Monthly Archives: January 2017
FURLA has opened its eighth and largest store in Moscow on the second level of Evropeysky shopping centre. The venue spans 150 square metres which makes it the largest premises of the brand’s in the Russian capital so far. In addition to the women’s line the store showcases its complete collection of accessories for men for the first time in Russia. The men´s line will also be available at GUM as well as online.
Dreams rolls out next generation store format
Dreams is rolling out a new store format, which it has piloted in Warrington. The aim of these stores is to offer a softer, more welcoming store environment whilst ensuring Dreams customers choose the right mattress for the best night’s sleep, and to showcase its on bedroom furniture and bed frames. The retailer has been working with Design4Retail for the last two years on the new format.
The store design takes customers on a step by step journey, making it as simple as possible for them to understand the Dreams offer and the ease with which they can make intuitive and easy buying decisions.
Storytelling is an integral part of the store, with brand and product messaging used to highlight product ranges and reaffirm the brands as having a UK-based factory where product is made. A friendly and informative graphic style is combined with more lifestyle imagery, illustrations and added tone of voice.
Design4Retail has utilised the previously used ‘Comfort by Colour’ mattress selector and replaced it with stronger creative, simplying the buying process and adding in large panels with a step by step guide and mattress examples.
To break up product groups and aid navigation around the store, the design team added in textured fret cut screens which are flexible enough to move around the store without blocking the view. Colour coding and imagery helps with product selection, while soft wooden frames around the store help tie everything together.
Upstairs features lifestyle imagery and highlighted bed frame features on ‘get the look’ type imagery. The same framing and fret cut paneling has been used to create a compelling back drop to products.
The new format will roll out to other Dreams stores over the coming months.
French raincoat retailer K-Way is poised to open its first-ever standalone store in the UK with a flagship in central London.
The brand already trades in the UK via online, but the store – slated to open in May – will be K-Way’s first foray into bricks-and-mortar retail in the country.
The iconic rainproof brand will take up a 1300sq ft shop in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden and will launch with the spring/summer 2017 range of predominantly menswear, alongside some women’s and children’s wear.
K-Way is the latest to join the likes of Oliver Sweeney and Fred Perry on Henrietta Street, which Capital & Counties Properties – better known as Capco – has repositioned to include a mix of casual retail and upmarket dining.
K-Way was established in 1965 in Paris, by Leon Claude Duhamel.
Italian luxury leather brand Tod’s opened its second store in Singapore at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. It is the first store with the new concept in Asia, preceded only by a boutique in London.
To mark the opening, the store features exclusive maroon editions of the Double T bag, Double T Gomminos and a men’s messenger bag, all marked discreetly with the location tag “Marina Bay Sands Singapore”.
There is also a range of accessories including alphabet charms allowing for personalisation.
Liffey Valley boss says centre is fighting fit after €630m takeover by Germany’s BVK
Interview: Denis O’Connell, Centre Director, Liffey Valley SC Denis O’Connell has been with Liffey Valley Shopping Centre since it was a plan on paper. He’s seen the highs of the boom and depths of the recession – when many retailers struggled just to make the rent. But he tells John Mulligan that despite a generally tough Christmas, the centre has been doing well, helped by a huge new Penneys store.
Published 26/01/2017 | 02:30
Dennis O’Connell, manager of Liffey Valley Shopping Centre1
Dennis O’Connell, manager of Liffey Valley Shopping Centre
It’s hard to imagine global mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor wandering about the Liffey Valley shopping centre and plonking himself down to have a coffee at Costa.
“You’d see him in Nando’s sometimes, having a bite to eat with his friends,” says Denis O’Connell, the director of the west Dublin shopping venue.
McGregor’s parents live in nearby Lucan. O’Connell says that when McGregor became really famous, he’d always take time out to let kids take selfies with him.
“I haven’t seen him here in about six months though,” says O’Connell, sounding a bit disappointed.
Maybe he could take on McGregor as a brand ambassador?
O’Connell isn’t too sure about that idea. At any rate, the time is past. McGregor might have been got for a steal a few years ago. Now he would break the bank.
O’Connell (48) has been working at the Liffey Valley centre – the third-biggest in the country after Dundrum and Blanchardstown, also both in the capital – since before it opened in 1998, he was brought on board as construction got under way. Within 18 months or so of it opening its doors, he became the centre director – a role he’s had ever since.
Controversy hung over the centre’s early years. The original planning for the site was the subject of intense interest at the Mahon Tribunal.
As we sat down to talk, news had just filtered through that Owen O’Callaghan – the original developer of Liffey Valley – had died the night before.
Today, with about 100 outlets and footfall of 8.6 million last year, the centre is owned by Germany’s largest public pensions group, Bayersche Versorgungskammer (BVK), for €630m, who bought the property last year.
It was sold by one of the original developers, Grosvenor, as well as US property giant Hines and a unit of HSBC. Hines and the HSBC unit had acquired a combined 73pc stake in Liffey Valley in 2014 from Aviva Investors for €250m, making for a stellar return on their investment.
The centre had been put up for sale in 2011 for €350m, but had failed to sell. A sale was close at the time, says O’Connell, but just couldn’t get past the post.
But they were dark times. The country was enduring a financial, social and economic implosion.
O’Connell almost shudders when he recalls it.
“The world crashed in 2008, but it didn’t really filter through here until about 2010 or 2011,” the Tullamore man says. “Our numbers (of visitors) dropped, albeit by small amounts – by 2.5pc or 3pc each year. But the spend got hit, particularly at premium outlets.”
Men’s fashion was worst hit.
O’Connell says concessions – on rents, in particular – were given, but only where retailers were prepared to let Liffey Valley management to see their accounts, and also what remedial action the retailers had taken themselves to stem declines. “We wanted to see audited accounts, cash flows, and business plans for the next three years,” he says. “Some objected strongly to showing us their accounts, so we couldn’t make arbitrary decisions on rents in their cases.”
The recession also saw the advent of new leases, with a 2009 act having banned any new upward-only rent reviews in leases. About 17pc of tenants at Liffey Valley are on such new leases and that first batch is now coming up for rent review. Most will probably face single-digit percentage increases.
Liffey Valley’s annual rent roll is between €30m and €35m. It had been closer to €40m during the boom. The centre – with a catchment of about 1.7 million people within a 30-minute drive – is anchored by Marks & Spencer and Dunnes Stores, with most of the usual suspects renting the other units. Liffey Valley is also home to the busiest cinema complex in the country – the 14-screen Vue.
“The best thing to come out of the recession in my view – it may sound like a cliche – is that there’s a lot more of a partnership approach between landlords and tenants, certainly here,” O’Connell says.
Interestingly, he says that while men’s fashion was worst hit during the recession, sales of formal wear have picked up since the recovery began.
“Sales of men’s formal wear – business suits – has picked up faster than casual wear,” he says. “There’s a Conor McGregor factor in there somewhere. Come back here in three weeks’ time when shopping for Confirmation kicks off. Kids are looking for three-piece tweed suits and dickie bows. It’s hilarious.”
According to the latest available data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the value of retail sales, excluding motor sales, rose 1.8pc in November, and 2.2pc on an annual basis.
The volume of retail sales, excluding motors, was up 0.6pc and 2.1pc respectively on that basis.
Industry group Retail Excellence Ireland sounded warnings just a couple of days before Christmas that the festive season had been “challenging” and on par with 2015.
Online sales had soared as shoppers took advantage of weak sterling, while telecoms, ladieswear, jewellery and footwear sales were “significantly down”, it said.
O’Connell, who worked in his father’s pharmacy as a youngster in Tullamore, says he would track REI’s assessment before the CSO’s, because REI is closer to retailers on the ground.
But despite REI’s gloomy report, O’Connell says that Christmas trading at Liffey Valley was pretty good, with a “very strong end” to the year. Footfall to the centre in December touched just under 1.4 million – a 16pc increase on December 2015.
Its sales of giftcards (a card that can be used in any store in the centre), jumped 17pc in December to €1.6m. Full-year sales of those giftcards were up about 13pc, at €3m.
“Things were tough coming into the last quarter,” he says, with things “improving slowly”.
He blames higher rents and soaring new car sales for having “sucked the money” out of retail.
New car sales hit their highest level in eight years in 2016, rising 17.4p on 2015 to 146,385.
Residential rents rose by almost 4pc in the third quarter of 2016, according to most recent report from Daft, making for an 11.7pc annual rate of rent inflation across the country – the highest recorded by Daft since it began compiling rent reports in 2002.
“Rent increases are taking disposable income away from retail,” he says.
“Within our catchment area rents have increased and there’s been virtually no housebuilding. So, people who are renting have no option but to pay more. Something has to give.
