Category Archives: Other

Charles Tyrwhitt opens new Birmingham store

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Sonos to open first European concept store in London

The company said the “retail, exhibition, screening and listening space” will open its doors to the public on 16 November.

Situated in London’s Seven Dials, the store has been designed to replicate the home environment. Inspired by Sonos’ flagship store in New York, it features state-of-the-art listening rooms where guests will be able to stream their personal music to one or both rooms.

In addition, every space within the store had been sonically tuned by Sonos sound engineers who are overseen by Sonos sound experience leader, Giles Martin.

Sonos said the store will play host to an ongoing line-up of listening events, screenings, cultural talks and installations. The first of these events will celebrate David Bowie.

During the opening weekend, NTS Radio will be broadcasting live from the store. This will include a full 16 hour programme co-curated by DJ’s Ross Allen, Charlie Bones, Nabihah Iqbal and Bullion with friends and special guests and will feature mixes, interviews and interesting conversations inspired by and celebrating the life of Bowie.

Whitney Walker, general store manager at Sonos, said “The entire store experience is based on the idea of being in a really comfortable and inspiring environment. We’re proud to be opening our first European concept store in London, providing a dedicated space for music fans to create, connect and ultimately discover the best ways to listen to music out loud.”

Sonos is also planning to open more concepts stores in Europe including Berlin in 2018.

Commenting on the UK debut at Seven Dials, Sam Bain-Mollison, head of group retail strategy and leasing at Shaftesbury, said: “Sonos is one of the most exciting brands in the world and we are thrilled they selected Earlham Street for their UK debut. It is a significant launch for Seven Dials that adds to the authentic, cultural appeal of the destination.”

Joe Browns opens debut store at Meadowhall

Situated on Meadowhall’s High Street, the 4,000 square foot shop was designed by creative agency Dalziel and Pow.

Simon Brown, managing director and founder of Joe Browns, said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the store, I think we’ve achieved what we set out to do, which was to create an impressive three- dimensional version of our catalogue. It crystallises our brand in a physical space perfectly.”

The opening coincides with the conclusion of Meadowhall’s £60 million refurbishment which will be completed before Christmas. Some 73 brands, including All Saints, Hollister, House of Fraser and Hugo Boss, have invested £38 million in redesigning and refitting their stores to reflect the centre’s new contemporary feel.

Richard Crowther, asset manager for British Land, said: “The opening is an exciting step for Joe Browns, and as its very first physical location, is a testament to Meadowhall’s appeal as a leading UK retail and leisure destination. Our True Value of Stores research shows that stores improve brand awareness, customer service and trust and that physical also contributes to online sales that do not directly touch the store.”

Over the last 18 months, Meadowhall has signed up 30 new brands including Flannels, Tag Heuer, Nespresso, Neal’s Yard and Godiva. In September, the centre also secured a resolution to grant planning consent for a £300 million leisure hall extension.

Huawei opens doors to it’s Dubai Mall store

Huawei announced the opening of its first ‘Experience Store’ at Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates. The store offers consumers a full retail experience, which includes access to Huawei’s latest products and services under one roof. All new products will now be available for pre-booking and sale at the same time as its global launch.

We spoke to David Wang, UAE Country Manager at the launch and he told TechRadar that the reason behind the store was to give Huawei fans a better experience of Huawei products as well as a place to communicate with fans of the brand.

According to Wang, the strategy of opening the store is a long-term one and the Dubai Mall store is the first of the five stores that Huawei plans to open across the UAE. More stores are planned in the GCC with Saudi Arabia likely being the next country. Mr. Wang also mentioned that for this store in Dubai Mall, Huawei has partnered with Axiom.

When we asked Wang if the Huawei Experience Store will carry any exclusive products, he said that it won’t. He did mention that the store will carry the full range of Huawei products that will be released in the UAE but the idea behind it is for consumers to learn more about Huawei’s brand and products and not create competition with local partners and retailers.

The Huawei Experience Store is open daily from 10am – 11pm, Sunday to Saturday, and is located next to the metro link corridor on Level 2 of The Dubai Mall. It is currently taking preorders for the Mate 10 Pro which will be available from the 13th of November in the store.

Mr Price cuts its cloth to suit a higher share price

Credit: Freddy Mavunda

The share price jumped 11% to R169.99 after the announcement. The momentum continued for most of the trading session, with the share eventually closing at R192.25.

Diluted headline earnings per share are expected to rise between 421.4c and 439c.

Portfolio manager at Gryphon Asset managers Casparus Treurnicht said although the company did not give much information, it was clear that the guided range was significantly higher than the market expected.

“After Truworths and TFG came forward last week there might be a combination of short positions being covered and a sigh of relief,” Treurnicht said.

Mr Price’s share price recovery came after it lost 20% in 2016. The main losses came in August 2016 when the company lost 16% in one day after releasing a disappointing trading statement. The share price has since gained about 20% in 2017.

In its 2017 annual results presentation in March, Mr Price CEO Stuart Bird said that the strategy going forward would focus on improving the quality of merchandise while applying an everyday low-price pricing strategy and integrating technology to improve operations and customer experience.

Much like the rest of the retail sector, Mr Price has been affected by weak and declining consumer spending, which continued into the first half of 2017. The retailer’s recovery has been boosted by a number of factors.

Equity analyst at Vele Asset managers Matthew Zunckel said that judging by the positive trading statement the recovery of Mr Price was bumped up by a change in its procurement model, which was the main driver of growth.

The company previously faced issues of procurement and the quality of its merchandise was a constant complaint from consumers in 2016, among other misgivings.

Fashion chain Hobbs bought by South African firm

The deal saw private equity owner 3i offload the business for an undisclosed sum, although a price tag of £80 million has been mooted.

Hobbs has become the latest British retailer to fall into South African hands after it was acquired by The Foschini Group.

The deal saw private equity owner 3i offload the fashion company for an undisclosed sum, although a price tag of £80 million has been mooted.

Hobbs, a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge, has 140 outlets globally, including a concession in Bloomingdales, and booked revenues of £120 million last year.

Royal visit to Norfolk

Foschini, which also owns Phase Eight and Whistles in the UK, said it will look to enhance Hobbs’ online presence.

Foschini chief executive Ben Barnett said: “Hobbs is a strong British brand with rich design heritage. (Hobbs chief executive) Meg Lustman and her team have successfully repositioned and reinvigorated the brand, offering an excellent platform for further growth.

“We share their ambitions, not only in terms of maximising the success of their well-established UK presence, but also in their strategic approach towards leveraging the international appeal of the brand, via their physical store portfolio, carefully aligned concession partners and evolving e-commerce proposition.”

It is the latest in a long line of British retailers to get new owners from South Africa.

Struggling fashion chain New Look is owned by investment group Brait, while Steinhoff is the parent firm of Harveys and Bensons For Beds.

But the deal comes at a difficult time for the high street, with retailers across the board struggling with rising costs and falling consumer confidence as Brexit-fuelled inflation hits the sector hard.

On Tuesday new data from the British Retail Consortium showed that growth in non-food sales hit a record low in October

In Pictures: Harvey Nichols 2017 Christmas Windows

Premium department store Harvey Nichols has unveiled its Christmas windows for 2017, its largest visual scheme of the year.

For this year’s festive season, the luxury retailer looked for inspiration from the Autumn/Winter 2017 fashion weeks and pre-spring collections, selecting the most vibrant colours to catch customer’s eyes. During the dark winter season, Harvey Nichols opted to design window displays which ‘delight customers’.and help spread ‘a positive message’ during the holiday season by using a vivid colour palette, innovative lighting techniques and an upbeat sentiment.

Harvey Nichols unveils its Christmas Windows for 2017

The result is a series of celebratory window schemes in a rainbow of hues, bold textures and graphic patterns filed with star shapes and Christmas motifs. Harvey Nichols incorporates unique lighting techniques for the first time, such as rotating mirror balls, LED lights and holographic backgrounds. Potential gift ideas are also included in the window display within giant Christmas baubles in a playful, fun manner.

“Themes of joy and positivity ran through the AW17 and SS18 shows, evoking a determination not to dwell on the uncertain times of the current climate,” commented Janet Wardley, Head of Visual Display. “This inspired us to create a high energy scheme that uses dazzling colours, lights and shapes to entertain our customers – some of the vinyls are so bright that the team had to wear sunglasses during the install!”

Harvey Nichols Christmas Windows can now be seen at Harvey Nichols stores across the UK and Ireland.

Revealed: 23rd Dubai Shopping Festival dates for your diary

Retail festival will run from December 26 to January 27 2018, say organisers

The 23rd edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival will start on December 26 and run until January 27, 2018, it was announced on Monday.

Organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), the latest edition will feature a number of retail promotions and sales offering “unbeatable deals and discounts”, a statement said.

It will also offer the opportunity to win prizes from luxury cars and gold to cash at the daily mega raffles, the statement added.

The festival will also include concerts by international and regional stars, fireworks shows and a range of free-to-attend family-oriented activities in malls, and retail activations themed under Beauty & Perfume, Gold & Jewellery, and Apparel & Fashion platforms.

Niketown to open at Dubai Mall in 2018 – sources

Image Credit: Atiq-ur-Rahman/Gulf News

Dubai: Nike is planning a major overhaul of its retail offering in Dubai, according to four people familiar with the matter, with a huge new store slated for 2018.

