Category Archives: #international

Sears is on the brink of catastrophe as store closures loom and top execs flee the company

Things aren’t looking good for Sears.
The company is shutting down dozens of Kmart stores this month and two of its highest-ranking executives left this week in the midst of the key holiday shopping season.
This comes following speculation among Sears and Kmart employees, suppliers, and several banks that the retailer will soon go bankrupt — something Sears has repeatedly dismissed.
Jeff Balagna, formerly Sears’ executive vice president, left the company Wednesday, “in order to focus on his other business interests and pursue other career opportunities,” Sears said in an SEC filing dated November 23.
Balagna did not respond to a request for comment. Sears declined to comment beyond what was stated in the filing.
Sears President and Chief Member Officer Joelle Maher also left the company this week, Sears confirmed to Business Insider. The company declined to give a reason for her departure. 
The timing of the departures — so close to Sears’ upcoming third-quarter earnings report and in the middle of the holiday season — is “highly unusual,” according to Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School and the former CEO of Sears Canada. 
Cohen, who was fired from Sears in 2004, is an outspoken critic of the company and its CEO Eddie Lampert. He speculated that the timing of the departures could be indicative of something “catastrophic” in its upcoming earnings report. 
The company declined to comment on Cohen’s remarks.
Sears will report its third quarter earnings on Thursday, and Wall Street is predicting a 14% revenue decline to $5 billion compared to the same period last year. Sears’ sales have dropped from $41 billion in 2000 to $15 billion in 2015. Kmart, which merged with Sears in 2005, has seen its sales plunge from $37 billion to $10 billion in the same period. 
Hometown a canary?
If business at Sears Hometown and Outlet stores is any indication of Sears Holding’s performance in the most recent quarter, investors have reason to be concerned.
Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, which was spun off from Sears Holdings in 2012 but continues to sell Sears merchandise, said this week that net losses in the third quarter widened from $5.5 million last year to $93.2 million this year.
The losses were driven in part by a 49% drop in apparel sales. The company blamed Sears Holdings for the precipitous drop in apparel sales, citing the “continuing impact of significantly reduced inventory availability from Sears Holdings, our sole source for this category.”
“We do not expect inventory availability to improve and, as a consequence, we plan to continue to de-emphasize, and eventually exit, this category,” Sears Hometown and Outlets said.
Sears could be tamping down on inventory because “business is terrible,” according to Cohen. “They don’t have the money for the inventory and they’re keeping the markdowns in their own stores,” he said.
Suppliers retreat
The reduced inventory could also be the result of lower shipments from suppliers.
As Business Insider reported last month, at least half a dozen suppliers have “significantly” reduced product shipments to Sears over fears of a bankruptcy, according to Marc Wagman, executive vice president of trade credit and political risk at the insurance brokerage firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., which represents the Sears suppliers to insurers.
The companies’ concern over Sears’ financial health has “really accelerated in the last 6 to 12 months,” Wagman told Business Insider.
According to a recent report by The Wall Street Journal, toy maker Jakks Pacific Inc. recently suspended sales of its products to Kmart, which is owned by Sears Holdings, due to worries about the company’s financial health.
Suppliers have grown concerned after warnings from Sears store employees and a number of banks.
Fitch Ratings in October identified Sears as one of seven major retailers at risk of going bankrupt in the next 12 to 24 months and eventually liquidating.
In September, Moody’s analysts downgraded Sears’ liquidity rating, saying Sears and Kmart don’t have enough money — or access to money — to stay in business.

The Moody’s analysts said Sears is bleeding cash and will have to continue to rely on outside funding or the sale of assets, such as real estate, to sustain operations. Kmart in particular is at risk of shutting down, the analysts said.
Sears CEO Lampert responded in early October, saying “there have never been any plans to close the Kmart format.”
But there’s no denying that Sears is running low on cash.
The company said in August that its cash and equivalents have fallen to $276 million from $1.8 billion one year ago.
As a result, the retailer was forced to accept $300 million in financing from Sears CEO Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments, in the second quarter.
Bankruptcy filing season
Historically, retailers tend to declare bankruptcies in January when their cash holdings and financial payables tend to be at their highest levels of the year. That has led some analysts and industry experts to believe the company could file as soon as next month.
But many analysts believe the company will stay afloat for some time to come.
Lampert has many levers to pull to keep the retailer alive, including more cash infusions from his hedge fund as well as the sale of assets like real estate and it’s appliance and tool brands including Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard.
And the company says that it’s still trying to turnaround business at its stores.
“We are absolutely focused on restoring Sears Holdings to profitability,” Sears spokesman Howard Riefs told Business Insider in November. “We are an asset-rich enterprise with multiple resources at our disposal.”

Amazon said to consider acquiring Dubai-based online retailer for $1bn#Economy is known as ‘Amazon of the Middle East’
Amazon does not have big foothold in Middle East (Reuters)

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Saturday 26 November 2016 03:14 UTC

Last update: Saturday 26 November 2016 9:20 UTC

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Topics: Economy

Tags: Dubai, Amazon, M&A

Show comments is in preliminary talks to acquire the Dubai-based online retail market for about $1bn, according to a Bloomberg News report., known as the “Amazon of the Middle East,” currently offers roughly 1.5 million products across the Middle East, primarily in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Amazon does not have much of a foothold in the region.
In September, hired banker Goldman Sachs to find potential buyers for at least 30 percent of the company, according to the Bloomberg report. Tiger Global Management and South Africa Naspers – the company’s primary investors – also may consider selling their shares, it added.
Big e-commerce ventures appear to be trending in the Middle East. Two weeks ago, Dubai business magnate Mohamed Alabbar announced the launch of a $1bn regional e-commerce site in a joint venture with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and other Gulf investors. is to go online in January with a 50 percent investment from the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund and the rest from about 60 investors led by Alabbar, who also heads the emirate’s real estate giant Emaar.
He told a news conference that distribution centres are being set up in the Saudi cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, along with a giant warehouse the size of 60 football stadiums in Dubai.
“We expect to become a world player but will concentrate firstly on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” said the president of Emaar, the company that built the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
With an initial inventory of 20 million products, the online retailer aims to expand to Egypt, the Arab world’s most-populous state, at the end of next year or early in 2018.
Alabbar, cited by Bloomberg, said Noon would be traded on stock markets in five to seven years, and aims to be profitable within five years.

Lidl opens largest UK warehouse after £55m investment

Lidl’s new warehouse is nearly 420,000 sq ft
The warehouse, in Southampton, is the discounter’s largest in Britain, measuring almost 420,000 sq ft – the equivalent of 10 football pitches.
Lidl said the facility, which forms part of the retailer’s £1.5bn investment in the UK between 2015 and 2018, will create up to 400 jobs.
It will service Lidl stores in Hampshire, Dorset and West Sussex.
The grocer is in the process of building two further warehouses in Wednesbury and Exeter and is also relocating fulfilment centres in Weston-Super-Mare and Livingston to Bristol and Eurocentral respectively.
Lidl UK regional director Marco Ivone said: “The opening of our new Southampton RDC marks an incredibly exciting time for the business, particularly in the South.
“Not only is it necessary to accommodate the scale of our existing and future operations in the area, but we have been able to create significant job opportunities as a result of the new warehouse and will continue to invest in the South as we move forward with our expansion plans.”

Aldi to open first Italian store by summer 2017

Discounter Aldi is set to open its first store in Italy by next summer. According to Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, the 1,500 square metre store will be located in Tento, to be followed by stores in Verona and Bolzano. Aldi will be faced with strong competition in Italy, mainly from Eurospin (32% market share in the discount market), Lidl (18%) and Md.

