John Lewis Partnership, Arcadia Group and Harrods are the latest to reveal significant job cuts in response to the Coronavirus crisis. John Lewis did not disclose exactly how many staff will be made redundant, but a 'rightsizing' strategy will include a reduction in the number of stores across its estate and could also include the smaller of its two head office buildings in London.
COVID-19 has sparked a retail transformation in the UK, with more than 85,000 businesses launching online stores or joining online marketplaces in the last four months, according to new research from Growth Intelligence. With more than 750,000 businesses forced to close their doors under lockdown restrictions, businesses in nearly every sector have accelerated their digital transformation to meet growing demand for online shopping.
Sainsbury’s total sales rose by 8.5 per cent year-on-year for the three months ending 27 June, with a 87 per cent surge in online revenue. However, the supermarket chain warned that profits could fall by more than £500 million due to the impact of the Coronavirus, although this would be “broadly offset by business rates relief and stronger grocery sales”.
Lululemon has acquired home fitness company MIRROR for $500 million. The augmented reality technology give access to weekly live classes and thousands of on-demand workouts, as well as immersive one-on-one personal training.
TM Lewin will permanently shut its entire store estate, as it struggles to pay rent and other costs for its stores.The Telegraph reported that the menswear retailer's administration will result in around 600 job losses.
Shop prices fell by 1.6 per cent in June, compared to a decrease of 2.4 per cent in May, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen statistics. Non-food prices fell by 3.4 per cent in June, compared to a decline of 4.6 per cent in May, while food inflation was steady at 1.5 per cent in June, the same rate of increase as in May.
The John Lewis Partnership has partnered with Wipro to provide infrastructure services. This represents a significant step in the creation of the partnership’s new Technology and Change function, which will better support its business strategy and let it respond more quickly to the digital expectations of customers.
Pets At Home has selected the Aptos ONE platform to power its retail operations and customer engagement strategies. Founded in 1991, the pet product retailer now has more than 450 stores and an e-commerce website.
With COVID-19’s long-term impact on consumer behaviour still unclear, the week that High Street stores reopened saw online retail sales surge by 41.3 per cent year-on-year and 1.8 per cent week-on-week. This marks the second strongest year-on-year growth since lockdown measures were put in place, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.
Scurri has announced a further €1.5 million investment to support its continued growth. A group of existing investors, including Act Venture Capital, Episode 1, Pa Nolan, and J Meade Corporate Finance advising the majority of angel investors, backed the company to total funding of €8.5 million to date.
UK footfall decreased 53.4 per cent year-on-year during the second week of reopening in England and Northern Ireland – compared to a decrease of 81.6 per cent year-on-year for the month of May. The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrak figures showed that footfall on the High Street declined by 58.1 per cent year-on-year – compared to a decrease of 77.8 per cent year-on-year during May.
Microsoft will close almost all of its retail stores, as the Coronavirus has led it to take a “new approach to retail”. A blog explained that more than 100 stores worldwide will close, with only four Microsoft Experience Centres left open - a move set to cost the tech giant $450 million this quarter in pre-tax asset impairment charges.
New research has revealed that 53 per cent of UK shoppers felt that retailers were doing enough to protect the public from Coronavirus, with only nine per cent disagreeing. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Opinium surveyed 2,001 nationally representative adults between 19 and 22 June - and has been conducting similar polls since the beginning of May - finding that 15 per cent of shoppers intended to visit shops to browse, up from 13 per cent prior to England and Northern Ireland’s reopening.
Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of shoppers believe that supporting the local economy is key to the UK overcoming the impact of the Coronavirus crisis. Data from PayPal has found that the economic downturn prompted by the lockdown has led to Brits rethinking their spending priorities, with over half (57 per cent) saying they chose to shop small to help support local and national retailers.
Online retail brands PrettyLittleThing and HYPE have partnered with flexible payments platform Laybuy. The integrations with the Boohoo-owned fashion retailer and HYPE is due to go live on both retailers’ e-commerce sites later this month.
Intu Properties has now fallen into administration after failing to secure an agreement with its creditors. Jim Tucker, David Pike and Mike Pink from KPMG have been appointed to handle the process.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally cleared Amazon’s 16 per cent investment in Deliveroo, on the basis that it is not likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition. In its initial provisional findings, published in April, the CMA provisionally cleared Amazon’s investment on the basis that Deliveroo would have exited the market without it, because of the negative impact of the Coronavirus on its business.
TikTok has launched TikTok For Business, giving retailers a suite of marketing tools to rival the e-commerce efforts of Snapchat and Instagram. The new platform allows brands to create their own adverts and connect with influencers within the app, including ‘TopView’ ads which appear when the app is first launched, ‘Brand Takeovers’ which are three to five-second-long video or image adverts, and a new augmented reality (AR) ‘Brand Scan’ functionality.
DHL has launched a new warehouse robotics platform as part of a partnership with artificial intelligence-backed fulfilment provider Blue Yonder. The new platform, built on Microsoft Azure, will integrate warehouse robotic systems into existing platforms at some of the 2,000 operational sites in the DHL Supply Chain.
The Very Group is cutting 141 office jobs, while creating 100 new roles in technology-focused teams, as part of a Coronavirus-driven restructure. The parent company of online retailers Littlewoods and Very said it would make 106 head office roles and 35 customer care roles redundant.
The John Lewis Partnership has appointed Pippa Wicks as its new executive director. She joins from the Co-op Group, where she was deputy chief executive, and will start her new role in August.
The Brazilian Central Bank has suspended WhatsApp payments, citing competition concerns, just over a week after the messaging app's payment service launched in the country. In statement, the central bank said the decision had been taken to allow it to evaluate potential risks to the country’s payment infrastructure and to establish whether WhatsApp complies with domestic regulation, according to Bloomberg News.
Verizon has joined forces with UK-based technology innovation centre Digital Catapult to launch an immersive accelerator programme to develop innovative 5G solutions for enterprises. The programme will enable a select number of retail and brand partners to work directly with startups and technology innovators to explore how 5G-enabled solutions can solve their real-world business challenges.
UK retailers saw a 60 per cent surge in transactions last week as shops began to re-open after lockdown, according to new data from Barclaycard. The bank's payment arm, which processes nearly 40 per cent of all UK transactions, analysed data on activity in the last week (beginning 7 June) as lockdown restrictions began to ease, finding eight per cent growth in the total volume of transactions and six per cent growth in the total value of transactions.
Amazon has pledged $2 billion worth of support for the development of sustainable technologies and services that will enable it and other companies to meet The Climate Pledge - a commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040. This dedicated venture investment program will back companies whose products and services will facilitate the transition to a zero carbon economy.
JD Sports has bought back its Go Outdoors business, following its administration earlier this week. Michael Magnay and Daniel Butters of Deloitte were appointed as joint administrators yesterday, before the parent company bought the brand in a pre-pack deal for £56.5 million, via a newly incorporated subsidiary, JD Newco.
Ocado's UK grocery market share has reached an all time high, as the Coronavirus shifts demand online. Kantar data showed that online grocery sales were up 91 per cent over the last four weeks, despite lockdown measures easing across the UK.
Visa has now issued more than one billion tokens worldwide through Visa Token Service (VTS), marking a milestone in its proprietary offering to help accelerate e-commerce innovation and make payments more secure. VTS replaces a cardholder’s 16-digit account number with a secure token that protects the underlying card number from fraudsters.
UK retail footfall decreased 57.2 per cent year-on-year during the first week of reopening – a slight improvement on the previous week at 76.2 per cent. The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrak figures showed that footfall on High Streets declined by 61 per cent year-on-year – although again, this was an improvement on a decline of 74 per cent the previous week.
The Hut Group has signed more than £100 million worth of partnerships with beauty brands which will use its Ingenuity platform to develop their direct-to-consumer (D2C) propositions. Brands like Elemis, PZ Cussons Beauty and Nuxe will now have access to a range of e-commerce solutions, including international fulfilment and payments, hosting, translations, brand development, creative content and data analytics.
Cornwall-based clothing retailer Seasalt has selected product information management (PIM) provider Akeneo to ensure a consistent online shopping experience for customers. The new PIM platform will allow the company to centralise all of its product data and quickly measure data quality and consistency to deliver consistent, personalised customer experiences across sales channels.
Mothercare is in discussions with new debt providers for new recapitalisation facilities and will move its head offices as part of its transformation plan. The baby care and maternity retailer said that it remains on track to become a profitable international franchise operation, via an “asset-light model” of operations in around 40 international territories, refocusing on “core competencies of brand management and the design, development and sourcing of product to help grow the Mothercare business with its global franchise partners”.
Go Outdoors is considering administration options, potentially putting around 2,400 jobs at risk. The outdoor equipment and clothing retailer filed legal a notice of its intention to appoint administrators on Friday, with the Sunday Times reporting that Deloitte has been lined-up to review restructuring plans.
Etsy has launched a new augmented reality (AR) visualisation feature to help users get a better idea of how items will look in their homes or offices. With over five million items in the Art and Collectibles category on Etsy, the online marketplace wanted to give users a better way of visualising potential purchases.
Dunelm has launched a new virtual shopping service, featuring expert interiors advice and product selection guidance tailored to individual home needs. Customers can book an appointment online, where they will be prompted to share information around their style inspiration or products they are seeking.
Andrew Tyrie has resigned from the chairman of Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), hinting at his dissatisfaction with the limits of the regulator to combat market dominance of digital giants such as Facebook and Google. Lord Tyrie, a former Conservative MP and chairman of the Treasury Select Committee from 2010 to 2017, said that he was standing down from the UK’s competition watchdog three years before his term was due to finish in order to make the case “more forcefully” for a crackdown on market abuse by multi-national companies in favour of consumer rights.
Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, has warned the public to take extra care online, after statistics show 16,352 people fell victim to online shopping and auction fraud during lockdown. Since shops were forced to close due to the Coronavirus outbreak on 23 March, Action Fraud has received reports of online shopping fraud totalling £16.6 million in losses.
E-commerce sales rose 72 per cent year-on-year in the UK in May, as the pandemic continues to drive shoppers online, according to new data from Mastercard. The payment giant’s SpendingPulse tracker, which measures overall retail sales across all types of payment, found that online spend continued to rise in May compared to April, which saw an increase of 64 per cent growth compared to April 2019.
Amazon UK country manager Doug Gurr is leaving the company to take up a new position as director of the Natural History Museum. He first joined the e-commerce giant in 2011, having previously worked at Asda, and was promoted to his current position in April 2016, after leading the China arm for two years.
Retail sales volumes partly rebounded in May, with an increase of 12 per cent when compared with the record falls experienced in the previous month, but sales were still down by 13.1 per cent on February before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed non-food stores provided the largest positive contribution to monthly growth in May, aided by a 42 per cent in household goods stores, with the opening of hardware and DIY stores reflected in this sector.
As shoppers return to the High Street this week, 85 per cent of retailers have revealed concerns about the risk the Coronavirus poses to staff and customers. A survey of 2,000 retailers for Brightpearl, an operations platform for retailers, found that the majority are rolling out measures to reduce risk of spreading the disease, including nearly three quarters (73 per cent) which will be placing limits on customer capacity.
AllSaints has revealed a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) proposal which will restructure its store portfolio in the UK and US. The fashion retailer aims to renegotiate contracts with its landlords to move 41 stores in the UK and 42 stores in North America to turnover-rent, while a "small number" will close where business is no longer feasible.
DPD has announced the creation of 6,000 new UK jobs and £200 million infrastructure investment as the company bets on the ongoing popularity of online shopping following the COVID-19 lockdown. The delivery and logistics firm, which has contracts with many of the UK’s leading retailers, will invest to expand its next-day parcel capacity, including £100 million on vehicles, £60 million on 15 new regional depots (10 more than originally planned in 2020) and the remainder on technology.
The Supreme Court has found in favour of the UK's largest supermarket chains in a case disputing the level of interchange fees levied by Visa and Mastercard. The UK's highest court unanimously upheld the conclusion of the Court of Appeal that multi-lateral interchange fees (MIFs) infringed European Union antitrust rules by illegally restricting competition in the acquiring market.
Mastercard is launching a global payments tokenisation service for Amazon customers. The payments giant is rolling out the service, which makes a secure digital record of stored card credentials to Amazon customers in 12 countries, including the UK, US, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Turkey, Mexico and United Arab Emirates.
Boohoo has acquired the online businesses and associated intellectual property of Oasis and Warehouse for £5.25 million from Hilco Capital. After administrators failed to find a buyer, the Oasis and Warehouse Group closed all stores and concessions at the end of April, with the loss of more than 1,800 jobs.
Forever 21 has reentered the UK market with a new online store and localised e-commerce experience. The US fashion retailer is working with cross-border e-commerce solutions provider Global-e to accelerate its global online expansion, which began in Asia Pacific and Latin America earlier this year.
London Dynamics, an augmented reality (AR) firm founded by a former vice president of digital transformation at IKEA, has teamed up with Capita to develop new solutions for e-commerce. The startup’s collaboration with the professional services giant will look to develop new applications for AR to assist shoppers in virtually trying, testing and viewing a range of products using Capita’s artificial intelligence technology.
Customers of Claire’s Accessories may have had their card payment details stolen after it was hit by a card skimming cyber attack. Its website and that of sister company Icing fell victim to a magecart attack from 25 April to 13 June, the company confirmed.
Poundstretcher has launched a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) proposal, as part of a major restructuring. The retailer will make changes to its UK store portfolio, renegotiate rents, reduce head office costs and stem losses from underperforming outlets.
WhatsApp has finally rolled-out in-app digital payments, starting with users in Brazil. People will now be able to send money securely or make a purchase from a local business without leaving their chat.
Intu is repurposing its footfall-tracking technology to ensure social distancing measures are maintained within its UK shopping centres. As non-essential retailers are able to reopen this week, the shopping centre owner stated that frontline staff will be informed when the centre is reaching maximum capacity so they can instruct shoppers to queue outside until it is safe to enter.
UK footfall decreased by 81.6 per cent in May – a shallower decline than that seen in April, as more categories of shops were able to reopen. The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrak figures showed High Street footfall down by 77.8 per cent year-on-year, faring better in comparison to shopping centres, as local convenience stores saw a rise in popularity.
In preparation for the reopening of shops across the UK today, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and 25 leading retailers have launched five simple steps to encourage considerate shopping. The retailers are urging the public to play their part in creating a safe retail environment for other customers and retail staff.
