Monthly Archives: March 2016

Sales at Claire’s fall in Q4

Claire’s Stores blamed currency exchange rates and store cloures for its decrease in revenue in the fourth quarter.
The specialty retailer said that for the period ended Jan. 30, net sales were $402.6 million, a decrease of $9.8 million, or 2.4% compared to the fiscal 2014 fourth quarter. The company said the decrease was attributable to an unfavorable foreign currency translation effect of non-U.S. net sales, the effect of store closures, decreased shipments to franchisees and a 0.2% decrease in same store sales.
For the full year, net sales were $1.4 billion, a decrease of $91.4 million, or 6.1% compared to fiscal 2014. Same store sales decreased 1.2% in fiscal 2015. In North America, same store sales decreased 0.1% in fiscal 2015 while Europe same store sales decreased 3%. 
Adjusted EBITDA in fiscal 2015 was $217.3 million, compared to $248 million in fiscal 2014.  
The company operates through its stores under two brand names: Claire’s and Icing. As of Jan. 30, Claire’s Stores operated 2,867 stores in 17 countries throughout North America and Europe, excluding concession store locations.  


Galeries Lafayette set for redevelopment

Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette has announced that it will be working with British architecture studio AL_A to transform the ‘Cupola’ building of its flagship located on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris.
The redevelopment is part of the company’s strategy to build the ‘department store of the 21st century,’ with the aim of offering consumers a new shopping experience, and the remodelling of the 430,500 square foot store will start in early 2017.
AL_A, founded by Amanda Levete, has recently worked on projects for the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as the Selfridges store in Birmingham, were chosen for its “bold proposal and intuitive conceptual approach” that will “create a visionary metamorphosis of the department store’s main building, relying on tradition and modernity,” a press statement from Galeries Lafayette said.
Nicolas Houzé, chief executive officer of Galeries Lafayette and Bhv Marais said: “We are delighted to start this collaboration with Amanda Levete and her team to conduct the reinvention of this iconic Cupola building, which is also the soul of the Galeries Lafayette brand. Amanda has demonstrated her talent for radical thinking and reimagining built heritage, and I am confident that her innovative vision will serve our ambition to offer to our clients the department store of the 21st century.”
Amanda Levete, director of AL_A, added: “This store is an institution that has a special place in the life and identity of the city of Paris. Our commission is a fantastic opportunity to build on tradition to make a living contribution to the future of Galeries Lafayette and the cultural life of Paris.
“The exquisite craftsmanship of the original building and its location in the heart of Haussmann’s city are both elements we seek to celebrate as we move forward.”

Next-Generation’ Apple Store Opens in Memphis

Apple officially opened one of its first Jony Ive-inspired “next-generation” retail stores in the U.S. over the weekend. 
The new-look store is located at the Shops of Saddle Creek South in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, and shows off some of the new design elements, as shown in photos provided to AppleInsider. 
Memphis Apple Store The store is described as having a high-flung ceiling lined with light panels and spotlights, which illuminate product display tables that have been arranged to maximize floorspace and achieve a sense of openness. 
Memphis Apple Store The wooden tables have been redesigned by Ive and now contain motion sensors that operate a flip-up panel concealing power outlets and ports. 
Memphis Apple Store New wooden accessory display installations adorn the walls, and feature a headphone tryout area along with shelves for speakers, docks and other products. 
Apple Store screen Undoubtedly the biggest new addition though is a gigantic 37-foot display screen opposite the store’s all-glass frontage. The high-resolution array is encased in a black housing and fills almost the entire wall with its edge-to-edge display. 
Plans for the next-generation Memphis store were revealed in an August 2015 building permit application. 
In February 2015, The New Yorker ran a profile of Jony Ive which included details of the collaboration between Ive and retail chief Angela Ahrendts in coming up with the redesign, which is slowly being introduced in the company’s latest stores. 
In December, 60 Minutes viewers got a peek at Apple’s next-generation design when correspondent Charlie Rose spoke to Ahrendts in a mock store located in an unmarked warehouse off Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. 