The most expensive street in the world for retail is…

Thinking about setting up shop between 49th and 60th Streets on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue? Better be prepared to pay big bucks.
The upper part of Fifth Avenue is the most expensive retail street in the world (based on rental value), with rents rising to a whopping $3,500 per square foot in 2015, according to the 27th edition of Cushman & Wakefield’s report, Main Streets Across The World.
Causeway Bay, in Hong Kong, ranks second, coming in at $2,399 per square foot. Rounding out the top five: Paris’ Avenue des Champs Élysées, at $1,372; London’s New Bond Street, at $1,321; and Via Montenapoleone, in Milan, at $1,035.
“Our latest results show that rents have risen in 35% of streets around the world – despite the increased global uncertainty experienced over the last 12 months,” the report stated. “Going forward, improving employment prospects, rising real wages and healthier consumer confidence in advanced economies are set to offer positive momentum for the retail sector.”
United States: Rents across the United States increased by 6.9% year-on-year, according to the report, with Seattle experiencing the strongest growth of 27%, albeit it remains at a relatively low level of $70 per square foot, per year. Other robust main streets in the country include Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, which maintained its second position as the most expensive high street list on the back of impressive rental growth of 23%. At $800 per square foot, Rodeo Hills is the second most expensive main street in the United States, although it is still far less expensive than either the upper part or lower part (an area that covers from 42nd Street to 60th Street) in Manhattan, Chicago and San Francisco saw healthy growth rates and are expected to continue to expand, bolstered by solid international retailer demand. In San Francisco, a combination of a bustling tourism market – the city is one of the top international destinations – and an improving local economy has led to strong luxury retail space demand.
Palm Beach has also witnessed strong rental growth, with prime rents increasing by 20% in the year to June. The city’s emergence as a top tier retail destination is in part thanks to an affluent local demographic, as well as an increasing number of international visitors and part-time residents, the report noted.

Apple Previews Redesigned Flagship Regent Street Store in London

Apple today invited journalists to London, England to preview its redesigned Regent Street store, set to open this weekend. Dozens of images have been shared on Twitter and other websites, providing us our first glimpse at the revamped location that’s been under construction for more than a year. 
Apple Regent Street now features Apple’s next-generation retail design, previously seen at its flagship Union Square location in San Francisco, including wide, open spaces with indoor trees, sequoia wood tables and shelves for displaying products, a large 6K video screen, and light boxes extending the length of the ceiling. 
The location now has a Genius Grove, a section at the center of the store designated for customers to receive support side-by-side with Geniuses under the canopy of local trees. This area is able to accommodate more customers than a traditional Genius Bar commonly found at Apple’s other retail locations. 

In line with remodeling plans filed last year, the storefront is no longer adorned with four Apple logos in each window, but rather a large, white flag with the Apple logo. The central glass staircase has been removed, replaced with two new side staircases that lead to the second level with more product displays and workshop space. 
Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts was on hand to preview the new store, designed by Foster and Partners, the award-winning architecture firm behind Apple’s upcoming Campus 2 headquarters and Union Square retail location. Apple Regent Street will open its doors to the public on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. local time. has ceased trading in Germany to focus on ‘core’ UK business
The online marketplace’s chief financial officer David Phillips, who joined the retailer in July, said the business had shut down its Germany operation in August last year, a year after launching its ecommerce website in the country.
Phillips told Retail Week: “We learnt a lot [from the German expansion] but didn’t get the results we wanted out of it so we’ve stepped away from that.”
The online retailer received £21m investment in its latest funding round in August, led by technology and media company Hubert Burda Media, which Phillips said has “a very clear view on which markets we can expand into”.
However, Phillips added that international expansion was not an immediate priority for Notonthehighstreet over the next 12 months.
“It’s absolutely on the road map of things we’re going to get to but we’re very excited about what we see in terms of our core business in the UK and looking at other category expansion as well,” he said.
Revenue up, losses down
Notonthehighstreet’s full-year accounts for the year ending March 31 were filed at Companies House this month. The etailer recorded a 19% rise in revenue during the period to £38.7m, while losses narrowed to £1.6m.
Phillips attributed the retailer’s losses to its continued investment in its technology platform.
“We’ve got a multi-year plan to carry on investing so we’re not expecting large upticks in EBITDA, certainly in the near term,” he said.
“The concept for us as a retailer is put products that are new and on-trend and in the right categories in front of our customers, so that is where the technology investment is going.”
He added that the retailer was focused on expanding its offer for Christmas trading and beyond.
“We are a leading destination as a gifting site but there is an absolute desire to expand into new categories, to expand the customer experience obviously online, but also offline is not off-limits either,” he said.
“We are going to keep developing our offer to ensure customers see us as not just an online experience.”

Starbucks to launch delivery service in China

Starbucks China plans to complete the establishment of its coffee delivery service within the 2017 financial year so consumers will be able to enjoy delivered Starbucks coffee within 20 minutes of an order placement.
Starbucks may authorise its delivery service to Baidu Takeaway, the food ordering site affiliated with China’s main search engine. However, no official announcement has been published yet and Meituan Takeaway is still a potential partner for the business. A complete timetable for the service’s commencement has not yet been released.
Starbucks has paid more and more attention to the Chinese market. At present, Starbucks has opened over 2,100 stores in more than 100 cities in China and the company has over 30,000 employees in the country. Following the United States, China has become the second largest market for Starbucks.
Starbucks plans to open 500 additional stores in China in 2016. To further cater to Chinese consumers, Starbucks recently launched Teavana tea and several salty food products in this marketplace.

SPAR International expands into Albania

SPAR has opened its first food stores in Albania through a partnership with Balfin Group.
The two hypermarkets in Tirana East Gate and in the QTU shopping centre span 7,200 and 3,800 square metres respectively.
Balfin Group is the largest private company operating in Albania. The company entered into food retail in 2005 with the development of the Euromax chain of stores and has been operating 15 large food retail stores under the Carrefour brand.
As part of Balfin Group, SPAR Albania will convert the current 15 stores. By the end of 2017, Balfin Group plans to open over 100 supermarkets and 10 hypermarkets as part of a €50 million investment in the country.
The entry into Albania means that SPAR currently operates in 44 countries. SPAR International reported global retail sales in 2015 of €33 billion from over 12,100 stores across four continents.
SPAR International managing director, Tobias Wasmuht said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Balfin, a leading privately owned Albanian business Group, to develop SPAR Supermarkets and INTERSPAR Hypermarkets in Albania. Working in true co-operation with the Balfin Group, we are able to unite the best of international with the best of local, creating an excellent proposition of value, service, quality and choice for our customers in Albania.”
The launch of the two hypermarkets has been complemented with a television campaign and city wide outdoor advertising.

McDonald’s to sell Singapore, Malaysian franchise to Saudi group

McDonald’s is set to agree a deal to sell 20-year franchise rights for its Singapore and Malaysia outlets to Saudi Arabia’s Reza group for up to $400 million, as part of a re-jig of its Asian business, people familiar with the matter said.
Reza Food Services Co. Ltd, which owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in the western and southern region of Saudi Arabia, has tapped Malaysian bank CIMB (CIMB.KL) to finance the transaction, said two of the sources, who declined to be identified as the deal has not been publicly announced.
The move is in line with McDonald’s plans to bring in partners as it switches to a less capital-intensive franchise model in Asia.
One person familiar with the Southeast Asian deal said McDonald’s was keen to tie up with regional family-owned groups and local tycoons as it sought out long-term partners rather than buyout firms, which usually cash out of a business after a few years.
Basic terms of the agreement had been finalised and the deal was expected to be completed by the year-end, the person said.
CIMB declined to comment, while there was no immediate response from McDonald’s. Reuters was not immediately able to reach Reza for a comment.
Sources said CIMB would provide the bulk of the term loan to back the deal, and the financing would be denominated in both Malaysian ringgit and Singapore dollars.
In July, McDonald’s had said it was seeking franchise partners for its restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia and was negotiating with parties, but did not provide any details or a timeline.
McDonald’s has about 120 restaurants in Singapore and about 260 in Malaysia.
Citing sources, Reuters reported last month that McDonald’s had received final bids from at least three groups for its China and Hong Kong outlets.

Apple’s Flagship Regent Street Location in U.K. Reopens October 15

Apple has announced that its flagship Regent Street retail location in London, England reopens Saturday, October 15 at 10:00 a.m. local time, following over one year of major renovations. 

Apple contracted award-winning architecture firm Foster and Partners to design the layout of the new store, which initially remained open for business at the basement level but has been fully closed since June 13. 
MacRumors exclusively reported on the remodeling plans last year, including the removal of four Apple logos affixed to the store’s facade in order to allow more natural light inside and preserve the historic look of the building. Like other renovated stores, Apple Regent Street will feature Apple’s next-generation retail design. 

The renovations included the relocation of three columns to create a more spacious feel, replacing the central glass stairs with two new side staircases, and re-configuration of the Backroom with improved facilities for employees. The store’s overall square footage has been reduced by 4,400 square feet, 
Apple Regent Street opened in 2004 and attracts over 4 million visitors per year. The iconic store expanded two years later to become Apple’s largest at the time. Apple has contracted Foster and Partners for several other projects in recent years, including the design of its Campus 2 and Apple Union Square.

Cotton On Group’s youth brand Supré opens in SA this October

Supré, an Australian fast fashion chain aimed at the youth market, and owned by the Cotton On Group, has announced that the opening of three stores in South Africa by November, including Cavendish Square, Centurion Mall and Menlyn Park.