Avoiding shopping at peak times and contactless payments are among the tactics consumers will be using to keep safe from Coronavirus when the shops re-open on Monday, according to new research. A poll of 2,000 consumers conducted by buy now, pay later provider Laybuy found that 46 per cent are preparing to avoid visiting high street shops at peak times as non-essential retailers reopen, while 40 per cent will insist upon contactless purchases.
Zara owner Inditex has announced plans to close between 1,000 and 1,200 stores - mainly from brands other than Zara - and invest more than €2 billion in online and integrated store platforms, as the Coronavirus pushed sales down 44 per cent. The Spanish retail giant which - owns a stable of brands including Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear and Bershka - reported a fall in sales to €3.3 billion during the first quarter of its financial year, between 1 February and 30 April.
Half of UK consumers are unwilling to share their personal data with retailers over concerns about how this is being used, with those aged over 55 revealed to be the least willing to provide any data (56 per cent), according to REPL Group. The retail IT consultancy and technology firm surveyed 1,000 consumers across a range of age groups - varying from 18 to over 65 - finding that despite this reluctance of sharing data, 24 per cent said they would be drawn to those retailers that provide personalised in-store offers.
Currys PC World is to reopen 131 of its stores as ‘Tech Help Hubs’ as of next week. The retailer said that from 15 June selected stores will recycle all old or unused tech, regardless of where it was purchased, and help customers with any tech questions they have.
Quiz has revealed plans to restructure its store portfolio in response to the shift to e-commerce during the Coronavirus lockdown. The fashion retailer will put its wholly-owned subsidiary, Kast - which operates the 82 standalone stores in the UK and Ireland - into administration with KPMG.
Alkemics has raised €21 million in a Series C funding round led by Highland Europe with participation from Cathay Innovation, Index Ventures, SEB Alliance and Serena Capital. Since raising €20 million in 2016, the Paris-based startup has worked with grocery retailers in France and the UK - including Tesco, Ocado, Casino, E.Leclerc and Intermarché - to digitise their commercial processes with more than 17,000 brands.
Ocado is looking to raise £657 million in an equity share placing with institutional and retail investors, as well as borrowing £350 million through a convertible bond issue. The money will be used to increase fulfilment capacity with its existing Ocado Solution partners and help acquire new grocery clients for the platform.
UK consumers have gone an average of 44 days without using cash, according to Nationwide research, which shows the Coronavirus lockdown is accelerating the shift to contactless payments. A Censuswide survey of more than 2,000 Nationwide members between 23 March and 31 May found that 78.5 million contactless payments were made, up 44 per cent during the period to a total value of nearly £957 million, including a fifth that said they have not used coins or notes at all for two months.
Seven out of ten shoppers say they will not feel totally comfortable heading into physical stores once they re-open on 15 June, according to new research from EY. The professional services firm surveyed 1,017 UK consumers about their attitude to revisiting non-essential and essential food stores after the lockdown, with 80 per cent saying they would not feel comfortable trying on clothes in store.
Monsoon Accessorize founder Peter Simon has rescued his company through a buyout covering the retailer’s brands, head office and distribution centre. Adena Brands, a company ultimately controlled by Simon, will now enter talks with the landlords of many of Monsoon and Accessorize’s 230 stores to try and reach terms to reopen them once the Coronavirus lockdown ends next week.
Retailers around Covent Garden will be trialling a range of digital initiatives to ensure social distancing when they reopen next week.
Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of online shoppers are prepared to purchase from overseas vendors in order to make a cost saving, according to a new report. A survey of 1,200 consumers in the UK, Republic of Ireland, France, Germany, Australia and the US, by delivery management company Whistl, found that consumers were going online to access products not available locally (60 per cent), then getting access to unique products (51 per cent), as well as low fee or free shipping (39 per cent).
Consumer spending contracted 26.7 per cent year-on-year in May, according to the latest Barclaycard data. The data, taken from having processed nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, revealed that spending on essential items grew by 0.9 per cent in May. This was bolstered by a 24.5 per cent rise in supermarket spend – which increased to 27 per cent in the week preceding the VE Day weekend.
On a total basis, retail sales decreased by 5.9 per cent in May, against a decrease of 1.9 per cent in May 2019. This was the second worst decline recorded since the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG monitor began in January 1995 – but also an improvement over April.
Ocado and Kroger have announced the continued expansion of their partnership with plans to construct three new Customer Fulfilment Centres (CFC) in the US. The robotic warehouses will be located the Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest and West regions - with exact locations not yet announced.
Retail footfall improved slightly in May to a 73.3 per cent decline, compared with 80.1 per cent in April. The latest Springboard figures showed that retail parks had the biggest improvement, with footfall dropping by only 55.1 per cent - compared to 68.1 per cent in April - mainly due to home and DIY stores reopening, and the presence of essential retailers like supermarkets.
Cryptocurrency exchange CoinCorner has launched a new service that will reward customers with Bitcoin when they shop online. It claims the cashback service is the first-of-its-kind to launch in the UK and CoinCorner has partnered with more than 400 UK retailers - including Burton, Twinings, Confused.com, Ninja, New Era and Morphy Richards.
A new study has identified human vulnerabilities across the retail supply chain during the Coronavirus crisis - and the need for future investment in flexibility and automation to improve future resilience. WMG, the University of Warwick and Blue Yonder gathered insights from 105 different retailers from Europe, Asia and the Americas, finding that the majority (61 per cent) used inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19.
The UK’s second month under lockdown saw online retail sales rise to a 12-year high, up 32.7 per cent year-on-year in May. The latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, showed that sales were overwhelmingly driven by soaring sales in three categories – home and garden, electricals and alcohol.
Total like-for-like retail sales declined by 18.3 per cent in May, but from a base of 2.2 per cent for the equivalent month last year. The latest BDO High Street sales tracker showed total in-store sales fell by 87.1 per cent year-on-year, while online sales increased by 129.5 per cent.
A review of the top 450 e-commerce websites in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Sweden has uncovered widespread checkout errors, causing customers unnecessary frustration and costing businesses significant lost revenue. Research from Stripe, which builds economic infrastructure for the internet, found that some of the most common errors include: allowing shoppers to submit transactions with incorrect card details; failing to warn shoppers when out of date expiry information is entered; not providing a numerical keypad for entering card numbers on mobile.
Mastercard has launched an online search tool to see which shops have reopened, as the nation gradually comes out of Coronavirus lockdown. The ShopOpenings.com site has been built in partnership with data analytics firm Sixth Sense, is free to use and provides up to date information on which shops and businesses are open for trading in line with government guidance.
Debenhams is preparing to re-open the “vast majority” of its stores from next week, following successful negotiations with landlords. The embattled department store chain filed for administration in April, explaining that the move would protect it from the threat of legal action that could have the effect of pushing the business into liquidation, while its 142 UK stores remain closed in line with the government’s COVID-19 pandemic advice.
Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) has backed out of its proposed €14.7 billion acquisition of Tiffany & Co, due to concerns around the Coronavirus. A statement explained that the luxury group's board of directors met to discuss the proposed deal and potential impacts that the pandemic could have on both businesses.
Mobile network Three has improved online customer experience by integrating a site search tool from Yext. In the first two weeks of implementing Yext Answers, Three saw a 42 per cent reduction in the number of customer support contacts initiated due to incorrect, irrelevant, or 'no results' responses delivered to customer queries on Three.co.uk.
The Dune Group has announced an international partnership with Klarna. The fashion and footwear retailer's online customers will be able to use Klarna’s Pay later products - Pay in 30 days and Instalments - in the United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
More than 90 per cent of face-to-face transactions are now made using contactless payments methods, following the COVID-19 pandemic. This is according to data from Barclaycard Payments, which processed over 25 million contactless payments above £30 since the new £45 limit was introduced at the start of the lockdown period, in a bid to reduce risk for card users.
Foodservice wholesaler Brakes has partnered with e-commerce agency KPS to digitally transform its operations during the COVID-19 lockdown. The project opened up its business-to-business (B2B) food delivery site to the public with the launch of a new direct-to-consumer (D2C) e-commerce offer, giving UK households an alternative to visiting the supermarket or relying on online grocery delivery slots.
Almost a third of Brits had their first experience of shopping online during lockdown, with three quarters (74 per cent) of more frequent online shoppers planning to continue to shop online as Coronavirus restrictions lift, according to new data from Visa. An Opinium survey of 2,000 British consumers, commissioned by the payments giant, found that 41 per cent had shopped online more frequently than normal and more than a third (34 per cent) say they now prefer to shopping online to browsing in physical retailers.
Snapchat has launched Dynamic Product Adverts (DPAs) to make it easier than ever for brands to set up their e-commerce business on the social network. Adidas, Farfetch and Topshop were among the first brands to have tested DPAs over the past month with "very positive results".
Shop prices fell by 2.4 per cent in May, compared to a 1.7 per cent decrease in April, marking the highest rate of decline since the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen began the series in December 2006. Non-food prices fell by 4.6 per cent in May, compared to a decline of 3.7 per cent in April – also the highest rate of decline since December 2006.
Hermes has partnered with what3words to give customers the option to pick the exact spot their parcels are delivered. The delivery company has developed MyPlaces, a new initiative designed to make the process entirely contactless, letting people specify a three metre square using the app.
Data capture firm Datalogic has invested in smart store technology firm AWM Smart Shelf, which uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to automate in-store processes. Investing in the California-based company will mean Datalogic is able to keep up with trends in the retail technology market. Among AWM’s solutions are autonomous and cashierless checkouts, automated inventory intelligence, consumer demographics and behaviour tracking software and analytics.
The Co-op is extending its use of robot deliveries across the Milton Keynes area due to demand for the service almost doubling since the start of the Coronavirus lockdown. In 2018, the supermarket chain began a trial of same-day autonomous robot deliveries in the area, partnering with Starship Technologies.
Yoox Net-A-Porter Group (YNAP) has partnered with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy to create a joint lab dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision in the fashion industry. The three-year partnership with AImageLab, will set up a research program led by professor Rita Cucchiara, one of the leading experts in the field and director of the National Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems.
Sainsbury’s new chief executive has appointed a new retail and digital director as part of a shake-up of his top team. On his first day in post, Simon Roberts announced that Clo Moriarty - previously chief digital director - will take on the new role of retail and digital director, while chief marketing officer Mark Given has been promoted to the operating board.
Ted Baker is looking to raise £95 million from investors, after reporting an annual loss of £79.9 million in its full year results - compared to a profit of £30.7 million the previous year. The fashion retailer detailed that its new Ted’s Formula For Growth strategy centres around a share placing and open offer - with shares being offered at 75 pence - which would fund a stabilising of finances and plans for future growth.
Virgin Media has announced that its 53 UK stores will remain closed even after the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted, meaning 341 employees who were not yet furloughed will lose their current roles. The company stated that these staff will be offered roles elsewhere in the company, with 300 potentially moving to telephone customer care roles working from home, and a further 50 field sales roles created.
The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has partnered with mobile app Jisp to create a solution providing same-day home delivery, Click and Collect, mobile payments and in-store scan and go services. For the first time consumers can turn to their local stores to benefit from one mobile app serving all their contact-free shopping solutions for both in-store and at home.
Poplar has closed a $2.1 million investment led by Fuel Ventures, to help realise its ambition to become the world’s leading augmented reality (AR) creative platform. The startup has now raised $2.9 million in total funding as it looks to grow the business and further develop its technology.
Monsoon Accessorize is on the brink of calling in administrators, potentially putting around 3,500 jobs at risk. The fashion retailer, which operates about 230 stores, is expected to file a notice of intention to appoint administrators today, according to Sky News.
Instagram is introducing shoppable badges to Live videos in order to increase advertising revenues. The Facebook-owned app will now offer users virtual badges to add to their live streams in a move similar to those available in Amazon’s Twitch platform.
Tesco has introduced a new automated queuing system to track the number of people in store and ensure social distancing. The new technology will be initially rolled out across 60 of its largest stores in Ireland, following a successful trial at its branch in Greystones, Wicklow.
New data from Mastercard has revealed that 66 per cent of all transactions across the UK are now contactless, with 45 per cent admitting their use of cash has decreased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and 22 per cent stating they no longer use cash at all. Proprietary data and consumer research also showed that 83 per cent agreed that contactless payments are a cleaner way to pay, with 43 per cent using contactless more often since the pandemic began, while nine per cent have started to use contactless for the first time.
One Stop has extended its strategic partnership with RELEX Solutions to integrate supply chain unification in retail operations. The new solution has gone live with improved forecasting and automatic replenishment for over 900 of the UK convenience store chain's wholly-owned and franchised locations, with a plan to integrate its four distribution centres in the next phase of implementation.
British Land has written down the value of its retail portfolio by more than a quarter due to the Coronavirus ruling out most of its retail rental income. The lockdown pushed the shopping centre owner to a £1.1 billion loss for the year to the end of March - compared with a loss of £320 million the previous year.
Boots will unveil its first entirely digital global product launch alongside a range of new virtual services. Parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance is set to launch its No7 Advanced Retinol Complex Night Concentrate skincare products in the UK tomorrow.
Hammerson chief executive David Atkins is set to resign, as the shopping centre owner faces cashflow problems stemming from Coronavirus shop closures. He will remain in the post until the spring of 2021 at the latest to allow a search for his successor to be conducted.
A new startup has launched aiming to let users to go shopping together on the largest fashion e-commerce websites. Squadded is a Chrome browser extension which lets people register and invite friends, adding the social layer of in-person, in-store shopping.
As a result of COVID-19, 60 per cent of UK retail companies are overhauling their business strategies, with 42 per cent looking to invest in digital. This is according to a survey commissioned by LiveArea and conducted in May by Opinium among 500 business managers across various industries in the UK.
Aldi is launching an automated traffic light system to let people into its UK stores, limiting numbers and promoting social distancing. Following a successful trial of the technology, the supermarket chain will roll the system out this week. Each store will have a specific number of customers it can allow in at any one time to enable two-metre social distancing.
Retail technology provider TrueCommerce has entered into a strategic partnership with payments gateway firm Trust Payments to extend its services to business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce customers. The new relationship will enable users of TrueCommerce’s platform to implement Trust Payments’ payment solutions for all online transactions.
