening.
‘Previous peaks such as Cyber Monday happened for cultural reasons. They were phenomena based on consumer behaviour.’
Last year, online sales on Cyber Monday, which corresponds to the end-of-November pay day, rose 23 per cent on the year before. Online sales on Boxing Day grew 27 per cent.
‘But Black Friday is all about discounts,’ Mulcahy said.
‘There was a panic because retailers saw a massive drop-off beforehand, in anticipation of the day, and sales completely fell away.’
Cut-price chaos: The sales event, which led to mayhem in some stores last year, is threatening to spread further into November

Cut-price chaos: The sales event, which led to mayhem in some stores last year, is threatening to spread further into November

Internet sales rocketed 92 per cent on the day, said computing giant IBM, while figures from retail researcher Springboard recorded a 10 per cent rise in footfall to shops. But in the following ten days the number of shoppers on the high street fell by 3 per cent.
‘Some retailers hadn’t seen that coming,’ said Mulcahy, adding they reacted by pulling forward discounts planned for later in December.
Not only do retailers have to fight for their share of a finite amount of spending on a single day, rather than over a matter of months, but there is the problem of delivery. A huge quantity of goods ordered online all must be delivered within days.
‘We were handicapped last year,’ said Bousquet-Chavanne, referring to the overhaul of M&S’s online and logistics divisions. We don’t deny there were challenges but we learnt from what happened.’
He added: ‘I’ve heard all sorts of things – that it is going to be a billion pound day, the biggest retail day in the UK ever. I’ve also heard some say it might be down 20 per cent. But I have lived in the US, and there it kept growing for 15 years so I think we just have to be prepared.’
Bousquet-Chavanne said M&S was going into the Christmas season with an attractive proposition and compelling gift options.
‘That’s what we can control,’ he said. ‘We cannot control whether they migrate because it’s Black Friday or Manic Monday.’
Black Friday is so named in the US as the day when many retailers began to make a profit

Black Friday is so named in the US as the day when many retailers began to make a profit

Mulcahy said retailers would be better prepared this year than last, when they had to call police in as fights broke out. But he warned that the event is likely to evolve further as retailers try to make it easier for their delivery networks – or simply gazump one another. That could bring discounts further forward. Amazon plans to begin pushing promotions in the US on November 1 again and many suspect it will do the same thing in Britain.
‘The indications are that it is going to get extended this year. Some people might start early in the week, but there are some suggestions that others might extend it to the whole month,’ said Mulcahy.
Danny Bagge, UK head of retail for IBM, which is heavily involved in preparations for the day, said he expected sales on peak days such as Black Friday and Boxing Day to rise again this year. But he said dealing with the new peaks is proving ‘vastly more expensive’ for retailers.
‘They are coping with volumes that are 600 per cent higher than on an average day. You can cope with the online aspect of that by throwing in hardware and testing your systems,’ he said. ‘But in the warehouse that means six times more staff, forklift truck handlers and delivery van drivers. You just can’t do that in a day.
‘The key question is not whether Black Friday increases revenue. It is whether Black Friday is going to increase profit – and I think the jury is out on that. Operationally the cost of meeting it is just too extreme. Not just the cost of fulfilment, but then the cost of all the returns.’
The high street could not cope with returns as easily as online retailers, he noted, saying: ‘Every time a product is returned, they make a loss.’
But retailers had to be ‘in it to win it’ he said, adding: ‘This is all about following the tidal wave Amazon created. If they are not in, Amazon will just get more market share. Black Friday is not about acquiring sales. It’s about retaining sales.’
It seems Black Friday, so named in the US as the day when many retailers began to make a profit, could have the reverse effect, making it Red Friday for retailers. 

 

How many Starbucks stores will open in SA

Taste Holdings has revealed its long-term costs and strategy with launching Starbucks in South Africa – including when the first store will open, and how many of them there will be. 

Taste announced in July 2015 that it had secured the rights to open full-format Starbucks stores in South Africa. It is the brand’s debut in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to Taste, the first Starbucks will open up in “the first half of 2016”, and following the grand opening, 12 to 15 more stores will open over the next two years.
The group expects future store growth of 20 outlets per year.
Taste’s research into the market opportunity for the brand – considering costs – is for 150 to 200 stores in South Africa.
However, it will not stop there – Taste’s agreement with Starbucks has the group owning and operating the brand directly for the next 25 years, with certain rights for other African countries.
Starbucks costs
Taste has also revealed how much the Starbucks brand will cost to operate in the country.