The world’s biggest sportswear maker will open a Niketown in Dubai Mall sometime next year, said the individuals, who asked not to be identified because the information is not public yet.

In a significant shake-up of its retail offering, the new store will set in motion a reshuffle of its two existing spaces at the mall.

The opening of Nike’s new flagship shop, expected to be located in the space that Kinokuniya Bookstore left in February 2017, will pave the way for the existing Jordan Brand store to move in to the space Nike is vacating on the ground floor. A Nike Lab store, the company’s high-end retail concept created in 2014, will then open in the old Jordan store.

The Nike Lab store will feature limited edition collaborations and other rare footwear and clothing.

Dubai will become the ninth city in the world to acquire a Nike Lab, joining Milan, London, Tokyo, Chicago, Paris, New York, Shanghai and Beijing.

The new flagship Niketown store is expected to be one of the brand’s biggest globally, according to three people associated with the store.

“It will most likely be Nike’s largest store in the world,” said one footwear industry individual familiar with the negotiations.

The biggest Nike store in the world is currently in the UK: Niketown London covers approximately 42,000 square feet over four floors.

The space that Kinokuniya Bookstore vacated in February is 68,000 square feet, according to the company’s website, meaning that the Nike store would be significantly larger if it took the whole space.

According to a quarterly report released in June 2017 from Dubai Mall owner Emaar, the company currently charges Dh680 per square foot, with an occupancy rate of 99 per cent across its flagship regional malls.

At this average rate, not factoring in any discounts or special rental agreements, Nike would be expecting to pay over $12 million (Dh44 million) every year to lease the entire space.

In an emailed statement to Gulf News, Sun & Sand Sports said that they were unable to “confirm or provide any information at this stage.”

According to one individual familiar with internal discussions at Sun & Sand Sports, the sportswear retailer came to an agreement with Nike to revive the Niketown brand for its new Dubai Mall flagship store.

Since 2013, the US company has been moving away from the Niketown label, renaming its Niketown in San Francisco to simply Nike San Francisco.

Over the last two years, the UAE-based Sun & Sand Sports has been aggressively expanding its business, with plans to open 500 Sun & Sand Sports-branded stores between 2015 and 2022.

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Storm brews as Shoprite investors challenge pay policy

Mehluli Ncube, representing the Sentinel pension fund, described the invitation to participate in the teleconference as a little hostile. Ncube, who attended the annual general meeting on Monday to express his concerns about the remuneration policy, said the teleconference was in line with the new JSE requirements, which oblige companies to engage with shareholders if more than 25% of them votes against the remuneration policy.

The obligation is in line with the King IV recommendation, which also requires Shoprite to disclose with whom it engaged, the manner and form of engagement and the reasons for the dissenting votes. Shoprite should also disclose the steps taken to address “legitimate and reasonable objections”.

At Monday’s meeting, almost 30% of the shareholders voted against the remuneration policy — this was in line with the voting pattern of the previous three years. However, if the ordinary and deferred shares held by controlling shareholder chairman Christo Wiese are excluded, the level of opposition shoots up to 65%.

In financial 2016, 66% of “outside shareholders” voted against the remuneration policy. Ncube said they had consistently voted against the remuneration policy in the past because they felt the package awarded to the previous CEO, Whitey Basson, was out of line.

Ncube said that the teleconference was a new development, but the company had engaged with them after past annual general meetings. “Previously, the investor relations people engaged with us on an individual basis and that was quite constructive. I’m not sure how well the teleconference will work,” he said.

One analyst, who did not want to be named, said that the vote against the remuneration policy had increased in 2017, although the policy had actually improved “if you compare the new CEOs incentives with Whitey Basson’s package”.

“Outside shareholders” may have been concerned by the R50m paid to Basson in 2017, although he had played an executive role for only six months of the year. A footnote in the annual report says that Basson, who gave notice of his retirement on September 30, 2016, had an agreed notice period of 12 months. “He, therefore, receives guaranteed pay until 30 September 2017”.

However, a Sens announcement released on October 31, 2016, said that Basson was retiring at the end of December 2016 and would remain as nonexecutive vice-chairman.

On Monday, Shoprite announced that Basson, who has driven the group’s growth for 45 years, had retired from the board on October 25.

Truworths’ share price falls after disappointing sales report

The clothing chain said this was partly because it reported in weeks, and the decline would have been only 2% if the previous 53-week financial year had not shifted the comparative periods by a week.

Truworths said half of its total sales were “account” and half were cash. Both declined by 3%.

The group’s trade receivables book decreased by 4% relative to the previous period to R5.6bn. The percentage of active account holders able to purchase improved to 85% compared with 83% in the prior period.

At its flagship Truworths chain, account sales comprised 69% of total sales. Sales at Truworths stores declined 2% to R4bn despite its trading space growing 3% from the matching period.

Clothes on average were 1% cheaper than in the matching period in 2016, according to the update.

The group’s UK chain Office kept sales level at £89m, but contributed a decline measured in rand. Its trading space increased by 1% on the prior period and is expected to increase by 2% for the full fiscal period.

Competitor TFG is scheduled to release its results for the six months to end-September at about 1.30pm on Thursday.

Amazon closes two UK Whole Foods store

Amazon closes two UK Whole Foods stores just two months after completing its £10.7bn takeover

Amazon is shutting two Whole Foods shops in the UK just two months after completing its £10.7bn takeover of the upmarket grocery chain. The company is closing down its stores in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and Giffnock, East Renfrewshire meaning that there will be just seven UK shops remaining, all of which are in London.

Industry sources said that the decision to shut the stores made sense as neither shop could be serviced by Amazon’s online grocery service. Amazon Fresh has only recently been expanded from London to include Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

“It makes perfect sense for Whole Foods to close both stores from a business standpoint, the logistics must be nonsensical,” commented Steve Dresser from Grocery Insight.

“I think it marks the new age from Amazon where the balance sheet is scrutinised and sacred cows in Gloucester and Scotland aren’t permissible just to ‘spread the brand’.”

In contrast to the US – where Whole Foods’ 440 shops help to boost Amazon’s grocery distribution network – in the UK Amazon is largely using its Whole Foods acquisition to broaden the range of groceries available on its Amazon Fresh and Prime Now services by including items such as organic baba ganoush, crostini and fillet steak.

It has also attempted to widen the Whole Foods appeal by slashing prices on some staple goods, such as apples, to become more competitive. However, the overwhelming majority of Whole Foods goods are still much more expensive than rival supermarkets.

“A decision on the future of the stores will be made after the company has consulted with team members to discuss the proposal,” a company spokesperson said. “In the event that the decision is taken to close the stores, we will work with team members to explore alternative employment opportunities.”

Around 150 people are currently employed at the two Whole Foods shops.

Oxford Street may become ‘the world’s best outdoor shopping experience’

If plans to transform Oxford into a pedestrianised area go through, the Western section of Oxford Street may well become the ‘world’s best outdoor shopping experience.’ Ambitious plans for the transformation of the shopping district where unveiled today by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Robert Davis.

Depending on approval, the plans, which are currently under public consultation until December 17, include the transformation of Oxford Street and the creation of new, traffic-free public spaces. Plans include all east-west traffic restricted from entering Oxford Street between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus but maintaining the north-south routes through the section.

Plans for the region include new seating areas placed along the street, an 800-meter long work of public art to fit in the former carriageway, which would be level with existing pavements and new and extended taxi ranks close to Oxford Street. Two bus routes will be rerouted to provide connections for locals and visitors and the TfL and Westminister City Council will also consult on creating new high-quality cycle routes along quieter roads to the north and south side of Oxford Street.

“This is a hugely exciting moment for the capital. Oxford Street is world famous with millions of visitors every year, and in just over a year the iconic part of the street west of Oxford Circus could be transformed into a traffic-free pedestrian boulevard,” said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. “Whether you’re a local resident, a business, or shop in some of the area’s famous stores, our plans will make the area substantially cleaner and safer for everyone, creating one of the finest public spaces in the world. Alongside the arrival of the Elizabeth Line, the Oxford Street area will be truly transformed over the coming years.”

Galeries Lafayette to open stores in Istanbul, Kuwait

Galeries Lafayette plans to open a second store in Istanbul and its first in Kuwait City in 2019, tapping into high-spending shoppers in the Middle East.

“These two projects give further substance to our goals of consolidating our positions in the Middle East where we will have a network of eight stores,” Nicolas Houze, chief executive of the family-owned group said in a statement on Monday. “(It will) bring us closer to our objective of having around 20 stores in international markets within five years.”

The 7,500 square metre Kuwait City store is located in the Assima Mall, a high-profile shopping centre close to the city’s central business district and will be operated under a franchise with Ali Bin Ali, a family-owned retail and luxury goods group.

The second store in Istanbul is spread over 6,000 square metres in the Vadistanbul shopping centre and is operated under a franchise with DEMSA group, a Turkish retail specialist.

The Galeries Lafayette group, known for its flagship Boulevard Haussmann store in Paris, also has stores in Berlin, Jakarta, Dubai, Beirut and Beijing.

It opened a first store in Istanbul in May 2017 and is preparing to open a store in Doha, Qatar in 2018.

In a report on the global luxury goods industry this year, Deloitte listed the Middle East as a major growth market, with high-spending in Qatar and Abu Dhabi particularly driving sales for major brands.