The prime minister has announced that non-essential retailers will be able to reopen stores in England from 15 June, so long as social distancing measures are implemented. Boris Johnson stated yesterday that openings would be “contingent on progress in the fight against Coronavirus” and retailers would have to adhere to the new guidance published for the retail sector “detailing the measures they should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards”.
Amazon Prime Day will be delayed until September to ensure its warehouses and logistics operations are running at full capacity. The Wall Street Journal reported that despite initial Coronavirus restrictions prioritising essential items being lifted, delivery times could still take month to return to the one and two-day pre-crisis norms.
Dixons Carphone has partnered with Age UK to help vulnerable older people tackle loneliness during the Coronavirus crisis. The technology retailer has provided 500 free tablets with internet connectivity and a dedicated technology support phone line to help older people connect with friends and family, access guidance on staying safe and keep up to date with current news.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that all retail sales measures had record declines in April - from 1988 when records began - for both value and volume, as many stores paused trading from the Coronavirus lockdown on 23 March. The record fall of 18.1 per cent in April, followed the fall of 5.2 per cent in March.
Clarks will cut 900 office jobs as part of a new strategy to revitalise the business through the Coronavirus. The footwear retailer has made 160 redundancies globally today, including 108 at its headquarters in Street, Somerset.
Shopify has announced a new range of products and updates to help merchants navigate the Coronavirus crisis. At Reunite, the company’s first virtual event for members, it gave details of Shopify Balance, a new bank account for merchants to pay in and take out money made in their online shops.
The co-founder of Boohoo has partnered with Avacta to develop a 10-minute home saliva test for Coronavirus. The antigen test will look similar to a pregnancy test, but will use a saliva sample rather than urine.
Marks & Spencer has poached George at Asda’s commercial vice president Stephen Langford as its new e-commerce director. He will start in the next few weeks, reporting to the retailer’s new clothing and home managing director, Richard Price, who is set to join from Tesco in July to lead the turnaround strategy for M&S’ struggling apparel department.
The "trauma" of the Coronavirus outbreak has meant that shopping may “never be the same again”, Marks & Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe has said, as he announced an expected £2.1 billion hit on clothing, home, food and international sales. In a trading update for the 52 weeks up to 28 March, he announced that profit before tax had slumped 21 per cent to £403 million, including an adverse profit impact of around £52 million in March, which was “largely attributed” to the impact of COVID-19.
Asda is trialling virtual queuing as part of more long-term social distancing measures. The supermarket chain's new system will allow users to book a place and log into a virtual queue with their phones. They will then be able to wait in their car and be alerted when they are allowed to enter the store.
The City Takeover Panel has blocked Crew Clothing parent company Brigadier Acquisition Company’s attempt to retract its £22.6 million acquisition of Moss Bros. The firm made a submission last month to retract the takeover offer made in March, seeking to scrap the deal due to the material adverse change in conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic on Moss Bros.
Facebook is launching Shops, a free service aimed at making it easier for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature and customise the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colours that showcase their brand.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has announced plans to re-open its flagship London centres when the government advises it is safe to do so. Across Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City - Europe’s two largest shopping centres - the group explained the phased return of up to 30,000 people back to work.
Mamas & Papas has launched the UK’s first virtual personal shopping service for new and expectant parents. The nursery brand has taken its personal shopping appointments online to ensure that even when stores begin to reopen, pregnant women - who are classed as a vulnerable group - have the option to get advice and inspiration without having to leave the house.
Regatta is migrating from on-premise infrastructure management to the cloud with Cegid’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) application. The Manchester-based outdoor clothing retailer is aiming to future-proof the business as it continues to open new stores. It currently sells through 180 stores across 11 countries, employing over 1,400 people.
PayPal is rolling out payment by QR codes in the UK and across 27 markets globally. The payments system, which uses a consumer’s smartphone to scan the QR code before directing them to their PayPal account, is intended as a contact-free way for businesses to receive payment safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Over 60 per cent of consumers have stopped buying from brands that ‘stalk’ them online by using their data, according to new research. A survey of 8,000 consumers in the UK, France, India and the USA by Arlington Research on behalf of data analytics solution provider Truata also found over three quarters (77 per cent) believed that data held digitally about them should be their own property, not an asset owned by a company.
N Brown Group has reported a 25 per cent decline in sales over the last six weeks and is sought new funding from lenders to survive in a “very uncertain environment”. The group, which owns JD Williams, Jacamo and Simply Be, saw apparel sales fall 48 per cent during period, although home and gifting sales were up by 74 per cent.
Prada Group is now using Sprinklr to drive its data-driven social advertising and engagement strategy. The Italian luxury goods group is now enhancing collaboration across global agencies on Sprinklr’s artificial intelligence-powered platform to increase return on advertising spend, reach relevant audiences and gain insight into effective marketing content.
As of 17 May, Apple has begun opening stores around the world, with 100 already welcoming customers inside again. A blog from retail senior vice president Deirdre O'Brien explained that in China, and globally, the tech company was one of the first to close stores.
Graticule Personalisation is launching Forage Lite, a retail technology allowing customers to order via text, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger contact-free from shops and restaurants during the Coronavirus lockdown. The service has been designed for restaurants, take-aways, grocers, retailers and other small businesses, and is currently being offered free of charge to all small businesses in the UK.
Aldi is trialling on-demand grocery home delivery in the UK for the first time, in partnership with Deliveroo. From today, the supermarket will offer a rapid delivery service from its Daleside Road store in Nottingham, before extending the trial to a further seven stores across the East Midlands in June.
UK footfall decreased by 84.7 per cent in April, a record decline for the sector during the Coronavirus lockdown. The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrak figures showed that footfall on high streets declined by 81.8 per cent year-on-year.
E-commerce sales remained 50 per cent higher than pre-lockdown levels during the week ending 11 May.
Retail spending data gathered by fraud protection company Signifyd found that sales of luxury goods rose six per cent for the week, continuing a run going back to 23 March, which has seen sales in this category up 45 per cent since 25 February.
Homebase has gone live with a new e-fulfilment order delivery service. The DIY retailer partnered with Wincanton to help create a more positive customer experience by enabling better communication about items ordered for home delivery.
Boohoo has announced a successful placing of £198 million - priced at 340 pence per share - in a deal led by investment banking boutique Zeus Capital. Following the fundraise, the online fashion retailer is expected to have circa £500 million in cash, "giving it significant firepower to rapidly execute attractive brand acquisitions as they arise around the world", according to a statement.
New research has revealed that 80 per cent of consumers think payments technology is now key to their purchasing decisions. A OnePoll survey of 2,000 UK consumers for FinTech startup Modularbank found that just 22 per cent of respondents did not require anything more in the payments process from online merchants when it came to choosing which retailers, telecoms and utilities companies to use.
Computer vision-based frictionless checkout platform Shopic has closed an $7.6 million Series A funding round. The investment was led by IBI Tech Fund, with participation of existing investor Entrée Capital and others.
With non-essential retail not expected to open until June and retailers prioritising immediate e-commerce initiatives to drive sales, the ability to keep up with retail disruptors is the greatest long-term challenge faced by retail businesses post-Coronavirus. This is according to new research from trade show RetailEXPO, which surveyed 2,227 retail professionals, finding that almost a quarter (24 per cent) saw keeping pace with disruptors as the top long-term challenge facing their business.
Following the UK’s first full month under lockdown, April’s online retail sales results have signalled a seismic shift in purchasing patterns, according to the latest IMRG and Capgemini figures. As COVID-19 shut brick and mortar stores up and down the county, online sales growth surged to a 10-year high – up 23.8 per cent year-on-year.
During May, H&M Group brands COS, Weekday, Monki, & Other Stories and ARKET will make their collections available online in nine additional markets across Europe. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Croatia will launch on 14 May, followed by Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus on 20 May.
Spending on 'isolation economy' categories of groceries, alcohol, entertainment and hobbies is running at £247 million per week during lockdown, equivalent to an annual £12.9 billion increase. However, average overall consumer spending has decreased by 31 per cent per person, equating to an annual fall of £215 billion, according to a new report from Legal & General and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
The Coronavirus crisis has helped reduce the value of Land Securities Group's (Landsec) property portfolio by nine per cent, or £1.18 billion, to £12.8 billion during the year to 31 March. The shopping centre owner, which manages Bluewater in Kent and Trinity Leeds, reported losses before tax up to £837 million from £123 million in 2018/19.
On a total basis, UK retail sales decreased by 19.1 per cent in April, against an increase of 2.4 per cent in April 2019. This is the worst decline recorded since the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG monitor began in January 1995, reflecting the effect of lockdown measures.
Lidl has launched a WhatsApp chatbot to help find the quietest time to shop. Customers in Ireland can now send a message to Lidl through the messaging app informing the chatbot of the day and time they intend to visit. It will then message back letting them know if that is generally a quiet, average or busy time to visit.
JoJo Maman Bébé is partnering with Monetate, a Kibo company, to deliver real-time personalised experiences for increasing customer acquisition. The children's clothing and accessory retailer is using artificial intelligence technology to deal with the challenge of rapidly changing consumer intent.
Morrisons has expanded its same-day online grocery delivery partnership with Amazon. The service will now cover 90 per cent of London and 10 of the largest cities across the UK.
Young Brits have shifted their spending from clothing and shoes to home and gardens during the Coronavirus lockdown, with spending in this category up 262 per cent according to new data from Klarna.
The payments firm analysed spending through its 5,000 retail partners in the UK to identify the product categories most often shopped for using flexible payments options.
Holland & Barrett has opened a new distribution centre to meet a 400 per cent spike demand for online orders during lockdown. The health supplement retailer has reduced its product lines by 2,500 for two weeks in order to clear its backlog - although orders still have a week-long lead time instead of the pre-Coronavirus next-day service. These delays have caused many customer complaints in recent weeks.
As the prime minister alluded to some non-essential shops being able to reopen from 1 June, industry stakeholders have warned that staff safety is what counts. In a speech yesterday evening, Boris Johnson said that as part of phase two of the government’s plan, “we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools”, adding that more detailed guidance would be given this week.
The UK’s retail sector has seen its largest ever decline in footfall last month, down 80.1 per cent according to Springboard's latest figures. This was almost double the already signifiant March drop of 41.3 per cent - with both clearly due to the Coronavirus crisis and implementation of a social distancing lockdown.
Website revenues - which fell by 37 per cent on 23 March, the day the UK went into lockdown - have risen by 57 per cent since the social distancing measures were first introduced. This is according to the latest data from BounceX (soon to be Wunderkind), which also revealed that week-on-week revenue performance was up 20 per cent for the period between 27 April and 4 May.
Asda has added nearly 50 electric delivery vehicles to its fleet as a response to demand for online delivery slots during the Coronavirus lockdown. The supermarket chain announced it will designate the electric vehicles to 48 stores across the UK to transport orders from stores to Click and Collect points, effectively expanding the number of potential slots from 7,000 to 34,000 per week.
Debenhams will close a further five department stores, putting around 1,000 jobs at risk. The shops are all situated in Hammerson shopping centres the Bullring and Grand Central in Birmingham, The Oracle in Reading, Highcross in Leicester, Silverburn in Glasgow and Centrale in Croydon.
Next year's proposed business rates revaluation will now be postponed. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed that the tax changes will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for businesses affected by the Coronavirus crisis. Legislation had been introduced to bring the next revaluation forward by one year from 2022.
Ocado's retail revenues rose 40.4 per cent in the second quarter, as the Coronavirus crisis saw it deliver “significantly more groceries to households than ever before”. The online grocer has seen “unprecedented demand” for its deliveries during the last three months, causing revenue to nearly quadruple from first quarter trading.
Brompton Bicycle has partnered with Go Instore to launch the Live In-Store Expert feature, matching Brompton Junction product experts with online customers using an immersive live video platform. Staff can now work safely from the store during the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting online customers and giving product demonstrations.
Tomorrow Waitrose is opening a six-acre customer fulfilment centre in Enfield, North London, to double its online grocery orders in the capital by September. The site is creating 370 new jobs, building to 850 when at full capacity, by which time it will be adding 13,000 weekly delivery slots for London customers.
Following an in-depth Phase 2 investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has blocked the merger of JD Sports and Foot Asylum, stating it would "lead to a substantial lessening of competition nationally". The regulator added that this would leave shoppers with fewer discounts, or receiving lower quality customer service.
ASOS is accelerating the roll-out of its augmented reality (AR) app See My Fit, allowing users to accurately see what items look like in different sizes and on different body types. First launched in January, the tool digitally maps its products to 16 different real-life models with different heights and body shapes, ranging from size four to 18.
Back Market has raised $120 million in a funding round led by Goldman Sachs, Aglaé Ventures and Eurazeo Growth. The French marketplace for refurbished smartphones and electronics devices previously raised $55 million from Aglaé, Eurazeo and Daphni.
Tim Bray, a vice president at Amazon Web Services, has quit the company “in dismay” over its firing of employee activists who criticised Coronavirus working conditions. In a blog post, the man perhaps most famous for markup language XML, said that firing strike organisers Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa in April was “designed to create a climate of fear”.
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on retail will be the most significant event on the sector in living memory, according to EY. A new report from the consultancy has tracked changing consumer behaviours, identifying four distinct segments have emerged since the beginning of the crisis: 'cut deep', 'stay calm, carry on, 'Save and stockpile' and 'hibernate and spend'.
Halfords has partnered with digital commerce agency Astound Commerce to provide seamless customer experience. Founded in 1982, the motoring and cycling retailer now has 465 stores across the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Research has revealed that 54 per cent of UK consumers have used new forms of payments since the COVID-19 outbreak began, while 84 per cent globally are now thinking differently about how they make payments. This is according to a survey conducted by Paysafe among 8,000 consumers across the world.
Hotel Chocolat is accelerating investment and innovation plans for a digital and subscription model, as its store estate remains closed due to the Coronavirus crisis. In a trading update, the confectionary retailer said closing all its stores over what is typically a lucrative Easter period for the company had a “material impact on trading”, although no figures were given.
TikTok is testing a new 'shop now' button, linking users directly to advertisers’ e-commerce websites from videos. The social media platform is reportedly trialling it with a select group of advertisers and influencers.
Intu has appointed David Hargrave as chief restructuring officer and non-executive director. He has 33 years of experience in the transaction and restructuring businesses of the big four accounting firms, latterly as a partner at both EY and PwC.