“The increase in new car sales – with PCPs (Personal Contract Plans) that are attractive – also takes away disposable income that might have historically been spent in places like this,” he adds.
But one of the things that has given Liffey Valley a huge boost is its first Penneys store (the chain is owned by UK-listed firm Associated British Foods, and trades as Primark outside Ireland).
Incredibly, the opening in early December of the massive outlet (with 54,000 sq ft of retail space) was the second-busiest opening of any Primark store ever, beaten only by the 2015 opening of the Grand Via Madrid outlet in Spain.
It’s hard to believe that Irish people – with 36 other Penneys outlets already in the country – flocked en masse to the new Liffey Valley shop on a Tuesday morning. O’Connell won’t say how much rent Penneys is paying, but industry insiders reckon it’s probably as high as €1.6m or €1.7m a year.
“The Penneys effect was massive for us,” says O’Connell, a former hotelier whose wife, Ingrid Ryan, is the centre manager of the Whitewater shopping centre in Newbridge, Co Kildare (in 2015, she was named All-Ireland Manager of the Year at the prestigious Spectre Awards in London).
“We knew it would bring a significant uplift in footfall to the scheme as a whole, but we didn’t anticipate the numbers,” he adds.
The Penneys outlet had 18,000 visitors on its opening day, and the centre itself attracted an extra 10,500 shoppers, making for 28,000 that day.
“And it has continued. The first week they opened, we were up 34pc. As December passed, we were still showing 16pc, 17pc or 19pc of an uplift. It’s been the same in January.” One of the reasons it took Penneys so long to arrive at Liffey Valley was the lack of a large space that it could take on. Liffey Valley spent €26m on an upgrade that involved a reconfiguration of the cinema and other works that gave Penneys the kind of space it wanted.
Liffey Valley also has plans for a €150m extension that would increase the size of the centre by about 50pc. It will also see the construction of an Olympic-sized ice-rink and viewing area.
That would give it the opportunity to attract retailers it doesn’t have and which want large spaces like those Penneys has. Spain’s Inditex, the owner of Zara, is one of those that O’Connell would like to see with a store in Liffey Valley.
Meanwhile, O’Connell says he hasn’t yet met with the new owners of the centre. The investment by BVK’s acquisition was made on its behalf by its investment manager, Universal Investment. Hines is continuing to act as asset and development manager for Liffey Valley.
Maybe if the new owners cause any trouble he can just give Conor McGregor a call.
Struggling teen retailer Wet Seal is closing all 171 of its stores.
In a letter dated January 20 that was obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the apparel retailer notified employees working in the company’s Irvine, California headquarters that the office was permanently shutting down and laying off all of its workers.
According to the Journal, Versa Capital, which acquired the brand for $7.5 million in cash in April 2015, couldn’t raise the necessary funding or find a buyer to keep the brand alive.
Wet Seal closed 338 of its then-511 stores in January 2015, shortly before the company filed for bankruptcy protection. Then, Wall Street analysts said that falling foot traffic at shopping malls played a major role in Wet Seal’s death spiral.
The teen retailer isn’t the only brand facing store closures as shoppers ditch malls.
Earlier in January, The Limited, another apparel brand primarily based in malls, shut down all 250 of its stores and laid off 4,000 workers. Mall staples Sears and Macy’s have also announced mass closures this year, with Sears planning to close 150 namesake stores and Kmart stores in 2017 and Macy’s planning to shutter another 100 stores.
Amazon.com and India’s Flipkart Online Services have reportedly walked away from talks to buy Dubai-based Souq.com after disagreeing over price.
Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that the e-commerce business is now seeking other potential investors and is negotiating with mall operator Majid Al Futtaim, citing people familiar with the matter.
It was reported in November that US giant Amazon.com was in talks to acquire Souq.com for about $1 billion to give it a footprint in the high-growth Middle East market.
Amazon was reportedly considering a bid for all of the site, which had initially planned to sell a stake of at least 30 percent.
Bloomberg said a spokesman for Majid Al Futtaim declined to comment, while Amazon and Flipkart didn’t immediately return requests for comment and Souq.com wasn’t immediately available to comment.
In September, Souq.com, the largest online retailer in the Middle East, was planning to sell a stake of 30 percent and had appointed advisers at Goldman Sachs Group to find buyers for the stake.
In February, Souq.com announced it had completed a funding round of more than AED1 billion ($275 million), the largest financing of an e-commerce business in the region.
South Africa’s Mr Price reported lower third-quarter sales on Tuesday, as weak economic growth and tough competition forced the no-frills retailer to sell its clothing at lower prices.
* Total retail sales of 6.1 billion rand for the three months to end-December, 0.5 percent lower than the corresponding period in 2015.
* The difficult trading environment has extended into the second half of the year, Mr Price said in a statement.
* Sales by the firm’s apparel division down 1.9 percent and 4.1 lower when measured against comparable stores.
* Higher promotional markdowns were required, particularly in the apparel division, Mr Price said.
* “Poor economic growth, low levels of consumer confidence and higher selling prices driven by a weak and volatile exchange rate has resulted in a very competitive retail environment, with persisting high levels of price discounting and promotional activity,” the firm said.
* Other South African clothing retailers Woolworths Holdings and Truworths International last week flagged a drop in half-year profit.
* “Looking ahead, any improvement in economic growth and consumer health is likely to be gradual,” Mr Price said.
In the nine months to December 24, TFG reported a 14.5% rise in group sales.
Between November 27 and December 24 of 2016, sales increased by 14.6% compared with the year-earlier period.
Growth for TFG International was 47.9% in sterling, and growth for TFG Africa was 11.5% with same-store growth of 5.6%. Price inflation in the Africa division averaged 8.5%.
TFG’s results are a welcome surprise after updates from Woolworths and Truworths sparked fear of a further downturn in the retail sector.
TFG’s broader range of merchandise categories compared with its retail peers has cushioned it against the economic headwinds that have depressed the retail sector.
Its brands include apparel retailers Markham, Due South and G-Star Raw, jewellery brands Sterns and American Swiss, and furniture store @home.
Last week Truworths reported a 21% increase in group sales for the 26 weeks to December 25, to R10.2bn (including sales from its UK fashion footwear chain Office Retail Group). However, Truworths’ like-for-like retail sales (excluding Office Retail Group) decreased by 3%.
Woolworths reported a volume decline in both the clothing and food divisions in the 26 weeks to December 25.
At 11.15am on Monday, the TFG share price was up 5.91% at R169.49, valuing the company at about R35bn.
The Growth Retailer Award, the winner of which will be revealed at the on March 9, is representative of entrepreneurial retailers that are growing fast.
Here, in alphabetical order, is the 10-strong shortlist.
Boux Avenue’s UK sales have grown to reached the £35m milestone in the year to March 2015.
Lingerie retailer Boux Avenue was established by retail entrepreneur and former Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis in 2011.
As a relative newcomer, Boux Avenue has been able to build its store network relevant to the multichannel world.
It has already established a credible nationwide presence with close to 30 stores, has launched 14 international franchise stores and has ambitious plans for further international expansion.
Paphitis is highly experienced in the lingerie sector, having launched the La Senza chain in the UK in the 1990s before selling it on in 2006.
The motivation behind the launch of Boux Avenue was that he perceived there to be a gap in the market for a mid-market retailer that put great emphasis on the shopping experience.
Boux Avenue’s UK sales have grown to reach the £35m milestone in the year to March 2015.
The clothing specialist was founded in 1952 but is a very modern retailer.
While it still trades from a store in Tunbridge Wells, it has adapted to carve itself out a strong position in ecommerce and describes itself as “the world’s largest online store for designer childrenswear”. It reported sales of £41.4m in 2015.
Childrensalon sells 270 brands ranging from well-known names such as Burberry and Gucci to smaller, emerging labels.
The retailer has featured in successive years in the London Stock Exchange’s ’1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ report.
The etailer is able to offer smaller retailers high exposure and relatively low shipping costs.
Farfetch operates an online fashion website that acts as a portal to more than 400 independent boutiques and showcases more than 1,000 brands. It arranges collection from these boutiques and has them delivered to its customers.
The company says it “brings together the world’s best independent boutiques, offering customers a vast selection of designer pieces curated by some of the most renowned, exciting and unique buyers in the fashion industry”.
The etailer is able to offer smaller retailers high exposure and relatively low shipping costs, while at the same time providing its mainly affluent customer base with a deep range.
Farfetch has also made a move into physical retailing through the acquisition of the London-based Browns boutique. This store is used as an ‘incubator lab’ to test new retail technologies.
The etailer achieved turnover of £87.1m in 2015, but gross sales through the website amounted to just over £300m.