The group lists first store opening, pre-opening marketing and market research and establishing IT and other infrastructure costs amounting to R29 million.
The next 12 to 15 stores will cost the group R108 million to set up – and subsequent outlets are pegged at between R3 million to R10 million.
This means that for a hypothetical 200 outlets, it could cost Taste as much as R2 billion.
However, the group expects the business to achieve Ebitda break-even during the second year of the first store opening, and has set a target ten-year internal rate of return at store level of 30%.
Taste announced that it intends to raise up to R226.3 million by way of a renounceable rights offer to finance its Starbucks plans, among others.From 2015 Copyright, BusinessTech. All right reserved.  

 

Apple confirms launch of two UAE stores on October 29

The company has unveiled a barricade around the outside of the two stores, which is covered in Arabic calligraphy.

The company has unveiled a barricade around the outside of the two stores, which is covered in Arabic calligraphy.
Apple has confirmed longstanding market rumours by announcing that it will open two stores in the UAE on October 29.
The stores will be located in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall, with grand openings planned for 4pm and 7pm local time respectively, the tech giant said in a statement.
The company has unveiled a barricade around the outside of the two stores, which is covered in Arabic calligraphy.
Apple’s move has been expected for some time. Bloomberg reported in August that the US giant could be exempted from foreign ownership laws in the UAE, and could be allowed 100 percent ownership of its stores.
That report was later denied by a senior official from the MInistry of Economy. 

 

Furla opened a new store on New York’s Fifth Avenue

Italian affordable luxury brand Furla opened a new store on New York’s Fifth Avenue, at 51st Street. The new Furla store features the complete range of products of the brand. The new store carries a limited edition ‘Fifth Avenue’ of handbags and small leather accessories. The new opening marks the beginning of an extended expansion of the brand in the U.S. 

 

Tesco offloads supermarket sites for £250m

Tesco has agreed to the sale of 14 Spenhill development sites that it no longer wants or needs, as part of a £250m deal – the latest phase of Tesco’s attempt to protect its balance sheet. 
Meyer Bergman acquired the sites, which are located across London, the South East and Bath. 
“Since announcing our decision to build fewer stores we have been working with Meyer Bergman to bring forward investment on our Spenhill sits,” said Tesco boss Dave Lewis. “We are very pleased to have agreed a deal with Meyer Bergman that will bring forward significant investment for these local communities, including opportunities for residential development.” 
As part of a recovery strategy following the supermarket giant’s troubles, Britain’s biggest retailer announced its decision to build fewer stores. Recently, the grocer also finalised the sale of Homeplus, its South Korean arm, and attempted to sell its data business Dunnhumby but failed to find a buyer for the right price. 
Tesco continues to suffer from strong rivalries in what has become a highly competitive market, while German discounters Aldi and Lidl have made leaps and bounds in increasing their market share at the expense of larger chains. 
Meanwhile grocers continue to invest in their online businesses, as they face competition from the likes of Amazon which recently broke into the food delivery market. Ecommerce is getting stronger, with experts predicting that home deliveries for groceries will make up 50% of the total market by 2025.  
In its 2015 annual report Tesco admitted that any failures in its technology, including online retail, could “impact our competitiveness” so it has continued to invest in both its online capabilities and its number of click-and-collect sites in the UK.   

 

Nickelodeon to Open Retail Store in Dubai in 2016

Viacom’s Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP) unit is continuing the global rollout of Nickelodeon stores, announcing Tuesday that it would open a Dubai store in 2016.
The store will be based in one of the world’s largest shopping malls, Dubai Mall, which forms part of a $20 billion downtown complex with more than 1,200 shops.
The Dubai store will be the 12th Nickelodeon retail store to open internationally as part of a relationship with Entertainment Retail Enterprises. It will be the second store in the Middle East after Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, which opened in Aug. 2013. The other stores are in Latin America (Panama, Honduras, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica) and London.
Read More Nickelodeon Opening Flagship Retail Store in London

“Opening a store in one of the world’s biggest international centers is an incredibly exciting next step for Nickelodeon to continue to work together with world-class partner ERE, to further our collective mission to create engaging and enjoyable experiences around the world,” said Ron Johnson, executive vp, NVCP.
With more than 3,200 square feet of retail space, the Dubai store will offer kids and families the opportunity to experience and interact with such Nickelodeon properties as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Paw Patrol.
To date, Nickelodeon and ERE have together launched eleven retail stores and one online store. The UK Flagship in London’s Leicester Square is their first store in Europe.
NVCP and ERE plan to open more stores in 2016.
  