Asda hires former Carrefour exec Jesús Lorente as new merchandising boss

Asda has hired Carrefour’s former chief merchandising officer Jesús Lorente for a similar role as the Big 4 grocer undergoes a leadership overhaul.

The news comes a week after Asda announced that deputy chief executive Roger Burnley will replace current chief executive Sean Clarke from January 1.

Lorente will succeed Andrew Moore, who is stepping from the chief merchandising officer role in January after almost 10 years with Asda, three of which were in his current role.

Burnley and Lorente will form part of a new executive team that will work to continue the momentum of financial recovery that Clarke has brought about since Asda’s parent company Walmart parachuted him into the role in June 2016.

Lorente has already joined Asda and is in the process of being introduced to the business to ensure a smooth transition.

He first joined French retailer Carrefour in November 2009 as director of supply chain in its Spanish business.

He then chief merchandising officer for the company’s Spanish arm in December 2012 – a role he held until July this year.

Before Carrefour, Lorente’s career spent almost 20 years with Unilever in the UK, Spain and the US.

ASDA Christmas Advert 2017

Click here to see

Argos Christmas advert 2017

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Cashier-less shop set to open in Cork

A brand new, cashier-free shop is set to open in Cork early next year, in what looks to be a world’s first.

The Irish Examiner reports retail technology agency Everseen is developing the store on French Church Street, which uses mobile technology, beacons, and other highly advanced techniques to allow customers to walk in, pick up what they want and simply walk out. The price of their messages will be applied to their account without any till or checkout interaction require.

Everseen, which works with some of the world’s top retailers in loss-prevention techniques, says the technology involves a lot more than simply removing the registers.

“0Line [Zero Line] gives offline retailers intelligence about their customers,” says Alan O’Herlihy, CEO of Everseen. “It allows them to respond to consumer behaviour and emotions, not just purchasing patterns.”

Amazon has been testing a similar store near its HQ in Seattle for several months, but it is yet to open to the public. Looks like there’s something of an arms race developing in the area of self-service.

O’Herlihy added that Everseen believes it can introduce the technology to “football stadium-sized” stores within the next two years.

Argos launches Christmas advertising campaign

The 60 second TV commercial is set in a magical Argos distribution centre where a troupe of Argos elves are helping Santa to deliver gifts across the country.

Created by CHI & Partners and directed by Gary Freedman, the advert aims to highlight Argos’s commitment to speedy delivery and its Fast Track same-day delivery service.

The action begins when a child’s long-awaited Christmas present, a Teksta voice-recognition robotic puppy, is found wandering the aisles of the distribution centre by an elf. The quick-thinking elf scans it in at the “elf station” to reveal its intended recipient on-screen whose family’s gifts are departing from gate nine. This leads to a blockbuster-style chase across the distribution centre in which the elf pulls out all the stops to ensure the robotic puppy makes it to the child in time for Christmas.

Argos is also giving three children the opportunity to feature in the advert. From Tuesday 7 November, parents can visit Argos’s Facebook and Twitter channels to submit an image of their child using the hashtag #ReadyForTakeOff.  The chosen winners will appear on national TV in the Argos advert for a whole day each on Friday 10, Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 November.

In addition, parents will get a chance to see their child’s face in a personalised social media version of the advert by uploading their child’s photo on the Argos Facebook or Twitter sites.

Gary Kibble, marketing director at Argos, said: “We love this edge-of-your-seat, high-energy Christmas campaign, which aims to surprise and delight across all channels – showcasing Argos’s Fast Track delivery commitment to getting customers what they want, how and when they want it, faster than anyone else.

“We hope our super-swift, stop-at-nothing Argos Christmas elves help us once again to break the traditional retailer advertising mould by adding some excitement, energy and above all speed to the nation’s Christmases this year.”

Kibble said Argos will deliver 1.7 million items  and process 27 million in-store transactions over the festive period.

The Argos ‘Ready For Take-Off’ advert forms part of a 360° campaign spanning TV, digital, print and in-store and social media activity.

MySidekick shopping app launches across SA

South African startup MySidekick has launched its free Android-based shopping app across the country, offering users special deals from retailers such as Clicks, Dis-Chem and Volpes.

Incubated at the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab business incubator, MySidekick has developed an application that provides users with relevant shopping deals and in 2015 secured a R4 million (US$280,000) staged investment from Stellenbosch-based technology funder and developer Alchemy-A.

“The user can personalise the app so that they only see specials of product categories they are interested in, and this can easily be changed or updated by the user. We then have proprietary algorithms that make sure there is a good variety of specials on display,” said MySidekick chief executive officer (CEO) Leonard Brewer.

“When a user arrives at a mall, they receive a notification reminding them that there are relevant specials for them, and they can then open the app from the notification to browse through them so they can decide which store to go to, to save some money.”

The aim of the app is to save the user time and money by showing them relevant retailer specials as they shop. On installation, the app will ask the user what they are interested in and then notify them of tailored specials when they arrive at a particular shopping destination.

“And it’s clever enough to know you’re not just passing by, it will only notify you once you have parked your car and are walking to the entrance,” said Brewer.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit (US) to Expand into the Middle East

After 75 years in business, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is going global. The nearly 600-unit chain has partnered with Middle Eastern hospitality group, Serenity Hospitality, to bring 45 Dickey’s locations to seven countries throughout the Middle East.

“Dickey’s has been in search for the right partner to take our brand international for some time now, and we truly believe we have found that in the folks from Serenity Hospitality, Roland Dickey Jr., CEO of Dickey’s Capital Group, said in an interview with FastCasual. “Their company is an acclaimed hospitality group in the Middle East with experience in the fast casual industry and we look forward to working with them to bring Dickey’s to the Middle East.”

Dickey’s chose the Middle East because of its heavy boom in commerce and hospitality.

“Dubai and Abu Dhabi particularly are two very popular travel destinations that we look forward to expanding in,” Dickey said.

Although the menu will be slightly different compared to the American units, it will, of course, include the chain’s Texas-style barbecue.

“However, we have had to modify it appropriately due to the region we are expanding in,”Dickey said. “For example, pork is typically not consumed in the Middle East, because of this we plan to substitute our pork options for lamb.”

Serenity Hospitality is led by CEO Youssef El Habbal, who has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry with a heavy focus on concept development and franchise operations.

“At Serenity Hospitality, LLC we take pride in owning innovative Food and Beverage concepts. After doing much research of high-quality American brands, we found that Dickey’s business model, menu options and future plans aligned perfectly with what we were looking for,” El Habbal said in a company press release. “A company’s values and heritage are extremely important to us, and Dickey’s long family-owned history along with their promise to serve only the best food to their guests meet the values that we look for in a partner.”

The 45 international Dickey’s Barbecue Pit locations are slated to opened in seven countries throughout the Middle East, including United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman. The first locations are planned to open in 2018 in the UAE.

Lloydspharmacy chief Cormac Tobin resigns

Cormac Tobin had been with the Celesio group for more than 10 years

Cormac Tobin, managing director of Lloydspharmacy’s parent company Celesio UK, has left the company “with immediate effect”, the multiple has announced.

His departure comes just one week after Mr Tobin – who had been with the Celesio group for more than 10 years – told Lloyds employees that 190 “commercially unviable” branches of the multiple would have to close or be sold.

Celesio UK said the remaining members of its board would manage the business “whilst a successor is sought”.

Brian Tyler, chairman of the management board of McKesson Europe – which owns Celesio – said Mr Tobin had “built a strong leadership team for Celesio UK”, and added “his warm and engaging personality made him many friends across community pharmacy and beyond”.

“I am grateful for the dedication that Cormac has shown over the last few years and his leadership through an ever-changing external environment,” Mr Tyler said.

Galeries Lafayette opens new Paris store

Galeries Lafayette has unveiled a new flagship store at the heart of the new extension to the Carré Sénart shopping centre in Paris. The opening marks the first significant addition to the Galeries Lafayette network of 56 stores in France in the past few years, and the new store concept is intended to be experience-led, fully omni-channel and firmly anchored in its local environment on the edge of the Forest of Sénart.

Spread over two floors, the store is based on standards of hospitality and services that provide a harmonious blend of physical and digital innovation, with comfortable relaxation areas, intuitive signage and sleek, modern furnishings. Remaining loyal to its strategic positioning, Galeries Lafayette offers a selection of prestigious brands spanning fashion, beauty, accessories, shoes and leather goods, in many cases some as the exclusive retailer within the shopping centre.

The 6,000 sq m store enables shoppers to enjoy a stroll through a natural setting, where products are displayed in spaces such as cabins, hunting lodges or kiosks. It features a monumental glazed facade and a light well at the heart of the store. French artist Julien Colombier has created a major artwork on either side of the facade, influenced by both plants and the urban environment, recreating the edge of a forest.

The artwork opens up into the store, where a grove of life-sized trees catches the attention of visitors, and is another nod to the forest-inspired interior of the store beyond.

In the woodland-inspired and modern space, the codes of the forest are found in product racks and displays, showcasing the retailer’s collections. The store is bathed in natural light, thanks to the glazed facade and particially transparent ceiling. Galeries Lafayette Carré Sénart has been designed to reinvent the department store experience by offering customers open plan spaces and different departments marked out by woodland-inspired furniture, created directly by sustainable funiture designer, Agence Forêt.

