Monthly Archives: April 2017

(Pics)Apple’s Incredible New Retail Store in Dubai

Boasting unobstructed views of the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, via a 180-foot wide, artistically designed carbon fiber array of motorized windows, Apple’s latest upscale retail store will be opening tomorrow, April 27th, 2017, at the swanky Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates.
Designed in collaborating with Foster + Partners — the same design team behind Cupertino’s brand-new Apple Park headquarters — the Dubai Mall Apple Store features an ever-changing array of 37.5-foot tall windows, overlain with super-strong carbon fiber panels that are capable of meticulously shifting orientation based on the fluctuations of external temperature in Dubai.
“To mitigate Dubai’s climate, Foster + Parters designed eighteen 37.5-foot-high motorized ‘Solar Wings’ that respond to the ever-changing environmental conditions,” the company wrote in its official press release about the grand-opening. “When the sun is at its hottest they cool the store, and in the evenings they open to welcome everyone to the public terrace. Inspired by the the traditional Arabic Mashrabiya, each ‘Solar Wing’ is locally fabricated from 340 carbon fiber reinforced polymer rods, and at 180 feet wide, the 18 panels make up one of the world’s largest kinetic art installations.”
These magnificent carbon fiber windows will also provide visitors an unobstructed view of one of Dubai’s greatest attractions: the Sama Dubai — a spectacular water fountain show that takes place every evening, and is conveniently located right below the Apple Store terrace at Dubai Mall.
Appropriately, Apple in its press release has invited visitors of the new location to enjoy the beautiful fountain array, which can be seen taking place in the first of two YouTube videos below. Also be sure to check out the second YouTube video, which gives us a glimpse of the Dubai Mall Apple Store, itself, and the surrounding area.

The company was sure to emphasize in its press release that the grand-opening of the Dubai Mall Apple Store is a way to draw more attention to its recently announced workshop series — dubbed Today at Apple — which will essentially embody a series of free education courses, focusing on a variety of topics including art, design, photography, and software coding, among other concepts.
“At the heart of every Apple Store is the drive to educate and inspire,” the company said, while adding that “Today at Apple will launch at Apple Dubai Mall and in all 495 Apple stores next month with new sessions across photo and video, music, coding, art and design, and more, led by highly-trained team members.”
The Dubai Mall Apple Store will also host a variety of high-profile events, many boasting live music, conversations with film-makers and photographers, and additional live workshops hosted by some of the world’s leading talent on the subject at hand.

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Sainsbury’s teams up with Russell Athletic

The supermarket is making a range of Russell Athletic clothing for men and women available on its Tu clothing website as part of its strategy to offer customers choice across different channels.
The partnership with Russell Athletic marks the first time Sainsbury’s female customers are able to buy branded clothing alongside Sainsbury’s Tu range. For men, it follows the success of leisurewear brand Admiral.
Sainsbury’s launched its first branded partnership with Admiral in stores and online in August 2015 and sales are now up 155% compared with the initial launch. The collection was originally available in 100 Sainsbury’s stores but has now been extended to 170 stores.
The supermarket said the partnership with Russell Athletic will enable it to grow its share of the ‘athleisure’ market.
Sainsbury’s commercial director James Brown added: “Sainsbury’s clothing business is quickly becoming a destination fashion brand, growing strongly over recent years and continuing to gain market share. Through working with brands we are able to offer our customers an even greater choice alongside our popular Tu range.”

Jimmy Choo puts itself up for sale

In a statement, the company said its majority shareholder, JAB Luxury, is supportive of the process.

It also said the UK’s Takeover Panel has agreed that any discussions with third parties may be conducted within the context of a “formal sale process” to enable conversations with parties interested in making a proposal to take place on a confidential basis.
However, Jimmy Choo added that it is not currently in receipt of any approaches..
Jimmy Choo was founded in 1996 by couture shoe designer Jimmy Choo and Tamara Mellon who later sold their shares. The company’s current chief executive is Pierre Denis, a former LVMH executive.
Private equity firm JAB Luxury holds 67.66% of Jimmy Choo’s issued share capital.

Boden to launch in John Lewis

Due to launch in the autumn, the concessions will be in John Lewis shops in Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Southampton and London’s Oxford Street.

Jill Easterbrook, who joined Boden as chief executive in February, told This is Money: “We are really excited to be going into John Lewis. It marks the coming together of two great British brands.”
Boden currently only has one bricks-and-mortar shop in London’s Hangar Lane but is considering opening more stores in the future.

Power cut plunges Dubai Mall into darkness

Dubai Mall, one of the world’s biggest shopping centres, was plunged into darkness on Monday evening after experiencing a power cut for nearly two hours.

According to photos posted on social media, hundreds of shoppers were forced to wander the mall in the dark. Lights went out and escalators stopped working at about 7.15pm local time.
At just before 9.15pm, Dubai Media, which initially announced the power outage, said the power had been restored.
The Dubai Mall issued a statement saying it regretted the inconvenience caused to shoppers and thanking them for their patience.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority said the outage was caused by a problem with a cable at Dubai Mall Metro Station.
One Twitter user said earlier that shoppers were using the flashlight on their phones to navigate around the mall.
Another said: “Power still out, almost an hour now. No announcements from security or management. Very poor.”

Debenhams eyes closure of 11 warehouses and 10 UK stores

Debenhams has announced a turnaround plan that could see up to 10 UK stores reviewed for closure and 11 warehouses close down, placing hundreds of job at risk.