Radley appoints chief operating officer

Radley, the premium handbag and accessories brand, has appointed Alan Stone-Wigg to the new position of chief operating officer.

Due to join Radley in January, Stone-Wigg will lead the brand’s retail, e-commerce, wholesale and international divisions. He will report directly to Justin Stead who joined Radley as chief executive in May this year.
Stone-Wigg was previoulsy president of the Timex business unit based in Connecticut, USA and led the development of the group’s brands and sales both in the domestic USA market and internationally.
Prior to that, he was chief operating officer for Sequel AG, based in Switzerland, heading up all operations, including manufacturing in Switzerland of the group’s Swiss made luxury brand Guess Collection.
Commenting on the appointment, Stead said: “Alan and I have worked together for many years during our time at the Fossil group and we are delighted that he will be joining the Radley management team. His proven track record in building strong teams, commercial success at the Timex Group and his considerable international experience will be of significant benefit to us as we deliver our vision and strategy for the Radley brand.” 

 

Tesco launches “immediate” price match guarantee

Tesco said it was hoping to remove “the hassle and inconvenience of price match vouchers” (Source: Getty)

Tesco has launched a new “immediate” price match service, promising to give money back to customers if they could have bought branded goods cheaper elsewhere. 
Tesco’s Brand Guarantee will enable customers to receive money off their bill at the checkout – both in person and online – if the overall cost of their branded grocery shop would have been less at Asda, Morrisons or Sainsbury’s. 
The supermarket, which has been struggling to show signs of growth as the grocery price war hots up, is not price matching with discounters Aldi and Lidl.
Tesco said it was hoping to remove “the hassle and inconvenience of price match vouchers”, saying the service was “a direct result of feedback as Tesco seeks to make the shopping trip easier for customers”.
Its own research suggested customers were missing out “hundreds of millions of pounds in saving each year” from not claiming back the price match vouchers. 
More than a third (35 per cent) of supermarket shoppers have never used a price matching scheme in store, rising to 80 per cent of online users. 
Matt Davies, Tesco UK and Ireland chief executive, said: “Shoppers tell us price matching vouchers are a pain and don’t really help them. We all know it can be stressful and awkward when you have to rummage through your wallet to find a price match voucher.
“We’re working hard to make the shopping trip that little bit easier for customers, with simple, affordable prices you can trust. Brand Guarantee is one more way we are taking the hassle out of a trip to the supermarket or an online shop.”
The initiative has already been trialled in Northern Ireland over the last few weeks, and Tesco said it had received “overwhelmingly positive feedback” from both colleagues and customers. 
Tesco has been under increasing pressure to return to growth. Last week it revealed a UK like-for-like sales decline of 1.1 per cent for the first half, prompting analysts to call for more drastic action from “Drastic Dave” Lewis. 
But not everyone is convinced by today’s move. 
Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said: “British shoppers know that the limited assortment discounters (LADs) are cheaper than the superstores and to focus only on matching prices of the Big Four is simply myopic to our minds.
“Why not scrap what was an increasingly meaningless ‘Price Promise’ altogether and just have confidence in the reality of Tesco’s price file – note; we contend that most people do not believ‎e when one supermarket says it is cheaper than another, especially when the LADs are so in reality.” 