Forrester has predicted that due to the Coronavirus, global retail sales in 2020 will decline by an average of 9.6 per cent globally – a loss of $2.1 trillion. The research consultancy also predicted that it will take four years for retailers to overtake pre-pandemic levels.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed that due to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis, it is "giving the industry an additional six months to implement Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) for e-commerce". The new timeline of 14 September 2021 replaces the 14 March 2021 date. The regulator stressed that firms are required to take all necessary steps to comply with the revised detailed phased implementation plan and critical path to avoid the risk of enforcement action.
With most of the UK's retail estate remaining closed for the foreseeable future, new data has showed that many brands are closing the sales gap through their digital offerings – with online sales in the UK increasing 27 per cent from the same time year-on-year and up 23 per cent from last week. Proprietary data from commerce experience firm Bloomreach revealed that despite potentially having more time on their hands, Brits are not wasting it browsing online before purchasing, with search traffic up 46 per cent year-on-year and search sales up 74 per cent from the same time last year.
Sainsbury’s has reported a two per cent fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £586 million for the year to 7 March, with a warning that Coronavirus could put a dent of more than £500 million into the current year’s profits. On a statutory basis, pre-tax profits rose to £255 million, from £202 million the previous year.
AO has partnered with location company what3words so that customers across the UK provide a specific address for their desired delivery place. The partnership will shortly be rolled out nationwide, with all drivers having access to the app and all customers able to share their what3words address.
Waitrose has appointed former Sainsbury’s executive James Bailey as its new managing director. Sky News reported that the hire was approved by Sharon White, chairwoman of John Lewis Partnership.
Shop prices fell by 1.7 per cent in April - compared to a 0.8 per cent decrease in March - marking the highest rate of decline since January 2017. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen's shop price tracker found that non-food prices fell by 3.7 per cent, compared to a decline of 1.9 per cent in March; making April's figure the highest rate of decline since the series began in December 2006.
Mintel research has forecast that the online grocery market will grow by 33 per cent in 2020 to reach an estimated value of £16.8 billion; up from £12.7 billion in 2019. This follows four consecutive years of slowing growth: in 2019 growth fell to a historic low of just 2.9 per cent.
Klarna has committed to support the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in its frontline response to COVID-19, by donating £1, $1 or €1 for every Klarna transaction placed at ASOS globally on 29 April. The initiative will take place in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
Marks & Spencer has secured funding to strengthen its balance sheet during the Coronavirus crisis. The retailer will borrow cash through the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility, and has also reached an agreement with its banking partners to “substantially relax or remove covenant conditions” on an existing £1.1 billion credit facility.
A.F. Blakemore has partnered with online shopping app Snappy Shopper to expand its home delivery service to vulnerable customers during the Coronavirus. The app is being trialled in four Spar stores in the Wrexham area, with plans to roll out across more of the wholesale and distribution businesses' shops by the end of April - including 250 of the 280 Spar stores it owns.
Farfetch has announced the fourth cohort for its Dream Assembly startup accelerator programme. The Coronavirus crisis means that it will be held in a completely digital format for the first time, so mentorship, networking opportunities and support over the coming seven weeks will be provided virtually.
The impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce retailers of fashion, apparel and accessories globally seems to have subsided in April, with total sales revenue rebounding on average 21 per cent higher year-over-year; after a 30 per cent fall in March. Visits are now up nine per cent on average compared to a year ago, with orders 30 per cent higher and the conversion rate rising by 12 per cent, according to analysis by Nosto.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has worked with the Usdaw union to produce guidance on social distancing for non-food retail stores - drawing on lessons learned by essential retailers in recent weeks. This builds on recent BRC guidance on the safe operation of warehouses and distribution and will allow retailers, whose stores have been forced to close, to be ready to operate safely once government restrictions are relaxed.
E-commerce technology firm Venditan has launched at £1 million grant for independent retailers to boost their online operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Manchester-based firm, which specialises in online retail and electronic point of sale (EPoS) software, is offering the funding to support small and independent High Street retailers looking to launch new transactional websites.
Monthly retail sales volume fell by 5.1 per cent in March – the largest fall since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) series began, as many stores ceased trading from 23 March following government Coronavirus guidance. Clothing store sales saw a sharp fall when compared with the previous month, down 34.8 per cent, while food stores and non-store retailing were the only sectors to show growth, with food stores seeing sales rise 10.4 per cent.
The Orion European real estate fund looks set to pull out of a deal to buy Hammerson’s £400 million retail park portfolio. The shopping centre owner said it “did not intend to complete” the transaction agreed on 21 February for seven of its UK retail parks, but it “remains ready and able to comply with completion obligations” and is in ongoing discussion with Orion.
The UK clothing and footwear market is forecast to decline by £14 billion this year due to COVID-19 disruption.Analysis from GlobalData showed that spending on clothes and footwear will plummet by 26.1 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.
In response to the pressures of working through the Coronavirus crisis, Tesco has made two mental wellbeing tools - Headspace and SilverCloud - available for free to all its 300,000 UK colleagues for the next 12 months. Headspace gives easy techniques to help users focus more, sleep better and stress less, while SilverCloud is an online self-help tool that gives access to a range of wellbeing advice in association with Nuffield Health - including on sleep, anxiety, grief and dealing with uncertainty.
Laura Ashley has been rescued from administration by Gordon Brothers, which has acquired the global brand, archives and related intellectual property. The global advisory, restructuring and investment firm stated that it intends to “place a strong emphasis on building e-commerce, developing more strategic wholesale relationships, and expanding the portfolio of licensees and franchisees globally”.
The NHS, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Ministry of Defence have begun work with eBay to create a new online portal to help ease some of the personal protective equipment (PPE) supply issues currently facing the medical community. The new portal, which is currently in a pilot phase, aims to help primary and social care providers to order PPE equipment from NHS Supply Chain.
Google is getting rid of charges for retailers to place their products on its Google Shopping search pages. Until now it has levied merchant fees for showing items in its shopping tab, but in a move to rival Amazon's dominance, Google is scrapping listing fees in the US starting next week - rolling out the change worldwide by the end of the year.
Brigadier Acquisition Company, the owner of Crew Clothing, is looking to pull out of its £22.6 million deal to take Moss Bros private, just over a month after agreeing the acquisition. The menswear retailer stated that its buyer was seeking a ruling from the City Takeover Panel to invoke a condition of its offer, following the closure of stores due to the Coronavirus lockdown less than two weeks after sealing the deal.
Boohoo's annual pre-tax profit have increased 54 per cent to £92.2 million, while during the 12 months to 29 February, revenue rose 44 per cent to £1.23 billion. The online fashion retailer reported UK revenue up 39 per cent and international revenue rising by 51 per cent.
Cath Kidston has filed for administration, closing all 60 of its UK stores and losing 908 jobs. Parent company Baring Private Equity Asia secured a pre-pack administration, which meant it bought back Cath Kidston’s brand and online operations from Alvarez & Marsal.
Tmall Global has announced that it will expand its help for international brands launching the Chinese market, with the aim of bringing 1,000 new retailers onto its e-commerce platform in the coming 12 months. The brand-incubation plan, announced as part of its Global Partners Summit, is part of a $200 billion, five-year-import program that the Alibaba platform unveiled at the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai two years ago.
A new app has been developed to informs shoppers about the size of queues outside their local supermarkets. Supermarket Check-In is available to download on iOS and Android devices, aiming to make shopping easier during the lockdown.
The Coronavirus lockdown has transformed shopping habits among UK consumers, according to new data which showed that 61 per cent of shoppers are visiting supermarkets less frequently, in favour of corner shops. A survey of 1,646 adults, compiled by YouGov, found that consumers have been visiting different types of shops to get their essentials, as pressure on supply chains and bulk buying led to almost all shoppers (93 per cent) struggling to find the products they needed.
Sainsbury's has selected Blue Yonder to transform its supply chain management. The supermarket will deploy new technology to power its end-to-end strategy on a single artificial intelligence (AI) powered platform.
The shortlist for this year's Retail Systems Awards has been revealed, with a range of innovative retailers and technology providers among those in the running. Across a range of new and expanded categories, the best and brightest businesses in the sector are represented. The ceremony will now take place on 19 October, still at the Waldorf Hilton hotel in London's west end.
Blueprint has announced a £1 million seed investment led by MAHR Projects, alongside Founders Factory and Hambro Perks. At a time when worldwide e-commerce adoption and digital payments are accelerating, Blueprint is ramping up the development of a conversational commerce platform which allows consumers to purchase products and speak to brands through a single SMS or WhatsApp message.
Amazon is set to launch a new Ultra Fast Fresh service to bring rapid grocery deliveries to 40 per cent of UK households by 2021. The e-commerce giant is aiming to merge its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service with its speedy delivery arm Prime Now, retrofitting nine warehouses to fulfil fresh orders, according to The Grocer.
Search Fresh, a web-shop startup, is calling for local retailers - including butchers, bakers, delis and florists - to register to sell their goods online during the COVID-19 lockdown. The site is inviting small businesses that haven’t traditionally lent themselves to online sales to join Search Fresh to offer their fresh produce to customers in the local area.
DFS is in the “advanced stages” of talks to secure a debt facility worth around £60 million to £70 million. A statement from the furniture retailer - which shut all its stores last month - explained that the funding would supplement an existing £250 million bank facility.
UK footfall decreased by 44.7 per cent in March, due to the mandatory lockdown; marking a record decline for the retail industry. British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrack data showed that in the three weeks prior to the lockdown on 23 March, UK footfall saw an average decline of 17.7 per cent. Whereas during the two weeks of lockdown, footfall saw an average decline of 83.2 per cent.
Waitrose has announced that the number of delivery slots available each week through its Waitrose & Partners Rapid service will more than treble, giving over 2.5 million households the option to use the service. The supermarket has also confirmed that by the end of next week at least 40 per cent of these new slots will be reserved exclusively for the elderly and vulnerable.
Following the government's three-week extension of the Coronavirus lockdown, businesses that turnover more than £500 million can now apply for support. A statement from the Treasury explained that loans to medium and larger businesses will be included in its £330 billion package.
Scottish technology company Neatebox is offering supermarkets across the UK access to new technology which it claims can remove the challenges millions of individuals are currently facing when they visit a shop during lockdown. Social distancing rules, queues, changing opening times and protected hours for key workers are just some of the new rules being employed by supermarkets to help protect both staff and customers from COVID-19.
Aldi UK will sell ambient food parcels on its website for the first time from today, in order to help vulnerable people and those self-isolating. The parcels will be for home delivery and contain 22 products, including tinned soup, rice and pasta. Each parcel will also include antibacterial handwash and a four-pack of toilet roll.
Iceland is increasing its online delivery operations to meet an almost 500 per cent increase in demand across some stores. Its Food Warehouse branches, which are typically two or three times larger than a standard Iceland store, stocking a wider range of goods, are now being brought online for home delivery at an accelerated rate.
Quiz and Dunelm have become the latest retailers to reopen online operations following last month’s Coronavirus closure. In a statement, Quiz said operations will be undertaken by employees who are willing and able to return to work safely, with a significantly reduced number of employees working in its distribution centre to enforce social distancing, meaning only a standard delivery service will be offered.
VibePay, a social payments app aimed at Generation Z consumers, is to launch its Open Banking services to business for payments and subscriptions. The app, which launched in Beta in October 2019, uses Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to enable payments via online checkouts and subscriptions, with the latter being popular amongst Gen Z and traditionally expensive to process.
On a total basis, UK retail sales decreased by 4.3 per cent in March, against a decrease of 1.8 per cent in March 2019 – the worst decline recorded since the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG began monitoring in January 1995. Sales before and after the lockdown on 23 March contrasted sharply. In the first three weeks of March, retail sales grew 12 per cent on a total basis, but declined 27 per cent in the last two weeks of the period.
As the Coronavirus lockdown started, online clothing sales fell 23.1 per cent year-on-year in March, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index; which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers. Digging deeper into fashion sales, menswear was down 42.9 per cent and footwear was down 32.8 per cent.
Oasis and Warehouse have filed for administration, with 202 jobs immediately lost and a further 1,800 at risk. Following earlier reports that the women's fashion retailers were preparing for an insolvency process, directors appointed Rob Harding and Richard Hawes from Deloitte as joint administrators for the whole company.
Ethoca has expanded its collaboration with Microsoft in order to bring the latter's customers access to digital purchase receipts through their banks’ mobile applications, via Ethoca’s Digital Receipts service. A statement suggested that it's not uncommon for digital goods providers to experience false claim rates of 80 per cent or higher from consumers who often fail to recognise their own purchases, or those of family members who have access to payment credentials.
The latest Springboard footfall figures have revealed an “unprecedented decline” of 41.9 per cent in March. The Coronavirus lockdown's inevitable impact meant that during the final three weeks of March, footfall fell an average of 61.5 per cent.
John Lewis has launched a range of virtual services to help shoppers access online styling and design advice via Instagram and video call. The department store chain said the services - launched today to support shoppers during the COVID-19 lockdown - include expert advice on fashion, home and nursery design, while further services, inspirational talks and learning sessions are planned to launch at the end of April.
Jamie Iannone has been appointed as eBay's chief executive, effective 27 April. Most recently he was the chief operating officer of Walmart eCommerce, and has over 20 years of experience leading digital pure-play and omnichannel platforms.
Next is partly reopening its online business after implementing new COVID-19 safety measures. The move also follows consultation with staff and the USDAW shop workers union.
Matalan is seeking around £60 million of investment after closing 232 stores due to the Coronavirus lockdown. The value fashion retailer is considering options to secure short term funding, according to a statement to bondholders seen by the Mail on Sunday.
As the COVID-19 isolation period stretches on, many formerly profitable retailers fear they may never re-open their doors, so a new local business voucher scheme is aiming to solve the problem. Saving Local enables loyal customers, who are keen to support their favourite local businesses to buy vouchers for products and meals now, for later use when the lockdown finally ends.
Mobile point of sale (MPoS) software startup phos has closed a fundraising round worth €1.3 million, led by New Vision 3 and other angel investors. The investment sees the total amount raised increase to €2.5 million, and will be used to grow the FinTech's development team to introduce new features like PIN on Phone, its Software Development Kit (SDK) and an integrated loyalty system.
The value of retail mergers and acquisitions (M&A) fell to $2.05 billion in February, according to GlobalData. The research firm's analysis found an 8.3 per cent slump in the value of deals in February, compared with January, as the COVID-19 outbreak began to impact investment and drive down share prices around the world.
