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Marks & Spencer opens new Bahrain store Thursday, 16th May 2013
Photo credit: Marks & Spencer plc
Marks & Spencer this week celebrated another international store opening at the launch of its new Bahrain City Centre shop.
The new 27,630 square feet store features the retailer’s new store format, covering clothing, beauty, footwear, lingerie and food.
Speaking at the launch, John Cooper, managing director of Marks & Spencer Al-Futtaim said: “We’re delighted to have opened the 1st new full format store in Bahrain City Centre and believe that Bahrain is a burgeoning market for M&S. Bahrain is the 2nd market in the region to introduce the new M&S store concept and this further reiterates the importance we attach to this market. We are confident that the new displays and store format will build on M&S’s popularity in the region and attract an ever increasing number of customers.
Cooper added: “Our new inspiring displays co-ordinate under one roof, the latest runway looks and must-have collections across clothing, beauty, footwear and lingerie. We want to create brand new experiences for our customers: that’s the vision at the core of this concept.”
Having worked with the Al-Futtaim Group since 1998, Marks & Spencer’s franchise partnership with the Dubai-based conglomerate counts 18 stores located across the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan and Qatar.
Poundland owners eye £600m sale Tuesday, 7th May 2013
Photo credit: Poundland
Poundland owners Warburg Pincus are reportedly considering a sale for the budget retailer, in a deal that could be worth £600 million.
The Daily Express on Tuesday reported Warburg Pincus, a private equity group which bought Poundland for £200 million back in 2010, is now looking to sell the retailer on the back of a boom in business for value household goods.
Poundland has 450 stores in the UK, and is expected to open another 60 during the current financial year, with the view to have 1,000 in operation in the next five to 10 years.
John Lewis fetes arrival of spring as fashion sales surge Friday, 3rd May 2013
Photo credit: John Lewis plc
Hotter climes have helped fashion sales at John Lewis rise 19.6 per cent on the same week a year before.
The department store on Friday reported a stronger week with sales up 5.3 per cent in the seven days to 27 April, as fashion sales managed to offset tougher trading at the retailer’s home and electricals and home technology directorates.
Despite getting off to a slow start, it seems fashion sales have finally kicked into action at John Lewis, up 19.6 per cent on the same week last year. Women’s accessories and beauty, women’s footwear, women’s fashion accessories and sunglasses all recorded best-ever spring weeks, with shoes managing a 71 per cent gain on last year.
Online fashion sales rose an impressive 49 per cent on last year, giving a boost to the 18.9 per cent jump made at JohnLewis.com across the week.
Speaking on the results, Amanda Scott, head of buying at John Lewis women’s accessories and beauty said: “Price matching activity clearly drove footfall into stores as well as growth online. Department stores finished ahead of last year with Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Liverpool and Peter Jones posting the strongest performances.”
Both home and electricals and home technology came up against tough comparables on the previous year, with home down 2.5 per cent for the week. Tech sales fell just behind 2012’s results, down 0.3 per cent against the same week last year.
“As we conclude a strong first quarter our focus ahead is on trading new season's merchandise, continuing to provide product innovation to surprise and delight our customers and a best-in-class shopping experience through all our channels.” Scott added.
John Lewis Partnership’s food operations echoed the sunny disposition, with sales excluding petrol up 11.1 per cent in Waitrose’s first quarter.
The high-end supermarket on Friday revealed customer transactions rose 8.4 per cent for the period, with Waitrose serving an average of 5 million customers a week. Online sales at Waitrose.com rose 50.1 per cent, as the retailer continued to drive growth across its multichannel operations.
“What is so significant about our figures is that the vast majority of our growth has been achieved by an increase in volume sales from our established branches, with just one shop opening so far this financial year.” Tom Athron, financial director at Waitrose said on Friday.
“Our competitive price position and the extension of Brand Price Match has helped us continue to win new customers. We now price match Tesco on more than 7,000 items each week, meaning that our prices on everyday brands, excluding promotions, are the same as Tesco and in many cases lower than Sainsbury's.” Athron added.
In the week ending 27 April, total divisional sales excluding petrol rose 8.4 per cent, with shoppers continuing to stock up on summer food and drink.