This forms part of the brand’s global expansion plans to open 15 new locations across two continents by the end of the financial year.
Cotton On Group’s youth brand Supré opens in SA this October

Supré’s focus is to embody, share and celebrate, at every touch point, what it means to be part of a positive, inspiring and supportive network of girls, that we call the girl gang,” said GM Elle Roseby.
“We know that friendships are absolutely critical to our customer – that’s why you’ll see a real celebration of girls and their friendships at every touch point within the brand. At Supré, we believe in the power of girls.”
For over three decades, Supré has delivered trend-led product, and with the brand’s proven success and strong customer engagement in Australia and New Zealand, Supré is excited about the impact it can have in this market.
“We cannot wait to bring Supré to South Africa and look forward to sharing our range with local girls. We know our global girl, philosophy, product and content will resonate in South Africa.
“We have invested significantly in our trend and design team, working out of our global head office in Australia to deliver the best in apparel and accessories. Together, our head office and Johannesburg teams will be delivering the latest fashion to our South African customers, at an accessible price point,” said Roseby.
Central to the brand is its philanthropic arm, the Supré Foundation, and its vision to ensure all girls have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

Forever 21 to open second HK store in Mong Kok

US fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 will open its second store in Hong Kong this year, capitalising on the shift in consumer demand from luxury to non-luxury products.

“Due to the demand of our consumers, we have continued our expansion throughout Hong Kong and mainland China. Hong Kong also has a vibrant history of international business and we saw a lot of potential for growth, which is why we wanted to bring a second Forever 21 store to this space,” the fashion retailer said in an email reply to Retail in Asia.
The new store will be located at Pakpolee Commercial Centre on Mong Kok’s Sai Yeung Choi Street, trading over 18,804 square feet, people familiar with the matter told Retail in Asia.
“Mong Kok offers a premier shopping experience and we believe it is a good fit for our second store in Hong Kong. We are very selective in choosing a location for any store. We make it a top priority when selecting a new location to ensure that it is accessible to customers and that it can house and properly represent our merchandise, staying true to our brand,” noted Forever 21.
The fashion chain will pay a monthly rent of HKD2.5 million (USD321,000) to lease the three-story retail space with a ground-floor entrance, according to the source. The first floor and the ground floor were currently taken by cosmetic retailer Sa Sa with a monthly rent of HKD1.25 million. The second and third floors were leased to California Fitness for about HKD1 million per month. The fitness center moved out three years ago.
The new store is estimated to open in late summer or early fall this year according to Forever 21.
With a monthly rent of HKD2.5 million for its new store, Forever 21 made the largest retail leasing transaction in the fourth quarter of 2015 in key shopping destinations of Hong Kong, according to data compiled by Retail in Asia. It demonstrates the retailer’s confidence in the market’s potential for cheap chic fashion which also supports CBRE’s prediction that mid-range brands are set to expand in Hong Kong when luxury retailers are struggling with declining sales and leaving core retail locations.
CBRE believes that Hong Kong will transform from a luxury goods oriented retail market to a mid-range market. “Mid-market retailers will benefit from the change in spending patterns and remain the main demand driver for retail space. Some of them will use this window of opportunity to re-establish themselves in prime locations and/ or expand their retail networks,” the real estate adviser said in its latest report Hong Kong Retail MarketView Q4 2015.
With Forever 21 opening another store in Hong Kong, more mid-market retailers are expected to ride on the wave and expand their store networks in the city.
Founded in 1984, Forever 21 now operates more than 730 stores in 48 countries. The brand debuted in Asia in 2008 by launching the first store in Seoul, followed by its second in Japan the next year.
In 2012, the US retailer entered Hong Kong by unveiling a six-floor flagship store in the in the Capitol Centre of Causeway Bay. It paid a monthly rent of HKD11 million for the 51,188-square-foot space.
The fashion retailer currently has 16 stores in Greater China which include 12 stores in mainland China, 1 in Hong Kong, 1 in Macau and 2 in Taiwan.
Aside from Hong Kong, Forever 21 also plans to expand its retail footprint into other markets in Asia although it didn’t disclose the details. “In 2016, we plan on expanding our store presence in Japan, Indonesia, China, and the Philippines,” the fashion retailer told Retail in Asia.

Apple celebrates grand opening of first retail store in Mexico

Apple today officially opened its first retail store in Mexico. The store is located in Vía Santa Fe and marks the “first time customers in Mexico City can experience all of Apple’s products and services in one place.” Apple shared images from the grand opening experience this evening in a news release…

Apple noted in its release that “crowds of customers” lined up overnight to experience the grand opening, with the first customers arriving at 7PM on Friday night.
Earlier his month, we shared images of Apple’s first retail store in Mexico, noting of a colorful barricade protecting the store that said “Hello Mexico, we have much to celebrate.” The store is located in the Centro Santa Fe shopping mall.
Apple wrote the following regarding the grand opening of its first retail location in Mexico:
Crowds of customers began lining up overnight for the grand opening of Apple Vía Santa Fe, the first Apple Store in Mexico. Saturday’s grand opening marks the first time customers in Mexico City can experience all of Apple’s products and services in one place.
Tim Cook also celebrated the grand opening of the retail store in a tweet reading, “Thank you for having us, Mexico!”
Apple is also preparing to open a new retail store in Cologne, Germany, thought it’s unclear when this location will officially open. The Cologne store is located in the high traffic shopping district Schildergasse.

H&M UK profits plunge in ‘challenging retail environment’

Sales rose 5.9% to £1bn over the year to November 30, 2015, however the fast-fashion giant’s net margin fell from 4.7% to 3.6%. Gross margin dipped from 50.6% to 48.4%.

Duarte said: “The directors believe the business performed well considering the challenging retail environment in 2015.”
The UK is H&M’s third-largest market and represents 7.6% of its global sales.
Despite the tough market, H&M hit the expansion trail in the UK last year. It opened 18 stores, including one Cos outlet and one for & Other Stories, while closing seven shops, taking its total to 265.
H&M expects to open a further 17 stores in 2016 with & Other Stories a key focus for expansion. It plans to grow the accessories brand from two to six stores over the year.
H&M is eyeing a move to open standalone menswear stores in the UK, Duarte told Retail Week this week.
He said London was “almost a paradise for men’s fashion” and said it was “working on” a move to bring menswear stores to the UK.
Designer collaboration
Despite the challenging year, H&M’s designer collaborations are still resonating with UK shoppers. Duarte said its 2015 collaboration with Kim Kardashian’s favourite designer Balmain was “extremely successful”.
The retailer is set to launch its latest tie-up with LVMH-owned Kenzo in November.

Rihanna launches new fashion collection for Puma

Since landing a gig as Puma’s creative director in 2014, Rihanna has taken the sportswear giant to a whole other level. Not only has Puma received a boost in media coverage, but its sales have also skyrocketed within the last year and half, thanks in large part to RiRi’s campaigns as well as her insanely popular footwear designs.
The hype surrounding the partnership became even greater when Rihanna hit New York Fashion Week last season to unveil her Fenty x Puma ready-to-wear collection. And now, nearly seven months after its debut, the range of ‘90s-inspired athleisure-wear is finally available to purchase.
Here’s everything you need to know about the collection:
Monochromatic colour schemes
The Fenty x Puma Fall/Winter 2016 collection consists of unconventional sportswear presented in monochromatic colour schemes. Black and white dominate the range, which includes everything from oversized crew neck tees and kimono track jackets to laced sweatpants and terry cotton chokers.
Affordable prices
Though the pieces are undeniably affordable, they will cost you much more than the typical Puma gear. As of now, the least expensive item is the terry cotton choker for $30. The priciest is a pair of black leather boots with chain detailing for $350.
Where to buy
The collection dropped Tuesday exclusively at, Bergdorf Goodman, and Foot Locker fitness boutique, which hosted pop-up shops in NYC and Los Angeles.
According to Footwear News, Foot Locker hid 2,500 keys in NYC and L.A. Individuals who locate the keys are able to take them to the pop-up shops, where they can use them to unlock prizes, such as Six:02 gift cards, Fenty x Puma pieces, and concert tickets.
The collection will hit Puma stores and select retailers, including Bloomingdale’s, worldwide on Wednesday.

Marks & Spencer to scale back overseas

Marks & Spencer could retreat from swathes of overseas shops under plans by its new chief executive to jumpstart growth at the high street chain.