Arcadia Group is looking to borrow up to £50 million against its distribution centre to sure up its finances through the Coronavirus lockdown. Sky News reported that Philip Green's fashion retail group approached banks and hedge funds about a new round of borrowing, using its Daventry distribution centre - opened last year as part of Topshop's logistics network - as collateral. It was not yet clear whether a deal had been reached.
Yoox Net-A-Porter (YNAP) has extended the donation of its delivery fleet to help charities fighting the Coronavirus in both Italy and Hong Kong. In addition, its London commitment to seven local Age UK charities has been expanded to include a second initiative, the Emergency Designer Network (EDN), delivering essential supplies to vulnerable communities.
As Wuhan - the city at the epicentre of China’s Coronavirus outbreak - prepares to emerge from lockdown, Alipay has launched a series of digital initiatives aimed at helping small businesses get back on their feet. The digital lifestyle platform run by Ant Financial Services, the financial division of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has set up a special section on the landing page of the Alipay app, to allow the platform’s 900 million users easily locate merchants and their respective products and services in Wuhan.
Tesco has revealed that Coronavirus-driven panic buying in recent weeks is behind a 30 per cent increase in sales, but added that the pandemic could also cost as much as £925 million through cost increases from payroll, distribution and store expenses. The supermarket chain's preliminary results included a COVID-19 update, which stated that a previously stretched supply chain has now stabilised and “more normal sales volumes are being experienced”.
ASOS has raised more than £200 million from shareholders to counter the impact of the Coronavirus on company finances. The online fashion retailer also said it would add £60 to £80 million to its existing £350 million revolving credit facility - which runs to 2024 - as well as negotiate changes to the covenant tests on that facility, and apply to access the Bank of England’s COVID-19 corporate finance support scheme.
Online retail saw transaction volumes soar by 74 per cent in March compared to the same month last year.
ACI Worldwide analysis of hundreds of millions of transactions carried out by global online retailers found that as millions of Britons headed online for purchases and entertainment, transaction volumes in online gaming saw a bounce of 97 per cent compared to the same time last year.
PayPoint has acquired full ownership of Yodel’s Collect+ parcel service in a deal worth £6 million. The acquisition of the 50 per cent of Collect+ shares that were owned by Yodel puts payment services company PayPoint in charge of the UK’s largest parcel network.
Nearly 90 per cent of consumers would prefer to shop in stores with 'touchless' or self-checkout options during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a survey of consumers aged 18 to 60 in the US by Shekel, a smart weighing and retail technology company, three quarters of consumers are now using self-checkout or frictionless micro-markets to pay for groceries.
Schuh has relaunched online operations in a move it stated was critical for the business to survive. The footwear retailer closed its stores and e-commerce website on 26 March in response to Coronavirus concerns around staff conditions, but will now start a staggered reopening of its online fulfilment operations after a formal risk assessment was completed.
Online retailers have been delivering parcels almost 20 per cent faster than usual amid the COVID-19 lockdown. Data from ParcelLab, a cloud solution provider for smart parcel and e-commerce deliveries, has shown that as the Coronavirus crisis continued to unfold in the last two weeks, the average speed at which parcels from online orders are being delivered has reduced from 2.1 days to 1.7 days.
Amazon could lose out on revenue of more than $100 million as it is forced to delay Prime Day by the Coronavirus crisis. The e-commerce giant’s annual summer shopping festival will now be pushed back until at least August, according to documents seen by Reuters.
Debenhams today has filed a Notice of Intent to appoint an administrator, naming Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory. The department store chain explained that the move will protect it from the threat of legal action that could have the effect of pushing the business into liquidation while its 142 UK stores remain closed in line with the government’s current COVID-19 pandemic advice.
WHSmith has raised £165.9 million, after placing 15.8 million new shares at 1050p per share, in an attempt to stabilise its finances during the Coronavirus lockdown. Chief executive Carl Cowling was among the investors, subscribing to more than 7,000 shares, which will be admitted to the stock exchange on 9 April.
Amazon has confirmed that it will distribute temperature checks and face masks for staff at all its US and European warehouses and Whole Foods stores by early next week. The e-commerce giant, which had recently reported Coronavirus cases among warehouse staff and faced several demonstrations, told Reuters it would use no-contact forehead thermometers at site entrances and send anyone home that registered more than 38 Celsius.
Topshop owner Arcadia has furloughed 14,500 shop and head office staff to cope with “challenging times” amid the Coronavirus shutdown. The retail empire owned by Philip Green - which also includes High Street brands including Dorothy Perkins and Burton - has taken the decision to furlough 14,500 of its 16,000-strong workforce in order to benefit from the government’s salary support scheme.
Intu is preparing to take further action against tenants which have not paid their rent and service charges, despite the challenges retailers have faced during the Coronavirus pandemic. Property Week reported that the shopping centre owner sent a letter to tenants informing them it would “take robust action where rent and service charge payments, contracted under lease obligations” were not paid.
The UK packaging industry is calling for its work to be granted ‘essential’ status from the UK government.
According to analysis from GlobalData, the packaging industry is seeing soaring demand for packaged food - such as tinned food and household essentials - but the workers needed to keep up supply are not able to work on site under current rules.
The Perfume Shop has become the latest retailer to shut its online operations due to the spread of the Coronavirus. Parent company AS Watson had already shut its 231 shops on 22 March, but now as many as 1,875 staff will be affected by the closure of warehouses and e-commerce teams.
Olive oil, outdoor play equipment and painkillers have topped a list of lockdown essentials, according to online retail stats from Criteo. UK data from Criteo’s Shopper Network, which analyses over $900 billion of global spending by two billion shoppers every year, has revealed the changing trends in the online shopping habits since the Coronavirus forced the nation into lockdown.
A new national initiative is set to launch this week, turning pubs into food shops and helping locked-down locals click and collect. The project - mypubshop.com from StarStock - gives pubs the ability to take and process orders online, providing them with a valuable income stream, while offering their local community access to essential staples such as bread, eggs and milk.
Morrisons has won a Supreme Court appeal over whether it was liable for an employee with a grudge who leaked the payroll data of around 100,000 members of staff. The supermarket took the case to the Supreme Court following a ruling in 2018 which gave the go-ahead for compensation claims by employees whose personal details were leaked.
IKEA has set up a drive-through Coronavirus testing centre for frontline NHS staff in the car park of its Wembley store and has committed to opening similar sites around the country. A spokesperson for the flatpack furniture retailer said: “Today, a drive-through NHS Covid-19 test centre has opened in the car park of our Wembley store.
Shop prices fell by 0.8 per cent in March, compared to a 0.6 per cent decrease in February, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen figures. Non-food prices fell at a steady pace of 1.9 per cent in March – which remains the highest rate of decline in non-food prices since May 2018.
The Coronavirus outbreak has seen a dramatic re-shaping of shopping habits, according to a new report, with e-commerce sales in the health and beauty industry outstripping other categories. According to an analysis of data from Forter’s global merchant network - which covers more than 100 global business and $150 billion in global commerce transactions - customers with more time to fill at home bought up to 50 to 100 per cent more in purchase volume on beauty and skincare in the week beginning 22 March.
BrightHouse has formally entered administration, putting 2,400 jobs across 240 stores at risk of redundancy. Sky News reported that the UK’s biggest rent-to-own retailer was in court to make its insolvency proceedings official after appointing accountancy firm Grant Thornton.
More than three quarters (76 per cent) of online shoppers have said that the account creation process can ‘make or break’ their future relationship with a brand. A survey of 1,014 online shoppers in the UK carried out by Trulioo, an online verification company, also found that 77 per cent of respondents were increasingly intolerant of poor online account opening experiences.
Ted Baker has promoted its chief financial officer Rachel Osborne to chief executive. She joined the fashion retailer in November - moving from the chief financial officer role at Debenhams - before being appointed as acting chief executive the following month.
NatWest is waiving monthly hire fees for Point of Sale (PoS) terminals from its payments product Tyl until the end of 2020, to support merchants during the Coronavirus crisis. The bank also provides next day settlement to users of Tyl, helping with cash flow during this difficult period for small businesses.
As the government’s home isolation rules kicked in last week, the immediate impact of the Coronavirus on online consumer shopping habits was laid bare, with online retail sales growth down 2.2 per cent year-on-year. This was according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.
Next, TK Maxx and River Island have all closed their e-commerce operations due to concerns around the health of warehouse staff amid the Coronavirus crisis. Pressure from politicians and trade unions forced the fashion retailers to u-turn on previous commitments to keep online sales going after the closure of stores earlier this week.
Fast, which claims to be the world's fastest online login and checkout experience, has made $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Stripe, along with existing investors Index Ventures and Susa Ventures. The US-based startup will use the investment to accelerate the global rollout of Fast Checkout - its universal one-click purchase product for e-commerce - and to further grow its product and engineering teams.
Following criticism of its ability to crackdown on price gouging amid the Coronavirus crisis, eBay has launched a series of measures designed to protect consumers and businesses, including a 30-day payment holiday for all 300,000 businesses registered on the site. The package also includes a fee waiver for listing or selling items for new businesses registering until 31 May and a pledge to crack down on sellers listing items at unreasonably inflated prices.
February retail sales were flat year-on-year, according to the Office for National Statistics, marking the lowest growth rate since March 2013. The data collection for the period was completed by 29 February, so largely unaffected by recent developments with the Coronavirus. However, a small number of retailers suggested that online orders shipped from China were reduced because of COVID-19.
The UK clothing and footwear sector will bear the brunt of the COVID-19 impact on retail, with 2020 sales down £11.1 billion on 2019, according to preliminary forecasts by GlobalData. Fashion retailers made up the majority of the High Street stores that closed down ahead of government restrictions earlier this week, with several admitting that buying new clothes and footwear was far from a top priority for consumers, wiping out sales of spring and summer collections.
Grocery sales in the UK for the week to 14 March increased by 22 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, as consumers stockpiled items during the Coronavirus self isolation measures. The figures are from Nielsen data, which showed household and pet care items saw the biggest year-on-year sales increase (65 per cent), followed by ambient groceries (62 per cent), while health, beauty, toiletries and babycare sales rose by 46 per cent, and frozen food was up by a third year-on-year.
The Retail Systems Awards 2020 have moved date to 19 October, due to event restrictions surrounding the Coronavirus. The ceremony will still be held at the Waldorf Hilton hotel in London, bringing together the most innovative retailers and technology providers in the industry.
Sainsbury’s has set out a plan to help smaller suppliers deal with financial challenges brought on by the Coronavirus outbreak. The supermarket chain has pledged to help suppliers facing cash flow issues, starting with immediate payment of its invoices immediately to 1,500 smaller suppliers which have less than £100,000 annual turnover.
Amazon Marketplace and eBay are failing to crack down on a spate of Coronavirus profiteering by sellers, according to a Which? investigation which uncovered a wide range of products for sale with inflated prices. At the start of this month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) warned that traders should not be exploiting the outbreak to take advantage of people through price gouging, and threatened to take strong action if the problem persisted.
UK retail footfall has dropped to all-time lows as the COVID-19 pandemic kept customers indoors and shops began to close. Springboard data showed that shopper numbers fell last week by 21.7 per cent from the previous week and by 28 per cent year-on-year.
Sports Direct has u-turned on its intention to keep its shops open in spite of the coronavirus lockdown.
The sports clothing retailer, owned by Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, had initially announced that stores would remain open, as it regarded sales of sports equipment as an essential service during the government’s stringent Coronavirus restrictions, as they could help keep customers “as fit and healthy as possible”.
The impact of Coronavirus will wipe £12.6 billion from retail sales this year, according to preliminary forecasts by GlobalData. The revised forecasts are predicated on the pandemic peaking in April with most stores either closed or severely affected until late May, with non-food spend starting to recover in June, but with more normal spending patterns not arriving until October.
The contactless limit for in-store card transactions will increase from £30 to £45, introduced as a measure in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, to reduce the need for physical contact with PIN-Entry Devices (PEDs) at points of sale. The new contactless limit will be operational at some stores across the UK from 1 April, but may take some time before it can be applied everywhere. For example, it may take longer to rollout at retailers who are currently operating at peak capacity.
Morrisons has turned off its mobile app and imposed a three-item limit on all online orders to help its website “work more efficiently”. The supermarket chain pledged to expand its online delivery capacity amid the “unprecedented challenges” posed by the Coronavirus outbreak, adding that it planned to take measures to cut in-store ranges by up to a third so that shelves could be replenished more quickly.
As government advice on limiting the spread of Coronavirus becomes more stringent, several High Street retailers have announced temporary closures of their stores. The growing list now includes Debenhams, John Lewis, Selfridges, H&M Group, the Inditex Group, the Arcadia Group, the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, IKEA, New Look, River Island, Gap, Reiss, The Body Shop, HMV, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Michael Kors, Oasis, Lego, Abercrombie & Fitch, Monsoon, Liberty London, Primark, Clarks, TK Maxx, Apple, Calvin Klein, Sweaty Betty and Boden.
Cath Kidston is looking for a buyer to save the business and around 800 jobs. The fashion and homeware retailer has appointed a restructuring firm to conduct a strategic review.
UK supermarkets have begun to roll-out opening hours for vulnerable customers and are set to focus staff on ensuring the supply of food and essentials in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Marks & Spencer has introduced dedicated shopping hours for older and vulnerable customers during the first hour of trading every Monday and Thursday in all of its stores and will introduce contact-free delivery for clothing, home, flowers, hampers and wine.
Following a very slow start to the year, the UK’s string of winter storms failed to stimulate online demand in February, as e-commerce sales for the month only grew by 0.4 per cent year-on-year. This is according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.
Starbucks is testing the use of cryptocurrency Bakkt Cash as a payment method. Adam White, president of the Bitcoin futures exchange overseen by Intercontinental Exchange, tweeted about the partnership yesterday. The global coffee chain is also a launch partner for Bakkt's dollar-denominated digital wallet.
Next is preparing for a “significant” downturn in trading due to the Coronavirus outbreak, with sales falling by 30 per cent this week. The fashion and home furnishings retailer’s results for the year to January included stress testing results in response to the pandemic, suggesting that it could “comfortably sustain” more than £1 billion (25 per cent) loss of annual sales over the full year.
