Category Archives: #uk

House of Fraser H1 profits and sales hit by heavy discounting

British department store chain House of Fraser half-year earnings fell to an 8.6 million pound loss for the 26 weeks to July 29, 2017, down significantly from its EBITDA profit of 900,000 pounds for H1 2016.

House of Fraser’s like-for-like sales and profits for the first half of the year dropped after being heavily disrupted by HoF’s new online platform launch and “significant discounting” of its in-house womenswear labels. Like-for-like sales fell 5.2 percent compared to 2016 and online sales dropped 9.8 percent during the 26 week period following the roll-out of House of Fraser’s 25 million pounds revamped online store in April. Gross profit slipped 5 percent from 207.2 million pounds in H1 2016 to 196.9 million pounds in H1 2017 as HoF cut prices to move old stock.

HoF sees 5 percent decline in profits for H1 2017

However, in spite of the sales and profits hit HoF remains upbeat about achieving growth in its final quarter, as the impacts caused by its new online platform and womenswear ranges were mainly over. House of Fraser’s new ecommerce system is said to be “working well” as “good progress” has been made to recover sale volumes. The department store group announced that it aims to be trading normally by the beginning of its final quarter in its trading update.

HoF also announced that it has completed the launch of its new womenswear in-house labels, which saw five existing womenswear brands dropped and the remaining four relaunched for AW17. The new collections have been “well received” so far, with “initial revenues” exceeding expectations” added the company. In addition, HoF also began its 18 million pound investment scheme in its distribution centre to increase capacity, drive operational efficiencies and improve profitability during the first half of the year.

The department store chain predicts this investment will deliver 5 million pounds of efficiency savings during the second half of the year, increasing to a run rate benefit of 15 million pounds of efficiency savings by the time the project is completed by mid-2018. House of Fraser also opened its first new store in the UK in nine years time during the first half go 2017. Located in Rushden Lakes, the store opened its doors on August 24. HoF also closed a loss-making store in Leicester and aims to shut an additional location in Aylesbury.

“My observations after a few weeks are that since Sanpower acquired the business in 2014 the primary focus has been on stabilising an enterprise that had been starved of investment for many years,” said Alex Williamson, CEO of House of Fraser. “Whether it be refinancing the business, the investment of over 100 million pounds in capital expenditure since the acquisition or a root-and-branch upgrade of the executive team, much has already been done to prepare us for significant transformation.”

“House of Fraser has much to be optimistic about. This is just the start of our journey with several other projects designed to provide additional sales and costs savings as part of the overall Transformation Programme due to commence shortly. I am excited about what lies ahead for the business and I am optimistic for the future. With the support of Sanpower, we are building the right foundations that position us well to deliver on our ambitions for sustainable profit growth.”

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Fat Face makes four internal senior promotions

Fat Face has promoted four of its senior staff to director level as part of an ongoing investment drive to improve its products and ecommerce divisions.

Emma Shaw has been promoted from head of design to design director, while Kate Brown was promoted from head of buying and quality to buying and quality director.

Shaw and Brown have been with the lifestyle and fashion retailer since 2011 and 2014 respectively.

Meanwhile, Nick Stevenson has been promoted from head of merchandising and sourcing to director of the same area, and Paul Wright has been promoted from head of ecommerce to ecommerce director.

Both Stevenson and Wright have been with Fat Face since 2011.

Fat Face chief executive Anthony Thompson: “I always think that internal promotions are a reflection of the talent in any organisation, and I am delighted for Emma, Kate, Nick and Paul.

“This announcement also reflects our determination to continue to invest in product and develop a truly multichannel business.”

Profits at House of Fraser under pressure from web platform launch

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half-year earnings sunk to an £8.6m loss

Profits at House of Fraser have come under strain after the launch of a new web platform and “significant discounting” took its toll on the retailer.

The department store chain said half-year earnings sunk to an £8.6m (€9.7m) loss, down from a £900,000 profit in 2016, as website sales suffered from the roll-out of a £25m online sales platform.

Gross profits also slipped 5pc to £196.9m over the period, as the group slashed prices on old stock to pave the way for a new womenswear brand.

Gross transaction value hit £545.8m, with like-for-like sales dropping 5.2pc compared to last year.

However, the retailer said it was optimistic about delivering growth in the final quarter, as the impacts of launching the new online platform and womenswear range were largely behind it.

Chief executive Alex Williamson, who joined the firm earlier this year, said: “My observations after a few weeks are that since Sanpower acquired the business in 2014 the primary focus has been on stabilising an enterprise that had been starved of investment for many years.

“Whether it be refinancing the business, the investment of over £100m in capital expenditure since the acquisition or a root and branch upgrade of the executive team, much has already been done to prepare us for significant transformation.

“And House of Fraser has much to be optimistic about.

“Our new House Brand Womenswear collections for autumn/winter have been launched and our customers’ response to date has been very encouraging.

“Our new web platform greatly improves our customers’ experience and online margins whilst our investment in the distribution centre will deliver cost savings through improved operational efficiencies.”

House of Fraser, which employs 5,000 people and has 59 department stores in the UK and Ireland, opened its first store for nine years in August at Rushden Lakes in Northamptonshire.

BHS.com sales soar 35%

Online sales at BHS grow 35% thanks to new start-up mentality.

The MD of BHS.com has revealed sales at the online retailer have increased by over a third in Q2.

Speaking to the Press Association, BHS.com MD Kevan Mallinder said sales grew 35%, bolstered by its womenswear clothing range which increased 350% over the period.

Mallinder said the business was treating the brand like a “disruptive start-up” after it was bought by the Middle-Eastern Al Mana Group in June 2016.

He told the Press Association: “Because we are privately owned by the Al Mana Group, they want to see the business succeed over the long term, which brings a different aspect to the decisions.”

Mallinder was bought in to direct the e-tailer six months ago, coming from food delivery firm Abel & Cole.

The much-loved British brand, BHS, entered administration in April 2016 leading to the loss of 11,000 jobs. An ongoing enquiry is investigating the controversy surrounding the retailer’s pension deficit.

Monki announces new UK store openings

Following the openings of Arket and Weekday on London’s Regent Street in August, parent company H&M has announced plans to open two new Monki stores, one at Westfield Stratford and the other at Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow. Both stores will adopt the Monki World concept, leading customers into an imaginery universe that has inspired 115 stores.

With fitting rooms decorated across a spectrum of rainbow colours, Sea of Scallops tables, shimmering features and exclusive Monki World facade, the new stores will offer the full storytelling experience.

Although technically the Swedish fashion brand’s debut in the Scottish market, the 480 sq m Glasgow store will cater to an existing fan base that already gets its fashion fix online.

The 370 sq m Westfield Stratford store will mark Monki’s third retail space in England, alongside its Carnaby Street and Bristol stores.

McDonald’s workers on strike in the UK for the first time

McDonald’s workers are staging their first UK strike since the US burger chain opened in Britain over forty years ago, amid a heated row over zero-hours contracts and claims of workplace bullying.

The 24 hour strike began at midnight at two outlets owned by the fast food giant which has been selling its burgers to Britons since 1974.

The Baker’s, Food and Allies Workers Union (BFAWU) said the staff had been left no alternative but to take “the historic step” after McDonald’s management failed to meet calls for better job security by ending controversial zero-hours contracts.

<img class=”responsive article-body-image-image” src=”/content/dam/business/2016/02/18/McDonalds_Burger_E_3299494b_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqpJliwavx4coWFCaEkEsb3kvxIt-lGGWCWqwLa_RXJU8.jpg?imwidth=480″ alt=”Burger”>

Credit: Fir Mamat/Alamy

The fast food workers in Crayford, near Dartford, and Cambridge are not officially unionised but are being represented by the BFAWU on this matter. The union’s ballot found 95.7pc in favour of strike.

“Despite all the attempts to change McDonald’s approach and help them become a fairer employer, nothing has been done on their side. Nothing has changed. Empty promises have been made. Yet nothing has been delivered,” said Ian Hodson, national leader of the BFAWU.

The staff are calling for pay to be increased to £10 an hour, up from the minimum wage of £7.50 for staff aged 25 and above. BFAWU said the fight for higher wages follows a campaign in the US, where staff are fighting for $15 an hour.

McDonald’s, which employs about 85,000 people in the UK, said it gave its staff the choice of flexible or fixed contracts with minimum guaranteed hours, but 86pc chose to stay on flexible contracts.

A spokesman for the fast food giant said the grievance is related solely to internal procedures and would affect less than 0.01pc of its workforce across just two of its 1,270 UK restaurants.

“McDonald’s UK and its franchisees have delivered three pay rises since April 2016, this has increased the average hourly pay rate by 15pc,” the spokesman added.

Mr Hobson said the voice against low pay “will not go away”.

“There is growing global movement calling for the fair and decent treatment of workers. In the US for example, the Service Employees International Union have shown the importance of collective action – with their ‘Fight for $15’ campaign having seen more than 10 million workers move towards a $15 minimum wage, and with 20 million workers in total having won wage increases since 2012,” he said.

“Hopefully, senior figures at McDonald’s will be listening,” he added.

Burberry to open new flagship store in Knightsbridge, London

The ew store is part of the first phase of The Knightsbridge Estate K1 development (1, Sloane Street) and will see Burberry relocating its local flagship from nearby Brompton Road where it currently trades from twin men’s and women’s shops. The new move to a site not far from Harvey Nichols will give it the chance to consolidate all men’s and women’s product into one flagship location on four floors and covering an area of over 15,000 sq ft.

The fashion brand and the property company have worked together before with Chelsfield having been responsible for the label’s Bond Street flagship back in 2005.

Despite a raft of openings in recent years, Burberry is carefully targeting its investment at present and only recently scrapped plans to revive the Temple Works mill in Leeds as well as delaying a decision about building a new factory on a neighbouring site. It is also reported to be looking at its London offices with a view to cutting costs.

But the brand is clearly still investing where it can see major returns. It has invested heavily refining its product offer, adding new star bags that appear to be making a major impact on its balance sheet. And it has licensed its beauty ops to specialist Coty, as well as opening a China-specific website.

The new Knightsbridge store is part of this very focused strategy with the area being a key beneficiary of the booming luxury tourist trade in London.

Burberry new store London at 1 Sloane Street

Radley to target America with Macy’s deal

British handbag and accessories brand Radley is set to return to the American market, following its withdrawal six years ago, after signing an exclusive deal with US department store chain Macy’s.