Steve Rowe, an M&S lifer, is making the retailer’s international shop estate his next priority after claiming that a decline in overseas profits was “not sustainable”.
The company’s annual report reveals the board is “looking at every part of our international business to make sure our strategy remains relevant”.
Mr Rowe will update shareholders in November about his plans for the retailer’s store estate after focusing his turnaround so far on reviving M&S’s flagging womenswear division. 

The company veteran took the reins in April this year from Marc Bolland and has since reshuffled M&S’s board so he maintains control of the clothing arm while the international team reports directly to him.

Prada to close 25 stores in 2016

Following negative financial reports in the past year, Prada has embarked on a restructuring plan. In 2016, Prada announced it will close 25 stores (among the least profitable ones) and will open 20 new stores in high-potential locations. The first store closure was one of the Prada stores in Milan – the 500 sqm store on Corso Venezia. The Prada currently operates 5 stores in Milan, two in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, two on Via Montenapoleone and one on Via Spiga.

Sephora’s Magnificent Mile store has new, high-tech look

Sephora opens Michigan Avenue store

Beauty retailer Sephora opened its 400th location, on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, on Friday. The location is one of the first where customers can get a look at Sephora’s new Beauty TIP Workshop — named after the company’s “teach, inspire, play” motto with more high-tech touches and space for classes and experimenting with products. Sephora Americas President and CEO Calvin McDonald talked about the new store look and why Sephora is “bullish on brick-and-mortar retail” in a chat with the Tribune on Thursday. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Why did you think Sephora needed a new concept?
A: We build and have built beautiful stores. Knowing we were going to be dialing up our physical expansion plans, with more stores and more refreshes, it was the right time to hit a reset, rethink, and really build the store front to back, side to side, which we hadn’t done probably in six years.
 Sephora opens Michigan Avenue store

Q: What are some of the biggest changes people will see with the Beauty TIP Workshops?
A: We believe teaching beauty is a competitive advantage, and when you look at other choices clients have, it’s one only Sephora can bring to life and have a credible position in. We’ve been doing it over the years, but we really wanted to formalize it and bring it to life in our brand, and we need a stage to allow us to do that. At the center, you’ll see the Beauty Workshop, where we run beauty classes while the store is in operation. There are 12 screens, and a trained cast member walks you through it right then and there, so it’s a learning environment supported by technology.
There are more seats for the Beauty Studios, and we’ve added services in skin care and fragrance. Michigan Avenue has the first fragrance studio, so we’ll start the consultation at our Fragrance IQ (a station that walks customers through scent categories like floral or spicy before an “InstaScent” machine emits a jet of scented air to let them test the options). I’ll ask, “What notes do you like?” and if you’re like most clients, you’ll say, “I have no clue.” It emits the raw note so you can sit there not skewed by Johnny Depp and the millions spent trying to represent a brand, you really get the raw note and figure out what you like.
We’re scouting and discovering new brands, and we’re bringing an unbiased experience to (the customer). We’ve linked in service with the studio that allows us to express it and teach, and we’re bringing that formula from skin care to fragrance, the formula that’s worked so well in color.
Q: You say you’re bullish on brick-and-mortar stores. Not everyone in retail feels the same, so why is that?
A: If the sole purpose of your physical environment is nothing more than to transact, you’re in trouble, because dot-com can transact more conveniently and more easily than a physical environment. We believe that our retail footprint exists to do so much more than just transact. It’s designed to provide a service, a mini-makeover, it’s designed to teach, where you can sit down and have an interaction with a cast member. (The transaction is) the end result of her exploring, her learning, her being inspired and playing and having fun.
 Sephora Michigan Avenue opening

Q: It’s a tough time for a lot of retailers, mall-based ones especially. Does that affect Sephora, if the mall overall is less inspiring?
A: We love the centers we’re in, and we’re expanding and investing in them and seeing great success. Our mall-based business is growing at the same rate as our other portfolio component, so we’re very excited.
But we see opportunity in testing and developing other concepts. Not every mall is equal. You look at the A-plus and A malls, they’re doing well. There’s a few more we’d like to be in, and we’d like to expand and reinvest in some so we can bring a better client experience. But as we look at where are we going to grow our store base, I think it’s more neighborhood (stores), more streetfronts and lifestyle centers that we’re playing with and seeing great success with as well.
Q: A lot of people are surprised to see Sephora inside J.C. Penney. Why do you think it makes sense for Sephora?
Sephora shelf

A: The partnership is over 10 years old now, and it’s been incredibly successful for both parties. What I love about the partnership, it allows us to reach a client we otherwise would never reach. It has allowed us to get a larger footprint, get a different client, and back to the strategy of how do we grow prestige beauty, how do we get people to trade in and trade up. It was a fearless decision 10 years ago for sure.

Justin Bieber Announces Affordable Forever 21 Clothing Line

Warning to the planet: you’ll soon see a bunch of kids decked out in the same clothes as Justin Bieber.

This may or may not be a good thing depending on how you look at it… or if you’re a Belieber.
The 22-year-old singer just announced a collaboration with Forever 21.
The store will start selling his line of Purpose merchandise later this month.
“We are pleased to partner with Justin Bieber and Bravado [a music merchandising company] to celebrate one of the most influential musicians of this generation,” Linda Chang, Forever 21 vice president of merchandising, told Women’s Wear Daily. “This collection will give our customers and Justin Bieber fans access to one of the most in-demand merchandise lines in the world.”
The good news for those who like Biebs and his style – it is completely affordable for the average Forever 21 shopper.
Unlike his Barney’s collab which saw pieces retailing for $95 and more, Forever 21 & Bieber will range from $18-$35.
The line features eight exclusive pieces including oversize sleeveless, short-sleeve and long-sleeve tees with either Justin’s face or “Justin Forever.”
They go on sale MONDAY August 22 online and in-stores Friday, August 29!
This might make up for the fact that Bieber deleted his Instagram upsetting fans all over the world… MIGHT!

Australian luxury lingerie retailer Honey Birdette has signed for its first UK store in Covent Garden.

Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) has let 56 Long Acre in Covent Garden to the brand, after Property Week revealed the company was seeking to open a boutique in the West End of London earlier this year.
The 825 sq ft unit will open at the end of this month.
Yasin Sadiq, senior asset manager at RLAM said: “We are pleased to have secured another strong retailer for the estate, which will complement the existing line up, and excited to see the brand open its first UK flagship in Covent Garden.”
Savills acted for RLAM.

“56 Long Acre was a rare opportunity for a retailer to acquire a flagship location close to Covent Garden,” said Peter Thomas, director in the Central London retail team at Savills. “We are pleased to have secured this deal with Honey Birdette.”

Apple store opens its doors at World Trade Center Hub

I’m walking into the belly of the beast.
Actually, it’s just the latest Apple store in New York’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub, which opened its doors to shoppers on Tuesday. But the entrance to get to the store appears otherworldly, I look up and follow the dividers as they extend into the white steel ribs of the ceiling, part of the marquee structure known as the “Oculus.” For a moment, it seems like I’m being swallowed whole by a whale.
Apple’s latest brick-and-mortar location incorporates many of the same aesthetic pillars that Apple design leader Jony Ive brought to the company’s other recently constructed stores. The WTC location’s opening comes just two and a half weeks after Apple’s first store in Brooklyn and 15 years after the original World Trade Center shopping mall was hit by the September 11, 2001, attacks. As companies like Microsoft trend towards a white, minimalist design, Apple has embraced organic elements and warm hues.

The interior’s oak wood tables and light brown tones coloring the paneled walls and stools mirror its Brooklyn and San Francisco counterparts. The two-story store exhibits three of Apple’s newest design elements: the Forum, a workshop area complete with a 6K video wall, Creative Pros, a group of specialists on Apple Music and photography, and the Avenues, long storefront-esque walls filled with products that change seasonally.
Though the Oculus location did not boast a full-on “grove,” San Francisco’s replacement of the genius bar — a tree-lined area teeming with genius helpers — it had a small living wall filled with live plants.

The store rests on hallowed ground. The seven new World Trade Center buildings replace the ones destroyed by the 9/11 attacks. The structures span sixteen acres in lower Manhattan and the Apple location joins other retailers such as Cole Haan, Italian grocer Eataly and cosmetic retailer Kiehl’s in the over half a million square feet of shopping and dining spots run by retail developer Westfield.
The Oculus houses two stories of shops with the Apple store situated in the middle of the retail area, flanked by a train terminal and clothing company John Varvatos.
The transportation hub connects the PATH commuter train system, 11 subways and the Battery Park City ferry terminal. Designer Santiago Caltrava initially predicted the project would cost $2.2 billion and take five years to construct. It has now been over ten years since construction began and has cost more than $4 billion of public money.