The store has been designed around both the physical and digital experience. On the first floor, a 150 sq m space is dedicated entirely to services, including e-reservations and Click & Collect. Following a number of pilot projects, the Digital Showroom is now available at Carré Sénart. This makes it possible to offer a very wide range of up to 100 products in a small, physical space. Usually used for leather goods, the 40 sq m area displays a selection of four luggage brands made available to customers thanks to a digital counter. Customers can see and try the demonstration produt and then, by placing it on the dedicated counter, benefit from a wide range of options (size, colour etc) and buy it online. Orders are collected using the store’s Click & Collect service within 24 hours, or delivered to the customer’s home.

The Carré Sénart store is also running a pilot project in omni-channel training of sales advisors. Staff are armed with mobile tablets to help customers throughout the entire shopping experience, including managing stock levels in store, providing a constant link with the website and giving proactive advice when trying items. Mobile payment points are also available throughout the store.

Next’s full price sales improve

by The Retail Bulletin

In the three months to 29 October online sales climbed by 13.2% but sales in the retailer’s stores were down 7.7%.

In a statement, Next said the lower clearance rates seen in its summer end-of-season sale this year had continued into the third quarter, both in the mid-season sale and its clearance operation. As a result total sales, including markdown sales, were up 0.8% in the three month period and down 1.2% for the year to date.

Next said its sales performance has remained “extremely volatile” and is highly dependent on the weather. In August and September sales were significantly up on last year as cooler temperatures improved sales of warmer weight stock.

Looking ahead, Next said the volatility was making it difficult to determine any underlying sales trend but added: “We believe the most reliable guide to sales for the balance of the year are the full price sales for the year to date, which are down -0.3%. This number is at the mid-point of the sales guidance we gave in September and so we are maintaining the central profit guidance we issued at that time, albeit we are narrowing the range.”

Next now expects its full year pre-tax profit to be between £692 million and £742 million compared to a previous guidance of £687 million to £747 million.

Uniqlo founder to retire

The chief of Uniqlo’s parent company Fast Retailing is to retire from the company he founded when he turns 70 in 2019.

Tadashi Yanai told the Japanese financial publication The Nikkei on Friday he is due to retire, but will continue as chairman of the company, stating “there is no such thing as retirement for founders.”

According to the publication, Yanai said a successor should have the physical strength and technological know-how of young managers to make quick decisions and keep up with the ever-changing fashion industry. “Young people must handle actual management,” he said.

“The next CEO will be the most suited person among our current executive officers,” he explained. Fast Retailing has over 40 executive officers, two of whom are Yanai’s children, but he already has denied that either will be his successor.

Fast Retailing in 2002 appointed Genichi Tamatsuka, an executive with experience working at Asahi Glass to take over as president from Yanai. But Yanai reassumed the presidency three years later after earnings flatlined and stronger leadership was needed to guide the company through a review of its businesses. In 2013, Yanai also reneged on his promise to retire as president at 65.

The retailer’s earnings are recovering, with higher revenue and profit for the fiscal year ended in August. The brand is gaining more recognition in China and Southeast Asia thanks in part to aggressive store openings. Though Fast Retailing continues to bleed red ink in the U.S. market, overseas operations are growing overall.

But the company remains far from its sales goal of 3 trillion yen (26.5 billion dollars). To that end, Yanai aims to make Fast Retailing into a global and digital business “that turns information into products,” a shift that depends on the progress of its information technology strategy.

Hugo Boss launches first digital showroom

Hugo Boss has launched its first digital showroom in Berlin, Germany, marking a shift in the company’s strategy.

The German fashion brand presented its Hugo pre-fall collection for 2018 at a pop-up space in Berlin to showcase its digital showroom last week. Via a 65 inch touchscreen, which resembles a table, viewers were able to browse through the entire collection, go through numerous colour and combination options and directly order pieces from the collection.

Specially developed for Hugo Boss, the dedicated application was developed in a short period of time using the ‘scrum method’ – a technique which uses a form of agile project management to enable the rapid visualization of solutions for complex issues within a flexible framework.

The launch of the digital showroom signals a change in Hugo Boss order system – from now on the German fashion brand will no longer prepare complete collections of physical samples for its order phase. The collection, including the entire range of available colours and combinations options, will be offered to customers exclusively in digital form.

Hugo Boss aims to roll out its digital showroom to its global market in 2018 following its launch in Berlin.

First BENTLEY standalone boutique opens in Dubai

The Al Habtoor Group is proud to bring together two world-class brands under one roof, Bentley, and St. Regis Dubai Polo, the world’s first ever equestrian resort located at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club.

The brainchild of Mr. Mohammed Al Habtoor, Vice-Chairman and CEO of Al Habtoor Group, the idea of building the luxury boutique was born over a year ago and after consultations with Bentley UK, the boutique opened on 27th October, making it a powerful addition to the whole Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club. Bentley has long been associated with Polo in the UAE. Over the years it has been sponsoring many high-profile polo events, including The Dubai Open, which is played at The Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club.

Clicks targets 900 stores after ace results

On Thursday the retail-led healthcare group posted a 15.4% rise in operating profit to R1.8bn driven by strong health and beauty sales that grew 14.7%.

Opening 111 stores, including 80 through the outsourcing agreement with the Netcare Group, bumped up its store footprint to 622. Its pharmacy network was increased to 473.

During the 2017 financial year, the retailer’s cash inflows from operations exceeded R2bn for the first time.

Clicks plans to invest R680m during the 2018 financial year to add 25-30 new stores, and about 35 pharmacies, among other things.

CEO David Kneale said the company was confident it would reach its new store target.

Only 50% of households in SA lived within 5km of a Clicks store, presenting a gap for growth and convenience. “We believe the faster growth we experienced in the beauty and pharmacy divisions will lead to a 6.5%-7.5% growth in the medium term,” said Kneale.

36One Asset Management equity analyst Daniel Isaacs said the company’s targeted store footprint had jumped from 600 to 900 over the past few years as it spotted certain areas growing more than predicted.

But he warned that if today’s economic environment continued, it would negatively affect the growth plans of Clicks and all other retailers.

“You can be a very well run business, but you can’t compete against or escape the environment,” Isaacs said. Electus Fund Managers analyst Damon Buss said that because of income inequalities not everyone could afford to shop at Clicks.

While the company would probably meet the target it would take a significant time.

Online shopping would have long-term effects on foot traffic while store location would remain a key issue.

“You run the risk of cannibalising some of your current store base or you put them in a less optimal location,” Buss said.

While retail health and beauty sales, including Clicks and the franchise brands of The Body Shop, GNC, and Claire, increased 14.7%, the Musica business performed poorly. Musica’s profit in the year under review was R28m lower than a year earlier but Clicks chief financial officer Michael Fleming said the company was managing the Musica brand for shareholder value.

However, the group would be open to selling the music and gaming retail chain to any suitor ” with a chequebook that won’t bounce”.

Clicks ClubCard increased active membership to 7-million, with the loyalty programme accounting for 77.4% of sales in Clicks stores.

Clicks declared a final dividend of R2.34 per share,

taking the total for the financial year to R3.22, an 18.4% increase on the previous year.

The company’s share price closed 0.55% down at R154.35 on the JSE on Thursday.

Christopher Bailey to leave Burberry by the end of 2018

London – The man who has been credited with transforming Burberry into the UK’s leading luxury fashion house is set to leave his role. President and Chief Creative Officer at Burberry, Christopher Bailey, is set to leave the company by the end of 2018, marking the end of his 17-year tenure.

The heritage fashion house announced Bailey’s impending departure on Tuesday morning, as Burberry is set to begin the next decade of its journey under the supervision of its new leader, Chief Executive Officer Marco Gobbetti. Bailey, who is set to pursue new, unnamed creative projects, will remain on board as President and Chief Creative Officer until March 31, 2018, after which he will step down from the company board. He will, however, remain with the company in a transitional advisory role, offering his “full support” to CEO Gobbetti and the rest of the team until he finally exits the fashion house.

“The decision to leave was not an easy one”

Christopher Bailey, President and Chief Creative Officer at Burberry

“It has been the great privilege of my working life to be at Burberry, working alongside and learning from such an extraordinary group of people over the last 17 years,” said Bailey in a statement. “Burberry encapsulates so much of what is great about Britain. As an organization, it is creative, innovative and outward looking. It celebrates diversity and challenges received wisdoms. It is over 160 years old, but it has a young spirit. It is part of the establishment, but it is always changing, and always learning. It has been a truly inspiring place to work and the decision to leave was not an easy one.”

“I do truly believe, however, that Burberry’s best days are still ahead of her and that the company will go from strength to strength with the strategy we have developed and the exceptional talent we have in place led by Marco. I would like to thank all my colleagues as well as Sir John Peace and the Board for all their support and faith in me over the years. I am excited to pursue new creative projects but remain fully committed to the future success of this magnificent brand and to ensuring a smooth transition.”

Christopher Bailey to exit joint role as President and Chief Creative Officer at Burberry

Since joining the team at Burberry back in 2001 as design director, Bailey has become one of the main driving forces behind the luxury fashion house’s transformation. Within the span of 17 years, Burberry has grown from a small-licensed outerwear business into one of the industry’s leading global luxury brands, best known for its trench coats and innovative marketing campaigns. Together with Angela Ahrendts, former CEO at Burberry, Bailey established the Burberry Foundation, a dedicated initiative to help young people achieve their goals. Later in October 2013, he was named as Ahrendts successor, ahead of her departure to Apple in May 2014. He remained in his current role as Chief Creative Officer and became the company’s first CEO and creative head.