The deal, will see Radley opening concessions in 100 Macy’s stores by Christmas, with as many as 300 possible within the next 12 months, as the handbag brand attempts to crack the US market, according to reports in The Times.

“It was poorly thought through and the execution was even worse,” chief executive Justin Stead said in an interview with The Times. “This time around we’re going back with a very well thought through plan. I think it’s going to pay huge dividends.”

The move follows the private equity-backed company selling its products on TV shopping channel QVC, which was declared a success as Stead told the newspaper that during its hour-long show it sold out of its 750,000 dollars of product in just 30 minutes.

Acquired by private equity house Bregal Freshstream last year, it said at the time it saw “significant potential” in expanding Radley to the international market.

Radley was founded in 1998 and has around 32 standalone UK stores, it is also sold in John Lewis, House of Fraser and other department stores and independent retailers, as well as via its website.

Poundland given one of the biggest ever retail food safety fines

Poundland given one of the biggest ever retail food safety fines as mouse droppings found on baby clothes

The discount chain had to close one of its busiest stores when evidence of mouse droppings and urine were found on food shelves alongside gnawed and soiled packets of biscuits, nuts, sweets and popcorn

Poundland has been fined one of the biggest ever retail food safety fines (Image: PA)

A mouse infestation – with droppings found on baby clothes – has landed Poundland with one of the biggest ever retail food safety fines.

The discount chain had to close one of its busiest stores when evidence of mouse droppings and urine were found on food shelves alongside gnawed and soiled packets of biscuits, nuts, sweets and popcorn.

The problem, at the shop in Wandsworth, London, was deemed to be a widespread and uncontrolled rodent infestation by health inspectors.

Droppings were found throughout the store and the behind-the-scenes storage areas of the discount store, including on baby clothes.

The retail giant is now counting the cost of ignoring the major mouse infestation at its store in Wandsworth, London, after being hit by magistrates with what is believed to be one of the country’s heaviest ever retail food safety fines.

The problem was found to be widespread (Image: EyeEm)

The company copped the whopping fine after a court heard the London shop had to be closed using emergency powers in January last year after food safety inspectors uncovered the infestation.

Cllr Jonathan Cook, community safety spokesman, said: “This was a very serious rodent infestation in a busy and popular retailer so there was a very real and significant risk to public health.

“When our inspectors uncovered the scale of the problem they had absolutely no option other than use their emergency powers to order the entire store’s immediate closure.

“It was not permitted to reopen until the company was able to prove it had dealt with the problems and taken adequate steps to prevent it happening again.

“This episode showed a complete lack of regard for customer’s health and welfare and is reflected in the very substantial fine imposed on the company by the court .

“Food retail businesses must ensure that they do not jeopardise public health in any way if they don’t want to suffer a similar fate.”

Wimbledon magistrates court heard that Poundland Limited had been previously prosecuted on three occasions for similar outbreaks at other stories, including a £73,000 fine at Birmingham crown court, a £12,000 fine at Highbury Corner magistrates’ court and a £33,000 fine at Luton magistrates’ court.

In this case Poundland Limited pleaded guilty to four offences and in addition to the £100,000 fine the company was also ordered to pay £12,368 towards Wandsworth Council’s costs in bringing the case to court, reports the Daily Record .

New Look chief Kristiansen to step down

The chief executive of New Look is to step down just over two years after his turnaround of the high street fashion chain paved the way for its £2bn sale.

Sky News has learnt that Anders Kristiansen is to leave the company, which is majority-owned by South African investor Brait, in the coming weeks.

His departure is expected to be announced on Friday, according to a person close to New Look.

Mr Kristiansen, who previously ran a major Danish retailer’s huge Chinese operations and also held a senior job at Staples, the office supplies group, is expected to move to an undisclosed role elsewhere in the coming months.

His nearly-five year tenure at the company was characterised by significant expansion of its store network in China, where New Look is targeting 500 shops over the next few years, and the stellar growth of its digital business into the UK’s third-largest online fashion brand.

He has also presided over a recent shake-up of his executive team, recruiting Paula Dumont Lopez from Zara-owner Inditex to sharpen its product offering.

Brait’s takeover of New Look in 2015 cemented the presence in the UK retail and leisure sectors of South Africa’s Wiese family, which also has interests in chains such as Iceland and Virgin Active.

News of the change in leadership at New Look will nevertheless come during a challenging period for the mid-market clothing retailer and many other British fashion retailers hit by weakening consumer spending and the weakness of sterling.

Earlier this month, New Look reported a 7.5% fall in UK like-for-like sales in the quarter to June 24, with underlying operating profit declining sharply to just over £12m.

Mr Kristiansen is expected to be replaced temporarily by Danny Barrasso, New Look’s UK and Ireland managing director, while its board hunts a permanent successor.

The company now trades from nearly 600 outlets in the UK and almost 300 more in international markets – including more than 125 in China.

Announcing the results this month, Mr Kristiansen described the UK as a “difficult” market, saying: “As expected, the UK market has remained difficult, which has resulted in a disappointing quarter of trading.

“We have managed the business accordingly by controlling costs, tactical investment in our strategic initiatives and enhancing our product proposition.

“We remain committed to our long-term strategy of diversifying the business and reducing our dependence on the UK high street, and are confident that we will see improvements, but expect these to take time.”

Mr Kristiansen, who has in recent weeks been a vocal advocate for improved clothing factory conditions in the UK, could not be reached for comment on Thursday night.

A New Look spokeswoman declined to comment.

Sir Philip Green’s retail empire agrees to pay £30m to BHS creditors

Arcadia, which owned BHS until it was sold to Dominic Chappell-led consortium, reaches deal with store’s liquidators

Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire has agreed to pay £30m to unsecured creditors of BHS following the collapse of the department store chain with the loss of 11,000 jobs.

Arcadia, which owned BHS until it was sold to a consortium led by Dominic Chappell for £1 in 2015, on Friday agreed the deal with BHS’s liquidators, FRP Advisory, which will drop legal action filed against Green’s company.

A spokesman for FRP said: “The liquidators of SHB Realisations, formerly BHS, reached an agreement with Arcadia Group in relation to a number of matters, including Arcadia’s floating charge dated 14 April 2015.

“We can confirm that as part of the agreement, over £30m was released from reserves held in relation to Arcadia’s secured claim into the monies available for BHS unsecured creditors and the floating charge is to be released.”

The settlement avoids the prospect of the retail billionaire fighting a lengthy legal battle over the demise of BHS.

Green avoided another legal battle with the pension regulator by agreeing to pay £363m to rescue the BHS pension scheme.

Chappell is to be prosecuted by the pensions watchdog for failing to provide information for an investigation into its sale.

Chappell headed Retail Acquisitions, the company that acquired BHS. A year later, it collapsed with the loss of 11,000 jobs and a pension deficit of £571m.

The Pensions Regulator is prosecuting Chappell for failing to comply with three notices for information issued under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004. Failure to provide such information without a reasonable excuse is a criminal offence that can result in a fine.

Green, who was pictured on Instagram spraying bottles of champagne among women in bikinis, also on Friday announced a deal to buy four franchise-run Topshop stores in Australia which collapsed into administration in May.

Tiffany & Co first half 2017 sales increased 2%

Tiffany reported its financial results for the three months (“second quarter”) and six months (“first half”) ended July 31, 2017. In both periods, modest net sales increases and improved operating margins contributed to growth in diluted earnings per share.

In the second quarter: Worldwide net sales increased 3% to $960 million, while comparable store sales declined 2%. Management noted an increase in wholesale sales of diamonds, increased wholesale sales in the AsiaPacific region and strong e-commerce sales growth. Overall, growth in fashion and designer jewelry sales contrasted with softness in other jewelry categories. Net earnings rose 9% to $115 million, or $0.92 per diluted share, from $106 million, or $0.84 per diluted share in the prior year.

In the first half: Worldwide net sales of $1.9 billion were 2% higher than the prior year, while comparable store sales were 2% below the prior year, due to similar trends as noted above. Net earnings rose 8% to $208 million, or $1.66 per diluted share, from $193 million, or $1.53 per diluted share, a year ago.

Gant’s UK retail boss exits

The head of retail for Gant’s UK and Irish arm has resigned after almost five years in the position.

Darren Whelpton-Smith has moved on to rugby leisurewear brand Raging Bull as its head of retail, wholesale and ecommerce.

Whelpton-Smith is a former area manager for fashion chains Levi’s and Republic, and his last role before Gant was working as Fat Face’s area manager for nothern England for four years.

He joined Gant in 2012, and under his leadership he oversaw the opening of the brand’s new global flagship on Regent Street in London less than 12 months ago.

Meanwhile, Raging Bull was founded by former England rugby union player Phil Vickery and its collections are primarily sold through department stores and via its own website.

Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell to be prosecuted by pensions regulator

Dominic Chappell

Dominic Chappell, the former BHS owner, is to be prosecuted by The Pensions Regulator for failing to provide information to an investigation into the sale of the collapsed retailer.

Mr Chappell headed up Retail Acquisitions, the company that acquired BHS for £1 from billionaire Sir Philip Green in 2015.

The TPR said it is prosecuting Mr Chappell for failing to comply with three notices issued under Section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004.

Sir Philip Green sold BHS to Chappell in 2015 for just £1 (PA)

The notices were issued to Mr Chappell on April 26 2016, May 13 2016 and February 20 2017, it added.

Mr Chappell has been summonsed to appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on September 20 2017 to face three charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents without a reasonable excuse.

BHS plunged into administration last year, impacting 11,000 jobs and around 19,000 pension holders, leaving a £571 million pension deficit.

BHS went into administration last year (Lauren Hurley/PA)

The Pensions Regulator has pledged to flex its muscles recently, saying in July that it “will not hesitate” to prosecute companies or individuals if they refuse to hand over information.

After a drawn-out saga that included a parliamentary inquiry and public outcry over both Mr Chappell’s and Sir Philip’s conduct, the Topshop tycoon agreed to pay £363 million to settle the BHS pension scheme in February.

Under Mr Chappell’s tenure as owner of BHS, £8.4 million was taken out of the chain by Retail Acquisitions, with £6 million still owed when it collapsed last year.

Retail Acquisitions was put into liquidation in May although Mr Chappell, a former bankrupt, said at the time he would challenge the court ruling.

COMMENT: Why has Aldi overtaken Waitrose and M&S?

Our most recent UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) reveals striking evidence that customers hold the power when it comes to business performance.