 

Burberry makes key leadership team appointments

Burberry makes key leadership team appointmentBurberry has announced two new appointments within its leadership team.
In November Leanne Wood will take on the newly created role of chief people and corporate affairs officer. Reporting to Burberry chief creative and chief executive officer Christopher Bailey, she will be responsible for Burberry’s corporate affairs and human resources across the world.
Joining Burberry from Diageo where she has been group HR director since 2013, Wood’s prior roles at the drinks business include global talent and organisation effectiveness director and HR director for its various businesses in South East Asia, the UK, Ireland and Africa. She has also worked for Allied Domecq and LEK Strategy Consulting.
Burberry has also announced that Fumbi Chima will be joining the company in November as chief information officer, reporting to chief operating officer John Smith. The role oversees Burberry’s technology division and will include responsibility for the brand’s upcoming technology platform upgrades including SAP.
Chima was previously corporate vice president and chief information officer at Walmart Asia and has also held IT and technology positions at AMEX and JP Morgan. In addition, she has recently been selected as a member of the United Nations Digital taskforce.
Bailey said: “Both Leanne and Fumbi will play key roles in Burberry’s leadership team as we begin the implementation of our plans for increased customer focus and product and brand development in the coming years.” 

 

M&S alters plans for international expansion

Marks & Spencer is curbing its ambitions for international expansion in the wake of recent events in Eastern Europe and China. 
The British retailer has announced plans to pull out of Croatia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia, beginning in January, largely as a result of heightened tensions between Russia and the West. Expansion elsewhere in the world, meanwhile, has been tempered by uncertainty over Chinese economic growth. 
In 2014 CEO Marc Bolland announced that M&S aimed to open 250 stores overseas within three years. Those who were hopeful expected stores not only in Eastern Europe, but in higher profile markets such as Australia, which has seen several foreign chains such as Zara and Topshop set up shop for the first time in recent years. 
Last month, however, Marketing and International Director Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne said: “The world has shifted. The Syrian situation was very different from what it is today. Putin had not invaded Ukraine and China was growing at close to 9%. 
It’s reasonable in that context that you would expect a different outlook on the next three years for the company.” 
The 131 year-old business plans to close stores in the five Eastern European countries by May 2016, and the only link between M&S and Australia is a website. 
Yesterday an M&S spokesperson said: “We continue to closely manage our international business and take decisive actions as necessary to ensure our store portfolio is fit for the future of M&S.”  

 

This £70 Aldi supermarket fine is sending us off our trolley

I was furious when separate visits in the same car on the same day to an Aldi store on Nantwich Road near Crewe, in Cheshire, led to a parking charge notice from ParkingEye for £70. The maximum stay there is one-and-a-half hours.
My wife arrived first at 10.39am and left at around 11.30am (after spending £19.14 on groceries). I drove the same vehicle into the car park at around 4pm and left 10 minutes later. No purchase was made at that point, as I only called in to inquire about a fridge. I returned at approximately 4.30pm in a campervan (a more suitable vehicle) and bought the fridge assisted by a member of staff. There is obviously an assumption that the vehicle leaving at 4.10pm had been there since 10.39am.

The charge has cost two hours of my time rummaging through a recycling bin to retrieve the relevant receipts to prove the times of the visits.

Aldi’s car parks throughout the UK are managed by ParkingEye, and although the retailer encourages its shoppers who have been slapped with what they consider to be an unfair charge to complain directly (customer-services@aldi.co.uk), talkboards have been full of complaints about the mailbox being full up.
The time limit for free parking has also gradually been reduced and an hour-and-a-half is not long, particularly for older and infirm shoppers.
In your case, Aldi and ParkingEye have acknowledged that there was clearly a mix-up. An Aldi spokesperson said: “Our car parking system is set up to ensure that we can offer customers maximum car parking space. This includes preventing non-customers from misusing spaces. Aldi does not make any revenue from parking notices.
“We acknowledge that BD was incorrectly charged and ParkingEye has consequently cancelled his charge. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused him.”
We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Consumer Champions, Money, The Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number 

 