The news comes as the department store released its interim half-year results for the 26 weeks to March 4, which shows an uptick in sales and like-for-likes but a drop in profits.
Chief executive Sergio Bucher, who took over the helm last October, said the “Debenhams Redesigned” turnaround strategy aimed at boosting the department store chain’s appeal as a “destination” shop and improving its online offering.
The plan includes a review of up to 10 of its 165 UK stores for possible closure over the next five years and shift around 2000 staff to customer-facing roles.
The overhaul will also see the retailer begin consultation to shut one of its three central distribution centres run by DHL, plus 10 smaller in-house warehouses.
According to Press Association, the DHL warehouse employs 220 staff and will shut in two years’ time, although Debenhams hopes to be able to redeploy many staff affected by the smaller warehouse closures.
The Debenhams Redesigned strategy also see the retailer axe in-house brands, leave non-core international markets, declutter stores with 10 per cent reduction in stock options, remove barriers to online and in-store shopping, and offer customers more “experiences” as part of a drive to lure shoppers back to its stores.
“Our customers are changing the way they shop and we are changing too,” Bucher said.
“Shopping with Debenhams should be effortless, reliable and fun whichever channel our customers use. 
“We will be a destination for ‘social shopping’ with mobile the unifying platform for interacting with our customers. 
“If we deliver differentiated and distinctive brands, services and experiences both online and in stores, our customers will visit us more frequently and, having simplified our operations to make us more efficient, we will be able to serve them better and make better use of our resources.”
Details of Bucher’s turnaround plans came as the retailer announced a 6.4 per cent drop in pre-tax profits to £87.8 million for the six months period of the interim report. 
Debenhams’ overall EBITDA was also down by 2.5 per cent to £149.1 million, dragged down by a six per cent drop in the UK market EBITDA compared to the 13.1 per cent spike international EBITDA.
However, the department store chain’s overall sales was up by 2.9 per cent to £1.67 billion, with like-for-likes in the UK edging up by 0.5 per cent.
Online performance in the UK performed exceptionally well, driven by a 64 per cent surge in mobile orders.
“I’d like to thank the executive team and all our colleagues, who made sure that we were able to deliver a great experience for our customers over the peak trading period, and who are now working hard to implement our new strategy,” Bucher said.
“This will set Debenhams on course for a successful and profitable future.”

M&S unveils details of UK stores overhaul

The openings comprise 34 new food stores and two clothing, home and food stores.

These include Foodhalls in Bishopsgate, London, Huntingdon, Aylesbury, Spinningfields, Manchester and Strood in Kent and new locations for M&S with clothing, home and food stores opening in Bracknell and Rushden in July.
Over 1,400 new customer assistant and management jobs will be created by the new shops.
However, the retailer has proposed closing six shops and is consulting with colleagues and their representatives in the stores in Monks Cross, Portsmouth, Slough, Warrington, Wokingham and Worksop.
If the proposals go ahead, all 380 colleagues in the affected stores would be guaranteed redeployment at a nearby store.
Five-year store plan
The plan is part of M&S’s five-year UK store programme that it unveiled in November after a full review of its UK estate. 
M&S’s plan to grow its food business but to sell clothing and home from fewer, “more inspirational” locations that offer better ranging and availability.
The strategy includes opening 200 new food-only stores and selling clothing and home from 60 fewer locations. 
Marks & Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe said: “M&S stores will always be an integral part of our customer offer, working seamlessly alongside our website, M&S.com, to deliver great products and service to our customers.
“However, our customers’ shopping habits are changing.
“Picking up food for now or tonight rather than doing one big shop or browsing and shopping online and collecting in store are great examples of this and we are committed to adapting our business so that we stay in tune with our customers.
“This means there will be more M&S colleagues working in an increased number of convenient locations, serving more customers.
“It also means that we will open new stores, some will reduce in size, some will move, some will close and others will convert to food-only.
“Each proposal we make will be very carefully considered with our colleagues and customers firmly front of mind. It is our intention that nobody leaves M&S and we will work as hard as possible to ensure that we can deliver against this promise.” 
M&S currently has 959 UK stores – 304 full-line stores, 615 food-only stores and 40 outlets.

The White Company opens upsized store at Bluewater

Luxury lifestyle brand The White Company has upsized its store at Bluewater in Kent. The retailer has also doubled in presence to create a 546 sq m statement store on Bluewater’s lower Guildhall. Adjacent to Hobbs, Russell & Bromley and the recently opened Michael Kors, the store has been designed by an in-house team and evolves The White Company’s classic look, with the emphasis on creating a calm and inviting retail experience.

The new statement store combines the brand’s complete range of exclusive lifestyle products, from women’s fashion and accessories to homewares, beauty products and The Little White Company’s childrenswear. 

‘This newly opened White Company store is a great addition to Bluewater. The upsizing of the site to a statement store highlights Bluewater’s success for the brand as a location, enabling them to offer the best possible expression of their brand and a more comprehensive product range. Together with other exciting retailers joining the scheme, including Missguided which opens in the summer, Bluewater continues to offer an industry leading retail line-up,’ says Russell Loveland, portfolio director at Land Securities, co-owner and asset manager of Bluewater. 

Sarah King, director of Property at The White Company, adds: ‘We are delighted to open the doors of our new statement store at Bluewater, a site that has been a longstanding top performing location for us. The new fit-out embodies our brand perfectly and will enable customers to discover an expanded product range and enjoy an inviting and seamless White Company experience.’ 
This summer, Missguided is making its first move outside London at Bluewater, with the launch of a 1,486 sq m statement store on the lower Rose Gallery.