The index reveals Aldi as the highest performing supermarket for customer satisfaction, overtaking heritage brands M&S and Waitrose, while also making the largest gains in sales and market share.

The three supermarkets with the lowest customer service levels – Tesco, Asda and Co-Op Food – all saw small drops in market share. Our analysis finds food retailers with satisfied customers saw a sales growth of 10.7 per cent, compared to only 1.8 per cent for those with satisfaction falling below average. Indeed, in each of the last 11 UKCSI reports, we have consistently seen that, on average, supermarkets with the highest customer satisfaction outperform the sector for sales and market share. Customer service is a clear driving force behind those who reaped the benefits of this sector growth – and a clear issue for those who were left behind.

Retailers would do well to take note. Indeed, wider analysis from the Institute of Customer Service presents a clear correlation between customer satisfaction and business performance. It shows, for example, that in 60 per cent of cases, when customer satisfaction increases or decreases, share price follows suit. Ignoring this places organisations at risk of huge potential loss.

The UKCSI suggests that not only is Aldi satisfying its current customers and securing the repeat custom which comes with this success, but the retailer is also increasing market share through customer recommendation. In addition, the effort customers are having to make to get what they want is lower for customers of Aldi than both heritage brands – meaning that their customers are experiencing a more seamless customer experience.

The prospect of inflation rising faster than incomes may well lead to more exacting demands over both price and service, so it is also interesting to note that Aldi significantly outperforms the sector as a whole in two key areas: satisfaction with price and complaint handling. It does seem that if food prices continue to rise, Aldi appears well placed to satisfy the needs of price-conscious customers whilst widening its appeal to broader segments for whom service and the overall experience is a key concern. I hope other retailers recognise this – customer satisfaction is a crucial differentiator and the realigned expectations of consumers must be met, particularly in an environment where competition is so fierce.

For those supermarkets who recognise that there needs to be a step change in their approach and a commitment to the customer service agenda, our recommendations are as follows:

• Get it “right first time”

Making the customer journey even easier, straightforward and intuitive and maintaining a high focus on getting it “right first time” is essential to convert customer satisfaction to stronger loyalty and recommendation.

• Prevent problems

Organisations must focus on preventing problems at their source in key areas such as the availability, quality and reliability of goods and services, which account for the largest proportion of problems.

• Maintain relentless focus on complaint handling

Dealing with complaints quickly and effectively is crucial. Key expectations of staff include listening carefully, showing understanding of the problem, taking responsibility and following up complaints.

• Develop engaged, competent people

Employees’ attitudes and competence are amongst the most important attributes of the retail customer experience. Investing in employees’ knowledge, emotional intelligence and problem-solving skills is therefore central to improving customer service. Organisations should commit to employee engagement, training and development as proactive, ongoing business strategies.

It may seem obvious that customers are key to business performance, but service too often falls by the wayside in boardroom conversations. Our research offers a clear imperative: retailers should place the customer at the centre of their business strategy, or risk losing out to those who do.

Athleisure craze set to peak at £2.5bn in 2017

The athleisure trend sweeping the UK is predicted to drive the sportswear market’s value to £2.5 billion in 2017.

According to a new report from GlobalData, sports clothing has jumped eight per cent year-on-year as retailers rush to cash in on the trend and release their own athleisure ranges.

This is nearly four times the growth of the total UK clothing market, which rose 2.1 per cent.

The trend has seen a resurgence in brands like Kappa and Ellesse, while more contemporary retail giants like Boohoo, Topshop, New Look and H&M have released their own ranges in an effort to establish a foothold against sportswear specialists.

The popularity of athleisure fashion has been largely driven by the wellness trend, according to GlobalData’s retail analysts Fiona Paton.

“The health & wellbeing trend, influence of high profile fitness bloggers and continued investment from the government in initiatives such as improving cycle routes will increase consumer participation in sport and exercise – providing retailers with a larger, more varied activewear customer base,” she said.

“Sales growth in athleisure is set to peak in 2017 but it will remain a very popular category over the next five years, outperforming total clothing.

“As fashion retailers such as New Look, Primark and ASOS invest in affordable, trend-led own brand sportswear ranges, female shoppers have access to more choice, will spend more on impulse and will purchase athleisure pieces in replacement of core casualwear items.

“GlobalData believes non-sports specialists can lean on their fashion credentials and skills in interpreting seasonal trends quickly to ensure regular newness and that collections remain relevant, thereby forcing sports players such as Sports Direct to up their fashion game.”

30 Things You Didn’t Know About John Lewis

“Westfield Stratford City – John Lewis” by EG Focus is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Despite being a 150-year-old department store, the UK’s John Lewis brand has been quick to evolve with the times and set its own standards in retailing.

The retailer is famed for its ‘fair’ approach to business from its ‘partnership’ status to its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ promise to consumers.

Winning repeated accolades for its customer service, and consistent ‘quality’ product in the eyes of its consumers, John Lewis has openly adopted new technologies, new ranges, new services to its customers and new partnerships with industry-shapers to stay on top.

Find out more about its retail approach and tactics in our 30 facts below:

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Image credit: John Lewis

1. John Lewis is a British department store and heritage retailer that opened its first store on Oxford Street, London in 1864.

2. The original Oxford Street store remains the flagship branch, and was refurbished in late 2007 at a cost of £60 million.

3. The Oxford Street store has its own roof garden and pub which reportedly had 171,000 visitors last year (2016).

4. John Lewis is owned by its permanent staff who are called ‘partners’ and the profits are shared amongst them every year.

5. There are 86,700 partners who collectively own 48 John Lewis shops, 354 Waitrose supermarkets, an online business, a catalogue business, a production unit – and a farm!

6. The business has reported annual gross sales of over £11bn.

7. The retailer is known for its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ promise to customers which pledges to stock the ‘best quality products, responsibly sourced’. If a national high street competitor is offering a better price for the same product – John Lewis will lower the price on that product in all of their shops – even if it’s a ‘sale’ price.

8. John Lewis partners reportedly stay with the company twice as long as the industry average.

Image credit: John Lewis

9. John Lewis has acquired other stores throughout the years which continued to operate under their original names until 2002. The two exceptions are Peter Jones in Chelsea and Knight & Lee in Southsea.

10. The John Lewis Partnership was the first department store group in the UK to adopt central buying, launching the ‘Jonell(e)’ name for its own brand merchandise in 1937. Since 2001 own brand merchandise has been known as ‘John Lewis’ merchandise. Additional own brands include Collection by John Lewis, as well as John Lewis & Co. and Collection Weekend by John Lewis.

11. In March 2017, John Lewis announced the launch of its own denim brand AND/OR in 15 stores.

12. In 2009, John Lewis launched the first of 12 John Lewis at Home stores in pre-existing shopping regions focusing on Electrical, Home and Technology products.

13. John Lewis will hire its first ever manager of brand experience for its new Oxford store, which is due to open in October 2017.

14. The new Oxford store will dedicate 20% of retail space to services and will have a concierge to greet customers and help them book appointments.

15. John Lewis permanently added a visual search tool to its website after 90% of users reported it to be a helpful function, leading to higher sales. The retailer was trialling FindSimilar – an app which lets shoppers upload a picture to search products.

16. Online retail accounted for 36% of the business last year (2016) and is expected to rise to 50% by 2020.

17. Inspired by the success of a “click and collect” offering, John Lewis has announced an £8 million programme to equip staff with iPhones – boosting them with technology to better assist customers on the spot.

Image credit: John Lewis

18. For a competitive edge, John Lewis is aiming to boost its range of exclusive products from 30% to 50% (time frame undisclosed).

19. John Lewis’ Christmas TV advert has become ‘event TV’. Its 2016 Christmas advert was named the world’s biggest, attracting 21 million global views on YouTube. The campaign cost £7 million.

20. 40% of John Lewis’ profits are reportedly made during the five weeks before Christmas.

21. In December 2016, the retailer reported a 31% year-on-year sales increase in the run-up to Christmas compared to 2015. This is accredited to two extra days of trading afforded by the additional bank holiday and the fact the sales started at 5pm on Christmas Eve.

22. John Lewis has recently topped a UK ranking of consumer perceptions of quality and reputation, conducted by YouGov.

23. John Lewis was amongst the top 5 brands named as offering the best customer service in the UK alongside Amazon, ASOS, M&S Food and Waitrose. The survey was conducted by the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) from The Institute of Customer Service.

24. In May 2017, John Lewis joined the Timewise Scheme, designed to help part-time employees, particularly in senior roles, progress their career and combat the challenges of flexible working.

25. In 2014, John Lewis set up JLAB, a global start-up accelerator programme run in association with innovation specialists L Marks. Waitrose joined the programme in 2017 creating the UK’s largest retail technology accelerator.

26. The 12 week programme offers 5-10 successful recipients access to John Lewis’s resources, industry-leading insight, free workspace, senior mentors and the opportunity to apply for funding in exchange for equity.

“Bristol – Cribbs Causeway … retail outlet” by bazzadarambler is licensed under CC BY 2.0

27. The themes for this year’s JLAB applicants included: Amazing Food Experiences, Amazing Store Experiences, Effortless Shopping; Help Me Live a Healthier Life; Smarter Supply Chain and Surprise Us – for miscellaneous innovations.

28. The retailer is currently exploring the possibility of renting out empty floor space as co-working offices for freelancers. A decision will be made in early 2018.

29. John Lewis was recently awarded ‘Best In Store Experience’, ‘Best Furniture Retailer’ and ‘Best Homewares Retailer’ at the 2017 Verdict Customer Satisfaction Awards and ‘Retailer of the Year’ at the 2017 Sunday Times Style Beauty Awards.

30. John Lewis has a written constitution that sets out its principles, governance system and rules. The ‘happiness of its members’ is cited as the partnership’s ultimate purpose.

As you can see with John Lewis it always comes back to the customer. But in order to offer such dedicated service the company also focuses on empowering and rewarding its staff. If retailers are going to remain competitive in the future both of these things will be vitally important.  

UK luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason closes its Dubai store

The multi-level store in Downtown Dubai was opened in 2014

British luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason has closed down its store in Dubai, it confirmed on Thursday.

Located in Downtown Dubai, the multi-level store was opened in 2014 as Fortnum & Mason’s first location outside London.

However, the brand said in a brief statement that the slowdown in the economy had led to the outlet’s closure last month.