In his joint role, Bailey is said to have continued to push the boundaries of creation and innovation at Burberry, leading the way for the brand’s ongoing elevation and turning the luxury fashion house into the industry’s digital leader and overseeing the reinvention of the company’s design and internal structure. He was the mastermind behind Burberry’s key flagship store on Regent Street and built a highly talented and experience creative team to continue the brand’s story. However, in July 2016, the company announced that Marco Gobbetti, CEO of Céline, would be the next CEO of Burberry, taking over the reins from Bailey in 2017, who transitioned into the role of President while remaining in his role as Chief Creative Officer.

p> Bailey worked together with the Board to create a new leadership structure before he was succeeded by Gobbetti this July. Since this summer, Gobbetti and Bailey are said to have worked together to develop a strategy for the next chapter of Burberry’s growth, sharing a strong ambition to drive the success of the Burberry brand while strengthening the leadership team. Gobbetti understands and supports Bailey’s decision to leave his joint role at Burberry, and will now begin the process of finding a successor for his role. “Burberry has undergone an incredible transformation since 2001 and Christopher has been instrumental to the Company’s success in that period,” said Gobbetti.

“We have a clear vision for the next chapter to accelerate the growth and success of the Burberry brand”

Marco Gobbetti, Chief Executive Officer, Burberry

“While I am sad not to have the opportunity to partner with him for longer, the legacy he leaves and the exceptional talent we have at Burberry gives me enormous confidence in our future. We have a clear vision for the next chapter to accelerate the growth and success of the Burberry brand and I am excited about the opportunity ahead for our teams, our partners, and our shareholders.” Sir John Peace, Chairman at Burberry thanked Bailey for his part in transforming Burberry, adding that he leaves the company in “the very best of hands. with a strong team and culture in place, led by Marco as CEO.”

“I have total confidence that Marco’s vision and leadership, with the excellent management team in place, will keep Burberry on the forefront creatively, digitally and financially, creating further value for shareholders in the next exciting stage of our evolution,” added Peace. Full details concerning all payments made to Bailey concerning his role as director will be revealed in the Directors’ Remuneration Report in the company’s annual report for the year ended March 31, 2018, added Burberry. In the past company shareholders have voted against the luxury fashion houses remuneration report concerning pay deals for Bailey. However, Bailey has decided to surrender various awards held by him under the company’s share plan as he is set to step down from the board and exit the company by the end of 2018.

Following the announcement concerning Bailey’s exit, company shares were down 1.46 percent at 10:00 am, making the company’s stock the worst performer on a rising FTSE 100 index. Bailey’s exit comes after a period of rapid expansion, during which the company has struggled with stagnate saled over the recent years. Bailey is set to leave big shoes to fill however, notes Charlotte Pearce, Retail Analyst at Globaldata. “Since becoming Creative Director in 2004, Bailey has contributed to total revenue growth of 2 billion pounds and has helped to regenerate the brand, turning it back into the aspirational, iconic label that it once was,” commented Pearce.

“With just over a year until Bailey leaves, there is plenty of time for Marco Gobbetti, who took over as CEO in July, to find the right candidate to fill Bailey’s shoes. It is crucial that Burberry finds someone with respect for the brand’s British heritage but is able to further evolve the label creatively and bring it into a new era.”

Photo 1 Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP

Photo 2 Credit: On the set of Mr.Burberry, Christopher Bailey with Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen, Burberry Facebook

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Kappahl has announced the appointment of Peter Andersson as the company’s new CFO, effective April 2018. The company said in a statement that Andersson brings many years as CFO of AB Lindex, where he currently is director of expansion.

“I am very pleased with the recruitment of Peter. His extensive expertise and experience from retail will be a great asset to Kappahl”, said Danny Feltmann, Kappahl’s President and CEO in a media release.

From April 2018, Andersson will lead and develop the financial work of the Kappahl Group. The company added that Andersson has many years of international experience from the retail business from strategic and operational perspective as well as qualified work in financial and risk management. He has previously worked for ICA Handlarna AB.

Kappahl was founded in Gothenburg in 1953 and is a leading fashion chain in the Nordic region with 370 Kappahl and Newbie stores, including an online platform, in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland and Great Britain. The company’s sales for 2016/2017 totalled 4.9 billion Swedish krona (0.5 billion dollars).

Asda appoints Roger Burnley as new president and CEO

by The Retail Bulletin

He will succeed current chief executive Sean Clarke who has held the position since July 2016. In a statement, the company said Clarke will be “taking some time out” but will “remain engaged” with Walmart.

Burnley returned to Asda as chief operating officer and deputy chief executive in October 2016 and at the time was identified as a future chief executive.

Dave Cheesewright, chief executive of Walmart International, said: “Roger was purposefully brought back to Asda to partner with Sean ahead of the transition to Roger taking up the position of CEO. He and Sean have worked as a great team and I’m really confident in Roger’s ability to continue building upon our returning momentum.”

Clarke will remain Asda’s chief executive until 31 December and will work closely with Burnley to ensure a smooth transition.

Cheesewright added: “After more than 21 years with the company, Sean has worked across five international markets including serving as president and CEO of Walmart China and obviously here in the UK too. He’s continually shown the ability to lead critical transformation and the last 15 months are no exception.”

Asda boss Sean Clarke stands down after just 18 months

Asda chief executive Sean Clarke will stand down in January, barely 18 months after taking on the role.

The supermarket chain, a subsidiary of US giant Walmart, has struggled over the past few years, losing market share to discount rivals Aldi and Lidl.

But it insisted Mr Clarke was departing because he wanted to take some time out, and that his deputy Roger Burnley was always being lined up as a successor.

Dave Cheesewright, chief executive of Walmart International, said: “Roger was purposefully brought back to Asda to partner with Sean ahead of the transition to Roger taking up the position of CEO.

Mr Clarke joined Asda from Walmart’s Chinese division last year

“He and Sean have worked as a great team and I’m really confident in Roger’s ability to continue building on our return to momentum.”

Mr Clarke has spent 21 years in various international roles at Walmart and was chief executive of its Chinese division before taking the top job at Asda last July. He replaced Andy Clarke, who had struggled to maintain the retailer’s revenues amid intense competition and falling food prices.

He is expected to return to another role at Walmart after taking some time out, an Asda spokesman said.

Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital, told The Daily Telegraph it was a “surprise” Mr Clarke was leaving given his relatively short tenure. However, he added: “Roger Burnley is a very experienced UK grocer, something that Sean has lacked.”

Mr Burnley was previously director of supply at Asda but left to become Matalan’s supply chain director in 2002. He later held the same role at Sainsbury’s before returning to Asda as deputy chief executive and chief operations officer in October 2016.

Mr Black said: “To take Asda forward they do need an experienced British supermarket general. Roger Burnley is up against [Tesco chief executive] Dave Lewis, [Morrison’s] David Potts and [Sainsbury’s] Mike Coupe in the larger store segment and they’ve been around a long time.”

Health and beauty boost profits at South Africa’s Clicks

Operating profit up 15.4% to R1.8 billion.

South African retailer Clicks reported a 14.5% rise in annual headline earnings on Thursday powered by health and beauty products and pricing aimed at thrifty consumers in a weak economy.

Diluted headline earnings per share rose to 502.1 cents for the year ended August 31 while operating profit rose 15.4% to R1.8 billion ($127.43 million).

“The core health and beauty markets in which we trade are defensive and have proven to be relatively resilient in challenging trading conditions,” chief executive David Kneale said in a statement.

Kneale expects the retail sector to face headwinds in the new financial year as slow economic growth and political uncertainty dampen consumer confidence and spending.

South African shoppers are feeling the impact of subdued wage growth, little to no job creation and creeping inflation, and recent surveys have shown a slip in consumer confidence.

The Treasury on Wednesday lowered its forecast for this year’s economic growth to 0.7% from 1.3%.

The pharmacy, health and beauty retailer declared a dividend of 322 cents per share, up 18.4% from last year.

Clicks opened 111 stores during the year for a total of 622, while its pharmacy network increased by 73 to 473,

Lloyds Pharmacy closes 190 store

Lloyds Pharmacy closes 190 stores, blaming government cuts

Reduced funding, higher business rates and the apprenticeship levy created ‘challenging market conditions’

Lloyds Pharmacy has announced it will close nearly 200 stores across England because of changes in government policy, with its parent company also blaming funding cuts and the apprenticeship levy.

In an internal letter to staff Cormac Tobin, the managing director of Lloyds Pharmacy’s owner, Celesio UK, said around 190 pharmacies would cease to trade through a combination of closures and disinvestments.

The leaked internal memo to staff, which was verified by a spokesman for Celesio UK, said the business had been hit by pharmacy funding cuts, as well as higher business rates and the apprenticeship levy, which had made “market conditions challenging”.

“Community pharmacy needs to adapt to the changing requirements of patients and the NHS, indeed it should be part of the solution to an overstretched health service,” Tobin said in the memo.

“To achieve this, we need a new operational framework that creates a thriving pharmacy network that continues to offer essential integrated healthcare and is rooted in local communities.”

The number of staff who could be affected by the closures was not confirmed by a spokeswoman for Celesio UK, who said current employees may be moved to other locations. But some pharmacists have taken to social media to warn of hundreds of job losses.