Juicy Couture set to pull out of the UK market

London – Although Juicy Couture has seen somewhat of a revival recently, it seems as if parent company’s Authentic Brands Group best efforts were not enough to keep the brand afloat in the UK. The fashion brand, best known for its bling velour tracksuits favoured by the likes of Paris Hilton over a decade ago, is set to pull out of the UK market.
At the moment the label currently counts two stores in the London – one on Regent Street and another in Westfield White City, in addition to an outlet in Bicester and a store in Bluewater. But a report from the Telegraph states Juicy Couture is set to close its UK stores and will only retain an online presence in the UK.
Juicy Couture also counts a number of concessions in Harrods, Selfridges and Topshop in the UK, but it remains unclear what Authentic Brands Group aims to do with its concessions. The move follows on from fellow US brand Banana Republic’s withdrawal from the UK amid increasing difficult trading conditions.
ABG acquired Juicy Couture four years ago for 195 million dollars. The licensing company is best known for its celebrity brands, such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. FashionUnited has contacted Authentic Brands Group for additional commentary.

Pep & Co losses soar after pricey push to take on Primark

Losses at Pep & Co, the bargain fashion chain backed by South Africa’s retail billionaire Christo Wiese, soared last year on the back of its rampant expansion plan.
The company, which opened 50 shops last year, was launched by South Africa’s Steinhoff in a move to target cash-strapped families in towns not yet colonised by rival Primark. The company has continued its store opening programme and now has 95 shops as of last week.
Pep & Co’s holding company, Pepkor UK, recorded sales of £29m in its first year of having shops open but pre-tax losses grew from £4.3m to £18.9m in the year to 24 September 2016. A spokesman clarified that the £4.3m of losses was before its shops had opened in 2015.
Steinhoff last year also bought Poundland in a £610m takeover and has since unveiled plans to introduce 100 Pep & Co fashion concessions within the single-priced retailer’s larger shops.
Around 95pc of Pep & Co clothes cost £10 or less, although Adrian Mountford, managing director, said earlier this year that the retail chain might have to re-think its £1 t-shirts as the weaker pound meant the chain was losing money on those products.
The sterling slump since the EU referendum has prompted a steep jump in import costs for fashion retailers which source the majority of clothes from Asia in dollars. Pep & Co has said it hopes to minimise the return of inflation by securing better deals with suppliers as sales volumes increase.
Last month Steinhoff appointed administrators to 60 unprofitable 99p Stores shops that had shut following an ill-fated takeover by Poundland a year earlier.
Mr Wiese’s investment vehicle has already pumped £20m into the UK Pep & Co venture.

House of Fraser doubles profit but warns on volatile retail sector

Department store to axe underperforming brands amid ‘challenging trading conditions’
House of Fraser has been trying to diversify away from its faltering home market but progress has been slow

UK department store chain House of Fraser has warned of “subdued” trading and “volatility” in the retail sector, despite doubling last year’s slender profit margins and making a long-awaited start to its Chinese expansion.

The retailer, which recorded £1.3bn in gross transactions in the year to January 28, notched up a profit of £3.4m before tax and exceptional items, according to a trading update released on Tuesday. 

Chief financial officer Colin Elliot said the “strong” results came “despite continued challenging trading conditions across the retail sector”.
British retailers are contending with sharply higher import costs, with sterling now trading about 15 per cent lower against the dollar than it did on June 23, the day the UK voted to leave the EU. 
Analysts say the hardest-hit companies will be those that sell undifferentiated products that leave them little leeway to pass higher costs on to consumers.
House of Fraser said it was discontinuing “five underperforming house brands”, focusing its efforts on more popular offerings.
Own-label sales at the chain declined 2.1 per cent last year, even as sales of branded products increased 3.6 per cent.
Womenswear sales fell 0.6 per cent, in a year in which clothes shopping seemed to go out of fashion, with official statistics recording the first sustained decline in the nation’s wardrobe additions for more than a decade.
While House of Fraser has for several years been trying to diversify away from its faltering home market, progress has been slow.
Sanpower Group chairman Yuan Yafei talked boldly about his plans to take the House of Fraser chain global when his conglomerate bought the 166-year-old UK department store in 2014.
The Chinese entrepreneur and former local government official promised to inject capital into the cash-strapped retailer, open outposts in Russia and the Middle East — and, most importantly, push into China, with up to 50 new stores under the name “Oriental Fraser”.
Little of that has happened, although the Chinese debut finally came in December with the opening of a store in Nanjing, which had originally been slated for 2015.
The shop, which opened with a parade drummers in traditional bearskin hats, occupies six storeys and sells a “quintessentially English” range of items from more than 300 brands, Sanpower said at the time. 
House of Fraser has repeatedly changed hands over the past three decades, with stints under the ownership of the al-Fayed family and the Icelandic investment group Baugur, which collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis, as well as a stock market listing.

Nautica relaunches in Dubai Mall as it looks ahead to Saudi Arabia

The American fashion brand Nautica relaunched its Dubai Mall store on Tuesday with new partner Apparel Group.
In an interview with Gulf News, Patricia Canavan, Vice President and General Manager — Nautica Licensing, said that there would be two further store openings this year in the GCC.

She added that the brand was targeting the Avenues mall in Kuwait and was looking to launch in Jeddah also.

Nautica, established in New York City in 1983, currently has 12 stores in the Gulf region, and is aiming to add 18 stores in the next five years, according to Canavan.

“From a population perspective Saudi Arabia represents the greatest opportunity for expansion. We are looking at opening in the tier two cities, as well,” she said.

The company also believes that Saudi Arabia also holds the biggest potential for the growth of their online business.

Apparel Group, a Dubai-based retail conglomerate, is the local partner for brands such as Calvin Klein, Cath Kidston and Tommy Hilfiger. It operates over 1,700 stores across the region.

Together, the senior Nautica official said, they have overhauled the flagship store in Dubai Mall.

“We are reintroducing the brand in various ways. It is a new retail concept for us in Dubai,” Canavan said.