“Due to the well-documented ongoing challenges with market conditions in Dubai, we have made the considered decision with our partner Al Khayyat Investments (AKI) that we will cease trading on the 9th of July,” it said.

“Fortnum’s will continue to be an English brand with a global palate. Our products are available to our customers in Dubai and around the world as part of our offer on fortnumandmason.com,” it added.

The British brand started in London in the early 1700s, and is most famous for its tea, confectionery and hampers.

In a statement, AKI also confirmed the news but added that it will continue to be a “key market leader for our other international brands”.

According to its website, the other food and beverage brands in the company’s retail portfolio include Il Caffe di Roma, Espressions – that also features Lavazza products and Burger Fuel.

Despite the softening in regional economic conditions, consumer spending in the UAE is growing strongly, according to recent research released by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Spending is expected to exceed $261bn in 2021, compared to nearly $183bn in 2016, the report found.

The research, based on recent data from Euromonitor International, revealed that consumer expenditure per household during 2016 in the UAE (around $103,000) was the highest when compared to other GCC countries.

Looking at consumer spending in the UAE in 2016, while housing was identified as the top category with $75.7bn, food and non-alcoholic beverages came second with $24.8bn worth of spending during the year.

Argos among firms named and shamed for underpaying workers

Argos has been named and shamed by the government as one of more than 200 employers to underpay their workers.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has highlighted 233 firms which failed to pay their employees the minimum wage and national living wage.

More than 13,000 members of staff were underpaid by these firms and each will receive back pay from their employer.

A total of £2 million is due to be paid to workers and the government has also issued additional fines totalling £1.9 million to these businesses. Employees will be contacted by their employer regarding the underpayment.

The government says retail, hairdressing, and hospitality businesses were some of the most prolific offenders. A list of all 233 employers is available to {view online}.

Argos was by far the biggest firm named on the list of 233 companies. The retailer failed to pay £1,461,881.78 to 12,176 of its workers, according to the government.

Moneywise reported in February that 37,000 current and former Argos staff had been underpaid by their employer. That 37,000 figure includes the 12,176 workers announced today, as the government has only counted current employees of

‘The government will come down hard on those who break the law’

Business minister Margot James says: “It is against the law to pay workers less than legal minimum wage rates, short-changing ordinary working people and undercutting honest employers.

“Today’s naming round identifies a record £2 million of back pay for workers and sends the clear message to employers that the government will come down hard on those who break the law.

“Common errors made by employers in this round included deducting money from pay packets to pay for uniforms, failure to account for overtime hours, and wrongly paying apprentice rates to workers.”

John Rogers, chief executive of Argos – which is now owned by Sainsbury’s, adds: “Shortly after we [Sainsbury’s] acquired the Argos business last year it was brought to my attention that, as part of a routine visit, HMRC had uncovered an issue with some Argos store systems and processes, which meant that some colleagues had been paid below the national living wage.

“Sainsbury’s prides itself on being a trusted brand where people love to work and I was, therefore, very disappointed to hear this and launched an immediate investigation. I am pleased to say the issue was resolved quickly and processes have been updated to ensure this cannot happen again.”

Marks & Spencer’s flagship store has re-opened in Dubai

New dining options and food hall at British retailer in Dubai Festival City Mall

Following a major revamp, Marks & Spencer’s flagship store in Dubai Festival City Mall has re-opened. For the first time in the UAE, you can now take a swift break from shopping at M&S and experience what the retailer is calling a premium, table-waited dining experience at the M&S Café.

The new dining experience is offering up a range of mid-retail therapy goodies, including pastries, smoothies, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas and even British favourites including fish and chips (see Pierchic’s claims to the world’s poshest fish and chips here) and afternoon tea.

But the relaunch hasn’t just focused on the café alone. M&S has also launched its Food Hall, showcasing more than 1,200 premium grocery brands and lines. From fresh fruit and veggies to oven meals and daily staples, M&S is bringing its signature British quality to Dubai Festival City.

There’s also a brand-new M&S Home department, with the widest range of the brand’s homewares in the UAE. Expect new bedding and towel ranges, crockery and crystal glassware, for example. All of which will go alongside the store’s existing range of fashion for men, women and kids.

We’re hoping the M&S Food Hall will be stocking its bottles of Belgian chocolate milkshake – they are unbelievable.

Open Sun-Wed 10am-1pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Dubai Festival City Mall, www.marksandspencerme.com (04 206 6466).

Subway opens 2,500th UK store in Keynsham

Following the global launch of the new format in Manchester in March, the store near Bristol is the second pilot featuring the design to open in the UK.
The shop will create seven full-time and two part-time local jobs. Earlier this year, the Subway brand announced plans to increase the number of stores in the UK and Ireland to 3,000 by 2020, creating around 5,000 new jobs.

Owned by family franchisees Stephen and Sue Pasco, the Keynsham store is one of 16 Subway stores they operate. The stores employ 145 people across Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset and Wiltshire.
Commenting on the new opening, Sue Pasco explained “We’re hugely proud to be able to open the brand’s 2,500th store and that it is one of the first UK stores featuring the new look design. The modern design will offer customers more of what they love about Subway stores – highlighting our bread baked in store daily, cookies and some of our veggies in modern displays – whilst offering great value and fresh, varied menu options.”
Brought to life with input from franchisees and customers from around the world, the Subway Fresh Forward design is expected to be seen in eight stores in the UK by Christmas, with all existing Subway stores to be refurbished in the new décor style over the next few years.

Weird Fish unveils new store design

The town centre unit, previously occupied by Costa, covers a ground floor sales area of approximately 1,200 square feet and is the brand’s 14th shop.

In keeping with Weird Fish’s coastal-inspired roots, the design of the store features a fun nautical theme and tranquil colours.
John Stockton, managing director at Weird Fish, said: “We have worked hard to bring our new store vision to life, it is a real move on for us and we are delighted to have opened it in the fantastic seaside town of Scarborough.”
Many Weird Fish stores are situated in popular holiday destinations in counties such as Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Yorkshire. Stockists include Debenhams, Cotswold Outdoor and Blacks. The opening of the Scarborough store coincides with the start of the brand’s busy holiday retail season.
Stockton added: “We are really excited about opening our second store in Yorkshire and feel that Scarborough is a great location for us. We can’t wait to show off our new store.”

Wilko warns nearly 4,000 staff could lose jobs

Homeware retailer is third British high street chain after Sainsbury’s and Asda to announce redundancy plans


Wilko has reported an 80% drop in full-year profits. Photograph: Alamy
Wilko, the high street homewares and households goods chain, has warned almost 4,000 of its employees that they could lose their jobs in a shake-up that will strip out a layer of management.
The potential job losses cap a brutal week for British retail workers, with Asda placing 3,257 employees into consultation and Sainsbury’s announcing plans to axe more than 1,000 head office jobs.
Wilko, which recorded an 80% drop in full-year profits last month, said it had placed 3,900 staff working as stock supervisors, till supervisors and assistant managers, into consultation, which could lead to redundancy. However, the family-run business said the changes to its structure would also allow it to create about 1,000 new senior supervisor roles.
The company said its new “simplified retail team structure” would “ensure it is best placed to continue to thrive within an ever-changing retail landscape and to ensure it can operate successfully and competitively”.
The job cuts come soon after the company announced that the government’s “imposition” of a minimum living wage had hit profits. Despite the 80% decline in its pre-tax profits to £5.2m, Wilko’s board still paid the company’s multimillionaire family owners a £3m dividend.
Antony Houghton, the chain’s retail director, said that independent studies had found a “legacy of retail structures” that “created complexity to manage which aren’t simple, fair or transparent for our team members”.
He said the company was “committed to the future growth of the business and reviewing how we stay relevant to our customers. We do this by making sure all retail operations are fit for the future in order to provide customers with the best possible service.
“As a family-run business, we care greatly about team members and know that change is never easy. We are working with our recognised trade union the GMB, listening to team members and offering support at all levels. We are entering into a long period of consultation and wherever possible are aiming to redeploy team members into new roles and offering help and support to those seeking new opportunities.”
The company, founded by James Kemsey Wilkinson – known as JK – in Leicester in 1930 has grown to employ 20,000 people working in 406 stores across the country, but has struggled to compete with the rise of other discount chains such as B&M and Poundland.
Wilko, which recently shortened its name from Wilkinson, is 100% owned by the Wilkinson family and is one of the biggest privately-owned companies in Britain. It describes its mission as “Todobilation” – which it says describes the “jubilation in a to do. Either the excitement and anticipation of starting something or the sense of achievement when it’s done.”
In its annual accounts, the company hit out at George Osborne’s introduction of the national living wage, which starts at £7.50 an hour for over-25s. “Chancellor Osborne’s final austerity budget surprised the industry by its unilateral imposition of a statutory minimum living wage at well above expected levels,” the company said.
Lisa Wilkinson, a lawyer and grandchild of the founder, is chairwoman of the company and bought out the shares of her cousin Karin Swann, who was co-chair, for £63m in 2015.
This week Asda, Britain’s third-largest supermarket, singled out 3,257 employees in 18 underperforming and overstaffed stores, and is also understood to also be looking at staffing levels in a further 59 of its supermarkets.
The 18 stores facing staff cuts include branches in Halifax in West Yorkshire, Broadstairs in Kent and the Basildon Eastgate store in Essex. Staff will face a series of one-to-one meetings over the next three weeks. The eventual job-loss figure is expected to be in the hundreds.
Asda recently posted its worst annual figures since being taken over by Walmart in 1999, as fierce competition in the UK supermarket sector took its toll.
The supermarket industry is going through massive change as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons cut costs to respond to the threat posed by the fast-growing discounters Aldi and Lidl, as well as grocery sales moving online.
Sainsbury’s is cutting more than 1,000 jobs at its head office as part of an efficiency drive designed to save £500m. The UK’s second-largest supermarket chain has drafted in McKinsey, the management consultancy, to draw up a headcount reduction plan. It comes on top of 400 job cuts in March.
Tesco, the country’s biggest supermarket, announced in June that it was cutting 1,200 jobs at its head office and 1,100 at a call centre.

The Fragrance Shop posts bumper trading figures

Operating 183 stores nationwide, the retailer’s online operation also grew with sales rising by 34%.
Meanwhile, EBITDA rose by 7.6% to £15.1 million and net profit increased by 16.3% to £10.2 million year-on-year.