Retail Chiefs Attack PM On Sunday Trading Plans

Britain’s biggest retailers have torn into Government proposals to extend Sunday trading hours, warning David Cameron that they would damage an already-embattled industry as MPs prepare to vote on the issue.
Sky News has learnt that the Prime Minister was “visibly taken aback” by the strength of feeling among high street chiefs who attended a summit in Downing Street last week.
The chief executives of J Sainsbury and Tesco, the managing director of John Lewis, and executives from Asda, Dixons Carphone and Marks & Spencer were among those present at the meeting.
A source said many of the bosses expressed anger at the Government’s approach to extending Sunday shop opening hours, arguing that the increase in their fixed costs – through higher wage bills and other overheads – would be covered by incremental revenues.
One retail executive said: “(The extension to) Sunday trading wasn’t something we or others were seeking and we are all concerned about the way it is being proposed, through devolution to local authorities, which has the potential to make this very complex.”
Another source said that Mr Cameron “appeared not to have been adequately briefed” about the industry’s concerns.
“He should not have been as surprised as he looked,” they said. 
“He appeared to be visibly taken aback”.
Andy Street, John Lewis’ managing director, is said to have been among those who criticised the Government’s handling of the reforms during the meeting with Mr Cameron.
In 2005, Mr Street – then John Lewis’s personnel director – wrote to staff saying that the group would support any move to extend the legal window of Sunday trading.
Whitehall insiders said Sainsbury’s and others had written to Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, in recent weeks opposing the Government’s plans, which would give local authorities in England and Wales the discretion to decide on large stores’ Sunday trading hours.
Sainsbury’s is among the major retailers which have questioned whether there is an appetite among consumers or retail-workers for the changes.
Wednesday’s Commons vote hangs in the balance after the Scottish National Party said its MPs would vote against the reforms because shop-workers north of the border could see their wages affected even though the longer Sunday opening would not apply there.
Scores of council leaders in England have backed the devolution of decision-making power, arguing that it will give local high streets greater flexibility to compete with the ubiquitous nature of online retailing.
The Commons vote comes at a brittle time for relations between the Government and big high street employers, with the British Retail Consortium warning last month that 900,000 jobs – a third of today’s total – could disappear from the sector over the next decade amid a cocktail of rising costs and greater competition.
Retailers have been angered by the planned introduction of the National Living Wage and the apprenticeships levy even as business rates remain stubbornly high.
They have also been pressed by Downing Street officials to back the campaign for the UK to stay in the European Union, but many have refused, saying they will remain neutral ahead of the referendum.
None of those who attended the meeting would comment. 


another Ikea store in Dubai within two years

Al Futtaim Group, the Ikea operator in the region, plans to open another store in Dubai in the next two years.
An Ikea official said that despite the challenging economic climate in the UAE, sales at the Swedish retailer had not been hit despite footfall at its stores in the emirates slowing between by 1 and 2 per cent so far this year.
However, its online offering doubled its sales last year compared with 2014 and its in-store restaurants have delivered huge growth.
“Even in 2008, when the fin­ancial crisis began, Ikea posted increasing sales,” said John Kersten, the managing director at Ikea for the UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman.
“Ikea does well in times of crisis. We know the retail climate is challenging as companies that we use are now offering deals that have not been available before.” He said Ikea sold three and half million plates of meatballs and 730,000 shawarmas in the UAE last year. “With those numbers we can keep prices very low,” Mr Kersten said.
The Swedish brand has posted double-digit growth in sales in its outlets across the UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman for the past four years.
Last year, the retailer also opened a customer ordering and collection point in Al Ain.
Yesterday Ikea said that it had chosen Abu Dhabi as one of three stores worldwide, including Canada and Sweden, to pilot a new store solution.
The “make a room for life” concept embraces the four walls of most people’s living spaces by offering a total design solution from floor to wall to ceiling and the soft furnishings in between.
The living room, a 2,500 square metre space at Ikea’s Yas Island store, is the first area to offer the experience, but the new concept will be rolled out across dining, bedroom and kitchens this year.
“We feel there was a lack of inspiration in Ikea. Everything has been created to inspire in the new concept.”
Mr Kersten added that the Arabic, Asian and Euro­pean-styled concept rooms would cater to the different tastes of the population in the UAE.
“[Abu Dhabi] was chosen as a pilot store because we saw from our experience in Qatar that the Ikea concept needs to be tailored to the locale,” he said.