The relaunch at Dubai Mall was spurred by the change in partnership, she said, adding that “there was a need to get out of certain locations that may not have been brand appropriate. Certain commercial centres become obsolete over time.”

Canavan said that Nautica was developing its relationship with the Apparel Group, who has the expertise and can give us feedback on the new product as we go and ensures that we do not alienate existing customers.

Dubai will remain the lifestyle brand’s hub, she said, despite Saudi Arabia potentially making up 50 per cent of the company’s business in the future.

This market “has done a better job than most at diversifying away from pure retail experiences,” Canavan said in the interview, noting that the future of malls was about engaging with customers, not simply trying to sell to them.

“Having ski slopes, having fountains, having parks — that’s the future of retail,” she said.

Apple’s third retail store in the country will open in The Dubai Mall on April 27.

The two-level store, located on both the ground floor near Pucci and Jimmy Choo, and the first floor near Paule Ka, will be officially opened at 4pm.
With a tagline “Creativity. Connected.”, Apple is targeting the country’s creative community that includes start-ups, independent art galleries, local app developers, boutiques, cafes and food trucks, according to the company.

This will be the third Apple store to open in the country with others at Mall of the Emirates and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi.

Fendi opens new Tokyo flagship

Italian luxury leather label Fendi has announced the opening of its new ‘Fendi Ginza’ flagship store, in Ginza Six in the upmarket area of Ginza, 6th street, on April 20.

“Ginza 6 is a modern and visionary interpretation of what luxury stands for today. Fendi is all about Rome and I believe that with this new boutique we will bring to Tokyo a piece of Dolce Vita with the aesthetics of Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana and its façade,” said Fendi Chairman and CEO Pietro Beccari.
The new store will showcase the one of Japan‘s largest collections of Fendi menswear and womenswear, spread across 4 floors including the basement. The boutique will carry ready-to-wear items, furs, and leather goods including shoes and accessories, and will debut its first Made-to-Order furwear service in the country.
In commemmoration of the opening, a limited-edition handbag will be available alongside smaller leather goods.
Inspired by Rome, the label’s birthplace, the exterior facades draw heavily on Roman design, featuring tall pale arches in the style of the Palazzo della Civilta Italiana monument.
Fendi, which was founded in 1925 as a leather and fur specialist, operates 37 monobrand and corners in Japan. Owned by LVMH since 2001, the Italian brand has been targeted by animals rights groups for its continued use of fur, with protests at its 90th anniversary celebrations. Nevertheless, the French luxury group reported record highs in overall revenue for its 70 brands, including Fendi, in Q1 2017.

Next boss’s bonus axed as high street stores feel the pinch

Next boss Lord Wolfson has missed out on his annual bonus for the first time in 18 years amid tough times on the British high street.
Wolfson’s total pay package dived by 58% to £1.8m in the year to 28 January, according to the fashion and homewares retailer’s annual report published on Tuesday, after a key earnings per share target was missed. Last year, Wolfson earned a £503,000 annual bonus as part of his £4.3m total pay package.
Total remuneration for Next’s board almost halved as all directors missed out on their annual bonus after a failure to stock enough wardrobe staples contributed to the chain’s first drop in annual profits for eight years.
The company has also struggled in a tough market as shoppers spend less on clothes and more on eating out and holidays while competition online, where Next once offered far superior service, has increased as the likes of Marks & Spencer and Debenhams have modernised their operations.
However, all the directors were awarded a payout in recognition of Next’s long-term shares and earnings performance over the three years to January. Wolfson was awarded £606,000 in shares on top of his basic pay, down from £2.2m last year.
In the year ahead, Wolfson will get a 1% rise in basic salary to £773,000 and could earn up to £3.95m if he achieves the maximum possible bonus payouts.
New executive directors Michael Law and Jane Shields, who joined the board in 2013, will also get a 1% rise in basic salary to £416,000 each. But the annual report says the board handed Law, the operations director, and Shields, the sales and marketing director, a much lower pay rise than the 15% they had planned to implement this year in the light of poor profits.
Finance director Amanda James received a 16% pay rise to £416,200 in February but that was less than the 18% the board previously anticipated.
Wolfson has said he is “extremely cautious” about the outlook for the year ahead as shoppers continue to spend less on clothes, growth in consumer incomes weakens and prices rise as a result of the fall in sterling.
House of Fraser finance director Colin Elliot said on Tuesday he was also cautious and expecting “another challenging year” in 2017 amid uncertainty over the UK’s relationship with Europe and the snap general election announced on Tuesday.
He said the department store chain would be updating its shops and adding in more restaurants and cafes as it tried to use its high street space differently in the face of a tough clothing market. The group is planning to drop five own-label womenswear lines including Therapy, Linea Weekend, Episode and Dickins & Jones as part of the shift in emphasis.
Elliot said womenswear had been the toughest sector for House of Fraser in 2016 but strong sales of beauty products and a good Christmas helped more than double pre-tax profits, before exceptional items, to £3.4m. Sales remained steady at £1.3bn, helped by a 16% rise online.
Chairman Frank Slevin said a new chief executive for House of Fraser, to replace Nigel Oddy who formally exits later this month, would be announced very soon. He said the group’s Chinese owner Sanpower, which bought a controlling stake in 2014, was committed to opening stores in its homeland despite rumours that it might have lost interest. “House of Fraser is not up for sale,” Slevin said.

Mike Tyson to launch boxing academy franchises in Dubai

Former undisputed world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson is set to launch his global franchise of fitness centres in Dubai next month.