The World Trade Center “Oculus” houses retailers like Apple, Cole Haan and Swatch. And it looks a bit like a glorious whale carcass.

Costa Coffee UAE digitises its menu boards

Costa Coffee’s franchise partner in the Middle East has invested in digital menu screens as it looks to improve the customer experience in the company’s Dubai stores.
Over 50 Costa Coffee shops in Dubai are in the process of being refreshed with digital signage installations, as the global chain looks to update the experience it offers customers in its stores.
These stores are operated as a franchise by Emirates Leisure Retail, which has led the project after being given approval by the company’s global brand management team in London.
Emirates Leisure Retail selected Mood Media – the company that manages Costa’s in-store music – to provide the menu boards. Digital signage media player company, BrightSign, is hosting the technology, while the equipment itself is supplied by local distributor, Digital Communications.

Digital menu boards are being introduced as each store goes through a refurbishment, and around half of the installations have been completed to date. Mood Media is now in talks to extend the digital boards to other Costa Coffee stores in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) territories.
Shemaine Jones, head of marketing at Emirates Leisure Retail, said: “We are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience.
“We spent six months evaluating digital menu board formats and content offline to create a formula that fully reflects our brand values and the store context. Only then did we move ahead with a pilot.”
The central screen features video content provided by Costa Coffee and/or created by Mood GCC locally in Dubai, while the screens to either side offer up-to-date menus and pricing, as well as moving images.

3 coolest department stores in Asia

As the retail industry shifts towards an increasingly digital realm, it might seem like department stores are going out of style.
But, there’s only so much virtual trying-on of things — clothes, shoes, lipstick, you name it — before you want to touch, feel and try the products in real life.
That’s why there will always be a place for department stores, which, besides being a physical store, offer an immersive and curated shopping experience in person.
Based on CNN’s list of the world’s best department stores, here are the top picks from Asia:
Isetan, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Isetan Shinjuku TokyoIsetan’s nine-storey flagship store generates the most sales of any department store in Japan. What’s more, it’s connected by two bridges to Isetan Men’s 10-storey department store next door, which has a golf school on its roof.
Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store, Taipei

Eslite Sonyan Taiwan StoreEslite Spectrum sells a variety of lifestyle products, from books to specialty foods and handicrafts in Taiwan. Eslite Spectrum in Songyan is a former tobacco factory turned creative park featuring Taiwanese designers and creative lifestyle products from hundreds of brands.
Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store, Tokyo

Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store, Tokyo RobotThis might be Japan’s oldest department store chain, but where else can you interact with a kimono-clad robot? Meet Aiko Chihira, a Toshiba-developed robot that’s in charge of the information desk at Mitsukoshi department store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. Tip: this century-old store has a renowned gentleman’s department.

Salvatore Ferragamo opens largest store in Canada, in Ontario

Salvatore Ferragamo has recently opened its largest store in Canada at Square One in Mississauga, Ontario. The new store which covers 4,425 square feet features bags, accessories and footwear for men and women, as well as ready-to-wear collections for both men and women. The store is divided into a series of rooms, providing a luxurious and intimate in-store experience.

The new Ferragamo store in Ontario joins the other two stores of the brand in Canada, in Toronto (Yorkdale Shopping Centre) and Vancouver (Robson St.)

Office Depot closing 300 more stores; to expand ‘store of future’ pilot

Just three months after its proposed acquisition by Staples ran into regulatory roadblocks, Office Depot unveiled its plans for the future as a standalone retailer.
In its second quarter financial filing, the chain announced it would close an additional 300 stores during the next three years, a move that is anticipated to help cut annual costs by some $250 million by the end of 2018. Office Depot is also planning to cut costs by reducing procurement and general and administrative costs.
The retailer said it intends to build on the early success of its “store of the future” format by expanding the pilot program to a total of 24 stores by the end of 2016, with 100 stores targeted for 2017. The format features a smaller 15,000 sq. ft. footprint and is designed to provide customers with an enhanced shopping experience including a curated assortment of products and expanded services.
Office Depot said it expects that many of the elements in its new format will be incorporated across the retail portfolio in the coming years, “which will create a more consistent and efficient retail operating model with enhanced sales per square foot.”
For the quarter ended June 25, Office Depot revenue 6.5% to $3.22 billion, roughly in line with analysts’ estimates. 
The retailer reported net income of $210 million for the second quarter, largely due to the $250 million breakup fee it had received from Staples, compared with a loss of $58 million.
Office Depot also said it had initiated a quarterly dividend of 2.5 cents per share and would increase its stock buyback plan to $250 million from $100 million.
Office Depot, which has already closed 400 stores, ended the period with 1,513 stores in North America.

Prada opens new store at Gold Coast, Pacific Fair, Australia

Prada has recently opened a new store on the Gold Coast in Australia at Pacific Fair. The store covers 310 square metre and features apparel, leather goods, accessories and footwear for men and women. The store comprises a succession of rooms, each featuring a different atmosphere.

H&M to expand into regional Australia

Swedish fashion house H&M is showing no signs of slowing its Australian expansion, declaring plans to reach out to regional areas through the addition of two more stores.
The group already has nine in operation on the east coast and one in Western Australia just two years after launching with much fanfare in Melbourne.
It has recently declared an intention to open two more stores in each of Melbourne and Sydney as well as an outlet on the Gold Coast and in Newcastle.
The new offerings will be in the NSW town of Wollongong and in Queensland’s Toowoomba, with both to open prior to Christmas.
Should its plans come to fruition; the firm will have at least 18 stores in operation by the end of 2016.
In March, it was revealed H&M Australia had recorded a maiden profit of $3.8 million for the 12 months to November 30, 2015, a sharp improvement from the prior year’s $1.5m loss owing to the addition of several stores.
The retailer said at the time it had “been a bit overwhelmed” by demand, with Australia its fastest-growing market.
The expansion news places further pressure on local incumbents that have seen a host of big names, including Spain’s Zara, Britain’s Topshop and Japan’s Uniqlo, expand on Australian shores in recent years.
The announcement from H&M came on the same day the head of Target and Kmart, Guy Russo, talked up the Swedish group’s clean operating model.

Max Mara Group launches two new brands

Max Mara Group has added to its portfolio by launching two new brands with a contemporary, accessible positioning: Tresophie and AIIM will be available with the Spring 2017 season and will be initially distributed via physical and online multi-brand stores, then via their own e-stores from the end of 2017.

Through Tresophie, the Italian group intends to carve out a niche in the sophisticated, contemporary dress segment. The collection will consist chiefly of dresses of different cuts and styles, catering to all the requirements of contemporary women: from gowns to evening dresses to those for important appointments. Besides dresses, the label will also feature tops, skirts, jumpsuits and ten or so jackets and boleros, all with special occasions in mind.
Distribution-wise, the 52-item collection will be available at the end of January 2017 in physical and online multi-brand stores in Italy, France, the UK and Russia. The average price of Tresophie clothes will be €280. From the end of 2017, the brand will operate its own e-shop.
AIIM is the acronym of ‘Art is inside me’. The brand will focus on knitwear, offering a complete range of cardigans, sweaters, dresses, trousers and skirts. The collection will initially consist of about fifty items inspired by the work of Art Nouveau artist Alfons Mucha. Specifically, it will feature 3D-effect jacquard fabrics, items blending knitwear and lace jersey, as well as dresses in plumetis tulle jersey and pointillist-style jackets.
The Max Mara group indicated that art will be the creative starting point for this collection, in order to create a fascinating, unique mood.
AIIM will be available at the end of January 2017 in France, Spain, the UK, Italy and Russia, distributed via physical and online multi-brand stores. It will be positioned in the contemporary fashion segment, with an average retail price of €160. At the end of 2017, also AIIM will operate its own e-shop.
The Max Mara group already owns several brands, including Max Mara, Max Mara Weekend, Marina Rinaldi, Marella and Pennyblack.

Is Ralph Lauren moving away from luxury?

Ralph Lauren has always been associated with luxury and privilege and it’s polo player logo has been synonymous with dressing elites around the world.