The Hut Group (THG) has announced a new payments partnership with Laybuy. The online retail and technology company - which owns beauty and wellness brand including Glossybox, Illamasqua and Myprotein - will now offer customers a flexible payment platform to spread the cost of purchases over six weekly payments.
Inditex, the parent company of Zara, has announced the closure of 3,785 stores around the world in response to the “uncertain situation” caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. The Spanish-headquartered fashion group - which also owns retail brands including Bershka, Pull & Bear and Massimo Dutti - announced that the stores in 39 markets would be closed with immediate effect following a slump in group sales of 24 per cent in the first two weeks of March.
Ocado has been forced to close its mobile app and turn away new orders, in response to unprecedented delivery demand during the Coronavirus pandemic. The online grocer took its app offline yesterday citing performance issues “driven by continued high demand”, while a reported 1,000 per cent jump in website traffic forced it to inform customers not to wait, as it had “no new delivery slots for the next few days”.
The chancellor has extended the government’s one-year business rates holiday to all retailers as part of a package of economic support for UK businesses in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Rishi Sunak first announced the tax pause for commercial premises with a rateable value under £51,000 last week, causing some consternation that it did not apply to retailers of all sizes. Now, the change will apply across the board, starting in the next government financial year.
Laura Ashley has filed for administration, putting up to 2,700 jobs at risk. The fashion and lifestyle retailer had reportedly been in talks with Homebase parent company Hillco Capital to secure a £15 million emergency loan, along with an unspecified third-party to fund its immediate working capital requirements.
More than eight million people in the UK could suffer in a cashless society due to dwindling supply during the Coronavirus outbreak, according to new research. Analysis compiled by Blueclaw for A2Z Casinos found that it will become essential to curb the use of physical money in order to limit the number of infections, as pathogens and viruses can live on most surfaces for around 48 hours, and paper money can reportedly transport a live flu virus for up to 17 days.
Dixons Carphone will close all 531 Carphone Warehouse stores, resulting in around 2,900 job losses. The closures will be effective from 3 April, as Dixons Carphone focuses on selling mobile phones within its 305 larger Currys PC World stores and online.
Retailers expect to waste £146,000 due to poor e-commerce planning and £158,000 on e-commerce execution next year, according to new research. Digital commerce firm Greenlight Commerce and software-as-a-service platform BigCommerce questioned 100 UK-based e-commerce decision-makers within the direct-to-consumer (D2C) sector, finding that they expect to allocate £1.19 million on e-commerce projects in 2020, but almost a third (31 per cent) think they will miss at least some key objectives.
Starship Technologies has announced the rollout of its robot delivery service in central Milton Keynes (MK). The expansion was prompted by demand for the company’s service in other areas across MK - including Monkston, Emerson Valley and Bletchley - and is the first time that robot delivery has been made available in the centre of a UK town.
H&M sales have hit £5 billion in the first quarter of 2020, as the company moves to protect its profits from the Coronavirus outbreak. The Swedish clothing giant announced that sales were up by eight per cent in in the three months from December to February, while net sales in local currencies were up by five per cent.
Online growth has driven a 7.6 per cent like-for-like increase in sales for the Kingfisher Group during the year to 14 March. The home improvement business, which owns B&Q and Screwfix in the UK, stated that it experienced “no impact on demand from COVID-19”, with growth across all core markets.
Total UK retail footfall decreased by two per cent in February year-on-year, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrak figures. Footfall on British High Streets declined by 2.5 per cent year-on-year, which was below both the three-month and 12-month average growths of 1.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.
Carrefour has partnered with Cash Converters to launch a 'shop-in-shop' concept. The French supermarket giant is testing the idea at a 100 square metre site in Les Ulis, with customers able to buy and sell secondhand items such as smartphones, video games, jewellery, computer items, books, CDs and DVDs.
Morrisons has partnered with Atheon Analytics to build a new data platform aimed at improving collaboration with suppliers. The SKUtrak platform will give easier access to more operational data from across the supply chain, to help improve product availability and reduce waste.
Amazon is set to open its first UK supermarket in the west London area of Notting Hill. The Times reported that the e-commerce giant is close to exchanging contracts on a 20,000 sq ft site at 66-74 Notting Hill Gate.
Mastercard has unveiled a pilot project with phos, introducing an innovative mobile solution that lets merchants accept contactless payments on Android mobile devices without the need for any additional hardware. The solution will enable millions of often cash-only micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to accept cashless payments and grow their businesses.
Intu Properties has warned it risks going into administration if it is unable to raise further funds. The shopping centre owner reported a loss of £2 billion for 2019, up from £1.17 billion the year before.
More than half (54 per cent) of Brits are interested in trying out new retail technology while out on the High Street, according to new research. A survey of 2,000 UK shoppers for Outform, a retail innovation agency, found that there are gender differences in interest in retail technologies, with men most interested in tablets and touchscreens (30 per cent) which allow them to find out more about product functionality. Meanwhile half of women said they would be keen to improve their shopping experience with the latest tech.
Debenhams chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste is to resign after less than a year in charge. Sky News reported that he will step down within months, with a search for his successor already started.
Wirecard and Klarna have launched a new enhanced joint payment solution. All three Klarna shopping methods - Pay Now, Pay Later and Klarna Financing - can now be embedded into merchants’ checkout via a single integration through the Wirecard digital financial commerce platform to boost average order value and conversions.
The government has confirmed that from 1 April it will introduce a new two per cent tax on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. The announcement of the Digital Services Tax in the 2018 Budget was followed by a consultation which closed in February 2019. Following today’s Budget, legislation will now be introduced in the Finance Bill 2019-20 to establish a Digital Services Tax.
Retail, leisure and hospitality firms will not pay any business rates in the coming year, the chancellor has announced in the Budget. Rishi Sunak stated that shops, cinemas, restaurants and hotels with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for the ‘tax holiday’.
Debenhams has announced its Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) plans have been upheld and legal challenges have been concluded. The department store chain groups faced legal challenges to its plans to renegotiate rates, close stores and restructure debt when it announced it was launching a CVA after falling into the hands of consortium of investors Celine Jersey Topco in April last year.
Amazon’s Alexa Shopping business has named Tesco technology veteran Paul Wilkinson as its new senior product manager. After nearly 10 years at the grocery chain, he will begin at Amazon’s London offices this week.
Consumer retail spend via chatbots will reach $142 billion by 2024, rising from $2.8 billion in 2019, according to Juniper Research. The market analysis firm identified the retail sector as a key beneficiary of advances in Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technologies, forecasting that this will be essential in providing a seamless retail experience for users and to establish chatbots as a reliable retail channel – as it enables chatbots to efficiently process human inputs and produce more accurate automated responses.
IKEA has launched an e-commerce store on Tmall, Alibaba’s shopping platform, marking the first time the Swedish home furnishings giants has sold its products on a third-party marketplace. IKEA’s ‘flagship’ online store on Alibaba will enable it to sell on China’s largest e-commerce site and build a wider footprint in the world’s second largest economy.
UK retail sales decreased 0.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis in February, when they had increased 2.6 per cent from the preceding year, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG figures. Over the three months to February, in-store sales of non-food items declined 1.8 per cent on a total and 1.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis. This was better than the 12-month total average decline of 3.1 per cent, but positively distorted by the inclusion of Black Friday in December.
Even though retail businesses have spent tens of millions on compliance, 88 per cent still have fundamental IT weaknesses that leave them vulnerable and potentially non-compliant. This is according to Tanium, which commissioned Vanson Bourne to survey 750 IT decision-makers across the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Japan and Canada.
New Look has poached Argos’ head of e-commerce to become its new digital director. Chris Corbin has been at Argos since 2011, being promoted to head of digital trading in 2018. He will now oversee the e-commerce and digital teams at New Look in a newly created role, beginning on 23 March.
Amazon is to launch a new business selling its ‘Just Walk Out’ technology to other retailers. In an interview with Reuters, the retail giant revealed that it is due to launch a website today aimed at selling the tech behind its cashierless Amazon Go stores.
Tesco has agreed to sell its businesses in Thailand and Malaysia to CP Group, following a strategic review. The disposal represents an enterprise value of £8.2 billion on a cash and debt free basis, with net cash proceeds of £8 billion before tax and other transaction costs. Following completion, the board intends to return circa £5 billion to shareholders via a special dividend with associated share consolidation.
Despite the trend of store closures continuing this year, 38 per cent of UK retailers reckon their bricks and mortar outposts are becoming more important to their business. Law firm TLT commissioned GlobalData to interview senior management at 100 UK retailers across food and grocery, fashion and beauty, home, lifestyle and leisure. To compare the retailers’ perspective with the consumer’s, it also interviewed a representative sample of 2,004 UK consumers.
Stormy weather last month caused footfall to fall 7.8 per cent, according to the latest Springboard statistics. The firm’s figures showed that more modest declines in retail parks and shopping centres suggested that the coronavirus outbreak was not a major factor in overall footfall decline. However, Springboard warned the increased severity of the Covid-19 outbreak in recent weeks meant it is likely to bring down shopping activity in March.
Retail industry venture financing deals worth $772 million were announced globally in January, according to GlobalData’s deals database. The value marked a decrease of 24.6 per cent over the previous month and a rise of 9.7 per cent compared with the last 12-month average, which stood at $704 million.
Like-for-like retail sales fell 0.9 per cent in February, according to BDO High Street Sales Tracker. The update blamed storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge, along with fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
Boots has suspended payments using loyalty points in-store and online after hackers tried to break into customers' accounts using stolen passwords. Customers will not be able to use Boots Advantage Card points to pay for products while the issue is dealt with, according to BBC News.
John Lewis Partnership is to cut its staff bonus to two per cent, the lowest award since 1953, as new chairman Sharon White revealed profits were down 23 per cent on last year. In a letter to staff, White announced that the business made profits of £123 million in 2019/2020, down from £160 million the previous year. As a result, a two per cent staff bonus, down from three per cent last year, would be a “prudent and affordable” award given the challenging conditions for UK retail.
Dobbies will digitise its entire indoor and outdoor plant range for the Spring after partnering with SmartPlant. The garden centre chain said the move is part of ongoing work to merge its online and oﬄine oﬀering and improve the shopping experience for customers.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that use of coins and banknotes could be spreading coronavirus. In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for WHO said: “We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses – we would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes, and avoid touching their face.”
Intu has given up on trying to raise up to £1.5 billion, blaming market uncertainty. A statement from the shopping centre explained that potential investors were discouraged due to “poor conditions in the equity market” and the retail property sector.
H&M is planning to shut down its Stoke-on-Trent warehouse, relocating to a new site in Milton Keynes, putting 500 jobs at risk. BBC News reported that XPO Logistics, which runs the Stoke-on-Trent warehouse, stated that the new Milton Keynes warehouse is due to open later this year – with employees given the chance to relocate.
Ant Financial, owner and operator of Chinese payments giant Alipay, has taken a minority stake in payments provider Klarna. This investment supports further development of their strategic cooperation, bringing more of Klarna’s solutions to consumers and merchants within the broader Alibaba ecosystem.
Tesco is to reissue 620,000 Clubcards after fraudulent activity left customer information exposed. The retailer emailed Clubcard members yesterday to explain that hackers were believed to have stolen username and passwords from another website and attempted to use the same details to access Tesco sites.
Business and IT decision-makers working in UK retailers are wasting over a quarter (26 per cent) of their working day on tasks that do not add critical value, with more focus needed on using digital and physical time to promote innovation.This is according to a survey of 2,500 such staff by Vanson Bourne for Dropbox, which found that retailers are engaged in monotonous administrative tasks, with nearly half (49 per cent) saying that increasing employee productivity is a main priority over the next 12 months.
Sustainable online supermarket Farmdrop has signed up to a three year software-as-a-service contract with warehouse management system provider SnapFulfil. The London-based company has moved to optimise its warehousing and distribution efficiencies, choosing cloud-based SnapFulfil for flexibility, functionality and configurability.
N Brown Group is consulting with around 120 members of staff over proposed job cuts as it pushes ahead with strategic transformation plans. Drapers reported that the fashion group, which owns Jacamo and SimplyBe, is cutting positions across the head office and other business operations, affecting around five per cent of total staff of 2,400.
Waitrose has started a national roll-out programme adding its online delivery service to 24 more shops across the country. A statement explained that these shops are strategically placed to handle increased demand for the retailer’s online shopping service in preparation for its split from Ocado.
Ocado has ordered a further 30 natural gas-powered trucks for its distribution fleet. Of that figure, 10 have already gone into service, with the remaining 20 to follow throughout the year.
Kingfisher Group has appointed a new group e-commerce director as it looks to boost online operations. Sue Harries is to take over e-commerce operations for the group, which has 1,300 stores operating under different home improvement brands in nine countries.
BrightHouse has put Grant Thornton on standby to handle a potential administration. Sky News reported that the rent-to-own retailer recorded a surge in customer compensation claims, which has put it close to insolvency – risking around 2,400 jobs across its 250 stores.
Amazon is testing customer service chatbot technology that could produce the first ‘generative chatbot’ capable of original dialogue in real time. A blog posted by Jared Kramer, an applied-science manager on Amazon’s customer service tech team, explained that the e-commerce giant is trialling end-to-end neural-network based chatbots.
AllSaints has partnered with Netacea for protection against unwanted web traffic. Its Enterprise Bot Management solution uses machine learning to analyse bot behaviour, identifying malicious attacks ahead of time in an automated way.
IKEA’s former vice president of digital transformation is to launch a venture developing augmented reality (AR) platforms for retailers. Michael Valdsgaard, who led work on IKEA’s Place app and AR platform, has founded London Dynamics to help retail businesses harness the technology to help customers visualise products in their homes via smartphones.
The UK’s e-commerce market, currently the third largest in the world, is set to be worth £319.8 billion by 2023, according to a new report from Worldpay and FIS. The data was collected using consumer surveys, business-to-business surveys and input from local research teams, with 45,000 consumers surveyed globally.
Homebase has returned to a £3.2 million profit before tax for 2019, compared to a £114.5 million loss in 2018. Like-for-like sales were up 2.6 per cent and gross margin rate was up 2.8 per cent over the year to 29 December, off the back of improvements both in-store and online.
Delivery company Yodel has appointed Helen Marshall to the position of chief information officer. She has been promoted to the position after holding the role of IT director, having previously been director the head of IT services and operations, and director of technology transformation at the business.