Green Man Gaming
Etailer Green Man Gaming is a videogames specialist launched in 2009 by founder and chief executive Paul Sulyok.
His aim is “to challenge and revolutionise the consumer offer in a digital games retail space”.
Green Man Gaming works with more than 500 publishers, developers and distributors of games in 190 countries, and has created an online community that connects gamers and rewards them for their involvement.
Green Man Gaming is currently tracking 200,000,000 gamers, which Sulyok told last year’s Retail Week Buzz conference allows the business to treat its customers as individuals.
He said: “It is absolutely key for what we do, to understand our customers on a deeper level. Our customers were all born after 1980 and their expectations are higher than the rest of the nation.”
Its overall sales stood at £29.6m in 2015.
Making furniture buying as simple and convenient as possible is at the heart of the Loaf strategy.
Loaf is a fast-growing online furniture retailer. Its mission is to make the buying and delivery process as simple and hassle-free as possible for its customers.
Founded by Charlie Marshall in 2008, the retailer originally sold a limited range of beds. But the offer has been widened and now covers furniture and accessories for the whole house.
Making furniture buying as simple and convenient as possible is at the heart of the Loaf strategy. Its proposition is based on the relationship between commerce and content.
Loaf is now having a massive push on full multichannel development and is driving ahead with the development of a series of Loaf Shacks – relaxed retail destinations where customers have the opportunity to “loaf around” on the products and try them out at first hand.
Marshall, who still heads up the business, said “Loaf’s move to bricks and clicks is all about reaffirming our brand and giving customers a fantastic experience”.
Retail sales stood at £26.9m in 2015/16 and Loaf aims to hit the £100m mark in the next few years.
Made completed a £38m funding round in July 2015 which is helping to accelerate its expansion plans.
Made.com is an online furniture retailer that offers designer furniture at more affordable prices. Costs are kept low by grouping together all orders once a week and sourcing directly from overseas factories.
Its mission is to become Europe’s number-one online destination for home design and make great design accessible to everyone.
Made.com has set itself apart from other furniture retailers through the merging of commerce and content on its website. It also hosts Unboxed – an online forum where customers share photos of their furniture.
Made.com has expanded internationally into France, Italy, the Netherlands and, most recently, Germany and Belgium. In 2015, overseas sales accounted for approximately 30% of its overall turnover of £61.6m.
The etailer completed a £38m funding round in July 2015, which is helping to accelerate its expansion plans.
Matchesfashion.com is a luxury fashion retailer offering more than 450 designer labels.
Founded by Ruth and Tom Chapman as Matches in 1987, the business has transitioned from a bricks-and-mortar operation into a multichannel player that now generates 84% of its sales online.
It currently trades through four Matchesfashion stores and also operates seven franchise stores for the Max Mara and Diane von Furstenberg brands.
Matchesfashion’s ultimate aim is to make the physical more digital and the digital more physical. To that end it has invested in store technology such as tablets that provide access to the full online range and mobile points of sale.
Online customers also have access to a team of online stylists that are available 24/7.
Ruth and Tom Chapman stepped down from the day-to-day running of the business to become joint chairmen in July 2015, when Ulric Jerome – the founder of electricals site Pixmania – took over as chief executive.
Matchesfashion’s sales stood at £126.9m in the year to January 2016.
Founded by Nitin Passi in 2009, Missguided sales reached £117.2m in 2015/16 and it now delivers to 160 countries.
Missguided is a rapidly growing fast-fashion etailer targeting the 16- to 34-year-old female market with a range of celebrity-inspired, affordable clothing.
The etailer describes itself not as fast fashion, but a “rapid fashion specialist that celebrates everything it means to be a girl in a digitally immersed world today”.
Founded by Nitin Passi in 2009, sales reached £117.2m in 2015/16 and it now delivers to 160 countries.
It has also dipped its toes into physical retailing through concessions in department stores and opened a first standalone store in the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in November 2016.
Speed to market and value for money are at the heart of Missguided’s offer. The retailer says on its website that it has “thousands of styles live at one time and fresh new threads hitting down every single day”.
Typically there are 250 new catwalk-inspired items per week.
Passi said in an interview in May 2015 that he believes Missguided can generate turnover of £1bn within five years.
Notonthehighstreet is a curated online marketplace focusing on handcrafted and unique gifts that has undergone a period of rapid growth since it was founded in 2006.
As part of a three-year plan outlined in 2014, Notonthehighstreet is seeking to widen the appeal of the site beyond its core audience of females and to become more gender-neutral.
It hopes to achieve that by increasing the number of male sellers on its site as well as by raising brand awareness among men through its marketing.
Notonthehighstreet is also in the process of diversifying its offer into the wider lifestyle market as it looks to reduce the seasonality of the business.
The business reported sales of £38.7m in the year to March 2016, while gross sales through its website amounted to £158.6m.
Oak Furniture Land
Oak Furniture Land launched a US site – Oakfurnitureland.com – in summer 2016, which is reported to have shown a “healthy growth” in sales.
Hardwood specialist Oak Furniture Land was founded by Jason Bannister in 2004.
It originally started out by selling on eBay, but by 2006 established its own ecommerce sites and made a move into physical showrooms in 2010.
It has since undergone a rapid store-opening programme and was trading through 71 outlets at the end of its last financial year, during which it notched up sales of just under £240m.
Offering low prices is an important part of Oak Furniture Land’s proposition, and in order to do this it contains costs across all stages of the supply chain.
This has been helped by a degree of vertical integration, which includes the use of an in-house delivery service.
The retailer is now also active internationally. It launched a US site – Oakfurnitureland.com – in summer 2016, which is reported to have shown a “healthy growth” in sales.
The growth retailer award, a non-entered category, is based on a ranking of retailers with the fastest-growing sales. The shortlist is drawn from retailers that had sales of at least £25m in their latest available accounts. They must be privately owned and registered in the UK. Calculations are based on the latest available accounts for each retailer as of December 2016.
Sales over the Christmas period were particularly strong, aided by a favourable trading pattern.
The company said its new ‘Balanced Choice’ bakes proved very popular along with hot food options such as its new burritos.
The results mean that company managed shop like-for-like sales climbed by 4.2% in the 52 weeks to 31 December. Total sales rose by 7%.
During the year Greggs opend 145 new shops and closed 79 to leave a total 1,764 shops trading as at 31 December. It also converted a further 208 shops to its new “bakery food-on-the-go” format.
Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “We finished 2016 well, delivering our thirteenth consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth, and anticipate that we will report full year results for 2016 slightly ahead of our previous expectations.
“In the year ahead, whilst we will undoubtedly see a number of well-documented industry headwinds, we are confident we will continue to make progress with the implementation of our strategic plan, including significant investment in our capability to supply a growing shop estate.”
Barton originally joined Well in March 2015 in the position of human resources director before becoming the interim retail stores director in October last year. She was appointed to the role on a permanent basis earlier this month.
Prior to Well, Barton worked at the Asda supermarket chain where her roles included senior director of organisational effectiveness and head of people. She was also trading law director at One Stop Stores.
In her new position, she will report directly to Well chief executive John Nuttall and will be responsible for growing Well’s prescription business and ensuring good retail standards.
Commenting on the appointment, Nuttall said: Tracy’s track record of bringing forward improvements to services, as well as her reputation for developing relations with staff and stakeholders, were key reasons for her permanent appointment to the role as retail stores director.
“Her exceptional leadership skills, deep knowledge of consumer retail, and proven track record of execution and operational excellence, made Tracy an obvious choice.”
Well operates 780 pharmacies across the UK.
The company grews its sales by 27% year-on-year in the six weeks prior to Christmas. Customer volumes climbed by 28% on the same period in the previous year.
During the week immediately after Christmas the company celebrated an all-time record week with sales up 51%.
Joes Browns managing director and founder Simon Brown said: “We held our nerve not discounting early with many other brands. We sat around the table and agreed we had a strong range offering great value for money, so the ‘D’ word was strictly off the table.
“I whole heartedly agree with the stance taken by the likes of Fat Face and Jigsaw who recently quoted ‘reduced by nothing – standing for something’. I couldn’t agree more and giving the customer something different and exactly what they want has worked well for us.”
Lebanese actress Nadine Nassib Njeim joins forces with Saudi fashion brand
Jeddah-based fashion label femi9 has partnered with Lebanese actress and former Miss Lebanon, Nadine Nassib Njeim. The new brand ambassador has designed a collection, titled Selectedbynadine, with Femi9, which will be unveiled this Thursday, January 19 at a VIP event in Dubai.