Spring brings mixed fortunes for John Lewis Friday, 26th April 2013
Photo credit: John Lewis plc
Sales at John Lewis came in flat at -0.1 per cent for the week as customers chose to make the most of the sunshine instead of shopping.
The department store’s online director Mark Lewis on Friday reported “a number of factors” had contributed into make the seven days to 20 April a “challenging” week for the retailer compared to the same time a year before, with customers reportedly soaking up the sun in their gardens instead of on the high street.
But the onset of spring wasn’t all bad news, as fashion sales rose 4 per cent overall after a number of false-starts earlier in the year, which saw wintry conditions continue right into mid-April. Womenswear, accessories & beauty and childrenswear all experienced strong trade, with online shopping in the fashion categories trading up 39 per cent on last year.
Over at John Lewis’ home directorate, sales in outdoor living lines began to pick up, although Lewis described it as “a tougher week overall”, a feeling also found in the electricals and home technology department, when the retailer battled tough comparisons against the Digital Switchover a year before.
Overall sales at John Lewis’ online operations were up 11.3 per cent, following an announcement earlier in the week that the retailer had managed to reach its aim of an annual run rate of £1 billion a year ahead of schedule.
Meanwhile it seems the weather was kinder to John Lewis’ food operations as Waitrose reported a 9.9 per cent increase in total sales excluding petrol compared to the same time a year before.
The supermarket reported an increase in basket size from the comparable week in 2012 as shoppers stocked up on summery foods including salads, prepared vegetables and exotic fruits.
Jones Group announces US store closures Thursday, 25th April 2013
Photo credit: Kurt Geiger
The Jones Group Inc., parent company to Nine West, Kurt Geiger and Jones New York, has announced it will close around 170 of its underperforming US stores by mid-2014.
The company will also cut its workforce by 8 per cent as part of the measures announced on Wednesday, which Jones Group Inc said would cost around USD 40 million to USD 60 million over the next 15 months as it looks to turnaround its profits.
The group’s US stores have come under pressure of late after aggressive competition from rivals and a lacklustre festive season, when sales fell around 7 per cent.
John Lewis tops £1bn in annual online sales ahead of schedule Monday, 22nd April 2013
Photo credit: John Lewis plc
John Lewis reports “unprecedented” rise in online growth as it reaches £1 billion in annual online sales a year ahead of schedule.
The department store group on Monday said it reached the milestone on a 52-week rolling basis. John Lewis said it expected to reach the £1 billion mark in 2014, as IT director Paul Coby said the retailer was experiencing “an unprecedented pace of online growth”;
"The billion-pound success of johnlewis.com is a reflection of our strategy to put the customer at the heart of our online operations. Early testing at every stage of the build, and inviting over 3 million customers to use our beta site before full launch, has resulted in what we believe will be an outstanding experience and journey for customers.” Coby added.
John Lewis attributed the growth to the launch of its new multi-million pound web platform, which features a number of enhanced features including a wish list and search history, as well as plans to introduce more customer-focused functions in the future. With mobile traffic now accounting for over 25 per cent of visits to the retailer’s online platform, John Lewis also noted that is has revamped its mobile offer to mirror the design of its main site, and plans to launch a new app in the future.
Mark Lewis, online director at John Lewis, said: "Passing the £1bn milestone almost an entire year ahead of schedule is a fantastic achievement for us, and a reflection of how central online shopping has become to our customers.
"We have a leading omnichannel strategy which our customers love, but to continue to deliver the service our customers want, we need a website which will serve us as well as the old one did, and maintain our position as a leading innovator in online retailing."
John Lewis’ Oxford St flagship sees 18.5% rise in sales Friday, 19th April 2013
Photo credit: John Lewis plc
Proving the stores still have it, John Lewis’ Oxford Street flagship reported an 18.5 per cent rise in sales in the week to 13 April.
While John Lewis’ stellar rate of sales growth slowed slightly to 6.9 per cent including VAT in the seven days to 13 April, it was the group’s bricks-and-mortar stores that led the way for the week, with Oxford Street, Liverpool, Poole and Aberdeen all well into the double digit figures for growth.