Klarna made a loss last year of £87 million, down from a 12.8 million profit in 2018, despite revenues increasing by 31 per cent to £570 million, with 75,000 new merchants using its ‘buy-now-pay-later’ platform. During 2019, the Swedish FinTech reported a doubling of users in the UK to more than seven million, and a sixfold increase in US users.
Tesco has opened its first cashless store, while also making changes to its in-store bakeries this week. The Tesco Express store on High Holborn in central London now has self-service tills which accept a range of electronic payment methods, including debit cards, credit cards and Apple Pay.
Shop prices fell by 0.6 per cent in February, compared to a 0.3 per cent decrease in January, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen figures. Non-food prices fell at a higher pace, down 1.9 per cent this month - compared to a 1.5 per cent drop in January - and the highest rate since May 2018.
As part of modernising its online marketplace, eBay is expanding its management of payments to the United Kingdom. Due for roll-out this summer, the company will offer buyers flexibility and choice in payment methods, and give sellers an easier way to manage their businesses.
Amazon is launching a new larger store format, spanning nearly five times the floorspace of its current Amazon Go cashierless convenience stores. The Amazon Go Grocery store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill will now accommodate shopping carts and feature around 5,000 goods – compared to the 500 to 700 stocked in the original format.
Online shoppers desire for personalised digital experiences is at odds with demands for privacy, according to Episerver. The digital experience company’s fourth-annual Reimagining Commerce report was based on a survey of more than 4,000 people from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and Sweden who shopped digitally in the past year.
Sainsbury’s has hired a former Amazon staffer to head up its e-commerce operations for clothing brand Tu. According to reports in Drapers, the big four retailer has hired Jessica Brown, who most recently led development of the Amazon Alexa as principal product management, after nine years at the online retail giant during which she held several roles, including head of fashion and senior program manager of fashion.
Hammerson has reported a £573.8 million pre-tax loss in the year to 31 December, compared to a £173.3 million loss over the same period in 2018. The shopping centre owner’s overall rental income fell 11.2 per cent year-on-year to £308.5 million, while on an adjusted basis, full year profits declined 10.9 per cent to £214 million.
PUMA has announced a global partnership with Emarsys to enhance its delivery of personalised customer communications across multiple channels and points of sale. Using Emarsys’ omnichannel marketing platform platform, the sports brand will be able to unify data from all consumer touchpoints throughout North America and Europe.
Asda has upgraded its ToYou e-commerce pick-up and drop-off service with new features, including a new website and automated parcel robots. Launched in 2015, the system lets online shoppers choose their local Asda store as a delivery and returns location when purchasing with 115 third-party retailers, including Missguided, ASOS, Feelunique, Gymshark and PrettyLittleThing.
The Insolvency Service paid out £346 million to former employees of businesses that became insolvent during 2019 – with the cost of payouts rising by 16 per cent to the highest level in seven years. A Freedom of Information request made by property adviser Altus Group, which detailed that the number of retail insolvencies in England and Wales rose by 3.9 per cent.
After a surprisingly strong Christmas sales period, retailer hopes of a continuation of such growth into 2020 were dashed in January, with online retail sales growth back in negative territory, down 0.4 per cent year-on-year. The latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index did reveal a few positive stories at a category level, with online beauty retail sales up 7.1 per cent – although this was relatively subdued in comparison to its average growth of 23.3 per cent in 2019. Meanwhile both home and clothing also saw increases of 6.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.
Bonmarché has reportedly been sold to Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group’s Peacocks. Drapers reported that the Philip Day-owned retailer has acquired the majority of Bonmarché assets, including stock and around 200 of its 270 stores.
Laura Ashley has revealed a loss of £4 million in its interim results for 2019, as the retailer seeks to turn around its finances with a £20 million loan from Wells Fargo. The furnishings and fashion retailer’s interim report for the 26 weeks to 31 December showed losses were up compared to 2018, which saw a £1.5 million pre-tax shortfall, while total like-for-like retail sales were down 10.4 per cent.
Lidl has committed £1.3 billion to expanding its store footprint in the next two years, as the discount retailer opened its 800th UK store. The latest store opening follows a period of rapid growth, with 50 new stores opening in the last 12 months and 16 new stores planned for January and February.
Retail sales grew by 1.2 per cent and 0.9 per cent in January, in terms of the amount spent and the quantity bought respectively, mainly because of a recovery from a weak November and December 2019. This was according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures, which also showed that when compared with a year earlier, both measures reported growth at 2.1 per cent for the amount spent and 0.8 per cent for the quantity bought.
Forever 21 has found a buyer, with Authentic Brands Group and Simon Property Group each acquiring a 37.5 per cent stake and Brookfield Property Partners taking a quarter of the fashion retailer. Authentic Brands stated that the acquisition will boost the value of its brand portfolio to $12.5 billion worth of global annual retail sales. There was no comment from the other two US shopping centre owners.
New research has found that experientialism is crucial to changing shoppers’ behaviour, and could even see them shun online giants and mobile buying in favour of more shopping in store. Global technology firm Epson commissioned Arlington Research to survey 9,750 adults aged 16-65 across 26 countries, who had attended an event or attraction in the last 12 months, finding that 65 per cent would change their shopping behaviour if more shops had an experiential element, rising to 82 per cent of Millennials and 80 per cent of Generation Z.
Beales is set to close its final open stores, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. Sky News reported administrators KPMG as saying that discussions were ongoing with "a number of interest parties" over a sale, but there have so far not been any "deliverable offers", so the process has begun to close remaining branches.
Loop, the online service that delivers refillable versions of big brand products, is set to launch in the UK next month. The Terracycle-owned company is already running in France, in partnership with Carrefour, and the US, in partnership with Kroger and Walgreens. In the UK, Loop is set to work with Tesco when it launches in March.
NearSt has raised £2 million in seed funding to drive more footfall into bricks and mortar stores. The Google-backed UK startup was founded in 2015 by Max Krejin and Nick Brackenbury, using technology to link products on shop shelves in real-time with nearby customers searching online.
Zalando has announced three additions to the company’s senior leadership team. Anne Pascual, who joined the e-commerce platform in March 2017, has been promoted to senior vice president of product design, responsible for “translating group strategy into an inspiring, uniting and leading digital experience”.
Laura Ashley’s Malaysian owner MUI Asia has confirmed it is in talks with its bank Wells Fargo over access to emergency funding. The fashion and furniture retailer revealed that sales fell 10.8 per cent year-on-year in the second half of last year, which it blamed on “market headwinds and weaker consumer spending”. Sales were flat for the first seven weeks of trading this year.
New research has revealed that 81 per cent of retail business have plans to grow and adapt in a post Brexit landscape, with one in 10 planning to move their headquarters to an EU country. Software consultancy ThoughtWorks commissioned research company Maru/Blue to survey a nationally representative sample of 1,026 British business leaders, finding that 19 per cent plan to diversify across more business lines and channels, while 24 per cent will take more business online to reach new audiences.
Reiss has partnered with OneStock to upgrade its omnichannel order management system. The fashion retailer, which operates 230 stores in 15 countries in addition to its online store, has chosen OneStock’s order management software to let it fulfil both digital and in-store orders from any stock location.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for pragmatic solutions on future compliance and regulatory checks that will apply from January 2021, arguing that without these, consumers will face higher costs and reduced availability of goods. The trade association’s new report outlined the retail industry’s priorities for the upcoming government negotiations with the EU.
JD Sports has adopted Laybuy’s buy now, pay later service for online orders in the UK, letting shoppers spread the cost of purchases over six equal weekly interest-free payments at checkout. Customers will also have the option to pay more upfront if their credit limit is lower than the total purchase order, using Laybuy Boost.
Marks & Spencer is set to shut two of its clothing distribution centres, putting 662 jobs at risk. The centres in Long Eaton in Derbyshire and Thorncliffe in Sheffield are set to close next year as part of a wider network restructuing to cut costs and improve stock availability.
N Brown Group has partnered with Oracle as it migrates systems to the cloud. The company in charge of JD Williams, Simply Be, Ambrose Wilson and Jacamo is working with Oracle Retail Consulting Services and will implement the Retail Demand Forecasting Cloud Service to maximize forecast accuracy for the entire product lifecycle.
Westfield’s parent company has scaled new developments pipeline and increased disposals, as net retail income fell across its UK centres last year. Unibail Rodamco Westfield reported a 4.2 per cent decline in like-for-like net rental income in the UK for the year to 31 December – making it the worst performing region for the group, as the US and continental Europe recorded growth of 2.4 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.
Over fifty major retailers have called on the government to take the first steps towards fundamental business rates reform in the Budget. The letter, coordinated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), focuses on fixing transitional relief – a component of the business rates system.
Mountain clothing and shoes retailer La Sportiva has seen its monthly online sales go from nothing to €85,000 after re-platforming with digital commerce platform Kooomo. The Italian manufacturer employs approximately 280 staff and has four stores in Italy and Spain, with distribution to more than 70 countries worldwide.
Standard Chartered is partnering with Australian FinTech firm Assembly Payments for a new e-commerce venture. The new company, which will be headquartered in Singapore, is aiming to develop “next generation payment solutions” for the $29 million e-commerce industry.
Sainsbury’s has opened a new On The Go city centre store, with plans to roll the concept out to other locations as part of a trial. Located in Mansion House store in the City of London, it combines fresh food and drink with convenient ways to shop.
The Glen Dimplex Group is rolling out a global e-commerce platform for its brands Morphy Richards, Roberts Radio and Faber. The consumer home appliances group has chosen commercetools to provide microservices architecture, meaning it can take a step-by-step approach to e-commerce development, releasing non-transactional product catalogues first and then adding transactional capabilities later.
Ocado has revealed a £214 million pre-tax loss for the year to 1 December, due to heavy investments in robotic warehouses overseas. Despite group sales increasing 9.9 per cent to £1.76 billion, the online grocery business’ earnings before tax fell 27.2 per cent to £43.3 million.
JD Sports has slammed the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after it warned that it could block the planned takeover of sportwear retailer Footasylum.The competition regulator said its investigation into the £90 million acquisition had provisionally found that it could result in a “substantial lessening of competition in the retail supply of sports-inspired casual footwear” across both in-store and online channels in the UK.
Retail sales increased by 0.4 per cent in January on a total basis, against an increase of 2.2 per cent in January 2019, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG figures. Sales were flat on a like-for-like basis from the same month last year, when they had increased 1.8 per cent.
New research has revealed the scale of many merchants’ problem with managing chargebacks in relation to card-not-present payments. Dispute management firm Chargebacks911 surveyed more than 200 online, multi-channel and mobile commerce merchants, finding that ‘friendly fraud’ - when customers contact their bank for a refund on a purchase they made without a legitimate reason - was the number one cause of chargebacks.
Selfridges managing director Simon Forster has left after just over a year in the role. The Sunday Telegraph reported that he left last week due to a loss of confidence in his leadership. The department store stated that he left to “pursue other interests”, while the paper quoted insiders saying it was a mutual agreement after concerns were raised over the direction of Selfridges and its culture.
Retail footfall declined by just 0.5 per cent year-on-year in January, with shopping centre footfall rising for the first time in three years. Springboard’s latest statistics showed an increase in footfall for both shopping centres and retail parks – 0.2 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively.
Marks & Spencer has expanded its Mobile Pay Go checkout-free payment technology to 50 stores, 49 of which are in London. The roll-out follows a trial across a selection of London stores - Edgware Road, Bankside, Waterside Paddington, West Hampstead, Canary Wharf and Stratford Westfield - where there was a Mobile Pay Go transaction every three seconds during lunchtime.
John Lewis’ new chairman has warned staff that there could be jobs cuts and store closures on the horizon amid tough trading conditions. Sharon White, former chief executive of Ofcom, used her maiden speech to staff to set out the “difficult decisions” the retailer is facing, following a lacklustre Christmas trading period, which left the John Lewis staff bonus in doubt.
Almost 2,000 appeals a week are made by companies over their business tax rates, according to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). In the fourth quarter last year, 23,660 premises liable for business rates appealed over their bills, bringing the ‘Checks and Challenges’ total by retailers, bars, restaurants and offices for 2019 to 164,050 since a revaluation of business rates came into effect on 1 April 2017.
Deliverr has secured $40 million in a Series C funding round, as it prepares to do battle with Amazon Prime in the quick delivery space. The funding round was led by Activant Capital, alongside 8VC, GLP and Flexport founder Ryan Peterson; bringing its total investment so far to over $70 million.
Amazon has given a preview of the design for 100,000 new electric delivery vans, as the e-commerce giant focusses on building the world’s most sustainable transportation fleet. A video published to the Amazon news channel showed clay models of the custom-designed van, produced by electric vehicle (EV) startup Rivian. The blue vehicle will feature Alexa integration with voice commands to help drivers finds packages in the van and central screen with a digital instrument cluster.
Marks & Spencer has appointed Katie Bickerstaffe as its new chief strategy and transformation director. She is currently a non-executive director of the company, and will make the move on 27 April, serving on the M&S board and operating committee.
Failed e-commerce projects cost direct-to-consumer (D2C) retailers an average of £174,000 last year, according to Greenlight Commerce and BigCommerce research. The pair commissioned a survey of 100 D2C retail decision-makers in the UK, finding that 98 per cent were facing some sort of e-commerce challenge, with nearly three quarters expecting the number of projects they carry out to increase this year.
WHSmith is partnering with payments platform Laybuy to offer online customers a buy now, pay later option. This will let customers spread the cost of online purchases over six weekly instalments on an interest-free basis.
IKEA has announced plans to close its Coventry store this summer, amid declining footfall as shoppers switch to online.It marks the first time the Swedish furniture and homeware giant has closed a UK store. Built in 2007, the city location was one the earliest examples of a new store format aimed at catering to changing customer expectations.
Wilko has promoted its group transformation director and online managing director, Jerome Saint-Marc, to become chief executive. This marks the first time someone has held the role since Stuart Mitchell stepped down in 2012.
Most shoppers are now ready and waiting for retailers to implement innovative payment methods and in-store technologies to improve their shopping experience. This is according to survey of 6,000 consumers commissioned by Wirecard and carried out in the fourth quarter last year in select countries in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas.
John Lewis & Partners is testing new augmented reality functionality in its app and over 123 of the shops best selling sofas. The Virtual Sofa feature lets users place prospective chairs and couches into a 3D scan of their own rooms, playing with different positions, upholstery options and colour swatches.