Aisha Adnan, a locum pharmacist, posted: “A branch [on] average has five staff and that equates to roughly 1,000 staff being laid off, plus so many pharmacists and locum pharmacists [will] lose their jobs and patients [will] lose their trusted services. This is not the picture of health.”

Thorrun Govind, a pharmacist in north-west England, said: “This is going to impact the most vulnerable patients and, with the GP crisis and pressures on the NHS, the funding cuts were most unwelcome.

“Patients need an accessible healthcare professional to provide advice, medicines and so much more to reduce pressure on other NHS resources. The closure of these pharmacies is disappointing when pharmacists should be supported to provide much more for the NHS.

“I would like to see independent pharmacists prescribers enabled to allow pharmacies on the high street to become triage centres not a reduction in pharmacies.”

Tobin said the company would be taking steps to support staff and minimise disruption for patients.

Julie Cooper, the shadow minister for community care, described the decision as “a devastating blow for Lloyds Pharmacy staff and their patients right across the country. The government is taking hundreds of millions of pounds of support away from pharmacies and now we see that it is patients who will pay the price.”

Cooper urged ministers to outline plans to support “the hundreds of Lloyds Pharmacy jobs that are now at risk” and explain what support will be put in place for patients reliant on their service. “The Tories are prioritising saving money over care. They cannot just expect elderly patients to get their prescriptions via an online service, without any support with their medication,” she said.

A spokeswoman for No 10 said there were measures in place to ensure people could access a pharmacy. She said: “There are almost 12,000 private pharmacies in England and these closures make up just 1.6% of the number. We don’t have full information on the announcement as yet, but we do make sure that patients can access pharmacists where they need to.”

M&S clothing boss leaves weeks after starting new role while John Lewis director quits

M&S clothing boss leaves weeks after starting new role while John Lewis director quits

A senior boss is leaving M&S’s clothing division

Marks & Spencer’s clothing recovery has been dealt a fresh blow after one of its senior directors quit while John Lewis’s boardroom is facing a reshuffle with the departure of a senior director.

Industry experts said that the departures were fresh signs of the challenges faced by retailers who are struggling to adapt to changing shopping habits in a tough environment.

Tom Athron, who most recently led John Lewis’s new venture business, is leaving, having lost out to Paula Nickolds earlier this year in the race to replace Andy Street.

Mr Athron has been with the partnership since 2005 as head of financial strategy before becoming buying director of Waitrose and finance director of Waitrose. After being overlooked for the John Lewis role the former investment director has been pushing John Lewis’s expansion into home services, such as approved tradesman who visit customers’ homes.

Paula Nickolds is now boss of John Lewis

Friends of Mr Athron said that he had resigned and was now looking for opportunities in digital retail after being pipped to the post by Ms Nickolds.

Meanwhile Jo Jenkins, who was made Marks & Spencer’s director of clothing earlier this month, is leaving to become chief executive of casual fashion chain White Stuff.

Her departure comes less than a month after the arrival of her boss Jill McDonald, who joined Marks & Spencer from Halfords to run its non-food business.

There is speculation that Ms Jenkins had wanted to be in charge of the division, but the retailer felt this would be too much of a leap and M&S wanted to recruit someone from outside the business with a strong operational background, rather than in just buying.

Ms Jenkins is leaving M&S to become CEO of White Stuff

Ms McDonald has no fashion retail experience but her stint running the UK arm of fast food chain McDonald’s is said to have given her a sharp awareness of how to use customer data.

With Ms Jenkins gone, Ms McDonald will be able to have a greater say in shaping her team rather than inheriting one. An M&S insider played down the chances of any disruption to the crucial Christmas trading period and said that festive lines had already been decided by July.

Stemming the steady decline in clothing sales remains a priority for M&S, with chief executive Steve Rowe only recently relinquishing control of the division. Mr Rowe has previously said the retailer gave customers “too many reasons not to shop with us” and has tried to wean the company off a destructive discounting cycle.

He has also set up a panel of retail shareholders who feed into the company on their views in an effort to address customer complaints about ill-fitting clothes, poor quality and excessively young ranges.

The efforts seem to be paying off so far, with M&S reporting a 1.2pc drop in like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to July 1, compared to the 5.9pc plunge a year earlier.

Ms Jenkins, who has a six-month notice period, started at M&S as a range selector in 1987 before spending 15 years at rival Next. She returned in 2013 as director of lingerie and beauty, before taking responsibility for womenswear two years later.

“We’re delighted for Jo – she’s been a real talent here at M&S, which is reflected in the progress she has made both professionally and for the business,” the retailer said.

“Becoming chief executive at a company like White Stuff is a natural next step for her. We wish her all the very best with her new role.”

Privately owned White Stuff has 131 shops and 53 concessions, and turned over £153.6m last year. Ms Jenkins will replace Jeremy Seigal, formerly CEO of Superdrug-owner AS Watson UK, who announced his intention to stand down in July.

M&S stock dipped 0.6pc in morning trade but recouped its losses and was trading flat at 344.50p by early

Debenhams launches first Australian store

by The Retail Bulletin

The small format shop in Melbourne is the first site operated with Debenhams’ franchise partner Pepkor, which is part of the Steinhoff Group.

Spanning 3,600 square metres across two floors, the store is the first of its kind for Debenhams and marks a shift away from the traditional department store format in Australia.

The store features a mix of clothing including fashion from the retailer’s collaborations with UK designers such as Jasper Conran, Julien Macdonald, Preen, Savannah Miller, Matthew Williamson and Jenny Packham. In-store services include a style suite, beauty rooms and a café.

David Smith, Debenhams’ managing director of international, said: “International expansion in key markets is a strategic priority for the business. More than 20 million shoppers visit our 175 UK and ROI stores each year and this includes a huge number of Australian consumers.

“Shoppers in Australia spend more than $5.1 billion on fashion and $8 billion on beauty products a year – add that to the fact that we know that our offering resonates and the next logical step for the business was to open a store in Australia.”

The new store in St Collins Lane has joined a portfolio of 243 Debenhams stores across 28 countries worldwide.

Dubai registers $55.5bn property deals so far in 2017

Dubai Land Department chief says data shows ‘increasing demand’ across real estate sectord

Dubai Land Department (DLD) on Monday announced that the total value of real estate transactions for the first nine months of 2017 reached AED204 billion ($55.5 billion), achieved through 52,170 deals.

It said there were a total of 37,633 transactions for land, residential units and buildings, generating a value of over AED88 billion.

There were also 11,699 mortgage transactions worth AED102 billion and 2,838 other transactions worth AED14 billion.

Sultan Butti bin Mejren, director general of Dubai Land Department, said: “The data clearly shows an increasing demand across all property categories, including land plots for various forms of real estate development, as well as buildings and residential units, which means that we are attracting a wide variety of investors.”

He did not give a year-on-year comparison.

Bin Mejren added: “We expect the market to remain on this upward trajectory of sustained growth, and to see demand continuing to diversify across various real estate categories. The momentum of the market is being driven and sustained by several factors but particularly the upcoming launch of Expo 2020 Dubai.”

The latest DLD report shows that the land category attracted AED143.40 billion worth of investment, achieved from 11,169 transactions across sales, mortgages and other transaction categories. Building sales generated 5,014 transactions with a total value of AED12.72 billion, while 36,000 transactions for residential units of all types crossed the AED48.77 billion mark.

The report also revealed the top ten real estate sales areas in Dubai, with Burj Khalifa taking first place in terms of value with 1,650 transactions worth AED6.239 billion.

Business Bay followed in second place with 2,754 transactions worth AED5.570 billion, while Dubai Marina was ranked third place with 2,596 transactions totalling AED5.357 billion in value.

In terms of mortgages, Palm Jumeirah topped the list with 578 transactions exceeding AED11.38 billion in value, followed by Business Bay and Dubai Marina.

Debenhams appoints David Adams as non-exec director

He will join the audit and remuneration committees and will become chairman of the audit committee in January 2018 when Mark Rolfe steps down from the Debenhams board.

With 30 years retail experience, Adams is a former finance director and deputy chief executive of House of Fraser and has also been chairman of Jessops and Moss Bros and a non-executive director at HMV.

He is currently chairman of Conviviality and a non-executive director at Halfords.

Sir Ian Cheshire, chairman of Debenhams, said: “We are delighted to welcome David Adams to Debenhams. He has had a long and distinguished career in the retail and consumer goods industries. His knowledge of the consumer and leisure sectors as well as his financial credentials will be a great addition to the board.”

Hermès opens world-first ‘Through The Walls’ retail concept in Singapore

Hermès has opened ‘Through The Walls’, an immersive exhibition of the French luxury label’s home universe created especially for Singapore.

Showing at Hermès’ Liat Towers flagship store on Orchard Road, the world-first Hermès home exhibition will run from 7 to 29 October 2017.

In a bid to showcase its new collections for the home, under the artistic direction of Charlotte Macaux Perelman and Alexis Fabry, Hermès has tapped Parisian architecture firm RDAI to conceptualize the sleek space in Singapore.

The new outfit reflects the new line’s “functionality and beauty, rigour and fantasy,” an extension that hopes to resonate with Asian clients.

As such, the Hermès Singapore flagship has undertaken a striking reinvention, allowing customers to become fixated on furniture, and actually touch and feel the homewares.

“Through the Walls is an installation that sees spaces metamorphosed: architecture within architecture, a home within a home; the store becomes a place to live,” explained the Paris house, in a press release.