“Week eleven proved a solid one to conclude a strong set of Easter comparisons.” Andy Street, John Lewis managing director, said on Friday. “This was especially so when we consider the strength of April trade last year which included the beginning of the Technology surge. Inevitably therefore, the headline sales growth has slowed just a little from the cracking pace we set at the beginning of the year” Street added.
John Lewis on Friday reported the first glimpse of sunshine helped lift its fashion directorate by 7.6 per compared with the same week the year before, while over in the home department big ticket items sold well with a focus on furniture.
Usually the star of the show, John Lewis’ electricals and home technology department last week came up against strong comparisons from the ‘Digital Switchover’ in 2012, but still managed to report a 7.2 per cent rise in sales.
Street said John Lewis’ online performance in April 2012 had “proved hard to beat, but encouragingly the new website continues to bed down, and outstanding mobile trade helped the channel to 5 per cent overall.”
Over at the partnerships’ food operations, Waitrose reported an impressive 24.6 per cent rise in sales excluding petrol on the same period last year. Helen Hyde, personnel director at Waitrose noted “the distorting effect of the fall of Easter and school holidays when compared to last year,” but added that it was still an “impressive trading performance and well above our expectations.”
As the hottest week of the year so far, Waitrose said its customers were looking ahead to summer with warmer weather eating habits, including picnic sales and quick-to-prepare foods so more time could be spent outdoors.
Debenhams reveals new expansion plans Friday, 19th April 2013
Photo credit: Debenhams plc
Debenhams is reported to have identified up to 70 high streets and shopping centres where it hopes to open outlets and expand its UK store portfolio.
After reporting back this week on a tough half which saw profits fall 5.4 per cent, Debenhams is now thought to be re-evaluating its presence on the high street, looking to add up to 70 new stores to its current portfolio.
According to the Guardian the department store is also now looking to improve its multichannel offering as it emerged shoppers that use both its stores and websites spend more than twice as much as those who shop only in stores or only online.
Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp said the company felt it had to expand to keep up with competition.
"We're 200 years old this year yet I would describe our UK store portfolio as immature," he said. "We've got 155 stores in the UK and we've identified there are up to 70 markets where we don't trade that we could trade profitably even if you accept the fact that the internet is taking a larger proportion of clothing expenditure."
Sharp added that Cribbs Causeway in Bristol, Bluewater in Kent, Kingston upon Thames in Surrey and Watford were all potential locations for new Debenhams stores. The department store group is already planning to open 17 new stores by 2017, including in Cheshire Oaks, Hereford and Leamington Spa.
Debenhams H1 sales up 3.5% Thursday, 18th April 2013
Photo credit: Debenhams Retail plc
Debenhams focuses on second half after 5.4 per cent fall in profits for the first half of its financial year.
The department store group, which has 165 locations across the UK and Ireland, on Thursday revealed a fall in first-half profit in line with expectations after the retailer issued a profit warning in March. Snow and wintry conditions throughout January dragged down profits for Debenham’s first half, to £120.3 million in the six months to 2 March.
However, the retailer seemed determined to remain confident that its second half could bring in better results, after sales in its first half rose 3.5 per cent to £1.54 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.1 per cent, after a rise in online sales, while Debenhams’ gross margin fell 20 basis points.
Speaking in light of a mixed bag of results, chief executive Michael Sharp said: "We made progress during the first half although snow in late January meant we did not achieve the profit outcome we had expected."
“We expect to make further progress in the second half despite consumer sentiment remaining weak and challenging market conditions," said chief executive Michael Sharp.
JC Penney borrows $850m to fund inventory boost Tuesday, 16th April 2013
Photo credit: JC Penney
J.C. Penney Co Inc has reportedly borrowed USD 850 million from its USD 1.85 billion revolving credit facility to help buy inventory with the hopes of boosting the businesses' struggling turnaround.
The Texan retailer, which owns over 1,106 locations, said it will use the proceeds to fund its working capital needs and capital expenditures, including buying inventory to overhaul its home goods department. Reuters on Monday reported the cost of buying protection in JC Penney went up dramatically this week, with buyers of five-year JC Penney credit default swaps paying USD 1.53 million plus USD 500,000 to insure USD 10 million in debt, up from Friday's cost of USD 1.38 million.
The news comes just days after the department store retailer parted ways with its chief executive Ron Johnson, along with three other top executives at the company.