 Another South African Company Targets A UK Retailer

Cape Town-based Foschini, With 2,000 stores in South Africa, is the latest South African company looking to the U.K. to diversify revenue sources as the rand weakens to around 23 percent against the dollar, the Telegraph reported.
An independent chain store, Foschini has 17 retail brands that it sells — mainly under its own private label — in clothing, jewelry, accessories, sporting and outdoor goods, cellular and home ware.
Foschini bought Phase Eight, a British women’s designer clothing brand in 2015 and now it’s after U.K. clothing brand Whistles, the Telegraph reported.
Whistles has 49 stores in the U.K. plus concessions in department stores including Selfridges, Harrods and Bloomingdales.
There are several prospective buyers and Whistles has asked advisers at professional services company KPMG to prepare for a sale, the Telegraph reported.
If a Whistles takeover happens, it will be the latest in a series of South African companies buying British retailers.
Acquisitions of Western businesses by overseas buyers are at an all time high and growing, according to New York City-based professional services firm Deloitte.
Mergers and acquisitions are becoming increasingly popular for foreign companies wanting to invest in the U.K., Deloitte said in “Investing in the UK: A guide for South African businesses”.
In 2015, Brait, the investment vehicle for South Africa’s richest billionaire, Christo Wiese, bought U.K. fashion retailer New Look in a $2.7 billion US deal.
Truworths acquired footwear business Office Retail Group for $363.8 million.
Steinhoff International recently entered a bidding war for British catalog retailer Argos and London-listed electrical retailer Darty.
Whistles CEO Jane Sheperdson bought a 20-percent stake in Whistles in 2008 and is credited with engineering its comeback.
Whistles has 49 stores in the UK and 76 concessions in shops including Selfridges, Harrods and Bloomingdales.
Foreign companies are becoming increasingly confident in their ability to finance and execute deals, according to Deloitte. “And foreign private equity acquirers, those who buy in to a company primarily as an investment rather than as an addition to their existing business, are becoming more established.”

Honey Birdette to enter UK this summer

The firm, which has 45 stores in Australia, is close to signing a deal on a store in Covent Garden and is looking at another to open by July this year. It is also looking to open stores in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris and Rome within the next 12 months, and enter the US at a later date, as part of a global rollout plan funded by its majority owner Australian retail group BB Retail Capital.
Honey Birdette was founded in 2006 by Eloise Monaghan offering premium lingerie and sex toys and entered a strategic partnership with BBRC in 2011. BBRC also has a stake in Australian accessories retailer Lovisa, which opened its first store at Trinity shopping centre in Leeds in December last year.
The lingerie firm’s stores are typically 430- 540 sq ft and feature premium décor such as a ”press for champagne” button. Retail prices start at £60 for a bra and £30 for a pair of briefs in its White Collection and £90 for a bra and £50 for a pair of briefs in its Black Collection. 


Sports Direct chairman defies calls to quit

Keith Hellawell has vowed to continue as chairman of Sports Direct in a snub to shareholders and campaigners calling for his head after the retailer’s relegation from the FTSE 100.

In an interview with the Guardian, the former chief constable suggested the retailer’s difficulties with the City were largely cosmetic, despite concerns over the group’s trading and its treatment of workers – as well as longstanding investor complaints including the influence of 55% shareholder Mike Ashley and the failure to hire a permanent finance director for two years.
Hellawell said: “Yes, I do [think I’m going to stay as chairman] … That is the plan, yes. I think there are a number of issues we are looking at in relation to the way in which we relate to the City – our investor relations certainly need to be improved. The issues in relation to corporate governance are very often overstated and they relate to the time we have been without a finance director, which we are resolving.”
Hellawell’s comments appeared to make light of City concerns about the company’s governance, which have resulted in investors pressing for the retailer to find a new chairman to challenge the dominance of Ashley.
On Wednesday, the Sports Direct shareholder Standard Life said in its annual report into corporate governance report: “In view of the continued failure of [Sports Direct’s] remuneration committee to address our concerns and in view of some wider concerns about the governance of the company, we voted against the re-election of the chairman, the senior independent director and the chairman of the remuneration committee [at the group’s last annual meeting in September] to emphasise the importance we attach to these matters.”
The protest votes came on top of comments at the time by another shareholder, Royal London Asset Management, which said it had lost confidence in the board. Before the meeting, the Investment Association issued a red-top alert on the company, its most severe warning to investors. Of Sports Direct’s independent shareholders who voted, almost a third refused to back the re-election of Hellawell as chairman.
Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of the Unite union, which has led a long-running campaign on the treatment of Sports Direct workers, said: “Keith Hellawell needs to consider his position. On his watch Sports Direct has become the poster boy for bad British business with a reputation for shady corporate governance and draconian working practices.
“The retailer needs to heed the message being delivered by the City with a fundamental rethink of its corporate structures and the way it treats its workforce. Otherwise investors will continue to turn their backs on a company that brings with it a stench of abuse and malpractice.”
Sports Direct’s relegation from the FTSE 100 was formally confirmed on Wednesday as part of the quarterly reshuffling of stock market indices based on Tuesday night’s closing prices. At that point, Sports Direct was ranked as the 142nd most valuable company on the main list of the London stock exchange, thereby demoting it to the FTSE 250 index of smaller companies.
The relegation came after a torrid three months in which £1.6bn was wiped from the retailer’s value after a slump in the group’s trading and an undercover Guardian investigation that revealed how thousands of temporary Sports Direct warehouse workers were receiving hourly rates in effect below the minimum wage.
The minimum wage disclosures prompted the Institute of Directors to brand the company a “scar on British business” and Labour’s former shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna to file an urgent parliamentary question, which resulted in the business minister, Nick Boles, being summoned to the Commons to answer questions on the scandal.
Sports Direct denied paying less than the minimum wage. It responded by announcing a pay rise for its staff, as well as a review of all agency staff terms and conditions, which was to be overseen by Ashley.
When asked for a progress report on the billionaire’s review, Hellawell said: “I think it’s still under review. He’s looking at a lot of things within the company particularly in relation to the way we reward our staff which, obviously, we regard quite highly. He reported to the last board on the work that was being done and he’ll report to the next board on further developments.
“We meet quite frequently. I think the next scheduled board – we’re probably going to meet within the next three or four weeks.” 