Femi9 has been in business since 1999, and now has retail outlets in the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and even Switzerland. The collection with Nassib Njeim features a colour palette dominated by reds, blacks and whites, in feminine silhouettes that embody a festive, Mediterranean-inspired spirit.
“I am thrilled to announce my brand ambassadorship with femi9; there is a perfect fit between me and the femi9 woman,” says Njeim. “Femi9 is like my ideal wardrobe as it caters to the dynamism of my life and the various roles I take on a daily basis: a mother, an actress and a woman, who just loves fashion.”
Femi9 stores in the UAE are located in Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi and Sahara Center in Sharjah.
Fathima opens flagship hypermarket in Dubai
Fathima Group, a UAE-based retail major, opened its largest hypermarket in Dubai, UAE in line with its wider growth plan in the GCC retail sector.
The new hypermarket, spanning over a massive area of 35,000 sq ft, is located on Khalid Bin Walid Street in Bur Dubai.
Fathima Group of Companies is one of the oldest companies in the UAE with operations in 22 business verticals and a number of own brands to its portfolio. The Group operates a chain of hypermarkets, supermarkets and department stores that enjoy a strong brand recognition and reputation among shoppers across the GCC and India.
Brigadier Dr Matar Hameed Al Shamsi from Ajman Police General Headquarters inaugurated the new hypermarket in the presence of Fathima Group chairman E P Moosa Haji, managing director E P Sulaiman Haji, CEO Sameer Sulaiman and other senior dignitaries.
Moosa Haji said: “We are proud to open our flagship hypermarket in the heart of Dubai aimed at serving residents in the busy Bur Dubai area. We continue to grow our hypermarket chain in the UAE and beyond with the addition of four more outlets that would address the current demand for convenient stores in the region and India.”
“We are extremely grateful to the visionary Rulers and people of this country, the foundation of our business that started out in 1968 in Abu Dhabi and grew together being encouraged in all our expansion strategies and efforts. We have seen a steady growth in our retail business and hope to keep the momentum. Over the years, we have achieved great success with over 3,000 employees and tens of thousands of loyal shoppers,” he added.
Sameer Sulaiman said: “We are opening here in one of the most populated areas of Dubai with dedicated service to ensure our shoppers a comfortable and complete shopping experience. We are committed to ensuring great service and convenience to all our shoppers. Consistent growth in our business has bought in remarkable changes over the years. Quality, consistency and sustainability are the hallmark of our value system that has been cascaded across the organization at all times. We have streamlined our operations to create a high level of efficiency that delivers the best quality products to our shoppers at competitive price.”
“We hope this is the right time for us to open more outlets to provide value to the shoppers. Fathima Group also wants to be present in locations that would be beneficial to our shoppers. The four new hypermarkets to be rolled out by Fathima Group in the near future are planned in Sharfiya, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Sobha City – Thrissur in India; Ras Al Khaimah, and Sharjah in the UAE. These outlets would focus on grocery, fresh fruit and vegetables, electronics, household appliances, fashion garments, luggage and other daily need products with a product range that are tailored to the large multinational population in these regions,” he elaborated.
The new hypermarket, laid out with the best facilities for the convenience of shoppers and product variety in mind, offers a range of world-class products and brands at the fairest price. The outlet is spread in two levels showcasing everything from grocery, foodstuff including fresh fruits and vegetables, bakery, fish, meat and poultry, roastery to household items and health & beauty products on the Ground level.
The Second level displays fashion garments and footwear for men, women and children, in addition to consumer electronics, mobile, fashion jewellery and accessories, among other things. The Ground Floor also houses Al Ghurair Money Exchange, Smart Travels, Life Pharmacy, Hot Food from Bombay Chowpatty. – TradeArabia News Service
Lisney Annual Review 2016 & Property Outlook 2017
Mall operator Majid Al Futtaim has announced that it will open a new distribution centre at the National Industries Park in Dubai.
The centre, once operational, will be the largest and most advanced distribution hub of its kind for Carrefour in the region, the company said in a statement.
The facility is being built on a land area of 1.5 million square feet and covers a built-up area of over 800,000 square feet, almost four times the size of Carrefour’s current largest distribution centre building in the region.
The centre will also feature advanced warehousing, storage and logistics technologies.
The multi-temperature storage at the new distribution centre is designed to meet the storage needs of the different food types including fruits, vegetables, meat and dry foods as well as warehousing for non-food goods, the statement said.
It added that with a total storage capacity of over 400 million units, the new distribution hub is expected to save over 50 percent energy per cubic metre and manage more than 150,000 orders per day to support Carrefour’s brick and mortar stores in addition to the omni-channel business of Carrefour.
Miguel Povedano, executive regional director, Carrefour UAE, said: “With our new distribution centre in NIP, we have significantly expanded our operational capabilities in the region in terms of storage facilities as well as technological infrastructure.
“We continue to look at the Middle East and North Africa as one of the key growth regions for Carrefour and one that we will continue to invest in over the coming years. We are confident that this new facility will help us deliver even better quality of products and services to our customers.”
South Africa’s Truworths flags lower H1 profit on tighter credit rules
Pedestrians walk past a branch of South African clothing retailer Truworths in Cape Town
Pedestrians walk past a branch of South African clothing retailer Truworths, in central Cape Town, February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African clothing retailer Truworths International expects lower half-year profit as in-store credit sales stalled due to tougher regulations, the firm said on Thursday.
Truworths said diluted headline earnings per share for the 26 weeks to 25 December will decrease to between 380.6 cents and 397.9 cents per share, up to 6 percent lower than in the corresponding period in 2015.
The firm said new credit affordability assessment regulations – rules introduced by South Africa in 2015 that require banking statements and proof of income – weighed on sales.
South African clothing and furniture retailers rely heavily on in-store credit cards to boost sales in a sluggish economy.
Truworths said its total retail sales rose 21 percent to 10.2 billion rand ($756 million), but cash sales accounted for all of the growth, while credit sales remained unchanged.
“Increased pressure on consumers from rising inflation, especially in food prices, and a weak employment market characterised by job losses and soft real growth in incomes have also impacted the Group’s performance,” Truworths said in a statement.
The trading update was released after the close of trading on the JSE.
Woolworths suffered a sharp slowdown in Christmas sales growth. Excluding a R3.8bn windfall from the sale of David Jones’s Sydney head office, the retail chain expects to report a decline in interim earnings.
Basic earnings for the 26 weeks to December 25 are expected to be boosted by between 30% and 40% from the matching period’s 253.7c by the A$360m sale of David Jones’s head office in August.
But headline earnings, which exclude the property sale, were expected to decline by up to 7.5%, Woolworths said in a trading update on Thursday morning.
Woolworths is scheduled to release its interim results on about February 16.
Overall group sales growth for the 26 weeks to Christmas Day was 6.7% — less than half the matching period’s 17.1%. The previous year’s interim sales figures were boosted by the inclusion of Australian acquisition David Jones. Excluding David Jones, group sales grew 12.3% for the 26 weeks to December 27 2015.
Woolworths blamed the exclusion of Boxing Day from the first-half figures for its 2017 financial year for part of its lacklustre sales growth figures.
The group’s clothing and general merchandise sales growth slowed to 3.5% from the matching period’s 11.7%. Excluding new stores, sales grew 1.2%. Net retail space allocated to clothing and general merchandise expanded by 2.9%.
Food sales were up 9.5%, down from the matching period’s 12.1%. Excluding new stores, food sales grew 5.6% and retail space grew by a net 7.9%.
Sale inventory was therefore 22% lower than prior year which enabled the retailer to launch its Spring range two weeks early
FatFace enjoyed a record week of full price sales in the final week before Christmas.
Anthony Thompson, chief executive of FatFace, said: “We are pleased to report another good trading performance despite a challenging retail environment.
“The November ‘Price Promise’, guaranteeing prices up until Christmas, clearly resonated with our customers, as evidenced by the 7.9% increase in full price sales on the prior year.
“Our focus on improved quality, design innovation and more choice of luxury yarns, fabric and gifting was also received well, and provides opportunity to further enhance our offer in coming seasons.”
Looking at current trading, Thompson said currency devaluation, consumer uncertainty and cost inflation are contributing to an already challenging environment. He added: “We remain confident that with our focus on quality, design modernity and value for money we will remain resilient and become even stronger in a weaker market.”
FatFace’s new distribution centre is on track to open during 2017 and the retailer is planning to open around eight to 12 new stores in the UK and US this year.
During the six weeks to 31 December, Waitrose’s gross sales excluding fuel rose by 4.8% to £914.9 million with like-for-like sales growth of 2.8%.
Meanwhile, gross sales at John Lewis were up 4.9% to £998.1 million with a 2.7% increase in like-for-like sales.