Since the American-based fashion giant announced earlier this month it was to close a significant amount of stores and let go of 1,000 employees there have been plenty of questions as to the brand’s new strategy and direction.
Bottom line sales, specifically a drop in profits, have led Ralph Lauren to restructure its portfolio of labels and bring the company back on course. According to MediaRadar, a multi media sales intelligence tracker, the answer as to the company’s direction can be found in the initiatives of its CEO, Stefan Larsson.
Industry insiders speculate that Larsson’s history at discount retailers Old Navy and H&M are key to understanding its latest moves. MediaRadar analyzed Ralph Lauren’s advertising before and after Larsson’s start data shows two key course changes that shed some light on their new strategic direction:
High end advertising dropped from 55 to 26 percent
First there is a significant move away from luxury. While total marketing investment level didn’t change over one year, there has been a decided move away from supporting their luxury lines. In the first five months of 2015, fully 55 percent of marketing was for Purple Label and Ralph Lauren Collection, the company’s most expensive, most luxurious lines. Just one year later however, that allocation has been slashed to 26 percent. Instead, the lower-priced Polo and eponymous Ralph Lauren lines are the focus. Together they now represent 64 percent of all ads.
The second indication of new strategy is tightening product categories. In the five months from January to May, 2015, Ralph Lauren marketed 29 specific product lines. One year later this list was nearly halved to 14. The brands continuing with the most emphasis are Ralph Lauren, Polo, Lauren, and Denim & Supply. Smaller lines like Chaps and RLX didn’t get marketing support at all.
This data shows a key pivot from the company as the epitome of luxury designer wear to a focus on affordable fashion. For Larsson, this is a turnkey positioning solution, since he helped revitalize H&M and Old Navy to the powerhouse brands they are today.

Japanese retail giant Uniqlo coming to Disney

Japanese specialty apparel retailer Uniqlo is expanding its U.S. presence into the Southeast, and is also expanding its relationship with Disney. 
The company will open a two-level, 25,000-sq.-ft. store on July 15 in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. It will be Uniqlo’s first location in the Southeast. 
The new Uniqlo will incorporate the retailer’s heritage by conveying Japanese tradition, culture and beauty through colorful visuals and displays and Japanese-inspired daily giveaways. There will also be in-store events each week and month like Taiko drummers and a Japanese-style game show.
Last August, Uniqlo announced “Magic For All,” a global initiative with Disney Consumer Products that includes an apparel collection featuring Disney, Pixar, Marvel and “Star Wars” designs. In September, the retailer opened a Magic for All in-store concept shop on the top floor of its five-story flagship in Shanghai as well as themed sections within its flagship stores globally. 
“We are very excited to introduce our Uniqlo products, customer service and shopping experience to Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort,” said Hiroshi Taki, CEO of Uniqlo USA. “We are proud of our collaboration with Disney Consumer Products, and we look forward to offering our unique retail concept and products to vacationers and locals alike at Disney Springs. We hope to make every day at our store feel like opening day for our customers.”
Uniqlo currently operates 43 in the United States.

Cosmetics maker Revlon to buy Elizabeth Arden in $870 million deal

Cosmetics maker Revlon Inc (REV.N) has agreed to buy Elizabeth Arden Inc (RDEN.O) in an $870 million deal to strengthen its skincare and fragrance business and expand in high-growth markets including the Asia-Pacific region.

Elizabeth Arden’s shares rose nearly 50 percent to $13.96 in extended trading on Thursday, close to the cash offer price of $14 per share. Shares of Revlon, controlled by billionaire Ron Perelman, rose slightly to $31.30.
The deal, which comes less than six months after Perelman said he would seek strategic alternatives for Revlon, will help the companies better compete with deep-pocketed rivals such Estee Lauder Cos Inc (EL.N) and L’Oreal SA (OREP.PA).
The equity value of the deal is $419 million, based on Elizabeth Arden’s outstanding shares as of May 3.
Elizabeth Arden has a strong presence in the luxury skincare market, mainly in the anti-aging category, with brands such as Prevage, Ceramide and SuperStart. Its fragrances include those licensed from celebrities such as Britney Spears, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.
Revlon is stronger in hair color and color cosmetics, which are mainly distributed through mass retail channels and beauty salons across 130 countries.
“The combination will leverage Revlon’s scale across major vendors and manufacturing partners, improving distribution and procurement,” the companies said, adding that they expected cost synergies of about $140 million from the deal.
Elizabeth Arden has reported lower-than-expected revenue in six of the past eight quarters as it loses customers to rivals with more exclusive offerings.
BofA Merrill Lynch and Citigroup Global Markets Inc have committed about $2.6 billion to fund the deal and refinance the debt of the two cosmetic makers.
Revlon also said it expected 2016 net sales of $2.0 billion-$2.1 billion on a constant-currency basis, excluding the impact of the acquisition. This implies a “high single-digit growth rate” in net sales, the company said.
Revlon also forecast adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $400 million-$420 million for the year.

Golden Goose opens new store in London

Italian luxury brand Golden Goose has opened its first store in the U.K., located on Dover Street in London’s Mayfair.Spanning two floors, the 950-sq.-ft. space stocks the brand’s women’s and children’s collections, as well as the men’s wear range, Haus by Golden Goose.
The space has a minimalist decor that showcases the brand’s colorful pieces, which include green metallic leather biker jackets, red tulle skirts, glitter brogues and backpacks and a series of the signature low-top sneakers. They come with glitter finishes, studs and oversized crystals for spring- summer 2016.
The U.K. launch follows a series of openings of standalone stores across the globe, including New York, Tokyo, Seoul and Milan. Most recently, the high-end fashion label opened a shop on rue de Saint Peres, on Paris’ Left Bank, as part of its ongoing international expansion strategy.

The 10 most valuable brands in the world

Google has overtaken Apple to become the “most valuable global brand” this year, according to brand consultancy Millward Brown’s annual BrandZ rankings.

Just like last year, technology brands dominated the top 10.
These are the top 10 most valuable brands in the world and an analysis of what happened over the last 12 months to shift those companies into their respective rankings.
10. IBM
Brand value: $86.2 billion
Percentage change from last year: -8%
Last year’s rank: 4
What happened: Millward Brown says that IBM is “investing in its future,” particularly with its cognitive-computing system Watson, which is working across areas such as advertising, healthcare, education, and retail.
The company has also quietly built the world’s largest digital agency: IBM iX.
Millward Brown doesn’t give a reason why IBM’s brand value dropped from the previous year, but it is probably IBM’s move away from consumer products that has seen the company drop down the rankings.

9. McDonald’s
Percentage change from last year: +9%
Last year’s rank: 9
What happened: Millward Brown says that McDonald’s has made a number of improvements to the business this year.
It is making efforts to separate its drive-thru offerings — based on convenience and speed — from its in-store experience, where it has been rolling out customization, premium products, and improving hospitality.
Meanwhile, Millward Brown also notes the success of its healthier and lifestyle-focused McCafe offerings.
8. Verizon
Brand value: $93.2 billion
Percentage change from last year: +8%
Last year’s rank: 7
What happened: Millward Brown says that Verizon is another company that is investing in its future.
Verizon has expanded its business into the digital and video content and advertising markets, thanks to the $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL in May 2015. It also launched its Go90 mobile video-streaming app in October 2015.
7. Amazon
Brand value: $98.9 billion
Percentage change from last year:+59%
Last year’s rank: 14
What happened: Amazon was the fastest riser in this year’s rankings.
Millward Brown said that Amazon is constantly disrupting other sectors by creating new industry standards — everything from one-hour delivery time and its own proprietary entertainment content to the testing of delivery drones and its Echo personal assistant.
6. Visa
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Brand value: $100.8 billion
Percentage change from last year:+10%
Last year’s rank: 5
What happened: Visa is the only financial brand in the top 10 this year.
The company is a big sponsor of sporting events, and its blue, white, and yellow logo is ubiquitous in retailers across the world.
Last year, Visa, a FIFA sponsor, came out strongly against the corruption scandal at world football’s governing body. The company is continuing its partnership with FIFA and also the NFL and the Olympics.
5. Facebook
Brand value: $102.6 billion
Percentage change from last year:+44%
Last year’s rank: 12
What happened: Facebook continued its strong financial performance in 2015, and the company has been working to transform itself into a media platform, encouraging publishers to post original content —particularly video — to its site.
Millward Brown also credits Facebook’s long-term vision in areas such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and connecting the parts of the world that are not yet on the internet for the increase in its overall brand value this year.
4. AT&T
Brand value: $107.4 billion
Percentage change from last year:+20%
Last year’s rank: 6
What happened: AT&T is the second telecoms company in the top 10.
Millward Brown suggests that one of the reasons AT&T outperformed its competitors was the quad-play — mobile, fixed-line, internet, and TV — bundle it offers, through the acquisition of DirecTV.
The research company also notes that AT&T formed connected car partnerships with automakers, including Ford, BMW, and Tesla.
3. Microsoft
Brand value: $121.8 billion
Percentage change from last year: +5%
Last year’s rank: 3
What happened: Microsoft is the world’s most valuable B2B brand, according to Millward Brown.
The company has seen “exponential growth” in its commercial-cloud business — which has mostly been driven by its Office 365 programs — and Windows 10 is now active on more than 270 million devices worldwide.
In order to keep laser-focused, the company has streamlined its smartphone hardware business.
2. Apple
Brand value: $228.5 billion
Percentage change from last year: -8%
Last year’s rank: 1
What happened: Millward Brown said that Apple’s lack of big new products launching this year affected its brand value.
The company did launch the Apple Watch in April, but that hasn’t yet reached mainstream appeal — despite selling more units than its other smartwatch competitors.
But Millward Brown says that Apple’s move to invest in Didi Chuxing in China has shown how “Apple has progressively moved to building an ecosystem served not only by gadgets, but also services.”
Another big service launch was Apple Music, which rolled out last summer.
1. Google
Brand value: $229.2 billion
Percentage change from last year:+32%
Last year’s rank: 2
What happened: Millward Brown says that “Google has thrived thanks to continual innovation, increased revenue from advertising, and growth in its cloud business.”
Google has also been “very transparent about what it’s working on,” which boosted its brand value, Millward Brown added.
Google officially restructured its business under new holding company Alphabet in October, which allows its separate businesses to operate independently and move faster.