Amazon joins forces with Morrisons to deliver fresh food

In the coming months, hundreds of Morrisons products will be available to Amazon Prime Now and Amazon Pantry customers. Morrisons will provide a wholesale supply service to Amazon, allowing Amazon’s customers access to a wide range of Morrisons ambient, fresh and frozen products.
Morrisons said it is focussed on its six priorities to make the supermarkets strong again. In addition, it sees opportunity to build a broader business that complements its supermarkets and is consistent with its commitment to pursue capital light growth. Wholesale supply enables this by growing volumes and leveraging manufacturing, distribution and wholesale capabilities. 
“Today’s agreement is built on Morrisons unique strengths as a food maker,” said Morrisons Chief Exec David Potts. “The combination of our fresh food expertise with Amazon’s online and logistics capabilities is compelling. 
“This is a low risk and capital light wholesale supply arrangement that demonstrates the opportunity we have to become a broader business. We look forward to working with Amazon to develop and grow this partnership over the coming months.” 
In addition, Morrisons has been in discussions with Ocado to grow and an agreement in principle has been reached. This involves Morrisons taking space in Ocado’s new Customer Fulfilment Centre in Erith, and Ocado delivering a store pick solution for Morrisons that leverages Ocado’s technology and Morrisons store assets. When implemented, this would enable, working with Ocado, to sell to customers all over Great Britain.
This amended agreement is subject to detailed terms being agreed and will only proceed if it enables Morrisons to achieve profitable growth online. There can be no certainty that an agreement will be concluded. 


Starbucks to open in Italy

A trip to Milan and Verona in 1983 inspired Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Then the Marketing Director of Starbucks, which sold whole-bean coffee from a handful of stores in Seattle, became a global empire of coffee chains of which Italian espresso bar traditions are intrinsic. 
“The Italian had created the theatre, romance, art and magic of experiencing espresso,” Schultz recalled. “I was overwhelmed with a guy instinct that this is what we should be doing.”
It’s interesting then, that in the 33 years since Schultz’ visit, Starbucks has yet to foray into the Italian market itself. Until now. Come 2017, the beverage giant will begin opening Starbucks stores in Milan and other Italian cities, in partnership with Italian developer Percassi.
“Starbucks history is directly linked to the way the Italians created and executed the perfect shot of espresso,” Schultz explained. “Everything that we’ve done sits on the foundation of those wonderful experiences,” Schultz added. “Now we’re going to try, with great humility and respect, to share what we’ve been doing and what we’ve learned through our first retail presence in Italy. Our first store will be designed with painstaking detail and great respect for the Italian people and coffee culture. And, my hope is that we will create a sense of pride for our partners – so much so that every partner who sees our store or walks through the doors will say: ‘We got it right.'”  
Starbucks already has a presence in Europe, but it has not been as successful there as in other markets. The company entered Britain in 1998 and took 17 years to turn a profit. It will be a massive challenge to win over the Italian market but if anyone can do it, it’s Schultz.