As well as retailing the interiors pieces – which include exquisitely crafted tableware, handcrafted wooden furniture pieces, and wrought leather accessories, and bespoke items such as a scarf cabinet, wallpaper and lighting – Through The Walls will also offer interactive workshops organised and available to the public.

Marking the new collection and pop-up, Hermès has also released a short film on its website. Entitled “Poetics Mechanics,” it features the brand’s objects in a personified manner, highlighting the form, material and function of each piece.

This new homeware focus comes on the back of the Hermes’ store revamp in 2016. Reopened in May 2017, clients are now privy to a much bigger space, with a devotion to furniture and home accessories.

The sudden focus on home lines has been sweeping luxury retail in recent weeks.

This month, Gucci announced and launched its first-ever homewares collection, while New York jewellery Tiffany & Co. will unveil its first home collections under its new artistic director, this November.

Retail revamp for Dublin airport T2

Daa, the operator of Dublin airport, has confirmed the main retail area in the departures lounge of terminal two at the airport is set to be revamped.

Tender documents seen by DFNIonline show daa is looking for a panel of six construction companies to work on the refit, which will include the fit out of a 1,350sq m duty-free store, over the next three years. The panel of construction companies will bid for the work in the airport’s retail areas as it arises in the coming years.

The work will primarily take in Aer Rianta International (ARI)’s The Loop outlet in the terminal. A spokesman for the airport operator confirmed the work was initially planned for ARI’s directly operated stores, but that other third-party concessionaires in the terminal can decide to use a firm from the panel if they wish to refurbish their stores.

A two-phase project

Phase one of the initial project will see a new 410sq m liquor store added to the terminal for ARI and five new concession retail units developed. The concession units will be a 60sq m sunglasses store, a 60sq m luggage store, an 80sq m watches/jewellery store and two fashion stores (60sq m and 80sq m).

The main part of the second phase of the works will see the contractors fit out a new 1,350sq m duty-free store for ARI. Two direct retail fashion units (60sq m and 80sq m) will also be fitted out and the existing Irish Memories unit will have a soft refurbishment.

The refurbishment works will be the €600m ($706m) terminal’s first major upgrade since its opening in 2010.

Alfred Dunhill unveils new retail concept in Beijing

Luxury men’s fashion and accessories brand Alfred Dunhill has opened a new store in Beijing.

Nestled on Jianguo Road in the Chaoyang District, the latest China branch is located on Level 2 of Beijing’s SKP Shopping Centre. It features Dunhill’s famous retail Home design concept: elegant, sophisticated and masculine, with design accents that mimic Dunhill’s flagship store in London.

Taking the store count in Beijing to four (including two outlet stores), the new flagship offers the complete range of Dunhill products for men, including ready-to-wear, bespoke suiting, leather goods, and accessories, in which it started out producing first as a saddler back in England in 1893.

Nowadays, Dunhill is a division of Richemont, the Swiss-based, South African-owned group that is the third largest luxury conglomerate in the world. Dunhill, which owns a global chain of some 70 boutiques, is today located across every continent in most major cities.

In bid to bolster its global sales reach, Dunhill in early 2017 recruited Mark Weston as its new creative director, poaching him from Burberry.

After the showing of his Spring 2018 collection in London in June, Weston spoke to reporters about the “international” direction that he wished to take the quintessentially British brand.

“What I want for Dunhill is to be relevant. To make great clothing, for our times. To be British, but with an international outlook,” Weston said, after his June menswear show in London.

The new Dunhill store opening follows a string of store closures in China by the British luxury brand last year. According to the latest report by the investment research and management company Bernstein, Dunhill — along with fellow Briton Burberry — reported the most store closures in China between July 2016 and July 2017.

For the twelve month period China witnessed 62 net closures of luxury brand stores, the largest number observed by the research firm compared to other significant markets.

Marc Jacobs opens first online flagship store in China

Marc Jacobs opens first online flagship store in China

Oct 18, 2017

Marc Jacobs has recently launched  first online flagship store in China with Viplux, the flagship luxury channel for international luxury and premium brands on vip.com. The Marc Jacobs China-based online flagship is offering its hip hop-inspired fall 2017 collection to 300 million vip.com members.

Marc Jacobs chose Viplux as its partner due to Viplux’s dedication to creating end-to-end, high-end shopping experiences.

“The cooperation between Viplux and Marc Jacobs is a testament to Viplux’s expertise in understanding how to “become one” with the spirit of the specific brand, and to match that with market growth,” said vip.com co-founder, Arthur Hong.

Vip.com launched in 2008 its first foray into the luxury brands e-commerce field with Viplux. Marc Jacobs is among several fashion labels to open flagship stores on Viplux, including Armani, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, Diesel, Roberto Cavalli, Sergio Rossi and Trussardi.

Galvan open first retail space in London

Womenswear brand Galvan is set to open its debut retail concept, which will comprise of a showroom, bridal atelier, office, and archive space for the independent label.

Located at Clarendon Cross, Notting Hill, the studio will allow customer to purchase current collection, pre-order from next collection, as well as place orders from Galvan’s archive of previous collections, ahead of the service being launched online next year.

The studio will also be a bridal atelier for its upcoming bridal collection, which will offer “effortless, timeless and clean” options for all kinds of weddings from civil ceremony to late night party to daytime brunch, the brand states on its website, as well as looks for bridesmaids.

“Our philosophy is to put the customer at the core of everything we do, and to make the shopping experience as easy as possible,” said Paul O’Regan, chief executive officer at Galvan. “Galvan Studios provide the antidote to anonymous shopping. Intimate and transparent, these are spaces which give customers insight into the brand and its vision. We are excited to offer a suite of services that truly address the shopping desires and habits of our London customers.”

In addition, the studio can assist with complimentary fittings for online purchases, as well as offer free home delivery for any purchases made in the studio. Additional services launching includes complimentary fittings at home for up to 8 garments, with purchases only being charge after fitting.

London-label Galvan opens ‘studio’ retail concept

The womenswear label known its eveningwear as worn by A-list stars including Emma Watson and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, has also confirmed that has plans to open further studios in New York and Los Angeles.

London-based Galvan launched in 2014 by four women from the worlds of fashion and contemporary art, Anna-Christin Haas, Sola Harrison, Carolyn Hodler, and Katherine Holmgren.

The contemporary label is stocked globally including Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Opening Ceremony, Bergdorf Goodman, Elyse Walker, Boutique 1, Avenue 32 and Moda Operandi, as well as online at matchesfashion.com and Net-a-Porter.

Sainsbury Cuts Jobs as Brexit Puts Online Retailers Off U.K.

Sainsbury Cuts Jobs as Brexit Puts Online Retailers Off U.K.

The U.K. retail industry’s Brexit-linked turmoil deepened as J Sainsbury Plc said it would cut as many as 2,000 jobs, Zalando SE said the market is losing attractiveness and rival online fashion site Asos Plc discussed contingency plans.

Sainsbury’s move follows Tesco Plc, which announced 1,200 head-office job cuts in June. Asos, which sells clothing and accessories online, said Tuesday it may handle more of its distribution activities out of Germany if the U.K. falls out of the European customs union. That could put a damper on growth prospects for its 4,000-employee warehouse in Barnsley, England (a town where 68 percent of voters favored Brexit), although the company is continuing to invest in the site for now.

Brexit is heaping more upheaval on an already embattled industry. The country’s grocers have been grappling with discount rivals and higher staffing costs, while fashion retailers struggle against consumers’ preference to spend their disposable income on leisure activities rather than clothing.

The pound’s decline since the Brexit vote has pushed up sourcing costs: U.K. inflation climbed to its highest rate in more than five years in September, led by food and transport. And the risk of the U.K. falling out of the customs union leaves retailers wondering how they will be able to stock their shelves amid backlogs at ports.

Zalando, a German online clothing retailer that’s Europe’s biggest response so far to Amazon.com Inc., said Wednesday that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is weighing on the market’s prospects.

“We would like to ramp up investments in our U.K. business, but Brexit is posing a problem,” Zalando Co-Chief Executive Officer Rubin Ritter said in a phone interview. “If the new regime limits the flow of goods, it would be a challenge.”

Sainsbury said 1,400 payroll and administrative jobs in its supermarket business may be made obsolete by the introduction of a new information-technology system. It will also ax as many as 600 further human-resources roles due to a restructuring that will consolidate activities among Sainsbury’s supermarkets, home-goods and electronics seller Argos and Sainsbury’s Bank.

Asos on Tuesday reported sales growth in the U.K. decelerated to 16 percent, making it the company’s worst-performing region. That pales in comparison with the 47 percent spurt in its international business. Asos now gets almost two-thirds of its 1.88 billion pounds ($2.49 billion) in annual retail sales outside its home country.

Sainsbury’s latest round of cuts is the largest single amount the grocer has made under Chief Executive Officer Mike Coupe. The London-based retailer is in the final year of its three-year plan to slash costs by 500 million pounds and has said a new three-year plan to cut 500 million pounds of costs will begin next year.

Fat Face ramps up festive closures

Lifestyle retailer Fat Face will extend its closing times during the festive break and plans to shut 40 stores on Boxing Day, Drapers has learned.

The Boxing Day closures, which take place on the same day its winter Sale period starts, are four times greater than last year’s pilot, when 10 shops shut on the day. The exact store locations are expected to be confirmed next week.