The American’s new business venture, Mike Tyson Academy (MTA), will see a host of academies launched around the world, and in particular in the Middle East, Australia, France, West Africa and China where there has been interest from potential partners.
Dubai appears to be one of the locations where Tyson will launch one of the franchises.
“Dubai has established itself on the world map by hosting many leading sporting events and icons and there is definitely a niche in this market for a fitness centre that is associated with quality and driven by a hard-core, challenging philosophy like mine,” said Tyson, explaining his decision to launch the fitness franchise in Dubai.  
“I strive to maintain consistency across all my centres with trainers that have been certified by me as well as exceptional training staff who will be on site to ensure a certain benchmark is maintained. I am positive that this is going to be only the beginning of a long-running successful association between myself and the region.”
He said the fitness centres will feature cardio, strength, functional training and boxing exercises. There will be a full-scale boxing ring in every location and a host of group training and functional classes to take fitness programmes a notch higher.
Tyson is set to reveal the details of the new business venture at a press conference in the Burj Khalifa on May 4 next, which will be followed by the grand MTA Launch Gala on May 6th at 8pm, hosted by Fred Frenchy Corp and the Mike Tyson Academy. Reservations for the gala event can be made by emailing gala@miketysonacademy.com

Wishing our readers and followers a Happy Easter

Nyx sits pretty with debut UK store (pics)

The beauty retailer, which L’Oreal acquired in 2014 for $500m (£403.6m) rolled out its first standalone store in the UK in the London shopping centre this month.

The 2,100 sq ft outlet carries 1800 SKUs and a statement from the retailer said its product range caters to “16-34 year old make-up enthusiasts.”
Founded in 1999 by Toni Ko, Nyx Professional Makeup aims to offer shoppers professional quality make-up at an affordable price point.
Since then, the retailer has established itself a cult beauty brand amongst millennial shoppers in the US, amassing 10.7m Instagram followers.
When L’Oreal snapped up Nyx Professional Makeup in 2014, US president and chief executive Frédéric Rozé said the retailer had done a “tremendous job of harnessing the power of social media, digital marketing and multichannel distribution”, which had made it stand out to the beauty giant.
The specialist retailer operates through an ecommerce website as well as a variety of concessions and a growing standalone bricks-and-mortar store estate.
Nyx Professional Makeup is part of L’Oreal’s slew of specialist health and beauty brands including Urban Decay, Kiehl’s and The Body Shop, which the cosmetics giant put up for sale earlier this year and has piqued the interest of potential bidders including Advent International and CJ Group.

Waitrose to offer customers restaurant style dining experience

The retailer will hold a ‘Supper Club’ at the shop in Haywards Heath where customers will be able to have a restaurant quality meal created by chefs from its three Cookery Schools. Customers will be able to choose from an exclusive three course menu, which will include nibbles and drinks, for £35.
Waitrose will transform the mezzanine level store café for eight evenings throughout April and May and has begun taking bookings for the 50 places available each evening. The space will feature music and ambient lighting with tables laid out for both couples and larger groups.

This is the first time the concept has been launched at a new store after it was trialled for a short period last year in Waitrose’s Newbury and Salisbury stores.
Manager of the Waitrose Cookery Schools, Karen Himsworth, said: “This aims to deliver the next level of in store dining at Waitrose, building upon concepts like our sushi bars and wine bars. We want to make our stores a food destination in the evenings as well as in the day.
“We realise a supermarket might not spring to mind when people are thinking about dining out in the evening, but we want that to change. Our aim is to create an atmosphere that is inviting whether you are having a meal for two or out with a group of friends.”
Waitrose said it hopes to continue the evenings at the Haywards Heath store once the trial has finished and will also look how it might introduce the concept in other branches.

Coach appoints president and CEO of Coach brand

Due to take up the newly created role in June, Schulman will be responsible for all aspects of the brand globally and will report to Coach chief executive Victor Luis. The new leadership structure follows Coach’s acquisition of Stuart Weitzman in 2015.

Schulman will be joining Coach from Neiman Marcus Group where he is president of Bergdorf Goodman and NMG International. He joined Neiman Marcus Group in 2012 and assumed additional responsibility for NMG International with the acquisition of MyTheresa.com in 2014.
Prior to that, Schulman was chief executive of Jimmy Choo and also held senior executive roles at Gap, Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci.
Luis Said: “I’ve known Josh for many years and had always hoped to attract him to Coach. He lives and breathes our industry and brings a unique blend of brand building and broad retail experience to the company, making him the ideal person for this newly created role. I couldn’t be more excited to have Josh lead the Coach brand.”
The company has also announced that Andre Cohen, currently president, of North America and global marketing for the Coach brand, will be leaving the company at the end of June to return to Asia with his family. Having worked with Coach since 2008, Cohen was instrumental in Coach’s development in Asia and has been spearheading the execution of the brand’s transformation strategy in the North American market over the last two years.
Luis added “Andre has been a great partner to me and a strong leader of our businesses in Asia and North America. I deeply appreciate his friendship and contributions over the last nine years but naturally I respect his family’s decision to return home to Singapore.”  

Saudi Arabia to build mega ‘entertainment city’

Saudi Arabia has announced that it will build a “entertainment city”, a mega cultural, sports and entertainment project in Riyadh that will include a safari area and a Six Flags theme park.
The unnamed project, to be built in Al Qidiya, southwest of Riyadh, will cover an area of 334 square kilometres.
While the cost of the project was not revealed, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the development will be funded primarily by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, as well as local and international investors, which he said supports the kingdom’s position as an important international centre in attracting foreign investments.
Work on the project is expected to start in early 2018, with the first phase due to be completed by 2022.
“The city is planned to become a prominent cultural landmark and an important centre for meeting the future generation’s recreational, cultural and social needs in the country,” Prince Mohammed said.
The “pioneering and most ambitious project” comes within the framework of plans to support the Saudi vision 2030 by creating quality and distinctive investments within the kingdom. The country recently held a film festival and Comic Con exhibition.
In June 2016, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed exempted Saudi Arabia from a GCC theme park deal with US theme park operator Six Flags.