At John Lewis the channel mix saw a continued shift to online. Shopping on mobile phones was the online channel of choice with sales up 80.9% and accounting for 37% of all traffic. Click & collect sales rose by 14.5%. Shop sales were up, trading well pre-Christmas as last-minute shopping delivered a record week for branches.
Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “We traded strongly over Christmas with sales up nearly 5% and both Waitrose and John Lewis grew market share.
“Sales were particularly strong in the areas that have been the focus for product innovation this year, such as our Waitrose 1 premium range and John Lewis own-brand fashion.
“Our multi-channel capability has again proved its worth with online accounting for 40% of total sales in John Lewis.”
The retailer said its pre-tax profit before Partnership Bonus and exceptional items for the year to 28 January is expected to be up on last year with lower pension accounting charges offsetting trading pressures on profit.
Its Partnership Board will decide on the level of staff Bonus in March but the company said it is likely to be “significantly lower” than last year due to a challenging market outlook and its focus for investment for the future.
Mayfield added: “Although we expect to report profits up on last year, trading profit is under pressure. This reflects the greater changes taking place across the retail sector. We expect those to quicken, especially in the next 12 months as the effects of weaker Sterling feed through.
“We will now accelerate aspects of our strategy. This will involve a period of significant change, investment and innovation to ensure the Partnership’s success.”
Retail group, which also includes Waitrose, reports strong Christmas but says retailers will face rising costs from brexit
John Lewis’s chairman says he expects ‘a period of significant change’. Photograph: Sean Dempsey/PA
John Lewis has warned that its annual bonus for staff will be significantly lower than last year as it prepares to take a hit from the post-Brexit slump in sterling.
Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the staff-owned group, which includes Waitrose, said he anticipated a “challenging” year ahead as retailers would have to absorb a big chunk of the rising cost of importing goods just as they are coping with shoppers’ shift to buying online.
“Sterling, I think, is the dog that hasn’t really barked,” said Mayfield. He said a near-20% drop in the value of the pound had yet to affect most businesses because they had bought currency six months to a year in advance.
But he warned that would now begin to unwind: “My view is quite a lot of [the increased costs] will be absorbed by retailers as we are in an increasingly competitive market place with excess of retail space. Even if it is passed on to customers it is not necessarily a good thing as it will dampen demand especially if we see a swing in inflation versus wage growth.”
Mayfield said the devaluation of sterling was “one of the most significant factors overhanging the outlook for the year ahead.”
This will be the fourth consecutive year that the group, which is collectively owned by its staff, has reduced the payout, but it is highly unusual for it to cut the bonus when profits rise. Last year its 91,500 employees, known as partners, were awarded bonuses of 10% of salary, the lowest for 13 years, averaging just over £1,500 each.
The bonus payout started in 1920. It was suspended during the second world war and the early 1950s recession, and peaked at 24% of salary in the 1980s. The highest payout in recent years was 18% in 2011.
John Lewis staff cheer their 18% bonus in 2011; it is likely to be less than 10% this year.
John Lewis staff cheer their 18% bonus in 2011; it is likely to be less than 10% this year. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters
Its decision to cut the payout comes despite a strong Christmas and expectations of higher profits for the year to the end of January, thanks to lower pension costs.
Sales for the John Lewis department store business, including online, rose by 2.7% in the six weeks to 31 December as the group enjoyed strong trading in fashion and homewares. Online sales soared nearly 12% while store sales rose 0.8%, helped by the opening of two new outlets.
The Waitrose chain also had a strong Christmas with sales at established stores up by 2.8% over the period, partly thanks to strong trading at the group’s growing network of in-store cafes and restaurants. Sales of its premium Waitrose 1 range, which includes specialities such as Sicilian lemon meringue eclairs, rose more than 21%.
Mayfield said: “Although we expect to report profits up on last year, trading profit is under pressure. This reflects the greater changes taking place across the retail sector.”
The shift towards online sales hits profits because of the cost of home deliveries and returns. Nick Bubb, an independent retail analyst, said John Lewis’s never knowingly undersold price-matching scheme was also likely to have cost the company profit margin as discounting across the market increased ahead of Christmas.
Mayfield said the group would have to lift investment in product innovations, such as its premium Waitrose 1 food line or Modern Rarity fashion label, as well as developing infrastructure to cope with rising demand for online shopping. He said the group would also be investing more in its existing stores to ensure they could continue to attract shoppers.
About 40% of John Lewis’s sales were online over Christmas, up from 36% last year, and Mayfield said there was no sign of a slowdown in the pace of growth. He predicted that the department store, whose new boss Paula Nickolds takes the helm this month, was likely to book half its sales via the internet ahead of the 2020 deadline previously expected.
Mayfield said that John Lewis’s board had a responsibility to look at the long term rather than maintain the bonus for staff.
“We have to strike a balance and we believe it is right to retain a bit more profit in order to invest in the future of the business,” he said.
Dubai’s retail sector added about 260,000 square metres of new space in 2016, the highest volume since 2010, according to consultants JLL.
Its Year In Review 2016 report said Q4 saw the completion of about 20,000 square metres of retail space in the Dubai Festival City expansion while other notable completions throughout the year were phase 2 of The Avenue in City Walk and the Ibn Battuta Mall phase 2.
It also said that retail sales in neighbouring Abu Dhabi are likely to remain under pressure in 2017 despite no major malls being scheduled for completion in the UAE capital this year.
JLL added mall rents in Abu Dhabi are unlikely to change significantly over the next 12 months as new supply remains stagnant.
It said no major mall completions occurred in the UAE capital throughout 2016, with total stock remaining at about 2.6 million square metres.
JLL added that approximately 85,000 square metres of retail space is scheduled for completion in 2017, mostly within residential communities or towers.
Craig Plumb, head of research at JLL MENA, said: “Despite a number of retailers reporting a decline of sales during 2016, average retail rents remained unchanged in the primary malls of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
“In Dubai, retail rents are expected to remain stable in prime malls, but could soften in secondary locations as new supply enters the market.”
The JLL report also said that Dubai’s hotel market witnessed the completion of approximately 7,000 rooms in 2016, bringing the total hotel stock to 79,000 keys.
About 14,000 keys are currently scheduled to be handed over in 2017, but these are unlikely to all materialise in time, it added.
Abu Dhabi saw the introduction of about 1,000 hotel keys throughout 2016, bringing total hotel supply to 21,400 keys while another 2,000 hotel keys are expected to be handed over in 2017.
JLL added that Abu Dhabi’s hospitality sector has suffered from a reduction in corporate demand, driven by the decline in oil prices, reduced government spending and corporate consolidation. This has, however, partly been offset by increased leisure demand, driven by the government’s major initiatives to diversify towards leisure tourism.
In the 13 weeks to 31 December, like-for-like clothing and homeware sales rose by 2.3% while food sales edged up 0.6%.
On a total basis, UK sales rose by 4.5% while group sales increased by 5.9%.
Steve Rowe, Marks & Spencer chief executive, said: “I am pleased with the customer response we have seen to the changes we are making in line with our plan for the business. I would like to thank the whole team for their hard work over this busy period.
“In clothing & home, better ranges, better availability and better prices helped to improve our performance in a difficult marketplace. We also continued to substantially reduce discounting, including over Black Friday.
“Our food business continues to grow market share with customers recognising our product as special and different. Our Simply Food store pipeline remains strong.”
Within the clothing and home category, the retailer substantially reduced sales on promotion in the period, with fewer category promotions particularly over Black Friday. Stock into sale during the quarter declined by around 7% with one fewer clearance event than last year. This resulted in a further improvement in full price sales.
International sales were up 2.9% at constant currency as the retailer benefited from earlier shipments of spring ranges to its franchise partners.
Looking ahead Rowe said: “As we look forward, our Q4 reported numbers will be adversely affected by sale timing and a later Easter. Against the background of uncertain consumer confidence the business remains focused on delivering the strategic actions announced last year.”
The company said its full year guidance remains unchanged.
Debenhams hails 5% rise in Christmas like-for-like sales
12 January 2017 | by The Retail Bulletin
In the seven weeks to 7 January, online sales at the department store chain climbed by 17%.
Sergio Bucher, chief executive of Debenhams, said: “I’m pleased with the performance we have achieved in the key trading weeks of Black Friday and over the Christmas peak, given the challenges in the broader environment and the strong performance last year. The resilience of Debenhams’ differentiated offer is beginning to show through, with the growth we have driven in beauty and gifting.”
The results mean that in the 18 weeks to 7 January Debenhams’ group gross transaction value rose by 3.7% while group like-for-like sales increased by 3.5%. UK like-for-like sales were up 1%.