Fat Face boss Anthony Thompson told Drapers it is also closing stores at 2pm on Christmas Eve to prepare for its Sale period, marking the first time the retailer will shut its doors earlier than its high street rivals.

Meanwhile, 210 of Fat Face’s 222 UK stores will close on New Year’s Day. Thompson said that although it has closed some stores on 1 January in previous years, it has “not been done on such scale” before.

The retailer outlined its plans to staff in an internal conference last week.

Thompson said: “We are preparing to go into the season at full price, as we believe customers want price integrity at Christmas.

“Family and price integrity are very important issues to us. We’re taking the opportunity to give time back to both our customers and our teams to spend with their families, as well as reassuring customers they can buy from us with confidence, and get real value with their purchases.”

The retailer has also vowed not to slash prices during discounting extravaganza Black Friday (24 November) and in the lead-up to Christmas again this year.

If any of the retailer’s prices change in the period from 15 November to 23 December, it has said it will refund the difference for customers.

It emerged in January that Fat Face’s stance against discounting before Christmas delivered 7.9% growth on full-price sales for the 54 days to 24 December 2016, compared with the same period in the previous year.

The retailer said in January that it had a record week of full-price sales in the week to Christmas Eve, and had 22% less inventory going into Sale than 2015.

Fat Face also operates six stores in the US, bringing total store count to 228. These will remain open on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Deacons plans sale of Mr Price franchise to SA firm

The firm’s chief executive, Muchiri Wahome, says the move comes after South Africa-based Mr Price Group Ltd approached Deacons with a proposal to purchase the chain of stores.

“The proposed transaction will be subject to various conditions that include requisite approvals from regulatory authorities and the shareholders of Deacons through a shareholders’ meeting to be convened once the sale agreement has been finalized,” said Mr Wahome in a statement yesterday.

Mr Price Group Ltd plans to purchase the Mr Price Home and Mr Price apparel brands which have been operating in Kenya since 2007, effectively ending Deacons’ 10-year franchise deal with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed South African company.

The deal, if approved by regulatory authorities, will see the South African firm take over all 11 Mr Price Home and Mr Price apparel stores in Kenya.

The proposed deal comes amid a 12 per cent drop in earnings for the Johannesburg-based firm, marking its first drop in annual profit since 2001 as South African consumers slowed purchases in a struggling economy.

Deacons suffered a similar fate this year after posting a half-year net loss of Sh180 million citing a tough operating environment. Net loss for the period (June 30) deepened by 242.81 per cent as inflation ate into the spending power of consumers amid rising expenses.

Deacons’ principal business is to operate retail establishments including franchise and department stores selling ladies, men’s and children’s clothing, footwear and accessories among other items in East Africa.

Deacons’ exclusive franchise deal with South Africa’s luxury fashion brand Woolworths ended in 2013 after the multinational took full ownership of its Kenyan subsidiary.

“We had a franchise (agreement) then it moved to a joint venture and Woolworths will now be an independent brand run by them (Woolworths Holdings),” said Mr Wahome at the time.

Dubai-based Lulu group launches India’s first Toys”R”Us store

Dubai-based Lulu group launches India’s first Toys”R”Us store in Bengaluru

The store opened to a huge crowd, with the first customer buying toys worth more than Rs. 1 lakh.

Abu Dhabi-based LuLu Group has launched the global retail toy brand Toys“R”Us in India, with the first store being opened in Bangalore, today.

The first store, touted to be an experiential one, has opened at Phoenix Market City, Bangalore and was met with a huge crowd on its opening day. Tablez India, a division of LuLu group, will run the stores.

In India, the brand has launched the store in two formats – Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us, a one-stop destination for baby essentials.

The store offers a full range of toys for both boys and girls in the age group 3 to 11 years and will sell everything from action figures to dolls, books, role play kits, remote-controlled cars, blasters, plush, wheel goods and bikes,

On the occasion of the launch of the store, Adeeb Ahamed, Managing Director, Tablez India, said “We are delighted at setting up the first Toys“R”Us store in Bengaluru.  India is among the fastest growing market for toys retail and is growing at a rate of 15 to 20% percent annually. We are planning to expand our stores in other parts of the country. We are aiming to have our second store in Delhi by November this year and by end of this financial year we will have two more stores in Chennai and Mumbai.”

H&M profits dive 20% on heavy retail discounts

Swedish fashion retailer H&M said third-quarter profits were adversely affected by heavy discounting of the retailer’s summer collection, in a bid to boost sales over the warmer months.

The world’s second-largest clothing retailer said net profits fell 20 percent in the three-month period ending August 2017. Net profit in the third quarter fell from SKr4.8bn a year earlier to SKr3.8bn ($470m). Sales increased 5 percent to SKr59.4bn.

Moreover, in the first nine months of its business year, sales rose just 4 per cent in local currencies. The fast-fashion firm’s new annual target is 10-15 per cent growth, according to Karl-Johan Persson, chief executive of the family-controlled group.

Persson told the Financial Times he was hopeful that the company could reach the target next year. “It is an ambitious goal but it’s realistic. We have to be humble not having reached it this year or last. Also it is a challenging market,” he added.

Helping H&M recover, the affordable European retailer – who’s suffered at the hands of online stores Asos and Zalando, as well as cheaper fashion chains such as Primark – plans to close 90 stores globally in 2017. In return, H&M will focus on its e-commerce.

The group said online sales should increase by at least a quarter in 2017. It added that in some markets, online sales already make up 25-30 percent of its revenues.

H&M plans to invest more in online shopping, including giving customers different and faster delivery options and increasing the product range. It is also investing in its supply chain in an attempt to reduce the amount of inventory it holds and cut the time it takes to get products into shops.

H&M recently opened its first shops in Colombia, Iceland, Kazakhstan and Vietnam. It operates more than 380 stores worldwide.

Gucci opens new Gucci Kids store in Dubai at Dubai Mall

Italian luxury house of Gucci has recently opened a new children’s clothing store in Dubai at the Dubai Mall. The store features Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s signature style. The store stocks the complete range of products for kids of the brand.

Sweaty Betty has opened its first European flagship at No. 1 Carnaby Street in London

Fitness brand Sweaty Betty has opened its first European flagship at No. 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.

’19 years and over 50 shops later, I’m so excited to introduce our flagship: No. 1 Carnaby. We spent years dreaming up this concept, I have even handpicked all of the partners to ensure they had a similar value and ethos to the Sweaty Betty brand, to live a balanced life that goes beyond fitness,’ says Tamara Hill-Norton, founder of Sweaty Betty.

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.

‘Our brief was to design a location filled with fashion, food, fitness and beauty, where you could come with your friends do a workout, grab a smoothie bowl, shop and get pampered,’ says a spokesperson on the Sweaty Betty in-house store design team. ‘Design wise we wanted to encourage our customer to spend time in store, bringing the fun side of our brand alive with unexpected touches including neon and graphic illustrations. My favourite example of this is the lockers in The Studio; from the outside they are really minimal and chic, then once you open the door you’ll find a fun feminist quote hand-illustrated by Lo Parkin.’

The design team wanted to stay true to the brand using its signature grey tones and fluoro pops that it has become known for. The space is really industrial, so to take No.1 Carnaby to the next level, the designers used bright neon installations throughout the space inspired by the lights of Soho. In the shop area itself, the shopping experience has been simplified using blackened steel fixtures and touches of marble and concrete.

As the main concept of the space was to create an area where women would come and want to hang out, homely touches were added, including hanging plants, oak furniture and lots of cushions and rugs.

‘In retail spaces designers now have to think, is this Instagrammable? At Sweaty Betty we love motivational quotes, so you will notice these throughout the store; on a mirror, or a big neon, as they are a huge part of our brand. To ensure these stayed true to our look, we used stencilling for a premium, long-lasting finish,’ says the spokesperson.

‘Our visual merchandising in-store has really elevated our retail space, we love telling a story of the collection with a selection of beautiful imagery, typography and at the moment a vase filled with eucalyptus all displayed on a shelf like a collage. You’ll also see this reflected in the windows; to launch our new Power Leggings we’ve got three girls acting out the store through really fun props.’

The café area has a huge communal table and hanging chairs, to encourage customers to sit and enjoy the space. ‘We’ve tried to think of everything, from organic Bamford products in the showers to specially designed cups in Farm Girl to ensure the ultimate 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.

Saudi jeweller L’azurde signs deal to buy rival

Saudi jeweller L’azurde signs deal to buy rival

Retailer says agreement inked to acquire 100% equity stake of Izdiad Commercial Company of Arabia

Saudi jewellery giant L’azurde has announced plans to buy a competitor operating in the affordable luxury sector in the Gulf kingdom.

L’azurde for Jewelry Company said in a statement that the board has approved the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tamkeen Industrial & Trading Company to acquire 100 percent equity stake of Izdiad Commercial Company of Arabia.

L’azurde, which raised SR477.3 million ($127 million) from its initial public offering in 2016, makes gold and diamond jewellery in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and distributes to wholesale markets in 52 countries, mainly in the Middle East.

The statement said the duration for the MoU is for a period of eight weeks from the signing date, extendable on the parties’ agreement.

It added that the transaction final price is subject to certain conditions and the outcome of the legal, financial and commercial due diligences and signing the final share purchase agreement between the parties.

The transaction is expected to be financed by bank credit facilities and cash generated from operational activities.