Apple reportedly opening new flagship retail store in Mexico City

Not long after opening its first Mexico City retail location, Apple is planning a new flagship retail store in the city. Apple currently intends on the store being “flagship” in nature, with a design akin to that of Apple’s World Trade Center location in New York City…

The new details come via a report from AppleInsider, which cites a “person familiar with the matter.” Apple is said to be taking over large retail space in Antara Fashion Hall, which was most recently occupied by Crate & Barrel. The location is twice the size of Apple’s current Mexico City store in Centro Santa Fe mall’s high-end Via Santa Fe wing.
The design of the new Ciudad de Mexico store is said to be similar to that of the new World Trade Center store in New York City, which just opened last August. The store features high-end design traits such as a high ceilings, a 37-foot custom-built TV screen, and much more. Apple’s new Ciudad de Mexico store is also expected to be multi-level, meaning the Genius Bar and retail space might be split from one another, similar to other multi-level Apple Stores around the world.
The Antara Fashion Hall first opened its doors in 2006 and comes in at over half a million square feet. It features 3 floors of retail space, restaurants, and a movie theater. It’s located three blocks north of Avenida Presidente Masaryk, which is known for its high-end, luxury shopping amenities.
Specific details about when Apple plans to open its new flagship retail location remain unclear, but it’s likely a long way away at this point. The news of Apple’s newest Mexico City location comes as its first retail space in the city, opened last September, is experiencing unusually high sales and struggling to keep up with demand.
Today’s report also adds details such that Apple is mulling an expansion in Brazil. Company officials are reportedly in the process of determining whether or not Apple will open two additional stores in the country, including one new flagship location in Sao Paulo. As of now, Apple operates two retail locations in Brazil.

Landmark Group founders inducted into retail hall of fame

Landmark Group founders inducted into retail hall of fame
The founders of Landmark Group, a Dubai-based multinational conglomerate, have been inducted into the Retail Hall of Fame during the recent 2017 World Retail Congress at Madinat Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai.
Chairman Micky Jagtiani and vice chairperson Renuka Jagtiani were given the award during a private ceremony the the global event.
Micky Jagtiani founded the Landmark Group in 1973 with a single store in Bahrain and has successfully grown it into one of the largest retail and hospitality conglomerates in the region. A constant innovator, he has created and conceptualised over 27 diverse brands, several of which are market leaders today.
The group has over 2,400 outlets across 30 million square feet, catering to a loyal customer base of over 30 million people across the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
Landmark Group vice chairperson Renuka Jagtiani
Renuka Jagtiani has been closely involved with the group’s business endeavours for over two decades and was instrumental in creating the high-street fashion brand Splash in 1993. During this time, she has guided the
group’s corporate strategy, built its fashion and hospitality business from the ground up, led its expansion into new countries and launched its e-commerce platform.
Over the past four decades, the Landmark Group has established itself as a diversified international retail and hospitality conglomerate.
“Retail for me has always been more than a business, it is a way to life and it is about people who have helped me get here,” said Micky Jagtiani.
“The GCC has been my home for over 55 years; during this time I have seen it become a global powerhouse, thanks to the vision and passion of the region’s leadership.”
Renuka Jagtiani added: “As Landmark, our focus is value, we value those whose lives we touch. The customer is at the heart of our business, and we change and evolve with them.”

Pick n Pay slashes Smart Shopper rewards

According to Moneyweb, as of 30 March cashback points will be earned for every R2 spent at stores, from R1 previously. This effectively halves the cashback rate to customers from 1% to 0.5%. 

Business Day reports that according to Pick n Pay management, a key feature of the overhaul would be weekly personalised discounts tailored specifically to individual Smart Shoppers based on shopping habits. The aim is to give customers more than R500 in personal discounts over the year.
“With the new Smart Shopper, Pick n Pay will be offering 30-million personal discounts every week or three discounts per customer every Thursday for 10-million customers,” the company said. 
The news comes just a few weeks after the retail giant announced it had committed more than R500m to cutting prices on more than 1,300 essential items. Analysts told Business Day that retailers are caught between offering discounts in tough economic conditions and protecting margins.
Smart Shopper, since its launch in 2011, has consistently been voted as one of South Africans’ favourite rewards programmes, no doubt due to its generous nature. The public’s initial response to the programme overhaul has not been one of support.

H&M to open largest UK store at Westfield Stratford

H&M is opening a new Westfield Stratford store on 21 April. The retailer is relocating from its current location and expanding its offering to become the largest store in the UK and IE portfolio and one of the largest H&Ms in the world.

Situated over three floors and covering 5,074 sq m of sales space, Westfield Stratford City will offer fashion-forward collections across ladieswear, menswear, Divided and kidswear. The store will also stock the brand’s homeware and beauty ranges. 
‘H&M is delighted to be expanding in Westfield Stratford. The new store will become our largest in the UK and IE, as well as a global flagship store. Westfield Stratford gives the brand an exciting opportunity to showcase our entire fashion offering to both new and existing customers,’ says Carlos Duarte, H&M’s country manager UK & IE.