Sanjay Vadera, chief executive of The Fragrance Shop, said: “We have achieved outstanding like for like sales growth for another year as a result of listening to our customers and giving them what they are asking for; an expanding range of accessibly-priced luxury fragrances, being first to market with exclusives, the best possible retail experience and an expanding store portfolio."
The Fragrance Shop is on track to open its 200th store this year as well as a concession store format in partnership with House of Fraser across 28 sites. It also plans to unveil its new ‘Scentaddict’ subscription service, currently in BETA testing, which will allow customers to try luxury scents monthly with no commitment.

New Look sales nosedive in ‘disappointing’ first quarter

• Underlying operating profit slumped 60%
• UK like-for-like sales dropped 7.5%
• Overall revenue down 4.4%
The fashion retailer recorded a 4.4% drop in revenue to £338.7m in the 13 weeks to June 24, exacerbated by a 7.5% plummet in UK like-for-like sales.
The retailer’s underlying operating profit plunged 60% to £12.1m whilst EBITDA fell 37% to £27.2m, which the business attributed to a “challenging UK sales performance and investment in strategic initiatives.”
New Look posted declines in its own-brand like-for-like sales and own-website sales of 8.2% and 0.6% respectively, while its third-party ecommerce sales rose 15.7%.
Chinese expansion
The fast-fashion retailer opened 17 new stores in China during the period, taking its bricks-and-mortar footprint in the country to 127.
The retailer, which posted a slump in full-year profits in June, also trialled a new store concept in the UK during the period.
Chief executive Anders Kristiansen said: “As expected, the UK market has remained difficult, which has resulted in a disappointing quarter of trading. We have managed the business accordingly by controlling costs, tactical investment in our strategic initiatives and enhancing our product proposition.
“We remain committed to our long-term strategy of diversifying the business and reducing our dependence on the UK high street, and are confident that we will see improvements, but expect these to take time.
“Looking ahead, we expect the consumer economy to remain fragile and challenging market conditions to persist into 2018. We will continue to manage our business prudently and focus on providing our customers with exceptional product and real value for money.”
The fashion retailer’s latest results come shortly after a raft of changes to its senior team.
The retailer’s menswear boss Christopher Englinde and footwear director Amanda Wain exited the business in June.
Shortly afterwards, New Look appointed former Zara Basic head of product Paula Dumont Lopez as its new chief creative officer, succeeding Roger Wightman.
Dumont will join the retailer in September.
The fast fashion retailer also poached Mango womenswear director Rosa Gutierrez Sanchez to bolster its buying, merchandising and design departments, although she has joined the business on a contract basis.

Tesco to replace 5p single-use bags with 10p bags for life

Tesco is to stop selling 5p single-use carrier bags and replace them with 'bags for life' costing 10p each.
Shoppers will now have to remember to bring their own carrier bags to avoid paying double the old price.
The move comes into effect in all UK stores on Monday 28 August and is part of an environmental drive to cut plastic consumption. It follows a trial at three stores in Aberdeen, Dundee and Norwich, which found shoppers bought 25% fewer bags when faced with a higher cost.
Tesco also says it'll be removing single-use wine-bottle carriers and lower the price of its 'carry me bottle bag' from £1 to 40p.
However, online delivery customers can still choose to receive deliveries in single-use carrier bags or opt for bagless delivery, something 57% of Tesco's online customers now do, the store says.
Tesco adds that 1.5 billion fewer single-use bags have been used since a charge for carrier bags was introduced in 2015, although it still sells over 700 million a year.

Wales was the first country in the UK to introduce a charge on carrier bags in 2011 and saw a 79% fall in plastic bags being handed out in the next three years.
Tesco's bags for life are made from 94% recycled plastic and can be replaced for free if damaged. Tesco says the money from selling bags will continue to be used to fund community projects.
Rival supermarket Sainsbury's stopped issuing single-use bags in 2015 and started to offer a 5p bag. It's 100% recycled and can be replaced for free.
We have contacted Asda and Morrisons to find out if they're making any changes to offering single-use bags and will update this story when we hear back.

Good news because Greggs are testing out home deliveries in the UK

They're also creating even more drive-throughs across the UK.
Great news for anyone that loves sausage rolls, steak bakes and every other pasty under the sun because Greggs have announced that they're planning on introducing a nationwide drive-through service.
As you may remember, the Newcastle baker had recently launched their first drive-through service at Irlam, Greater Manchester.
Well, you can thank all those hungry Mancunians for the latest news because the company were so happy with that service that they plan on rolling it out across the UK.

Speaking with The Guardian, Greggs boss Roger Whiteside has said: "It’s all about convenience and the most convenient thing is not having to get out of your car. You can just drive up and order a coffee, sausage roll or doughnut.”
In keeping with the likes of McDonald’s and Costa Coffee, Greggs will now be looking to launch their “food-to-go” service and for any traditionalists out there, it appears that this new business model has proven to be a hit with customers.
In fact, Greggs customers have typically spent more at the drive-through than in a high street store.
Aside from this exciting news, they've also announced that they're interested in studying the customer demand for a home delivery service.

Asda posts worst annual figures since Walmart takeover

Supermarket is worst performer of ‘big four’ grocers as fierce competition pulls underlying sales for the year down 5.7%


Asda has posted its worst annual figures since being taken over by the American grocer Walmart, as fierce competition in the UK supermarket sector took its toll.
Britain’s third biggest supermarket chain admitted performance was “behind expectations” after pre-tax profit for 2016 fell 19% to £791.7m.
Accounts filed at Companies House also showed sales fell to £21.6bn from £22.3bn as shoppers flocked to cheaper rivals.
Asda has trailed behind Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, and is the worst performer of the UK’s “big four” grocers. The former chief executive Andy Clarke was replaced by the Walmart veteran Sean Clarke, who has attempted to breathe new life into the business. He took the helm last summer. He has focused on dropping prices, boosting the quality of food ranges and improving customer service.
While underlying sales for the year plunged 5.7%, Asda pointed to a recent improvement in trading. The latest industry figures showed Asda attracted an additional 398,000 shoppers in the 12 weeks to 16 July. The Kantar data showed Asda’s sales for the period grew by 1% compared with the same period last year.
In May, the grocer also reported sales in the first quarter had fallen 2.8% compared with the same period the previous year – an improvement on the 2.9% fall in the fourth quarter. Second-quarter figures are expected this month.
The accounts also showed Andy Clarke and the former chief customer officer Barry Williams, who has also left the business, received a combined £2.5m payoff. The firm did not break down the share of this sum.
Sean Clarke and the former Sainsbury’s executive Roger Burnley, who started as chief operations officer recently, have focused their turnaround efforts on the retail basics.
The finance director, Alex Russo, said: “Our sales performance, relative to the market, was behind our expectations. However, in the last quarter of 2016, we saw an improvement following the changes made to our ranges and investment in price and service.”
Asda also reported an operating cashflow of £1.41bn, an increase of 8%, and said a dividend of £450m was paid to Walmart.
All the “big four” grocers have suffered in recent years from seismic changes to the industry. Consumers have swapped their weekly shop for more frequent visits to smaller convenience stores as they seek to cut down on food waste at home. There has also been a shift away from bricks and mortar stores as some prefer buying online.
While shoppers can buy Asda food over the internet, the supermarket has been hit harder than most because it refuses to join rivals in opening smaller stores.
The “big four” have also come under attack from discounters Aldi and Lidl, which can undercut their bigger rivals by stocking fewer high-quality ranges. They are able to negotiate rock-bottom prices by buying entire crops from farmers while bigger supermarkets buy smaller quantities from a larger number of suppliers so they can offer more choice.
Asda again has been affected more than the others because its biggest point of difference was price, something that has been cannibalised in recent years with the low-cost operators. Asda has been too slow in responding to that competition, at a time when its arch rival Tesco has managed to turn its business around.
Tom Berry, retail analyst at GlobalData, said: “Asda has chosen to focus on price rather than range and in-store experience, which has clearly been the wrong strategy.”
Notes in Asda’s accounts showed it was focusing on cutting costs: “Our commitment to the ASDA ‘low cost operating model’ has resulted in improving operating efficiencies and delivering productivity savings across stores and distribution centres.”

Asda reveals 2016 slump in sales


Sales falls and lower profits at supermarket Asda in 2016 have been revealed in detail in newly-filed accounts.
The figures for the Walmart-owned supermarket, filed at Companies House, confirm a torrid spell for Asda as it faced stiff competition in the grocery sector.
Like-for-like sales were down 5.7% compared with the previous year.
Pre-tax profits dropped almost 19% to £791.7m at the Leeds-based company.
"The grocery market has continued to experience low growth throughout the year and competition in the sector has remained intense. Our sales performance, relative to the market, was behind our expectations," the company said.
Changes
Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons – the so-called big four UK supermarkets – also face competition from German discounters Aldi and Lidl.
Asda suffered more than most and, unlike others, has struggled to fight back. In May, it reported decreasing sales in the first quarter of 2017 – the 11th consecutive quarter of falls – as it continued to lose ground to its rivals.
However, Asda added that despite the disappointing results, there had been an improvement following "strategic changes" under new boss Sean Clarke.
Mr Clarke, who replaced previous chief executive Andy Clarke a year ago, has slashed the prices of everyday items as he attempts to arrest falling sales.
The chain reported a 2.8% fall in like-for-like sales in its first quarter of this year, a moderate improvement on the previous period, which saw sales fall 2.9%.
'Focus on price'
Analysts have said that a major turnaround is required at Asda.
"Sainsbury's and Tesco have always had more opportunity for differentiation from the discounters, but Asda has chosen to focus on price rather than range and in-store experience, which has clearly been the wrong strategy," said Tom Berry, retail analyst at GlobalData.
"Asda has been flailing without direction for too long, and a comprehensive plan is needed if it is to survive in the highly competitive UK grocery market."
Phil Dorrell, of consultancy Retail Remedy, is a previous marketing chief at Asda. He said that it was a difficult market for Asda and it "had a lot of catching up to do".
"It is not changing significantly or fast enough to pull around the results. It did not get its proposition right," he said.

Kiddicare opens first store since Dunelm acquisition at Peterborough One

The retailer has taken an 888 square metre unit at the park.
Steve Barton, Dunelm’s director of property, said: “We’re delighted to be opening our first new Kiddicare store at Peterborough One Retail Park. The family-oriented tenant mix at the retail park is complimentary to a physical store presence for the brand in support of Kiddicare’s powerful on-line offering.”