Facebook paid only £4,327 in UK tax last year – less than the average worker

Facebook’s UK operations paid only £4,327 in taxes last year, less than the average worker.
The small bill was despite the company being able to pay its 362 UK-based employees an average of £210,000 in pay and bonuses. It gave its London staff Facebook shares worth £35.4 million, according to the report, pushing its losses to £28.5 million and so hugely reducing its tax bill.
Many of its other profits from the UK are sent to its international headquarters in Ireland, which then puts them in the low-tax Cayman Islands, reports the Sunday Times.
Because of the measures that meant the UK business actually widened its losses, the business was able to reduce its tax bill.
The £4,327 of taxes paid in the UK is less than that paid by the average person in the country. A single person on the average wage of £26,500 would pay £3,180 in income tax and £2,213 in national insurance payments.
The tax bill is up from last year – when it paid no corporation tax at all, for the second year running.
Facebook reactions – Dislike?
Facebook’s UK staff were together paid £76.2 million, including salary and other bonuses. That averages out to over £210,000 each.
Facebook Inc, the parent company of the UK operations, reported at the beginning of the year that it had revenues of $12.5 billion in 2014, up 58 per cent from the year before. That translated into profits of $2.94 billion.
The company told The Sunday Times that it is “compliant with UK tax law and in fact all countries where we have employees and offices”. 

 

H&M to launch homeware concession in Selfridges

Fast fashion retailer H&M is to open its first Home concession store next week.

The new store-in-store will launch exclusively in Selfridges in the Trafford Centre on Thursday 15 October, creating 10 new jobs and taking up a sales area of over 650sq ft. Stock will be carefully selected H&M Home products, including premium bed linen, glassware, organic cotton cushion covers as well as miscellaneous homeware and decorations.
“We always strive to create inspiring shopping destinations and reach new customers and believe that Selfridges is the perfect location to launch our first H&M Home concession store globally,” said Carlos Duarte, Country Manager for H&M UK & Ireland.
“The store will offer specially selected H&M Home products, offering our most exclusive concepts.”
According to Manchester Evening News, customers will be treated to a special gift with purchase during the launch, as well as an interior decoration talk from Selfridges buying manager for Home, Geraldine James. 

 

First Look: Primark, Boston (pictures)

Move over H&M, Old Navy and Forever 21 — another retailer has entered the budget-friendly, fast-fashion marketplace.

Irish retailer Primark, a division of Associated British Foods PLC, has dropped anchor in the United States, opening a 77,000-sq.-ft. store in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. And more are in the works: Primark plans to open a total of eight U.S. stores by the end of 2016, with the next opening in King of Prussia Mall, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in November.
Operating more than 290 stores in 10 countries, Primark is known for its on-trend fashions (for men, women and children, as well as the home) and extremely low prices — prices that often are lower than its competitors.
DESIGN: The four-level Boston store is housed in the Burnham Building, site of the original Filene’s Basement, which closed in 2007. Primark restored much of the building, including the exposed brickwork and terra-cotta ceiling.

   

In line with the chain’s latest prototype, the new Primark has an open store plan and modern contemporary look. It has a high-energy feel, enhanced by neon signage and backlit photography. (London design firm Dalziel & Pow played a strategic role in the project.)
As is the case with the chain’s other stores, the store design references the surrounding local, including a “Hello Boston” mural depicting Boston landmarks.
Each floor has a lounge area equipped with smartphone charging stations and video monitors. Digital screens help convey the Primark brand story through fun illustrations and shout-outs from Primark’s global community. The dressing rooms are plentiful (there are 84 in all) and spacious.
In a move that some see as brave and others as foolhardy, Primark does not sell online. The retailer says that selling online would not be cost effective given how low its prices are. 

    
    
   

Coach opens first flagship store in Paris

Coach has recently inaugurated its first store in Paris on the prestigious Rue Saint Honore at number 372-374. The new Coach which store covers 600 sqm on two floors features an updated retail design concept which is likely to be implemented across future store openings.

With the occasion of the opening, Nigel Darwin, president of Coach Europe, told WWD he was eyeing Milan and Munich next, hoping to find good retail spots there “sooner rather than later.”
“Europe is trading extremely well. We see double-digit growth in the region, as the company is heading towards a 0.5-billion-dollar business, which we said was our short- to medium-term objective here,” the executive explained, citing a combination of direct business through flagships, wholesale growth as well as online as the strategy going forward.
Coach currently has more than 450 points of sale in North America, about 500 directly operated locations in Asia, and more than 30 in Europe. The brand also operates e-commerce in the U.S., in Canada, Japan, China and the U.K., which launched last week. 