By the end of the period, Debenhams had completed 75% of its current store space optimisation programme, rolled out a further nine food service offers and launched two new partnerships with James Martin Kitchen and Franco Manca.
It also made further progress in growing its non-clothing categories. Beauty and gift sales grew strongly to take the non-clothing sales mix in the period to 57%.
Bucher added: “It’s encouraging to see that the service improvements we have made helped us to deliver strong multi-channel sales growth.
“There is a lot more we can do to build from this base and I’m looking forward to providing an update on our plans for Debenhams alongside our interim results in April.”
In the period covering 12 November to 24 December, online sales rose by 29.3% while in-store sales were up 1.4% across the company’s 217 UK stores.
Oliver Meakin, chief executive of Maplin, said: “Christmas 2016 has been one of our most successful trading periods and highlights the significant investment we have made across our whole business in the last two years.”
Bestselling products included Google’s Chromecast and Amazon Fire Stick. Drones were also popular with more than 25,000 units sold over the period. In addition, the retailer achieved a 135% uplift in sales of Smart Home tech items.
Meakin added: “As we accelerate investment in digital, our people and stores into 2017 we expect to see sales continue to grow, as well as develop other initiatives including the roll out of a new store format and refreshed branding across the estate, which was first trialed at Cambridge Beehive in November 2016.”
Alibaba to buy China mall operator in $2.6bn plan
Alibaba is China’s dominant player in online commerce, with its Taobao platform estimated to hold more than 90 percent of the consumer-to-consumer market
Alibaba and Intime founder Shen Guojun have together offered to pay HK$10 per share to buy the shares they do not already own of the Hong Kong-listed chain.
The deal will increase Alibaba’s stake from 28 percent to 74 percent after it first invested $692 million in the firm in 2014. Shen will take the other 26 percent. News of the deal sent Intime’s shares soaring 35 percent to HK$9.49 in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
The maximum cash required for the proposal is expected to be HK$19.8 billion ($2.6 billion), the statement said.
The deal will see Alibaba expand further into physical stores, which founder Jack Ma envisions integrating with the company’s online platforms and logistics network.
The move came after Ma — China’s richest man — met US President-elect Donald Trump in New York Monday to discuss how Alibaba can help create one million US jobs by enabling small businesses to sell goods to China and Asia.
Tesco announces job losses in shake-up of distribution centre network
The proposed changes will reduce the number of Tesco distribution centres from 25 to 23. This will include the closure of the Welham Green centre and moving its grocery operations to Tesco’s Reading centre. In addition, the supermarket will be bringing the majority of general merchandising into one distribution centre at Middlesbrough which will result in the closure of the Chesterfield centre.
Tesco has also announced plans to withdraw from a Daventry hanging garments shared distribution centre which is currently operated by third party DHL. As a result, the centre’s clothing operations will move to Tesco’s Daventry distribution centre. It also plans to bring all warehouse operations currently carried out by DHL and Wincanton in house.
The 500 new jobs created elsewhere in the distribution centre network will include roles in Reading and Middlesbrough as well as the creation of staff support roles in the majority of Tesco’s centres.
Matt Davies, Tesco UK & ROI chief executive, said: “As the needs of our customers change, it’s vital we transform our business for the future.
“As part of this we are proposing to close two of our distribution centres in the UK. These changes will help to simplify our distribution operations so we can continue to serve our customers better.
“Our priority throughout this process has been our colleagues and we will continue to do all we can to support them at this time.”
Morrisons hails best Christmas performance in seven years
In the nine weeks to 1 January, total sales excluding fuel increased by 2% despite the continuing impact of store closures.
Like-for-like transaction growth was strong, up 5.2% year-on-year during the period.
The supermarket said the growth was a result of an improved shopping experience for customers both in its stores and online. During the period, Morrisons.com achieved its biggest ever week for sales.
David Potts, Morrisons chief executive, said: “This Christmas we made further improvements to the customer shopping trip. We stocked more of what our customers wanted to buy, more tills were open more often, and product availability improved as over half of sales went through our new ordering system. Both like-for-like and total sales grew, which was very encouraging.
“Eighteen months ago, I said that this would be a colleague-led turnaround, and our improving performance is entirely due to the continuing hard work of the Morrisons team of food makers and shopkeepers. I would like to thank all colleagues for making Christmas and New Year extra special for our customers.”
Morrisons said its new ‘Best’ range is proving very popular, with over half of customer baskets including at least one ‘Best’ item. The supermarket launched over 100 new ‘Best’ products for Christmas shoppers in addition to the first 470 products launched last autumn.
The supermarket now expects its 2016/17 underlying pre-tax profit to be ahead of consensus and in the range of £330 million to £340 million.
Costa Coffee opens first Middle East drive-through Hotelier Middle East
Costa Coffee opens first Middle East drive-through
Located near Kite Beach on Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai, the two-storey Costa Coffee building is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Emirates Leisure Retail chief operating officer Kevin Zajax said: “This is a milestone occasion, and the latest offering in our response to what our customers are looking for. They want to be able to get a handcrafted Costa Coffee at any time of the day, sometimes without leaving their car.
“We brought Costa here in 1999 with the first store outside the UK, and now we have the first purpose-built Costa drive-through in the Middle East.”
The staff at the new site have visited London to work in the brand’s UK drive-throughs and “to learn how it is done”, added Zajax
Costa is developing its food offering with a new ‘made fresh on site’ deli range that is rolling out to more of its UAE outlets and adding new brews to the coffee menu, including the Old Paradise Street limited edition.
And to celebrate the launch of the new drive-through, Costa is giving away Jeep Wrangler. Every customer that spends AED30 (US $8) between January 9 and February 9 will be entered into the prize draw.
Apple announced on Friday that a retail store is coming to Samsung’s home turf of South Korea. Neighbors!
It’s hard to believe Apple doesn’t already have a retail store in South Korea, but Koreans have been getting by with two certified Apple reseller stores up until now. Apple’s website now shows 14 new retail job listings in South Korea, including store leader and Genius bar staff.
“We’re now hiring the team that will offer our customers in Seoul the service, education and entertainment that is loved by Apple customers around the world,” Apple told Reuters in a statement on Friday.
The new brick-and-mortar store is said to be opening in the ritzy Gangnam district. South Korea’s Yonhap News reports that construction for a 6,000-square-foot building with two underground floors and one above ground floor has started in the Garosu-gil shopping district and should be completed around the end of November.
Sports Direct: Mike Ashley thumbs his nose at City again. Watchdogs must tighten rules that allow him to do this
Mike Ashley has thumbed his nose at the City once again, using his majority shareholding to secure the appointment of his man Keith Hellawell as chairman of Sports Direct, despite a majority of independent shareholders voting against him. Twice.
A little while ago the Financial Conduct Authority, the City’s chief watchdog, became concerned at the way wealthy individuals were able make pots of cash by taking companies public in London only to ride roughshod over minority investors having done so.
In response, a new rule was introduced giving minority investors the power to vote down directors. If they said no to a particular candidate, said candidate would, in effect, be put into a sort of corporate purdah ahead of an EGM at which a fresh vote would be held.
The idea was that there should be no need for that. Company directors are supposed to represent the interests of all shareholders. Having failed to secure the support of a majority of independent investors, the candidate was supposed to step aside because their position would, in theory, be untenable.
Peace talks would then be held behind closed doors, a way forward agreed, a new candidate put forward and approved. Move on, nothing to see here.
Until Mike Ashley exposed the problem with the new rule. It doesn’t work.
Minority investors have for the second time voted against Mr Hellawell.
He has sat at the head of the board as a string of problems at the company have come to light, and so really ought to be held to account.
In fact, an increased majority of independent shareholders tried to do this. Some 54 per cent voted against his reappointment at the latest EGM, up from 53 per cent at the last AGM.
While Mr Hellawell did offer to resign in the wake of the first negative vote, Mr Ashley asked him to stay put and so he did. Mr Ashley, who has appointed himself as chief executive in the meantime, further issued a statement to the stock exchange after the latest no saying that he hoped to persuade Mr Hellawell to reconsider his pledge to stand down if he failed to receive the backing of independent shareholders for the third occasion at the company’s AGM later this year.
Business picture of the day
Other investors who maintain large shareholdings in their companies after going public like Mr Ashley will take note of this. What it tells them is that, while they might have to endure a bit of bad publicity, at the end of the day the rules allow them to do more or less what they want.
That’s not good enough. The point about Sports Direct, and about companies like it, is that they are public companies. Ordinary Britons have money invested in them through their ISAs and through their pensions. The Government has told them that it is a good idea for them to save in this way, and thus provide for themselves.