Targetfollow acquired what was formerly known as Peterborough Garden Park in December 2016 and has now rebranded it as part of an expansion and modernisation programme.
George Craig, associate director at Targetfollow, said: “We’re very pleased that Dunelm has chosen Peterborough One Retail Park for its first new Kiddicare store in the UK. Securing Kiddicare immediately after rebranding the park is the beginning of a number of exciting new tenant initiatives.”
Peterborough One is anchored by a 4,645 square metre Van Hage garden centre and has 16 further retail units including Cotswold, Pavers, The Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Bonmarché, Pets Corner, Maidenhead Aquatics, Roman, The Works, Granite Transformations and Hammond Furniture.

American Eagle to pull out of UK less than three years after opening first shop


American Eagle Outfitters has around 950 stores in the US and targets 15 to 25-year-olds with affordable, preppy fashion
US fashion retailer American Eagle Outfitters is pulling out of the UK less than three years after opening its first stores on British soil.
Of its three UK shops, the company is said to have closed one – in Bluewater shopping centre in Kent – and ceased trading in the remaining two, which are based in Westfield Shepherds Bush and Westfield Stratford.
According to Retail Week, American Eagle – which is one of the biggest fashion retailers in the US – has struggled to gain a foothold in the competitive UK fashion market since it arrived in November 2014.
<img src="/content/dam/business/2017/07/26/TELEMMGLPICT000135793984-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqWZZ9520Qrn8RyVs0byqFfxdYxsWUQUCtgJX18DpO5X4.jpeg" alt="American Eagle Outfitters store front and entrance" width="320" height="199" class="responsive-image–fallback"/>
An American Eagle Outfitters store Credit: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket
At the time, the firm said it was aiming to have between 20 and 30 stores in the UK and would also look to roll-out its Aerie underwear brand.
The Pittsburgh-based company has around 950 stores in the US and targets 15 to 25-year-olds with affordable, preppy fashion.
Other American brands that have more successfully crossed the pond and entered the UK fashion market include Hollister, Urban Outfitters and Forever 21.
Property agency Harper Dennis Hobbs, which has been advising American Eagle in the UK, declined to comment when approached by The Telegraph.
However, an American Eagle Outfitters spokesperson said: “As of July 15, American Eagle Outfitters will be closing our three retail stores in the UK.
"Our valued UK. customers will still be able to shop for American Eagle products online.”
American Eagle Outfitters isn't the only retailer to struggle amid turbulent economic conditions in the UK.
Many of Britain's biggest fashion brands including Next, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams have been struggling to keep up with their online-only rivals, due in part to the higher overheads they must pay that chip away at their profits.

Boden to open bricks-and-mortar store

The 1,821 square foot shop will offer Boden adult ranges as well as special collections such as Boden Icons and Mini Boden for children.

Boden founder and creative director Johnnie Boden said: “I’m so excited to be going into retail. This is a new chapter for Boden. At last our customers will be able to see the brand in all its glory. I would like the shop to feel like you’re walking into my home.”
Due to open in October, the store will be part of a line-up that includes Cos, Joseph, Trilogy, Whistles, Monica Vinader and Zara.
Hugh Seaborn, chief executive of Cadogan, said: “The Boden brand has so much personality and is an ideal fit for Duke of York Square – we’re delighted that they have chosen Chelsea for their first physical UK store.”

Subway launches Fresh Forward design concept


Restaurant chain Subway is rolling out the Subway Fresh Forward design, transforming the guest experience. The new store concept is a distinctive and welcoming restaurant space that highlights an amplified guest experience surrounding its fresh ingredients. The bright colour palette is inspired by fresh vegetables.

'We’ve created a modern design that gives our guests choices, from how they order to how they pick up their food, to how they enjoy their meal,' says Trevor Haynes, vice president of operations at Subway. 'We’re bringing fresh forward, and the reactions from our guests, our franchisees and their sandwich artists has been incredibly positive.'

Robyn Novak, vice president and creative managing director at FRCH that is behind the new design, says: 'With an outlook on the food’s inherent freshness, we sought to establish a contemporary design that inspired new and recurring customers by elevating what Subway is known for: their customised experience. The restaurant revolves around a bright and energetic footprint by creating greater awareness with a new presentation that brings freshly baked bread forward, highlights fresh-prep ingredients and provides the guest with choice in dining experiences.'

Digital self order kiosks have been installed in select locations, alongside digital menu boards and Apple and Samsung Pay.

The restaurant design features a veggie display with whole tomatoes, green peppers, onions and cucumbers that are sliced daily in the restaurant, plus new bread and cookie displays on the front of the line. Subway Fresh Forward restaurants are also testing new menu items, starting with pico de gallo, new sauces and gluten-free bread.

For those dining in, the bright and playful decor is accompanied by curated music and comfortable seating with USB charging ports and complimentary Wi-Fi creating a welcoming environment for guests.

The new restaurant design is the next phase of Subway’s evolution. The company created Subway Digital in 2016 including a new logo, choice mark and color palette, designed by Turner Duckworth, as well as bright and bold new packaging, uniforms and signage started rolling out this spring in North America and will be worldwide by the end of 2017.

Amazon announces 450 new UK head office jobs


Amazon has confirmed its commitment to maintain a diverse workforce even after Brexit as the online retail giant opened its new UK head office and announced plans to create 450 new research and development jobs.
The internet behemoth is set to move in to all 15 storeys and 600,000sq ft of the Principal Place building in Shoreditch, east London, so it can double the capacity of its research and development centre from 450 to 900 staff.
The roles include software development engineers, user-interface experts, data analysts and graphic designers who will work on building new technologies for Amazon’s Prime Video service.
Principal Place will also house other corporate roles from across the company, and it is part of Amazon’s investment in the UK, whereby the company has pumped more than £6.4 billion in building and running its operations here since 2010.

Amazon has so far pledged to create around 5000 new permanent roles across the country, bringing its total workforce to 24,000 across its head office, three development centres as well as its fulfilment and customer service centres.
Of that total workforce, 5000 roles will be based in London across three offices in Shoreditch, Holborn and Barbican.
“London is one of the world’s truly great cities and home to some of the most talented, creative people on the planet, and we are delighted to provide our teams of innovators with a new, purpose-built workplace,” Amazon UK country manager Doug Gurr said.
“While we open a new development centre to house today’s innovators, we also want to help foster the next generation of inventors by funding a million healthy breakfasts to give schoolchildren the fuel to learn, and expand our bursary programme to help more women get university educations for high tech roles.”
Gurr later added that his company employs a large number of EU citizens, and he was happy to see their status is being prioritised in Brexit talks.
“In common with any large organisation here, we have a large number of EU citizens, and we love that, we’ve always celebrated diversity in the workforce,” he said.
“We benefit hugely from a diverse workforce, we’re very optimistic and hopeful that will continue to be the case going forward.”

Tesco to extend same-day online delivery service across UK

Service will cover more than 99% of UK households, says supermarket as fears grow over amazon

Tesco is going head to head with Amazon by extending its same-day online grocery delivery service across the UK.
Britain’s biggest supermarket chain said on Monday that the service, which is only available in London and rest of the south-east, will now be rolled out across the country, covering “over 99% of UK households”.
Tesco claimed this would give it the “biggest reach of any retailer in the UK, stretching from the Shetland Islands in Scotland to Cornwall in south-west England”.
Customers can order by 1pm to have their shopping delivered from 7pm onwards and receive an unlimited number of items, with the rolled-out service priced between £3 and £8.
The retailer has also recently extended its same-day click and collect service to 300 UK locations and last month launched a one-hour delivery service in central London.
Adrian Letts, managing director of Tesco Online, said: “Customers tell us they like getting their shopping delivered quickly and conveniently.”
He said the popularity of the same-day delivery service had grown since being launched in London and the south-east, adding: “We’re really excited to be rolling it out to customers nationwide.”
The move comes after the launch of AmazonFresh, which entered the UK market last year, raising fears that the dominance of the so called big four supermarkets – Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Asda – could be further eroded.
Amazon, which has also teamed up with Morrisons in the UK, operates its service across London, Surrey and parts of Hampshire.
In the US, Amazon is also acquiring the supermarket chain Whole Foods in a $13.7bn (£10.7bn) deal, its biggest foray into the grocery sector to date. The acquisition is being viewed as a signal of intent by Amazon to wade into the grocery business.
Tesco, along with the other established players, has also been hammered by the emergence of the German discounters Aldi and Lidl, whose entrance onto the grocery scene has sparked a bitter price war that has eroded profit margins.

B&M shares jump 4% on reports Asda is considering £4.4bn takeover bid

Ben ChapmanMonday 24 July 2017 10:59 BST
Shares in discount retailer B&M jumped 4 per cent after reports that Asda is reportedly eyeing up a £4.4bn takeover bid. 
Asda is understood to be attempting diversification to combat the threat of cut-price rivals, Lidl and Aldi.
Walmart-owned Asda, Britain’s third-biggest supermarket chain, has seen sales fall over the last three years amid fierce competition in the groceries sector.
FTSE 250-listed B&M could give Asda 500 extra stores through which to sell products such as its George clothing range.
The takeover target counts former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy as its chairman. Asda is in the early stages of assessing a potential bid for B&M, having commissioned external research into the company, the Sunday Times reports.
Asda did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A move for B&M would follow similar deals by larger rivals Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Tesco is in the middle of a £3.7bn takeover attempt of wholesaler Booker, with the deal currently being assessed by the Competition and Markets Authority amid fears that the combined firm could have too much power in the sector.
Sainsbury’s completed its acquisition of Argos owner Home Retail for £1.4bn last September and has begun installing Argos concessions inside its supermarkets.
B&M sells a broad range of products ranging from furniture to home appliances to food. 
Asda, which has positioned itself at the cheaper end of the big four supermarkets, has been hardest hit by the rise of the German discount chains, having reported its 11th straight quarter of declining sales in May.