    
   

Mall of Qatar Signs Mega Deal With Alshaya

Alshaya to bring over 30 global lifestyle and hospitality brands to Mall of Qatar to occupy around 18,000 sq. m

DOHA, Qatar, October 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ Qatar’s largest leisure, entertainment and shopping complex, Mall of Qatar has signed a leasing agreement with M.H. Alshaya Co., one of the world’s leading retail franchise operators to open more than 30 stores and restaurant outlets in the Mall of Qatar. The agreement with Alshaya was confirmed at a signing ceremony between Mr. Shem Krey, Managing Director and Mr. Rony Mourani, General Manager of the Mall of Qatar, and Mr. Wassim Arabi, Chief Executive Officer of M. H. Alshaya Co.
Winner of the Middle East Retailer of the Year Award in June 2015, Alshaya’s ever popular brands will occupy around 18,000 sq. m of the Mall. Collectively these brands will offer shoppers an exciting collection of well-loved international fashion & footwear, food, health & beauty, pharmacy, optics and home furnishings brands including Mothercare, H&M, Debenhams, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks and The Cheesecake Factory.
“Qatar is an important and growing market for us and we are very pleased to partner with Mall of Qatar to expand the range of retail, café and dining choices that we can offer to customers”, said John Hadden, Senior Vice President, Retail Property for Alshaya. “With more than 70 leading international brands in Alshaya’s portfolio we look forward to bringing traditional favourites, exciting new brands and outstanding new-look stores to this significant new addition to Qatar’s retail scene.”
Under the deal, the 32 household name brands that will join Mall of Qatar’s growing list of shops, cafes and restaurants include: Debenhams, Pinkberry, Bath & Body Works, Milano, Icing, American Eagle Outfitters, Vision Express, Jo Malone, River Island, Asha’s, Starbucks, PF Chang’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Texas Roadhouse, Payless ShoeSource, Boots, Claire’s, M.A.C, Foot Locker, Shake Shack, H&M, Miss Selfridge, Topshop, Phase Eight, The Body Shop, Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Babel, Pottery Barn, Raising Cane’s, Next and Mothercare.
Shem Krey, Managing Director of Mall of Qatar, commented: “The endless list of top lifestyle brands and popular eateries that Alshaya will open in the Mall will help to make it one of the biggest draws in the region as a lifestyle destination that has it all – where shoppers can soak up the very best in retail, leisure and entertainment all under one roof.” 

 

American Apparel files for bankruptcy protection

American Apparel has filed for bankruptcy protection to wipe out most of its debts and provide more breathing space for its restructuring.
American Apparel said 95pc of its secured lenders have given their blessing to the restructuring, which will see $200m-worth of bond liabilities wiped out while also bringing in $70m of fresh funding from the lenders.
As a result of the reorganisation, American Apparel’s debt will drop from $300m to $135m, the firm said, adding that it would cut its interest bill by $20m a year.
“Throughout the implementation of this process, American Apparel will continue to operate its business without interruption to customers, employees and vendors,” the firm said, adding that the restructuring will take about six months.
“By improving our financial footing, we will be able to refocus our business efforts on the execution of our turnaround strategy,” said chief executive Paula Schneider.
Over the summer, American Apparel reported a 17pc decline in quarterly sales and a net loss of $19.4m, which it blamed on a lack of new designs for spring and summer as well as its efforts to slash costs. The firm was also in breach of its debt covenants.
The US fashion retailer, which has shops in nine British cities, has built its brand on making all of its clothes in Los Angeles.
Mr Charney, the Canadian who founded American Apparel in 1989, has filed several lawsuits against the firm since it dismissed him for alleged misconduct last year.
American Apparel’s New York-listed shares have fallen from more than $2 two years ago to 11 cents last week. 

 