Mr Ashley’s behaviour, and Sports Direct’s poor corporate governance, is a problem that goes beyond Sports Direct. But he isn’t going to change it until watchdogs step up to the plate and force the issue. It’s time for them to do that.
Jamie Oliver has announced he is to close six of his Italian restaurants, blaming tough trading amid rising Brexit cost pressures.
The celebrity chef’s company said outlets in Aberdeen, Cheltenham, Exeter, Richmond, Tunbridge Wells and Ludgate Hill, London, will close by the end of March.
Simon Blagden, chief executive of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, said: “As every restaurant owner knows, this is a tough market and post-Brexit the pressures and unknowns have made it even harder.”
The closures will affect 120 members of staff, although Mr Oliver said that he hopes to find alternative jobs for employees affected by the closures.
As well as staff costs and lower footfall, the company has been hit by the sharp collapse in the value of the pound, which has ramped up the cost of buying ingredients from Italy.
What does the falling pound mean for you?
“Because we refuse to compromise on the quality and provenance of our ingredients and our commitment to training and developing our staff, we need restaurants that can serve an average of 3,000 covers every week to be sustainable,” Mr Blagden added.
There are currently 42 Jamie’s Italians in the UK. Mr Blagden said the six restaurants account for only 5 per cent of the company’s total turnover, which meant that overall the business was “in very good shape”.
The company’s plans to launch another 22 Jamie’s Italian restaurants overseas are going ahead.
Businesses and consumers alike are under increased pressure due to rising costs.
Earlier this week Lord Wolfson, the chief executive of retailer Next, signalled that clothing prices could rise next year as the impact of Brexit boosts inflation, amid warnings that food prices could also climb.
Vietnam retail sales reached $117.6 billion in 2016, according to the General Statistics Office.
Sales rose 10.2 per cent year-on-year, thanks to foreign investment from overseas, especially Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
Ranked among the 30 global retail markets with best opportunities by American management consulting firm AT Kearney, Vietnam witnessed major mergers and acquisitions in the retail sector in 2016.
Retailers from Thailand – with Central Group and Berli Jucker the pioneers – gained a strong foothold in the Vietnam market with Central’s stakes in Nguyen Kim and Big C and BJ acquiring Metro. Central plans to double its network to 70 supermarkets and 13 shopping malls by 2021.
Japanese retail operator Aeon joined the race with 30 per cent stake in Hanoi-based Fivimart and 49 per cent of Ho Chi Minh City-based Citimart. Department store operator Takashimaya stirred the market, opening its first Vietnam department store inside the Saigon Center in Ho Chi Minh City.
Korean conglomerate Lotte Group introduced its first online store Lotte.vn, and plans to open 60 new supermarkets in Vietnam by 2020.
A young population and a rapidly rising middle class are driving retail growth. Sixty per cent of the country’s 90 million people are aged under 35 and are familiar with global trends and brands. The average Vietnamese income has risen from US$433 to $2200 in just five years, allowing Vietnamese consumers to afford products and services from international brands.
There are currently 800 supermarkets and 160 department stores and shopping malls across the country, a number forecast to double in the next four years, thanks to government-backed development plans.
Supermarkets, convenience stores and shopping malls account for 25 per cent of total consumer spending – and that is expected to rise to 45 per cent in the near future. The last three days before New Year holiday in Ho Chi Minh City saw a rise of 20 per cent in purchasing in all commodities with food, confectionery and beverages driving growth. The rise was partly due to promotional and discount programs, and is predicted to continue to grow in the few weeks ahead before Lunar New Year.
Washington — More grim news for malls as women’s apparel designer and retailer The Limited says it will close all its brick-and-mortar stores at the end of this weekend.
The New Albany, Ohio company says it will continue to operate online only after the Jan. 8 closures.
The Limited made the announcement just two days after Macy’s said it would close 68 retail stores and cut more than 10,000 jobs. Sears also announced Thursday that it would close another 150 stores as clothing retailers continue to struggle to compete as consumers increasingly buy online.
Limited Stores, founded in 1963, says it has already ceased operations at several stores in recent weeks and would be offering “highly discounted prices” on merchandise until all its doors close for good Sunday.
Majid Al Futtaim, a leading shopping mall, retail and leisure pioneer, will open a major new distribution centre for Carrefour at the National Industries Park (NIP) in Dubai, UAE.
The centre, once operational, will be the largest and most advanced distribution hub of its kind for Carrefour in the region, said a statement from the company.
The facility is constructed on a land area of 1.5 million sq ft and covers a built-up area of over 800,000 square feet, almost four times the size of Carrefour’s current largest distribution centre building in the region, it said.
The centre will also feature advanced warehousing, storage and logistics technologies, it added.
The multi-temperature storage at the new distribution centre is designed to meet the storage needs of the different food types including fruits, vegetables, meat and dry foods as well as warehousing for non-food goods.
With a total storage capacity of over 400 million units, the new distribution hub is expected to save over 50 per cent energy per cubic metre and manage more than 150000 orders per day to support Carrefour’s brick and mortar stores in addition to the omni-channel business of Carrefour, said a statement.
Miguel Povedano, executive regional director, Carrefour UAE, said: “With our new distribution centre in NIP, we have significantly expanded our operational capabilities in the region in terms of storage facilities as well as technological infrastructure.”
“We continue to look at the Middle East and North Africa as one of the key growth regions for Carrefour and one that we will continue to invest in over the coming years. We are confident that this new facility will help us deliver even better quality of products and services to our customers,” he added.
Younis Al Mulla, senior vice president – development and government affairs, Majid Al Futtaim Retail, said: “It gives us great pleasure at in establishing this strategic partnership with NIP and in the development of our central warehousing and distribution facility within their premises.”
“As part of our company’s vision, we are committed to constantly improving our operational facilities and capabilities for delivering high value to our customers in the UAE and other operating markets,” he said.
“In addition to being our largest distribution centre in the region, the facility at NIP is also highly energy efficient and will help us become more environmentally friendly, while reducing the overall carbon footprint of our stores,” he added.
Mohammed Al Muallem, senior vice president and managing director, UAE region of DP World, said: “I welcome Majid Al Futtaim, one of the leading national companies, to the NIP to establish their advanced integrated logistics centre.”
“The company is renowned regionally and globally for their pioneering contribution to the retail and leisure industry and we are confident of providing Majid Al Futtaim with distinctive logistic solutions that meet their requirements for various markets,” he said.
“NIP has an advanced multi-modal connectivity that reduces transportation duration, especially in reaching the Mena countries, through our flagship Jebel Ali Port and the Al Maktoum International Airport,” he concluded. – TradeArabia News Service
Amid rumors that the Galeries Lafayette Apple Watch pop up shop will be shuttered this month, Apple also appears to have shut down its Apple Watch shop at the high-end Selfridges department store in London, England.
The Selfridges retail store listing, which previously showed the Selfridges store front along with store hours and location, has been removed from Apple’s website and now redirects to a list of UK stores.
Apple’s Selfridges pop up shop was first introduced in 2015 alongside the launch of the Apple Watch. It was located in the iconic Wonder Room, which is a 19,000 square-foot hall that houses a number of luxury jewelry and watch brands.
selfridgespopupshop There was no warning that the Selfridges pop up shop would be shut down, but rumors have suggested Apple is planning to close the Galeries Lafayette Apple Watch pop up shop this month due to poor sales.
At this time, the Galeries Lafayette Apple Watch page is still intact, as is the Isetan listing for Apple’s luxury pop up shop at the Isetan department store in Tokyo, Japan.
There’s no word on whether the Isetan shop is shutting down, but Apple has reportedly been reducing the number of employees at Galeries Lafayette ahead of its closure.
If poor sales are the reason behind the end of the Galeries Lafayette pop up shop, it’s likely the Selfridges store suffered from similar problems. Both stores were originally set up to sell the high-end Apple Watch Edition made from 18-karat gold and priced up to $17,000, but Apple discontinued that model in September of 2016, replacing it with the lower-priced ceramic Edition models.
In a statement, Next said the 0.4% decline in the 54 days to 24 December was an improvement on the third quarter and better than the run rate for the full year. However, the company was expecting sales in the fourth quarter to grow year-on-year as the comparative numbers in 2015 were poor.
While Next’s total sales, including markdown sales, for the year to date are up 0.4% year-on-year, full price sales are down 1.1%.
Despite the difficult season, Next said stock for its end-of-season sale has been well controlled and down 3% on last year. However, sales in the end-of-season sale are down 7% year-on-year.
The company has now forecast that group profit for the year to January 2017 will be £792 million and said this may increase or decrease by £7 million depending on trade in January. This compares to the previous guidance of £785 million to £825 million.