H&M chooses UK for launch of first ARKET store

Offering clothing for women, men and children as well homewares, the London store will open in the early autumn and online in 18 European countries. The group is then planning to launch stores in Brussels, Copenhagen and Munich.
Ulrika Bernhardtz, ARKET creative director, said: “It both relates to our origin in the Nordic tradition of functional, long-lasting design and symbolises the blank sheet, the sense of optimism and possibility we felt creating this new brand.”
The assortment will include ARKET’s own brand ready-to-wear, accessories and homeware items in addition to a selection of products from other brands. Stores will also include a café where the location permits.
Lars Axelsson, ARKET managing director, said: “A fantastic team with diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise have come together to build ARKET. We’re very excited to soon reveal the brand and share our collections with customers.”

Prada opens new boutique at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York

To celebrate the recent opening of the new Prada women’s ready-to-wear boutique in Saks Fifth Avenue, the prestigious department store has dedicated the six store windows on Fifth Avenue to the Prada Spring/Summer 2017 collection.

The unique setting features a sequence of three different scenarios, using rubberized elements in alternating color shades with soft forms that suggest a natural, abstract landscape.
At approximately 100 square metres, located on the third floor of the store, the new store reflects Prada’s aesthetic principles and strong brand identity.
The Prada Spring/Summer 2017 collections are displayed on different levels in front of the dynamic background for a relaxed, comfortable and dreamy atmosphere.

Reebok to open 500 FitHub stores in China by 2020

London – Reebok is set to expand its presence in China by opening 500 FitHub stores across the country by 2020, as part of its wider strategy to become the leading sportswear brand in the region.
The move sees the footwear and fitness label, held by Adidas Group, go head to head with US rival Nike which is currently viewed as the marker leader in the country. The expansion push sees Reebok team up with Belle International Holdings, one of China’s leading footwear retailers, who will assist the brand in rolling our its FitHub concept stores across the region. At the moment Reebok counts seven FitHub stores in China, with stores in key cities such as Beijing, Hangzhou and Qingdao as the sportswear label aims to open an additional 50 stores in the region this year.

Reebok’s FitHub concept store was designed to compliment the labels new positioning within the sportswear market and features in-store classes, events and fitness experts in store to offer customers tailored advice on products. As the sportswear and fitness market continues to rapidly expand in China, the region has become a key sector for international players like Adidas and Nike to expand in. “For a fitness brand, there is no better country to invest in right now than China,” said Chad Wittman, general manager of Reebok Greater China to China Daily.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and energy putting together a China strategy that meets the specific needs of Chinese consumers in terms of product, messaging and experiences.” In addition to offering Reebok’s global range of apparel, footwear and fitness equipment, the label is set to offer custom-made products targeted specifically at Chinese consumers. At the moment the brand is focusing on three main categories: running, training and classics. The former is set to become a key focus in China for the brand this year, as running has seen a surge in popularity in China over the past few years.

Kuwait’s Kamco buys Amazon’s UK warehouse

Kuwait-based Kamco Investment Company on Sunday said it has purchased Amazon UK’s largest distribution warehouse for $77 million (AED281m).

The warehouse in Dunfermline, Scotland, has been leased to Amazon UK Services until October 2031. Amazon employs 2,100 staff at the warehouse, which handles 38 percent of the 143 million packages that e-retailer handles per annum.
Kamco said it aims to achieve a targeted cash yield of 6.50 percent per annum and an expected internal rate of return (IRR) of 7 percent per annum during the investment period.
Faisal Sarkhou, chief executive officer, Kamco, said: “This achievement marks yet another step towards reaching our strategic objectives and future vision to enhance our operational performance and expand our real estate investments platform on a regional and international scale, in a way that is beneficial to our shareholders.”
Company chief investment officer Khaled Fouad said the transaction highlights the acquisition of a new category of income-generating assets that are leased to Amazon, in aim of diversifying sources of income.
Kamco’s alternative investment team currently manages more than $250 million in real estate across 11 regional and international properties.

H&M sales rise in SA bad news for local retailers

The retailer’s sales increased 39% in rand terms from the nine stores it has in operation 

Swedish retailer H&M has continued on its winning streak in SA, dodging the malaise to which domestic retail players have succumbed.
In the first quarter of its 2017 financial year, H&M’s sales increased 39% in rand terms to about R356m from the nine stores it has in operation.
H&M SA opened its 10th store in Nelspruit last week. Its 11th store will be opened in Polokwane at the Mall of the North on April 8. Europe’s second-largest retailer is one of many global players who have moved to SA in a bid to increase market share and search for untapped markets in the hopes of bolstering performance.
Mergence equity analyst Peter Takaendesa said H&M was growing faster than bigger local retailers due to a combination of strong investment into new stores, effective marketing and “possibly better-positioned product offering”. H&M’s results have come at the expense of Woolworths, Truworths and Mr Price who released less than stellar trading updates and results earlier in 2017.
“We estimate that their [H&M] revenue market share in the South African market is only about 1% now and believe they will continue to gain market share off this low base as well as the factors identified above,” said Takaendesa.
The analyst said the accelerated levels of new store roll-outs were not only taking place in SA but also across some of their operating countries, so “this is a deliberate strategy driven at the group level”.

World Retail Congress opens in Dubai

The World Retail Congress (WRC) begins on Tuesday in Dubai amid weak consumer demand, caused by a strong dollar and job concerns. Brick-and-mortar retail has also suffered as ecommerce begins to grow in popularity across the region.
The 11th edition of the event, being held at the Madinat Jumeirah from April 4 to April 8 under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will see over 1,500 delegates in attendance.

With opening remarks from Sultan Al Mansouri, the UAE’s Minister of Economy, and Majid Saif Al Ghurair, chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, attendees are expected to be addressed over the course of the four day event by industry leaders such as Jo Malone, founder of Jo Malone, Ravi Thakran, group president of LVMH for South & South East Asia and Middle East, and Robert Welanetz, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Properties.