Harry Ramsden Owner Snaps Up Tesco’s Giraffe

The tycoon who owns the Harry Ramsden’s restaurants will add to his portfolio of casual dining chains this week by snapping up Giraffe from the UK’s biggest retailer.
Sky News understands that Boparan Ventures, the private investment vehicle of Ranjit Boparan, a wealthy entrepreneur, is the mystery buyer who has agreed to acquire Giraffe from Tesco (Xetra: 852647 – news) .
The deal is expected to be announced on Thursday.
Boparan Ventures, which also owns Fishworks, a London-based chain, is understood to be paying Tesco a modest sum for Giraffe, which was loss-making last year.
Boparan also owns the upmarket Indian restaurant in London’s Westminster, The Cinnamon Club.
Mr Boparan is best-known as the controlling shareholder of 2 Sisters Food Group, which is Britain’s biggest chicken supplier and the owner of Goodfella’s Pizzas.
The announcement of Boparan Ventures’ takeover of Giraffe is understood to be planned alongside the sale of Tesco’s interests in Turkey, revealed by Sky News on Tuesday.
The grocer’s disposal of Kipa will mark a further stage in its international retrenchment following the sale or closure of its operations in China, South Korea and the US.
Migros, another Turkish-owned retailer, is said to be the buyer of Kipa, which Tesco acquired in 2003.
While they will represent another important step in Mr Lewis’s efforts to tidy up Tesco’s sprawling portfolio of businesses, they will not be material from a financial perspective, insiders said.
Tesco is likely to sell the Turkish business for “a couple of hundred million pounds”, one analyst suggested on Tuesday night, while Giraffe would be “all but given away”.
Many of the assets being sold by Dave Lewis, Tesco’s chief executive, were acquired by his two most recent predecessors: Sir Terry Leahy and Philip Clarke, who wanted to diversify the retailer’s appeal and geographical reach in an attempt to emulate global peers such as Wal-Mart.
Tesco’s other international operations, in markets such as Hungary, Poland and Thailand, are not on the auction block.
Giraffe was bought by Tesco from a private equity firm headed by Luke Johnson, arguably Britain’s most successful restaurant investor.
Mr Lewis also wants to sell peripheral businesses including Harris (Stuttgart: HRS.SG – news) + Hoole, the chain of coffee shops, and Dobbies, the garden centres business.

Ralph Lauren to Slash 1,000 Jobs, Shutter Stores

Designer Ralph Lauren, right, poses in his office with Stefan Larsson, global brand president for Old Navy, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, in New York. Lauren is stepping down as CEO of the fashion and home decor empire that he founded nearly 50 years ago, and Larsson, who has been the global president of Old Navy for three years, will succeed him. 

Ralph Lauren unveiled plans to cut jobs and close stores as the luxury brand struggles with a prolonged period of weak sales. The apparel maker and retailer also disclosed sales targets for the year that missed Wall Street’s expectations, news that sent shares lower on Tuesday.
The company said it would book charges of up to $400 million, with a bulk of those expenses tied to lease terminations, store closure costs and severance expenses. Under the plan, Ralph Lauren RL -1.68% said it would also simplify the company’s leadership by moving from an average of nine layers of management to six. While Ralph Lauren didn’t disclose specifics, the company told The Wall Street Journal that it would close 50 stores and cut 1,000 jobs, or 8% of the full-time workforce.
“We have to evolve,” new CEO Stefan Larsson said in a presentation to investors Tuesday. “We have to cater to the life and style that people dream of today.”
Ralph Lauren also projected fiscal-year net revenue would post low double-digit declines, citing store closures and a weak retail environment in the U.S. Analysts had projected a far more modest 4% decline. First-quarter sales are also expected to be soft.

Luxury handbag maker Radley sold to owners of C&A

Sold: Radley started out as a stall selling handbags at Camden market

Sold: Radley started out as a stall selling handbags at Camden market

It started out as a stall selling handbags at Camden market but yesterday luxury label Radley was sold to the billionaire owners of retail chain C&A.
Famous for its West- Highland terrier motif, the firm was sold by private equity firm Exponent for an undisclosed sum. 
Radley’s Australian- born founder Lowell Harder is in line for another windfall from selling more of what remains of her stake.
Once described as a bags-to-riches queen, the former architect set up the business in 1984. 
At 33 and a mother to three young boys, she decided she needed a different direction in her life.
Her bohemian cousin had just returned from a trip to India with some leather bags and Harder was impressed by the unique designs. 
She contacted the manufacturer in India and arranged to have her own bags made and imported to London.
She started trading on a Camden market stall under the name Hidesign.
Today the business has 33 stores and counts Pippa Middleton as a customer.

Apple to Open First Apple Stores in India Within 18 Months

Following the Indian government’s approval of Apple’s request to open retail stores in the country, Apple is planning to launch three stores in India over the course of the next 18 months. 
Apple will open Apple-branded retail stores in Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai before the end of 2017, according to a source that spoke to Indian website FactorDaily. 
A team of more than 40 Apple executives and employees is said to be searching for ideal real estate locations for the three stores, each of which will span more than 10,000 square feet and will be located at “high street locations.” Apple is planning on investing $3-5 million per store. 
indian_flag At the current time, Apple has no retail stores in India and instead sells its products through third-party distributors in the country. India has decided to exempt Apple from a policy that requires foreign stores to source at least 30 percent of their goods from domestic suppliers, opening the door for the first retail stores. 
While Apple will be able to open Apple Stores in India, a second request to import refurbished iPhones, which it could sell at lower price points, was recently denied. India, like China, is seen as a largely untapped market for Apple, and the company is eager to gain a stronger foothold in the country. 
In addition to retail stores, Apple is planning to open a $25 million technology development site in Hyderabad, India, which will house more than 125 employees and focus on maps development. Apple is also said to be planning to unveil a startup accelerator in India, designed to incubate ideas for new iOS apps. 
Tim Cook is planning to visit India this week, where he is expected to announce the accelerator and perhaps the new retail stores.

Superdry achieves strong full year sales growth

Superdry owner SuperGroup has grown its full year revenues by 21.1% to £589.5 million as it focuses on category led product innovation and geographic and channel expansion.
In the year to 23 April, the retail division increased its revenues by 24.5% with like-for-likes sales climbing by 11.3%.
As a result, SuperGroup expects underlying pre-tax profit for the year to be in the range of £72.5 million and £74 million.

In a statement, the company said progress in North America and China is going according to plan and that initial losses in the regions will be in line with market guidance. This will lead to a small year-on-year dilution of operating margin.
Wholesale revenue grew by 13.7% in the year following a strong second half performance.
As well as opening new stores, the company plans to introduce two new distribution centres during 2016 to serve its retail customers in Europe and North America.
Euan Sutherland, SuperGroup chief executive, said: “The group has traded robustly throughout the final quarter as we continue to deliver our strategy to create a global lifestyle brand. We have opened 24 net new stores across our targeted European markets and have a strong pipeline of new stores for the new financial year.
“Our focus remains on the extension of the Superdry brand and execution of clear growth opportunities, under-pinned by continued investment in infrastructure to strengthen our business.”

