Category Archives: #uk

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.”

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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.

Victoria’s Secret to debut at Milton Keynes

The new 8,258 square foot shop will be situated on East Walk and will stock the brand’s full collections including Victoria’s Secret PINK.

Other premium brands at Intu Milton Keynes include Hugo Boss, Apple, Karen Millen and Michael Kors. The shopping centre attracts 35 million customers a year.
Nick Round, regional director at Intu, said: “With its high proportion of affluent customers and location in the heart of one of the UK’s fastest growing cities, Intu Milton Keynes is the perfect destination for desirable brands to flourish. The increasing number of aspirational brands like Victoria’s Secret joining Intu Milton Keynes is giving our customers even more great reasons to visit the centre thus helping all our retailers flourish.”

UK card chain to expand into Ireland

 Card Factory, which has more than 800 stores in Britain, has targeted opening 50 stores a year over the next three years1
Card Factory, which has more than 800 stores in Britain, has targeted opening 50 stores a year over the next three years

UK high street retailer the Card Factory is gearing up for its entry to the Irish market, three years after it first floated a plan to open as many as 100 outlets here.
New CEO Karen Hubbard, who has been in the role for just a year, has told investors that she intends to pursue a strategy of expanding in Ireland and that there is a “clear opportunity” to build a strong presence here.
The retailer has just established a company in Ireland to spearhead the expansion.
Over the next three years, Card Factory plans to open a total of about 50 stores a year.
At the beginning of February 2016, it had 814 outlets across the UK, including a handful in the North, a figure that had risen to 865 at the end of last January.
Listed on the stock market, Card Factory posted revenue of £398.2m (€473.2m) in its last financial year, with like-for-like increases of under 1pc.
Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) was £98.5m (€117m), which was 3.8pc higher on the previous financial year. Its margin slipped slightly from 24.9pc to 24.7pc.
The profits fell as footfall to its stores declined.
But apart from paying a regular dividend, it also paid a special dividend to shareholders. It is a strong cash generator and has only a small amount of debt on its books.
The company floated on the stock market in May 2014, in an initial public offering that was widely seen as unsuccessful at the time.
But its market capitalisation has risen from £712m in 2014 to the current £1.1bn (€1.3bn).
Card Factory recently hired Edinburgh Woollen Mills finance boss Kristian Lee as its chief financial officer.

M&S to trial online food delivery service this autumn

Marks & Spencer is to launch an online grocery shopping service this autumn as it looks to cash in on the success of its food halls.

The retailer confirmed that a team of executives was currently drawing up a battle plan ahead of trials this autumn, allowing M&S customers to order food online and have it delivered to their home.
While Britons may have fallen out of love with the M&S clothing ranges in recent years they have been heading in droves to its food aisles as they opt to pick up food for an evening meal rather than do a big weekly shop.
Until now selling food online has not made business sense for M&S as its customers do not typically spend enough on groceries on each visit to make the service profitable.
But the retailer has concluded it can no longer ignore what is the fastest growing section of the UK’s £180bn grocery market as new delivery services, such as AmazonFresh, which allows shoppers to order groceries at lunchtime and get the delivery in time for dinner, revolutionise the way Britain buys food.
Senior executives were informed of the plan at a meeting at Wembley, north-west London, on Wednesday.
“We continue to review food online carefully,” said Steve Rowe, chief executive of M&S. “It has not cost us anything over the last five years by not being online with food. Our customers haven’t moved yet, but they will and we need to ensure that we are ready with the right response. There are unanswered questions over what this means for M&S and we have a team looking at this now with a view to undertaking a soft trial in the autumn.”

M&S already sells a limited selection of party food and alcohol on its website but this would be the first time its wider grocery offer would be made available online.

The high-street store is different from other food retailers as it stocks just 7,000 products compared with 40,000 at most Tesco shops. It also focuses on exclusive own-brand products with only a limited number of household brands available in its stores. It is not clear how the retailer would overcome these hurdles if it were to offer customers a full grocery outlet.
“The economics of food online are not straightforward and it is not something that we are going to rush into until we have substantial customer insight and a better understanding of what is right for M&S and right for our customers,” Rowe added.
Tony Shiret, an independent retail analyst, said Rowe was finally “biting the bullet”. Shiret added: “If they don’t do food online they stand to lose market share to people who do. It’s become a basic expectation from customers.”

However, the analyst said the retailer would face a big challenge trying to make the service profitable. “It is going to be tricky for them because their shopping baskets are small as people use their stores to buy bits and pieces.”
Rowe, who began his retail career aged 15 as a Saturday boy at the M&S Croydon store in south London, and took over as chief executive last April, is seeking to revive the declining profits of the 132-year-old retailer. His biggest job is turning around its clothing arm which under his predecessor, Marc Bolland, relied on heavy discounting to attract shoppers. Rowe is also keen to exploit the success of its food arm.
Last year Rowe announced plans to shut 30 UK stores and convert 45 more into food-only shops as part of a business overhaul that would slash the amount of shopfloor space devoted to clothing and face the challenge posed by online shopping.
M&S confirmed the location of six of the affected stores, which included four large “full-line” stores – which sell clothing, homeware and food. They are in Portsmouth, Hampshire, in Slough, Berkshire, Warrington in Cheshire, and Wokingham, Surrey. The retailer also unveiled plans to open another 34 food shops in the next six months.

Guess opens biggest UK store outside London at Liverpool One

Fashion brand Guess has opened its largest UK store outside London, with a 465 sq m (5,000 sq ft) store in the Liverpool ONE development.

The store, designed in-house, is arranged over two floors. It features a clean, white interior, high-tech lighting and contrasting materials, in line with the chain’s recently updated branding and layout plans.
Merchandise is presented to offer ‘total looks,’ with accessories displayed in the centre of the store to maximise visibility.
“We are delighted to have opened this store and started trading during the busy Bank Holiday weekend. It has been a great opportunity for us to introduce the new store concept and branding to Liverpool ONE’s stylish shoppers and we have received very positive feedback in addition to strong sales already,” says Guess CEO Victor Herrero.
“The brand has created a great store, bringing the best of London to Liverpool,” says Miles Dunnett of property group Grosvenor Europe.
 

Primark’s new Birmingham store will be its biggest yet

Primark’s new store in Birmingham is set to be the budget fashion retailer’s biggest store yet once it opens in December 2018.

Spanning 160,000sq ft across four floors, new store is located at the Birmingham Pavilions centre, which Primark is rumoured to have acquired for £60 million in 2014.
Its redevelopment plan to create its largest flagship store in the UK was approved in January 2016.

The opening of the new store will lead to the closure of the existing New Street store in Birmingham, but the retailer will relocate its staff as the new flagship is set to employ around 800 people – almost twice as the 460 New Street currently employs.

Once open, the new Birmingham store will be bigger than Primark’s current largest UK shop, which is in Manchester and spans across three floors of the former John Lewis building at around 155,000sq ft.

Sainsbury’s teams up with Russell Athletic

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

Jimmy Choo puts itself up for sale

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

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

Debenhams eyes closure of 11 warehouses and 10 UK stores

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

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

M&S unveils details of UK stores overhaul

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

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

The White Company opens upsized store at Bluewater

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

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

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

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

Juicy Couture set to pull out of the UK market

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

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

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

House of Fraser doubles profit but warns on volatile retail sector

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nyx sits pretty with debut UK store (pics)

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

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

Waitrose to offer customers restaurant style dining experience

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

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

H&M to open largest UK store at Westfield Stratford

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

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

H&M chooses UK for launch of first ARKET store

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