Developers in the UAE are currently hoping to capitalise on the growing number of visitors to the country in the run up to Expo 2020.
Dubai hopes to attract 20 million tourists that year, an increase of around five million in the next three years.

Retailers are currently focusing on delivering unique experiences to differentiate their product, whilst utilising insight into consumer behaviours and attitudes to stay agile and retain customers.

A government emphasis on the tourism sector, competitive deals, and tax-free salaries spurred a decade-long boom in the retail sector in Dubai.

However, in an Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) economic report released at the end of 2016, Monica Malek, Chief Economist at ADCB, said, “The rise in inflation over our forecast horizon should continue to contribute to the soft consumer-spending backdrop. Wider consumer sentiment is expected to remain weak due to job uncertainties.”

Hamad Bu Amim, president and CEO, Dubai Chamber, said in a statement: “After the tremendous success of the 10th World Retail Congress in Dubai, the chamber is very pleased to host the 11th edition here again. This year’s theme is very topical and reflects the changes in the retail sector, especially the growing trend of ecommerce. More so, Dubai’s retail market is forecasted to surpass $52 billion in sales by 2020 with average annual growth of more than 8 per cent.”

Sweaty Betty to open flagship on Carnaby Street

Fitness brand Sweaty Betty has announced plans to open its first European flagship at 1 Carnaby Street in London. The prominent 204 sq m store is located at the south entrance to Carnaby Street and is the result of the brand upscaling from its existing store on Beak Street where it has been a resident since 2002.

The shop is arranged over ground and basement floors allowing the brand to expand and offer its full clothing, accessories and equipment collections, as well as housing a studio space for exclusive wellness events, giving a wider customer experience.   
Sweaty Betty joins other recent additions including Urban Decay, G.H. Bass and Estee Edit who have all chosen Carnaby for their first global or UK flagship store. 

Coach to open at Bullring in Birmingham UK

New York fashion house Coach has chosen the Bullring to open its first standalone store in Birmingham. This store will be the second outside of London for Coach, with the first opening its doors at Victoria Quarter, part of Victoria Gate in Leeds. The 280 sq m space will be located on the upper east level of the mall and will offer the retailer’s full range of bags, footwear, outerwear and accessories.

‘This latest signing reflects the strength of Bullring’s leading retail mix, attracting high-end, aspirational brands to the city. We’re delighted to welcome Coach’s first standalone store in the city, which significantly strengthens the already dynamic retail line-up at the centre,’ says Iain Mitchell, UK commercial director at Hammerson. 
Andrew Stanleick, president of Coach Europe, adds: ‘We are delighted to be opening our first standalone store in Birmingham. Bullring has a reputation as the region’s premier retail destination, and so it is a perfect fit for Coach. Following a successful launch in Leeds’ Victoria Quarter last week we are looking forward to bringing Coach’s modern luxury concept and collections to Birmingham.’ 

Agent Provocateur’s Australian stores close down under new ownership

Questions about the future of Agent Provocateur have been raised again after the retailer confirmed it would close down all of its Australian stores and concessions.

Three out of the four Agent Provocateur retail locations in Australia have already closed, with the last location in Westfield, Sydney, poised to shutter its doors.
According to reports in News Corp Australia media outlets, the last store is selling its remaining stock and would shut once it was sold, or by mid-May, as Agent Provocateur’s new owners aims to focus on the European market.
The now-closed locations include a store in Little Collins Street, Melbourne, and two concessions in department store chain David Jones.
The store closure affects a total of 20 employees in Australia, with 15 workers holding a full-time contract. 
However, Agent Provocateur will retain an online presence in Australia through its international website.
The news comes less than a month after the British lingerie retailer’s fall into administration and subsequent sale to Four Holdings Ltd – in which Sports Directs holds a 25 percent stake – in a pre-pack administration deal.
The deal saw Four Holdings acquire the brand’s UK division and Agent Provocateur global branding rights, but not its international portfolio, leaving 100 retail outlets at risk.
Agent Provocateur was offloaded by private equity firm 3i for around £27.5 million.
A pre-pack administration is when a business is placed into insolvency proceedings and its assets are immediately acquired by a new owner.
They are often criticised as businesses are able to shed its debts to creditors, and the details of Agent Provocateur’s debts have not been disclosed.
The retail chain’s co-founder, Joe Corré said the sale of the lingerie retailer to a firm backed by Ashley was “a disgrace to British business” and a “phenomenal stitch-up”.
He also said the “preposterous” transaction between private equity firm 3i and Four Holdings would “face a phenomenal swath of litigation actions”.
Since the sale, Sports Direct has clarified in a statement that it was not the new owner of Agent Provocateur, stressing its 25 percent stake in Four Holdings, which is also the parent company of fashion agency Four Marketing.

Apple shares latest vision for new Chicago River retail store 

Apple shares latest vision for new Chicago River retail store as roof and curved glass put in placeWe’ve known for a while now that Apple is planning a new flagship waterfront retail store along the Chicago River, and now Apple has shared a new render of what the location will look like after construction wraps up. We also get a look at progress at the site with a new video walkthrough this week.

Apple was granted approval for the project back in November 2015, and 9to5Mac reported that demolition of the previous site and new construction for the upcoming flagship Apple Store was underway last December.
Today the Chicago Tribune has the latest renderings from Apple of what the upcoming retail space is expected to look like when the project is complete. The photo at the top shows the street level view of the glass structure with a massive rooftop centered in an open public space.
Foster + Partners, the same firm behind the new Apple Park campus design, is also responsible for what the Tribune says is a $27 million project, although the store still has no target opening date.
New photos included in the report do show further progress since we last checked in including the curved glass edges in place and the roof being installed this week. The Tribune even says construction workers signed the final support beam used for the new Apple Store.