M&S reports 2.7 percent increase in Q1 sales
Marks and Spencer Group (M&S) said that the revenues increased 2.7 percent or 1.8 percent in constant currency, in the 13 weeks to July 1, 2017 to 2,531.5 million pounds (3,259 million dollars). Revenues in the UK were up 2.6 percent to 2,259.2 million pounds (2,910 million dollars) but like-for-like sales declined 0.5 percent.
Commenting on the results, Steve Rowe, M&S Chief Executive said in a media release: “Trading in the first quarter was in line with our expectations and we are on track with delivery of the plan we announced last year. I am pleased that we continue to grow full price sales in Clothing & Home, with reduced discounting and no clearance sale in the quarter.”
Q1 full-price sales increased 7 percent
The company’s Clothing & Home revenue was down 0.5 percent during the quarter to 852.1 million pounds (1,097 million dollars), while like-for-like sales were down 1.2 percent. The company said, in line with the strategy, full price sales were up 7 percent, as the number of promotions was reduced and there was no clearance sale in the quarter compared with one last year. M&S has commenced its summer sale today, a week later than last year, with terminal stock for the season significantly down.
International revenue increased 3.8 percent but declined 4 percent in constant currency to 272.3 million pounds (350 million dollars). The company’s retained owned and franchise revenue was up 9.4 percent or 1.4percent in constant currency. Consistent with the plans set out in November 2016, M&S closed 28 of 53 stores in the markets it is exiting.

Store Twenty One goes into liquidation with loss of 900 jobs

West Midlands-based discount fashion retailer to close its 122 stores after battling losses for several years

Store Twenty One, Waterlooville, Hampshire, UK
Struggling fashion chain Store Twenty One is being liquidated with the loss of 900 retail jobs.

The value clothing retailer, which was based in Solihull in the West Midlands, has entered compulsory liquidation and its 122 stores which ceased trading on Friday will not reopen. The company had been in a precarious financial situation since April when HM Revenue & Customs issued a winding-up notice over unpaid tax.
Store Twenty One, which was owned by Indian textiles company Alok Group, had a chequered financial history and had struggled to adapt as low-cost fashion rivals such as Primark expanded across the UK. In recent years its turnover had declined from £95m to £57m, a performance that was accompanied by sustained losses.
“It is very sad that matters have got to the stage where all the stores were closed by management on Friday following a prolonged period of uncertainty leading up to the liquidation,” said Simon Bonney, a partner at Quantuma, the corporate recovery and business advisory firm that is handling the liquidation.
“We are now in the process of conducting an orderly wind-down and would welcome contact from any interested parties who may wish to purchase assets of the company.”
Store Twenty One started in the 1930s as a manufacturing business supplying retailers including Marks & Spencer. It subsequently opened its own branches, selling seconds, but in the 1980s changed tack, rebranding the chain as QS.
In 1990 QS floated on the London Stock Exchange and went on to acquire sister chain Bewise. It was taken private in 2002 and sold again, to Alok, five years later. It rebranded again as Store Twenty One nearly a decade ago after a restructuring that involved the closure of 140 shops.
But it had been fighting for its survival since management failed to secure fresh investment following a company voluntary arrangement – a type of insolvency proceeding – in July 2016, which saw the closure of about 80 shops. After twice flirting with administration in recent months, the court finally issued a winding-up order this week.
“The traditional retail sector continues to face significant challenges, not least with the changes in business rates,” said Bonney. “The company was founded in 1932 and unfortunately it is another example of the difficulties arising in the current economy.”

Tesco to trial Currys PC World outlets in store

Tesco and Dixons Carphone have announced a new partnership which will see two Currys PC World concessions opening within Tesco Extra stores this summer. The first store is scheduled to open in July at Tesco’s Milton Keynes Extra store, followed by a second concession at its Weston Favell Extra store in Northampton later in August.

A tailored range of Currys PC World products will be on offer in the outlets including televisions, computers, white goods and accessories. Laptop repairs, advice and comparison services – allowing customers to explore switching broadband and energy supply – will also be available.
‘We’re always looking at ways to offer our customers the best possible range of services in our stores. We think this is a winning combination for customers and look forward to opening the first outlet in our Milton Keynes store in July,’ says Matt Davies, UK CEO of Tesco. 
‘Customers tell us they want to pick up the latest electrical products conveniently and at competitive prices, with expert advice and from someone they trust to keep them working seamlessly. This trial gives them all of this during a weekly grocery shop, which we hope they will enjoy,’ adds Katie Bickerstaffe, UK & Ireland CEO of Dixons Carphone.

Joules sales up 19.6% in first full year on AIM

Joules has reported a near 20% rise in sales to £157m in the year to 28 May 2017, which marks its first full year as a listed company on AIM.

In its pre-close period trading statement the premium fashion and lifestyle brand said the business had had a strong start to FY17 followed by a strong Christmas and the growth was “a reflection of the brand’s expansion in the UK and international markets, Joules’ growing customer base, and the positive customer responses to both new and core ranges across product categories”.
Retail revenue was up by around 19.4% on the prior year driven by strong e-commerce growth and and the addition of 11 new stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Wholesale was up by approximately 20.3% and the group has upped its guidance for its full-year profit forecast.
“The appeal and strength of the Joules brand continues to resonate with our loyal and growing customer base. The brand’s growth continued in the second half of the financial year, building on the strong performance in H1. As a result of the brand’s momentum across channels and product categories, the Board anticipates reporting profits for the full year comfortably ahead of its previous expectations,” said CEO Colin Porter.
“Our focus on our brand and our customers as well as our steadfast commitment to product quality remain the bedrock for the Group’s growth and success. Underpinned by these strengths, the Board has confidence that Joules’ momentum will continue into FY18, despite the uncertain macro-economic outlook. This confidence is supported by the growth in our customer base and our exciting new store opening plans, as well as a robust Autumn/Winter wholesale order-book both in the UK and internationally,” Porter added.
The business will publish its preliminary results on 28 July.

Lidl US announces tie-up with fashion designer Heidi Klum

Lidl U.S. announced on Tuesday that it will exclusively feature a new fashion collection by supermodel/fashion designer Heidi Klum, launching later this year in stores in Europe and the U.S. according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.

The no-frills retailer, which like Klum hails from Germany, describes the collection as “high-end, yet affordable.” In addition to the Klum collection, Lidl will host other ‘Lidl Fashion Weeks,’ which will feature various fashion collections in stores at certain times throughout the year, the company said.
Lidl, which operates about 10,000 stores in 27 countries throughout Europe, recently announced it will open its first nine stores in cities along the east coast of the U.S. on June 15.
Redoubled competition from no-frills grocery companies hailing from Germany — fast-growing Aldi and its Trader Joe’s sibling, and U.S. newcomer Lidl — poses a dramatic threat to U.S. grocery stores, particularly Walmart, which depends on grocery for more than half of its revenue.
Lidl poses a problem especially for Walmart because it sells not just groceries, but also home goods and apparel, according to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of New York retail consulting and investment banking firm Davidowitz & Associates.
Both Lidl and Aldi run their stores with limited merchandising, store brands and bottom-barrel prices, an approach that defies the common notion that the U.S. consumer wants choice — and their prices are as much as a third lower than many rivals. “Aldi and Lidl really know what the hell they’re doing, and Lidl is even more of a direct threat to Walmart than Aldi and Trader Joe’s,” he said. “Their stores are bigger [than Aldi and Trader Joe’s], and they have all kinds of other merchandise.”
Nick Egelanian, president of retail real estate consulting firm SiteWorks, says Walmart is distracted by Amazon in particular and digital sales more generally, and doesn’t seem to realize the threat from the German companies, which have successfully disrupted retail in Europe, igniting a bruising price war in the U.K. “If I ran Walmart, I would be much more concerned about [Lidl coming to America] than about Amazon,” Egelanian told Retail Dive last year.
The tie-up with Klum is also a challenge to Target, which has reasserted its merchandising differentiation (innovated to compete with Walmart on more than price) with similar partnerships with designers for its home goods and apparel. It’s most recent collaborations include a furniture offering from mid-century design brand Dwell and a limited-edition fashion collection from designer Victoria Beckham.
“Lidl is known for making quality products at affordable prices and I’m proud to partner with them on this fashion collaboration,” Klum said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive. “I had so much fun designing the pieces in this collection and can’t wait for you to see it. I hope you love it as much as I do!”

House of Fraser named best multichannel retailer

House of Fraser is the best high street retailer that also sells online in the UK, according to a new report.

The annual Multichannel Retail Report scores and ranks 187 high street retailers selling online, identifying the top 10 the industry should benchmark against.
Following House of Fraser in the top 10 are Schuh, Argos, B&Q, Screwfix, Karen Millen, Marks & Spencer, Superdry, Coast and Warehouse.
The list also identified the bottom 10, which offer less-than-optimal multichannel experiences for customers.
The high street retailers that made the bottom 10 include Nespresso, Oak Furniture Land, Smythson, Mulberry, Party Delights, Cameraworld, Miu Miu, The Whiskey Shop, Multiyork Furniture, and Thomas Pink.
Meanwhile, the most improved retailers for 2017 include F.Hinds, Dior, Mamas & Papas and Richer Sounds.
The list and rankings were compiled based on the core tenets of multichannel retailing, covering facets such as technology, customer experience and delivery.
The Multichannel Retail Report also indicated that 22 per cent of retailers were still failing to offer a persistent cart – whereby customers can add items on one devise while logged in and access it on another device later. However, this is a marked improvement from 2015’s figure of 31 per cent.
When it comes to checkout, the report found that 44 per cent of retailers lack transparency andndo not show accepted payment types until the basket page, while only 11% of retailers offer login/registration with social media.
In addition, 19 per cent of retailers don’t offer next day delivery – a method favoured by 52 per cent of consumers, according to a 2017 YouGov survey.

Regatta makes American debut

British outdoor and leisure clothing brand Regatta Great Outdoors is making its US retail store debut exclusively at Sears with 11 shop-in-shop locations through the New England area.
“We chose Sears for our American debut because their customers align well to the type of enthusiasts who have fallen in love with the Regatta brand in Britain and across Europe,” said Keith Black, chief executive of Regatta Great Outdoors. “With its seasonality, vast outdoor adventure and leisure options, New England is the perfect region to introduce the brand.”
The Regatta outdoors collection is now featured in 1,800 square foot shops inside the following Massachusetts Sears locations: Saugus, Burlington, Auburn, Peabody, Braintree, Natick and Hyannis, as well as Salem and Nashua, N.H., Warwick, R.I., and South Burlington, Vt. In addition, the Regatta collection will also be available on Sears.com starting this autumn.
“Our members’ tastes change quickly so we are always looking for partners who can help keep our assortment fresh,” said David Pastrana, president of Sears Apparel. “Regatta is a long-established apparel leader that knows its customer well and was selective about who they made their US debut with. Sears is proud to be Regatta’s exclusive home and we welcome American shoppers to discover this great brand.”
Based in Manchester, Regatta Great Outdoors is one of Europe’s most popular outdoor clothing, footwear and equipment brands, and offers active, performance, outdoor, and leisure wear for women, men and children.