Hunter taking steps to become a global lifestyle brand

Hunter Boot’s sales were up 17% year-on-year in 2014 to £95.7m, boosted by the success of new product categories such as the Hunter Original Slide and significant spending on multiple divisions of the business. 
During a period of strong investment, the British footwear retailer bet on a new multi-language, multi-currency e-commerce platform, key hires, IT systems and operational infrastructure. It also established a Joint Venture with Japanese trading giant Itochu to develop the brand in the key Japanese market. 
In November, the 160 year-old company opened its first flagship store on London’s Regent Street, a three-floor shop designed as a contemporary take on an English country garden. 
The lifestyle brand has plans to open a store in Ginza, Tokyo in February next year and another in New York by the end of 2016. Much of Hunter’s business is still wholesale but having a physical presence in prime locations gives Hunter more power over its image.  
“We’ve never owned our own retail space…but the only place you can have control over people’s experience of the brand is in your own shops and digital channels, so for Hunter that’s really important,” Creative Director Alasdhair Willis told Creative Review. “We’ve also started a lot of work with retail partners to make sure the experience in their stores is being lifted to a level that I feel is closer to what I would expect. We want to make sure we have a clear, coherent, defined brand message.” 
Willis, who was brought on board in early 2013 has focused his efforts on separating Hunter’s products into key lines, retaining the traditional customers who seek performance-based products as well as new, younger customers who are trend-led and festival-goers. He is also responsible for putting Hunter on the map at London Fashion Week, which before his arrival, had not previously presented its collections on stage. 
“During 2014, we made significant progress in further developing Hunter from a single product business into a global lifestyle brand,” commented CEO James Seuss. We invested in the Direct to Consumer side of the business, opening our first flagship store in London and launching a new EU e-commerce platform, while at the same time we increased profit. The brand segmentation strategy set out by the business in 2013 is now in place with strong sell-through of new Hunter Original product categories, and the introduction of our new line, Hunter Field. We are currently on track to deliver further growth in 2015.”  

 

Closure of 60 B&Q stores imminent

B &Q has announced the closure of a further three stores in Northern Ireland after revealing its plans to close branches at Londonderry and Belfast. The home improvement retailer said that around 300 jobs would be affected.  

Kingfisher, B&Q’s parent company, is currently restructuring its presence in Britain, with plans to close 60 stores in the UK. In contrast, the Home and DIY giant outlined ambitions to open an additional 200 Screwfix stores in its half year trading update. The ‘One Kingfisher Plan’, created by CEO Veronique Laury, is the business’s attempt to unify and consolidate different aspects of the Kingfisher Group into a “single unified company where customer needs come first.” 
As part of a wider revival, Kingfisher is trimming as much fat as it can, with the aim to close a 15% chunk of its B&Q store estate by the 2016/17 financial year. For better or worse, things seem to be going to plan.  
At the time, the FTSE-100 listed company informed shareholders that a turnaround was proceeding smoothly.  
In a statement B&Q said that the decision to close the stores had “not been taken lightly” and that it would “endeavour to find positions for as many employees who are affected by the change as possible, either at the four remaining B&Q stores or elsewhere in the Kingfisher Group, such as at Screwfix.”  

 

Launch of Dubai Apple Store delayed

Apple on Tuesday posted 14 fresh jobs on its official website for retail operations in the UAE.

The first Apple Store in the Middle East at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates has been delayed for a month or two, sources told Khaleej Times.
The flagship store was supposed to open on September 28 along with the opening of a new expansion area in the mall.
The Cupertino-based company on Tuesday posted 14 fresh jobs on its official website for retail operations in the UAE.
The new jobs include Apple store leader program, store leader, inventory specialist, business specialist, creative, business manager, market leader, service specialist, genius, senior manager and manager, among others.
Earlier this month, Apple also advertised a few vacancies for sales and customer service experience among others. In March this year, the company advertised several positions in the UAE for sales, marketing and retail with job titles such as “Expert” and “Genius”.
Although the size and opening date of Apple’s first store in the Middle East is not yet confirmed by mall operator Majid Al Futtaim and the US company, Khaleej Times got the exact location of the store in the mall: shop number 489 on the second floor and it will be located between Italy’s fashion brand Fendi and Harvey Nichols.
Earlier this year, Apple opened its regional headquarters in Emaar Square in Dubai. In 2011, the company launched the Apple Online Store UAE that offers a range of products, such as iPhones, iPads, iPods and MacBooks.
Etisalat and du are the authorised distributors of iPhones in the UAE but a couple of key retailers buy smartphones directly from Apple.
Apple products are already being sold by its authorised resellers at around 100 locations across Dubai, including all terminals at Dubai International Airport.
Abu Dhabi’s newly-opened Yas Mall is likely to host the second Apple store in the UAE maybe next year, sources said. The space has been taken in the mall, they added.
It’s also rumoured that The Dubai Mall will host the second Apple store in Dubai. The company has more than 450 retail stores in 16 countries and online stores are available in 39 countries. The company opened its latest store on September 19 in Brussels, Belgium.