Joules unveils plans to float on Aim

Lifestyle clothing brand Joules has announced plans to float on the Aim market of the London Stock Exchange. The admission is expected to take place in the second quarter of 2016.
Founded in 1989 by Tom Joule, the retailer is known for its colour and proprietary prints designed by the company’s in-house design team.

Group revenues increased 50.2% to £116.4 million between 2013 and 2015 driven mainly by new store roll-outs, continued expansion of e-commerce and increased sales within existing wholesale accounts.

Joules has opened an average of 12 new stores each year in the UK over the last three years. It also has a fast growing presence in North America and Germany with international revenues growing by 198% in the period.
In preparation for the admission, Joules has appointed David Stead as senior independent non-executive director and Jill Little as independent non-executive director.
Meanwhile, Neil McCausland will continue as non-executive chairman of the group while Joule will remain as chief brand officer and as an executive director following the float.
Colin Porter, chief executive of Joules, said: “Joules has a rare heritage and a strong presence across clothing and lifestyle product categories. Since the brand’s foundation more than 26 years ago, Joules has enjoyed strong, consistent growth developing into the much-loved fun, family, ‘time-off’ lifestyle brand it is today. We have a clear strategy to develop the brand further and we see real potential for continued growth across channels both in our core UK market and internationally.”

CHANEL opens new temporary store in Amsterdam

During the renovation of its store on P.C. Hooftstraat, CHANEL has opened a temporary store on the same road. The building, called crystal houses, is conceptualized by acclaimed Dutch architecture practice Mvrdv. The project not only represents a mean architectural feat, but also marks the arrival of the purpose-built luxury flagship store – a longtime phenomenon elsewhere – in the Dutch capital.

The new CHANEL boutique which features a glass facade occupies the lower floors of the building measuring a spacious 620 sqm., while the top floor remains residential.

J.C. Penney adding 60 new Sephora concessions nationwide

A decade after the launch of its partnership with beauty retailer Sephora, J.C. Penney will add 60 additional Sephora concessions inside its stores, the company announced this week.

More than half of the Sephora concessions will open by the end of the month, and most others will be up and running by mid-June, positioning those stores to capture greater market share ahead of the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons, J.C. Penney said.
J.C. Penney will open a new flagship Sephora location inside its newly relocated store at Northridge Mall in Salinas, CA. The concession will span approximately 3,000 square feet. Most Sephora concessions take up 2,000 square feet of space inside J.C. Penney stores.
There are now Sephora concessions in more than half of J.C. Penney’s 1,000 nationwide locations. The concessions offer fragrance and beauty products from close to 50 different prestige brands, including Lancôme, Marc Jacobs Beauty, NARS and Kate Somerville as well as the Sephora Collection private label.
The partnership with Sephora represents one of the best moves J.C. Penney has made in recent years, leveraging a concession retailing or “store-within-a-store” approach that in the best scenarios works well for both companies in question. While J.C. Penney gets a boost from Sephora’s reputation and traffic, the beauty retailer said J.C. Penney has helped elevate its brand visibility.
“Our 10-year collaboration with J.C. Penney has been an incredible partnership that has yielded both business growth and unmatched exposure in numerous markets across the United States,” said Satish Malhotra, EVP for Sephora inside J.C. Penney, Canada and Latin America.
Sephora helped revolutionize beauty retailing, removing the aloofness of the department-store beauty counter and bringing more freedom to try and buy. Perhaps that’s why J.C. Penney’s Sephora concessions are smack in the middle of the store.
In any case, it’s natural for J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison to want to expand on the partnership’s success, which gives the mid-tier department store a major differentiator compared to rivals Kohl’s, Sears, and even Macy’s.
“When we first introduced a Sephora inside J.C. Penney in 2006, it was a revolutionary concept,” Angela Swanner, SVP for Sephora inside J.C. Penney, said in a statement. “J.C. Penney was one of the first department store retailers to forgo the traditional beauty counter and work with a global beauty brand to build a dynamic Sephora shop inside its stores. Ten years and nearly 600 locations later, Sephora inside J.C. Penney has become a leading beauty destination that will continue to be a growth driver in 2016 and beyond.”

Qatari-owned Valentino offers $569m for Pierre Balmain

Italian fashion house Valentino, owned by Qatar’s Mayhoola for Investments, has offered 500 million euros ($569 million) to buy Pierre Balmain, French newspaper Les Echos has reported , citing sources.

The French fashion house, led by artistic director Olivier Rousteing, has also received offers from a Chinese group and an American investor, Les Echos said, without providing names.
The heirs of Pierre Balmain’s founder, Alain Hivelin, have until Thursday to decide whether to accept one of the three offers, according to Les Echos.
Valentino and Pierre Balmain were not immediately available for comment. 


Uniqlo global flagship store to open in Singapore in Autumn


Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo said on Tuesday that its first global flagship store in Southeast Asia will open in Singapore in the autumn. The new store, which will be the largest Uniqlo store in Singapore and in the region, will be located in the Orchard Central mall along Orchard Road, Singapore’s prime shopping strip.
“We are very honoured, and excited, to open our first Uniqlo global flagship store in Singapore. Having been a member of the local retail scene since 2009, we remain committed toward contributing to the local community and being an integral part of Singapore’s growth and future,” said Taku Morikawa, Uniqlo Southeast Asia CEO. “We will continue our effort to design and create innovative clothes that enrich the daily lives of people, as a reflection of our LifeWear philosophy,” he added.
The Singapore global flagship store will provide an extensive range of the latest lines for women, men, kids and babies, in a sales area of approximately 2,700 square meters across three levels in the Orchard Central, the first and tallest vertical mall in Singapore.
The opening of the store in Singapore is a new addition to Uniqlo’s global flagship stores in key locations, including New York’s Fifth Avenue, London’s Oxford Street, and Ginza in Tokyo. It will create more than 300 jobs in Singapore.

Louis Vuitton to close more stores in China

China Retail News reports that French luxury house Louis Vuitton has officially confirmed that the company will close two stores located in Shanghai and Shanxi, respectively, by the end of March 2016.
A representative of Louis Vuitton China said that the two stores will no longer operate from April 2016. However, Louis Vuitton has emphasized that the store closure does not mean they will stop their Chinese development strategy and they will continue to invest and expand there this year.
This wouldn’t be a first for Louis Vuitton in China though. According to a report on China’s luxury market in 2015 published by global management consulting company Bain, they closed six stores and opened two new stores in China last year. LVMH has stated in its financial report for the third quarter that due to the continued weakness of Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, and Macau markets, its Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, market share continued to shrink.
Last year media outlets reported that Louis Vuitton were set to close stores in the cities of Guangzhou, Harbin and Urumqi, which will leave the brand with about 50 stores in China. So will we see more stores in China close than what has been reported? Only time will tell.
Louis Vuitton isn’t the only luxury house to have been hit by China’s slowing economy. Giorgio Armani, Hermès and Versace are among those to have closed stores in the country over the past couple of years. 


Abu Dhabi ‘poised to buy’ flagship London BHS store

A shopper enters the BHS department store in Oxford Street in London, England. (Getty Images)

A shopper enters the BHS department store in Oxford Street in London, England. (Getty Images)
Troubled British retailer BHS is in advanced talks to sell its flagship store in London to the Abu Dhabi royal family.
According to reports in the UK, Abu Dhabi is close to snapping up the 45-year lease on Oxford Street.
Local media said negotiations had “accelerated” and a deal could be announced in the coming days.
BHS last week approved a major restructuring plan – known in the UK as a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) – to prevent the company from going into administration.
Its creditors are reportedly owed nearly £517 million ($730 million), and the retailer is also struggling to fill a pension pot shortfall valued at between £250 million ($350 million) and £550 million ($770 million).
Under the CVA, more than 40 of BHS’ 160-plus stores in the UK will close within months.
The company told Arabian Business on Sunday that international BHS franchises including stores in the Middle East would be “unaffected” by the restructuring.
In January BHS was rumoured to have agreed to lease part of the Oxford Street flagship to a Polish retailer called LLP for its junior fashion brand Reserved. This deal is understood to affect just one part of the store to be bought by Abu Dhabi.
BHS has been contacted for comment on the reported deal. 


Sales at Claire’s fall in Q4

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


Galeries Lafayette set for redevelopment

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

Honey Birdette to enter UK this summer

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


Starbucks to open in Italy

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