Mothercare looks to almost halve number of UK stores

Mothercare used to have almost 400 stores, but will now have about 80 to 100. Photograph: Rex
Mothercare is to almost halve the size of its UK chain and stop selling clothes for older children as it tries to carve out a profitable future on the high street.
Mark Newton-Jones, Mothercare chief executive, said it would look to close up to 70 of its 152 UK stores as it adapts to a digital age where 41% of sales are rung up online.
“We are taking a fresh look at our estate and asking how many do we really need?” said Newton-Jones. “We’ve got six stores in Bristol – we don’t need six stores in Bristol. In Sheffield we’ve got five within a 20-minute drive time when we only need one or two. To cover all the major conurbations you only need 80 to 100 stores.”
At the start of this decade Mothercare was a ubiquitous presence on British high streets with closer to 400 stores but successive management teams have whittled away at that figure as the retailer struggled to compete with incursions by the supermarkets and online giant Amazon into what was once a specialist market.
Newton-Jones was hired in 2014 to lead a turnaround of Mothercare, but confidence was knocked by poor trading last summer. Since taking the helm he has closed 100 loss-making UK outlets and modernised 70% of the remaining stores.
Rather than competing in the cutthroat general kidswear market his strategy has focused on the lucrative niche of expectant parents and the paraphernalia required for newborns and toddler. It will now also stop selling clothes or toys for children older than four – previously its ranges ran up to age 10.
Pruning the UK chain, which has racked up losses of close to £100m over the last six years, has put it on the road to recovery with analysts predicting it will move into profit next year.
In recent years Mothercare has been forced to fall back on the success of its large overseas business but that is now facing headwinds of its own as shoppers in the Middle East – its biggest regional market outside the UK – spend less because of the slump in the oil price.
Pre-tax profits at Mothercare were flat at £19.7m on sales of £667.4m in the year to 25 March. Within that UK losses narrowed to £4.4m from £6.4m a year ago while underlying profits at its international business declined 13% to £35.2m. UK like-for-like sales were up 1.1%. The shares closed down more than 3% at 124p.
GlobalData analyst Sofie Willmott described the figures as “lacklustre” with the inclusion of online sales masking some poor store performances in the UK: “Given that Mothercare’s turnaround plan is in part focussed on investment in store refits we expected to be seeing more significant gains in UK store sales by now.”

Apple planning new Mexico retail location in San Luis Potosi mall

Apple is planning a new Apple Store in Mexico as it continues to expand its presence around the globe. The new retail location will be located in the city of San Luis Potosi and construction is currently ongoing…

Specifically, the Apple Store will be located in a new section of the El Dorado Mall. While Apple has not yet confirmed details about the store, there is a sign with Apple branding where the store will be located that reads “Próximamente,” or “coming soon.”
Additionally, Apple has started hiring for the store, according to people familiar with the matter.
Apple opened its first retail store in Mexico last September and is already working on another location in Mexico City. The San Luis Potosi will be the company’s third in Mexico. The new Mexico City location is said to be “flagship” in nature, with a design akin to that of Apple’s World Trade Center location in New York City. The store is said to be multi-level with the Genius Bar and retail space split from one another.
There’s no word on when Apple’s new San Luis Potosi retail location will open to the public, but the company is clearly moving things along as construction and hiring both continue. It’s also unclear just how big the new retail location will be and what sort of design traits it will share.
Elsewhere around the world, we reported last week that Apple will do a worldwide overnight refresh on older retail locations on May 16th. This effort will see Apple bring some of the qualities of its new flagships stores to older, smaller stores that can’t accommodate the full redesign. The changeover is best described as sort of a “‘halfway house’ between the original and new looks.
Apple also recently showed off motorized carbon fiber windows in its Dubai Mall store, and is working on the opening of a new Singapore store.
As always, we’ll update with more information about Apple’s new San Luis Potosi retail location as we get it. Do you have plans to visit this location when it opens to the public? Let us know down in the comments.

Canada Goose chooses London for first European store

The London store in Regent Street will be the first Canada Goose shop in Europe. The Chicago store will be situated on Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue.

Dani Reiss, president and chief executive of Canada Goose, said: “Opening our first European store is not only a milestone for Canada Goose, but it’s turning a dream into reality. London and Chicago are world-renowned shopping destinations and I’m proud to bring our Canadian heritage, experience and unparalleled product to their historic streets.”
Canada Goose will also be expanding its ecommerce channel to seven new markets this year including Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Luxemburg and Austria.
In 2016 Canada Goose opened its first two flagship stores in Toronto and New York, having launched its first ecommerce site in Canada in 2014. This was followed by the launch of online stores in the US in 2015 and the UK and France in 2016.
Canada Goose was founded in a small warehouse in Toronto in 1957 and has grown into one of the world’s leading makers of performance luxury apparel.

House of Fraser names new chief executive

Due to take up his position on 31 July, Williamson will join House of Fraser from the Goodwood sporting estate. Having originally started at Goodwood in 2008 as chief financial officer, he was promoted to group managing director and in 2012 took up the position of chief executive.

Prior to this, he was head of finance at TUI Travel and has held a variety of other roles and across the leisure and hospitality sectors.
Frank Slevin, executive chairman of House of Fraser, said: “Having recently set out our vision for the future of House of Fraser, we are delighted to announce the appointment of Alex Williamson as our new CEO. Alex is uniquely placed to execute our vision, and to contribute his extensive expertise of delivering compelling and engaging experiences for the customer.
“House of Fraser operates in an exciting and challenging market requiring an ability to innovate and manage an increasing pace of change. I am confident Alex will be able to add his perspective and skill of running the Goodwood Estate, one of the great British heritage brands to the benefit of our continued growth.”

Smashbox launches first South East store at Bluewater

Situated on the Upper Rose Gallery adjacent to Topshop, the 889 square foot shop recreates the look and feel of the legendary Smashbox Photo Studios in Los Angeles.

Anuschka Kuhnel, brand manager at Smashbox Cosmetics, said: “The new Bluewater standalone store is an exciting step for the Smashbox Cosmetics brand, further marking our move of opening standalone stores outside the capital in select locations. The enthusiasm and demand we have experienced for our brand amongst consumers throughout the South East makes Bluewater an exciting move for us.”
The news follows the launch of The White Company’s new upsized statement store earlier this month on Bluewater’s lower Guildhall and the opening of Gap’s new UK concept store on the lower Rose Gallery in March.
Russell Loveland, portfolio director at Land Securities, co-owner and asset manager of Bluewater, said: “Smashbox Cosmetics is a fantastic addition to Bluewater’s outstanding offer. The new flagship retail space will further strengthen the health and beauty category of the scheme, and reinforce Bluewater’s position as the UK’s leading retail and leisure destination.”

Retail Acquisitions, which bought BHS for £1, heads for liquidation

Demise of firm fronted by former bankrupt Dominic Chappell could aid administrators seeking to recover funds owed to creditors

 Former bankrupt Dominic Chappell’s Retail Acquisitions bought BHS for £1 from billionaire Sir Philip Green in 2015.

Retail Acquisitions, the former owner of the collapsed BHS, is on the point of liquidation, potentially helping investigations into the demise of the department store chain.

The group, which bought BHS for £1 in 2015 and was fronted by former bankrupt Dominic Chappell, has been accused of extracting an estimated £17m from BHS despite owning it for just 13 months before it went into administration in 2016. An estimated £6m was owed by Retail Acquisitions to BHS when it collapsed.
The failure of BHS led to the loss of 11,000 jobs and left a £571m pension deficit. A high-profile parliamentary investigation into its demise concluded that the company had been systematically plundered by its owners and accused Chappell of having “his fingers in the till”.
The Pensions Regulator is also understood to be seeking as much as £17m via legal action against Chappell and Retail Acquisitions (RAL) in relation to the pension deficit.
On Wednesday the high court heard insolvency proceedings for Retail Acquisitions, and the judge ruled it should be put into liquidation. The judgment has been temporarily stayed and is expected to be formally handed down in the next few days.
Duff & Phelps, which is acting to track and retrieve BHS assets for the company and its creditors, said: “Duff & Phelps, acting on behalf of BHS Group Ltd, is satisfied that RAL has been put into liquidation. The process of realising the assets of RAL can now commence to the benefit of all the creditors of the BHS companies.”
The insolvency will give administrators complete financial records of RAL giving clarity on where funds taken from BHS were moved on to with a view to potentially recovering them for shareholders.
Chappell said: “RAL is disappointed by the outcome of the hearing … The order has been stayed by the court until its written reasons are provided so that RAL has an opportunity to properly consider an appeal.
“It will look forward to those written reasons and will then be able to take advice and decide next steps, to include an appeal.”
The collapse of BHS is still being investigated by the Insolvency Service which could recommend that former directors of BHS are banned from being company directors in Britain. The Financial Reporting Council is also looking into the collapse, while the Serious Fraud Office is also considering whether to launch a formal investigation.
Chappell was also arrested last year as part of an HMRC investigation into unpaid taxes on profits made from the collapsed department store chain.

Location of first Apple Store in Singapore finally officially confirmed

Apple’s first retail store in Singapore has been partially unveiled, providing the first official confirmation of the long-rumored Orchard Road location.
It was back in 2015 that Apple confirmed that it was opening a store on the island. At that point, the location wasn’t known, though there were strong signs pointing to the location on Orchard Road, the main upmarket retail area in the country …

Apple has now removed the barricades around the store, revealing a giant ‘Apple loves Singapore’ message in graphic form. The name of the store is also shown as Apple Orchard Road.
StraitsTimes notes that smaller versions of this graphic are used to signal the Creative Pros who will be available at the store.
There are 12 smaller groups of these icons close to the doors of the store. Each group of icon has a different red dot to represent the 12 local Creative Pros that Apple has selected.
Dubbed “Red Dot Heroes” by Apple, these Creative Pros are the liberal arts equivalent of Apple’s technical Geniuses that specialise in troubleshooting and repairs of products. Some of them will conduct free hands-on sessions at the upcoming Apple Orchard Road Store.
Apple first revealed its new ‘Today at Apple‘ initiative at its retail stores – with much greater focus on free workshops and help with creative projects – in a CBS interview last month, though we first learned about it last summer. The program was also a major focus at the recent opening of the spectacular Dubai store.
The opening date of the Singapore store isn’t yet known, though we have heard whispers about May 29. All of Apple’s operations in the country will be powered by solar energy.