Looking ahead, Next said the year ahead is likely to be challenging and added: “The fact that sales continued to decline in quarter four, beyond the anniversary of the start of the slowdown in November 2015, means that we expect the cyclical slow-down in spending on clothing and footwear to continue into next year.”
Next also warned that there may be a further squeeze in consumer spending as inflation begins to erode real earnings growth and that clothing prices could rise by “no more than 5%” following the devaluation of the pound last year.
The company is budgeting for Next brand full price sales growth in the year to January 2018 to be between -4.5% and +1.5% with pre-tax profit within the range of £680 million to £780 million.
In the six weeks to 31 December, like-for-like sales were up 6.8%.
The retailer said its busiest day was 23 December when it sold over 80,000 bottles. Sales of male fragrance grew faster than female thanks to new launches.
Top performers included Dior Sauvage, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle and Hugo Boss – The Scent For Her and Diesel BAD. Fragrances from other luxury fashion houses such as YSL, Viktor & Rolf & Loewe were also big sellers.
Sanjay Vadera, chief executive of The Fragrance Shop, said: “New, accessibly-priced perfumes from high-end fashion houses were by far the top performing scents this Christmas, reflecting Britain’s enduring love affair with luxury brands.”
The Fragrance Shop also recorded significant growth in gift set sales and purchases of larger 100ml+ fragrances as shoppers traded up from spending less on smaller sizes to get better value.
With a total of 184 stores, The Fragrance Shop opened 12 new shops last year and plans to open a further three in early 2017.
Vadera added: “Our complete focus on bringing a wide selection of brands to customers within the best possible retail experience continues to be the secret of our success, while also enabling us to outperform the market in luxury fragrances for the second year running, making this our fastest-growing segment.”
The Five Best Shopping Malls In Dubai
If there’s any city in the world that takes shopping malls seriously, it’s Dubai. Not only do global brands flock to this retail capital, but shoppers from all over the Middle East and beyond come to Dubai to appreciate the grandiosity and beauty of its shopping centers.
The city’s physical climate, consistently sunny and known to surpass 110 °F, mixed with its economic climate, deeply rooted in property development to the point of experiencing hypergrowth creates a unique mix of tropical and capitalistic energy rarely matched in other cities. Dubai builds with a panache seldom seen anywhere else around the world, so it’s no wonder that stepping into a Dubai shopping mall is an experience in itself.
Playing home to everything from one of the world’s largest indoor aquariums to an indoor ski slope, these are the top five shopping malls in Dubai.
#5 Ibn Battuta Mall
Photo: Ibn Battuta Mall
Photo: Ibn Battuta Mall
Inspired by the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta, the Ibn Battuta Mall is considered the largest theme mall in the world. Shopping becomes an adventure here, with six distinct retail courts waiting to be discovered and explored. Anchor stores include Debenhams, Geant, Marks & Spencer, Sharaf DG and Decathlon.
#4 Dubai Outlet Mall
Photo: Dubai Outlet Mall/Instagram
In 2007, Dubai Outlet Mall opened its doors to the United Arab Emirates. It’s a part of Dubai Outlet City and offers as much as 30%-90% off the regular price across its 240 stores. Labels include Adidas, Coach, Fred Perry, Mango and Aldo.
BurJuman offers a healthy mix of luxury fashion brands and popular labels at the center of Bur Dubai, the city’s business and heritage district. Like many malls in Dubai, BurJuman also places a heavy emphasis on entertainment and lifestyle options, with the most recent addition being its newly-opened 14-screen Vox Cinemas. Shops in BurJuman include Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, H&M, Charles & Keith and Burberry.
#2 Mall of the Emirates
Photo: Mall of the Emirates/Ski Dubai
Photo: Mall of the Emirates/Ski Dubai
Known as the world’s first shopping resort, Mall of the Emirates has an astounding 2.4 million square feet of retail floor space. Not only does it boast 630 high-end brands, but fashion designers from around the world are put on full display in the mall’s Fashion Dome and Luxury Wing. Tenants include Boutique 1, Centrepoint, Forever 21, Kate Spade New York, DKNY and an Apple store.
If you get tired of shopping, there are still plenty of things to do at Mall of the Emirates. Enjoy the games and be entertained at Magic Planet, a family theme park, or drop by the renowned indoor ski resort, Ski Dubai, for a day of skiing or snowboarding, tobogganing and playing with the penguins.
#1 Dubai Mall
The 5 Best Shopping Malls In Dubai
Photo: Dubai Mall
Dubai Mall is an exceptionally vast retail, leisure and entertainment space right in the heart of downtown Dubai. It’s the world’s largest and most visited shopping mall, with a total internal floor area of 5.9 million square feet. In 2014, more than 80 million visitors shopped at the mall’s 1,200+ retail stores. Flagship brands include Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Gucci, Chanel and Ralph Lauren.
If the shopping alone isn’t enough, Dubai Mall is also home to one of the world’s largest aquariums and aquatic zoos, Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, complete with a 270-degree walk-through tunnel for a truly immersive experience of the deep sea.
Of course, if you can’t find what you need in these five malls, you can always drive the ninety miles to Abu Dhabi, where you’ll find even more world-class shopping malls, or if you need something from abroad, Amazon also ships to the UAE, though not every item the website sells can be sent there directly.
All of that said, Dubai is the international shopper’s dream, but with so many exceptional malls to choose from, hopefully, this short list will help you navigate your way.
The Five Best Shopping Malls In Abu Dhabi
There may be no nation in the world that treats shopping the way the UAE does. Malls serve every purpose from a meeting point between friends or colleagues to a refuge from the hot desert sun, and when you see the insides of these shopping complexes, you’ll know why locals and visitors alike keep coming back.
I’ve been to Abu Dhabi twice, though reasonably quickly both times, so it was important to me that I get my shopping done as swiftly as possible so as to leave room for other activities and city exploration. Stemming from my own experience and supported by some additional research, here’s my breakdown of the top five shopping malls in Abu Dhabi.
#5 The Galleria
Best Shopping Malls Abu Dhabi
Photo: The Galleria
As you explore Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island, you’re bound to discover The Galleria, the spacious, modern mall on Abu Dhabi Global Market Square. The Galleria, featuring shops like Dolce & Gabbana, La Martina, Jimmy Choo, Alexander McQueen and Michael Kors, has a wide range of fashion and luxury goods to suit even the pickiest shoppers and an equally diverse set of dining options to boot.
#4 Al Wahda Mall
Best Shopping Malls Abu Dhabi
Photo: Al Wahda Mall
Al Wahda Mall, named after Abu Dhabi’s Al Wahda Football Club who plays at the stadium next door, is considered one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. The mall opened in 2007 with an offering of around 150 retail brands, but it’s evolved over the past decade into one of the largest shopping complexes in the UAE with a total footprint of 3.3 million square feet and over 350 stores. Shops include Armani Exchange, Gap, Izod, Victoria Secret and Tommy Hilfiger.
#3 Marina Mall
Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Opened in 2001, Marina Mall has 5 levels covering 1.3 million square feet of 400+ retail outlets such as Tiffany & Co., Hugo Boss, Gucci, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent. Marina Mall also offers a bowling alley and a revolving restaurant on top of its 30-story observation tower, which gives some pretty spectacular views of Abu Dhabi and the surrounding Persian Gulf.
#2 Abu Dhabi Mall
Best Shopping Malls Abu Dhabi
Photo: Abu Dhabi Mall/Facebook
Conveniently nestled in the heart of the city, Abu Dhabi Mall offers more than 200 stores of fashion labels and designer boutiques. Directly connected to the renowned Beach Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi Mall is a centerpiece in the social fabric of the city. Anchor stores include Carolina Herrera, Zara, Pandora, Weekend Max Mara and Anne Klein.
#1 Yas Mall
Photo: Cedric Ribeiro/Getty Images
Located at the center of Yas Island, Yas Mall offers the ultimate shopping, dining and entertainment experience in Abu Dhabi. It boasts a total area of 2.5 million square feet and features 370 stores that include well-known brands like American Eagle Outfitters, Bershka, Calvin Klein, Lacoste and Terranova. Tired of shopping? With more than 60 restaurants and cafes to choose from, indulge your palate with sumptuous dishes from around the world while enjoying the ambiance of this ultra-modern mall.
Abu Dhabi is full of great shopping options, but if you’re looking for an even larger, more diverse retail paradise, just drive ninety miles down the highway to Dubai. There are plenty of great shopping centers there to choose from, including the largest mall in the world, Dubai Mall. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, Amazon ships to the UAE as well, though not every Amazon item can be shipped there directly.
Abu Dhabi is certainly a remarkable place to shop, and my hope is that this list will help point you in the right direction to discover the mall that’s right for you.