Retail chief executive turnover is at its highest level in seven years, according to new research highlighting the torrid conditions on the High Street. Consultancy Korn Ferry’s data suggested that the UK’s retail industry replaced 55 CEOs in 2019, up 25 per cent on 44 in 2018. The rate of churn is the highest since 2012.
Hermes has revealed plans to build a new automated parcel distribution hub in Barnsley. Due for completion in 2022, the £60 million development will be the largest of its kind in Europe and will create around 1,300 new jobs in the area. Up to 800 people will work on site during shifts.
Barclaycard has announced a new partnership with e-commerce platform BigCommerce to introduce an integrated payments solution for online retailers across the UK and Europe. Barclaycard’s infrastructure will integrate directly into the BigCommerce platform, which will allow merchants to have their payments system set up within days rather than weeks or months, with a dedicated support team from the start.
H&M has revealed that it will move towards using its 5,000-strong store network as logistical hubs for online stock, as the company looks to boost its digital growth. According to the Financial Times, the Swedish fashion giant will reshape its physical store strategy to reflect the growing demand for online shopping.
Online construction materials supplier CMO Stores has partnered with Peak to implement artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology into its six digital superstores. The Customer AI solution will provide predictive recommendations by learning from customers' interactions with the websites.
A majority (54 per cent) of UK shoppers don’t care whether customer service is provided by a robot or a human, as long as their issue is resolved fast, according to research from Genesys. The omnichannel customer service firm commissioned Vitreous World to survey 800 consumers in the UK, finding that 28 per cent would never deal with a bot, while 48 per cent use them for solving simple and transactional queries; such as checking a bank account balance.
Formulate has closed a late-seed round worth €3.7 million, led by henQ with participation from Industrifonden and J12 Ventures. The Swedish artificial intelligence-driven retail promotion platform will use the investment for international expansion and growing its team.
Farfetch has raised $250 million by selling convertible senior notes to Tencent and Dragoneer. Chinese tech giant Tencent purchased $125 million of the notes, while San Francisco-based investment firm Dragoneer bought the remaining $125 million, with the funds being used to execute its growth plans, including moves into the Chinese market, and driving towards operational profitability.
Amazon has posted a better-than-expected 21 per cent jump in sales for the Christmas trading period, as the e-commerce giant continues to reap the benefits of its Prime delivery service. The results for the final three months of 2019 saw $87.4 billion worth of sales, compared with $72.4 billion for the same period the previous year.
Laura Ashley chief executive and executive director Kwan Cheong Ng will step down from his position on 30 April, although he will remain part of the board as a non-executive director. The women’s fashion and homeware retailer’s current chief operating officer Katharine Poulter will succeed Ng in both positions, effective from 1 May.
H&M Group chairman Stefan Persson will step down after more than 20 years in the role, to be succeeded by his son and current chief executive Karl-Johan Persson. The clothing retailer’s full-year trading update further explained that chief operating officer Helena Helmersson will be promoted to chief executive, effective today.
Two thirds (67 per cent) of e-commerce companies say they feel they need to work with Amazon as it continues to dominate the online economy. A Censuswide survey of 503 senior decision-makers in digital commerce, for retail consultancy Wunderman Thompson Commerce, found that 72 per cent said that they felt compelled to invest more in their presence on the Amazon marketplace in order to remain competitive, as the majority of product searches are on its platform.
Frasers Group has got the all clear from the Belgian authorities over an alleged failure to pay a €674 million tax bill. The company formerly known as Sports Direct International revealed in its delayed full-year report last July that the Belgian taxman was “requesting further information in relation to, amongst other things, the tax treatment of goods being moved intra-group throughout the EU via Belgium”.
December saw $2.78 billion worth of retail industry mergers and acquisitions (M&A), according to GlobalData. The data platform’s deals database registered an increase of 127.7 per cent in the last month of 2019, compared to the previous month, although this represented a fall of 41.5 per cent compared to the previous 12-month average, which stood at $4.75 billion.
The Debenhams Group has appointed Stephen Sunnucks as a non-executive director of parent company Celine Jersey Topco. He joins the retailer as it pushes ahead with its Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) programme of store closures aimed at restructuring the company’s finances.
Adoption of point of sale (PoS) credit services remains low, but the speed at which consumers are signing up for them means the £10 billion market is growing at more than 15 per cent per year. This is according to research by consulting firm Kearney, which surveyed 2,239 UK consumers in the autumn, which showed that 41 per cent have never used PoS credit services, and those who so use them do so infrequently – on average only 2.4 times during the past five years.
Shop prices fell by 0.3 per cent in January, compared to a 0.4 per cent decrease in December. The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen figures showed that non-food prices fell by 1.5 per cent in January, the same rate of decrease as in December.
New York’s city council has approved new legislation which will see any retailer which does not accept physical currency face a significant fine. After being voted in almost unanimously, the bill is now awaiting approval from New York mayor Bill De Blasio before being enforced across the city.
Sainsbury’s has announced plans to invest £1 billion towards making its operations emit a ‘net zero’ of emissions by 2040. The supermarket chain stated it would take action to cut carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water use, while increasing recycling and sustainable initiatives.
Reiss has reported an 18 per cent rise in like-for-like sales over the Christmas trading period, as owner Warburg Pincus continues its search for a buyer. The upmarket fashion retailer said total group sales were up 21 per cent in the seven weeks to 18 January, defying the wider performance on the UK High Street over the festive period.
Nearly 10,000 retail jobs have been lost in the first three weeks of 2020, according to new research.Data from the Centre for Retail Research and Altus Group found that 9,949 retail roles have already been axed this year, as a swathe of brands shuttered stores to mark the start of another torrid year for the UK High Street.
Iceland has become the latest UK supermarket to start a restructuring review, although it has promised no “major reductions” across its 25,000-strong workforce. A statement from the discount chain explained the review is to ensure it is running the “business as efficiently and economically as possible”.
Tesco is using Ocado’s tech partner Swisslog to help roll-out automated robots at its logistics centres across the UK. According to The Grocer, Swisslog will provide an automated pallet retrieval and storage system, using machines riding on conveyor belts to pick up and drop off products.
Morrisons is to axe 3,000 manager roles to boost its shop-floor workforce by 7,000. The big four supermarket said the managerial staff affected will either leave the company or see their roles downgraded, as the chain looks to reorient its business model to “serve customers better”.
As automation technology matures, it is increasingly becoming a point of competitive advantage for retailers, with consumers responding positively to the improved convenience, according to the Capgemini Research Institute. During October and November, it surveyed 5,110 consumers across North America, Europe and Asia, along with 500 senior executives at director level and above, spread across the world. Retail sub-sectors included: electronics, grocery, home improvement, fashion and quick service restaurants.
As shoppers continue to shift away from visiting physical stores and towards digital channels, UK online spend is set to reach £75 billion by 2024, rising 30.4 per cent over the next five years. This is according to GlobalData, whose latest report suggested that the online channel will account for 19.8 per cent of UK retail spend by 2024, with clothing and footwear remaining the largest product sector.
Revenues at Asos reached £1 billion during the Black Friday and Christmas Trading period thanks to the return of “customer momentum”. A trading update posted by the e-commerce fashion brand disclosed a 20 per cent rise in retail sales in the four months to 31 December to £1.1 billion, with a good performance across all regions. UK retail sales came in at £408.9 million for the period.
The total global annual spend on point of sale (PoS) software by retail and restaurant businesses will grow to $1.7 billion in 2024 from $1.1 billion in 2019. According to Juniper Research, this growth will be fuelled by the increasing availability of app integrations, such as Shopify and QuickBooks, as vendors expand and seek to augment their capabilities through partnerships and consolidation.
Mothercare chief executive Mark Newton-Jones has today stepped down as part of the embattled retailer’s transformation plans. Chief financial officer Glyn Hughes has been drafted in as interim chief executive officer with immediate effect, with Newton-Jones due to remain as an executive director until July.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, the total number of retail employees fell by 1.8 per cent year-on-year, marking the 16th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline in the retail workforce. According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), this decline in retail employees year-on-year, when applied to the Office for National Statistics fourth quarter 2018 figure of 3,183,000 employees, equates to 57,000 job losses since then.
UK online retail sales growth spiked to 9.4 per cent year-on-year in December, bringing 2019 to a close with a strong Christmas trading period. This was according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.
Marks & Spencer has expanded its retail, operations and property leadership team with the appointment of Will Smith as property director and Helen Milford as retail director. Both will report into retail, operations and property director Sacha Berendji, who commented: “Building a store estate that’s fit for the future with industry-leading store operations and empowered colleagues is a key part of our transformation programme.”
Visa is joining with its partner banks to launch an industry-wise ‘access to cash’ scheme aimed at incentivising retailers to offer cashback in areas of UK where ATMs and bank branches are limited. The new initiative will incentivise shops and businesses to offer cashback to consumers using their Visa debit cards, prioritising rural and remote communities. It is hoped to also encourage individuals to visit and shop in their local communities, driving footfall and revenue for independent retailers.
Reiss has reported a four per cent sales rise as a direct result of the increase in stock accuracy from implementing a new RFID solution. The fashion retailer completed its roll-out of a Detego solution in May last year, in partnership with technology consultants Retail247.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe is set to leave after six years in the role, along with cuts to several other head office positions. A statement explained that he would remain in post until the end of May, after which he will be replaced by current retail and operations director Simon Roberts from 1 June.
The number of profit warnings issued by UK companies hit an “exceptionally high” level in 2019, with a third of FTSE-listed retailers raising the alarm, according to EY. The quarterly profit warnings report from the professional services firm found that a total of 313 warnings were issued by FTSE-listed companies in 2019, up nine per cent on the 287 issued in 2018.
While half of the British public are comfortable using facial recognition to unlock their phones, only a third are willing to use the technology to pay for goods and services. OnBuy analysed the latest findings from Mindshare, which surveyed 5,000 Brits to discover how comfortable they are using biometric systems which capture the geometry of an individual’s face to verify and authenticate them.
Annual revenues from tokenised mobile payments - where account details are replaced with data useless to fraudsters - are set to exceed $40 billion by 2024, growing from an estimated $17 billion in 2019. Of this, over $30 billion will be through remote e-commerce, rather than contactless payments at the point of sale.
Amazon is working with Visa to develop a contactless biometric identification system to let customers to pay by waving their hands through a scanner. The Wall Street Journal reported that the e-commerce giant is working with Visa, and is in discussions with MasterCard, to test its hand scanner terminals, which will digitally map a shopper’s hand, link it to their credit card and allow them to pay with a wave.
Asda is testing 3D holograms, electronic shelf labels and other new technologies to try and make both its staff’s lives easier and customers’ shopping experience better. The grocery chain’s Stevenage store is a testbed for more than 20 different initiatives, including 3D holographic signs in the store’s bakery department which advertise products and tell customers how to use its Scan & Go technology.
Dixons Carphone has appointed Lindsay Haselhurst as its new chief supply chain officer. She was previously global supply and logistics director at Kingfisher, and will now report to chief executive Alex Baldock after taking up the role on 27 January.
A mystery shopping exercise has revealed that many of London’s prime shopping outlets are inadequately prepared for the many Chinese tourists predicted to visit the UK. Digital commerce firm JGOO visited 107 retail outlets in Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and New Bond Street during December 2019, finding that only a very small minority had both staff that could speak Mandarin and accepted China’s leading mobile payment platforms WeChat Pay and Alipay.
N Brown has partnered with fashion personalisation platform True Fit to integrate data-driven personalisation across its portfolio of fashion brands. The True Confidence and True Discovery solutions are now available for customers when buying products from JD Williams, Simply Be, Jacamo, Ambrose Wilson and Fashion World.
G-Star RAW has collaborated with Yext to update the information across more than 150 online channels, including Google, Amazon Alexa and Facebook. By enhancing its online discoverability, the Dutch denim brand has driven over 1.5 million clicks to its listings, while experiencing a year-over-year growth rate in clicks of 16 per cent since launch in December 2016.
Beales, one of the UK High Street’s oldest department store chains has collapsed into administration, putting 1,300 jobs at risk. According to Sky News, the struggling retailer appointed KPMG to supervise the administration process after a formal sales process, which ended today, failed to find a buyer.
Fears over cyber security and the digital skills shift have topped the list of technology concerns for UK retail small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to a new report. A survey of technology decision-makers in SMEs with 50 to 500 employees by OGL Computer across a range of industries found that the top worries centred around cyber security attacks (65 per cent), keeping pace with competitors (59 per cent) and a lack of technology-savvy workers (41 per cent).
Intu is aiming to raise £1 billion worth of new equity next month in order to fix its balance sheet. The Sunday Times reported that the shopping centre operator, which owns Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Lakeside in Essex among many others, was planning the fundraising to accompany its full-year results at the end of February.
Molton Brown has seen a threefold uplift in conversions after introducing onsite social commerce technology. The bath and body fragrance brand also saw the average order value of customers who engaged with the site’s social commerce elements increase by 38 per cent.
Retail sales were down one per cent in the crucial Christmas trading period compared to the previous quarter- marking the steepest decline since March 2017, according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). All sectors except household goods stores and fuel saw a decline in the quantity bought between the third and fourth quarters of 2019, driven mainly by a one per cent drop in sales at non-food stores.
Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group is preparing to close at least a dozen stores in the latest round of cost-cutting for the retail empire that owns Topshop, Topman and Dorothy Perkins. According to the Guardian, disappointing trade for the Christmas period has led the company to forge ahead with closing twelve sites including its store in Westfield Stratford shopping centre.
HMV has struck deals with landlords on five stores which had previously been under threat of closure, while the future of three further stores could face the axe by the end of January. The embattled music retailer announced that branches in Glasgow Braehead, Edinburgh Ocean Terminal, Reading, Sheffield Meadowhall and Grimsby will remain open after deals were struck with landlords.
The amount spent by UK households fell 1.2 per cent on an annual basis in December despite Cyber Monday and festive trade driving up e-commerce sales, according to data from Visa. According to Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index, compiled by IHS Markit, there was a softer fall in household expenditure in December ( down 1.2 per cent) than the 2 per cent drop seen in November.
Revenues at fashion retailer Quiz fell 9.3 per cent over the festive trading period despite strong Black Friday sales, driven by a 14.8 per cent slump in online sales.The fast fashion retailer, popular with Gen Z shoppers, said the “disappointing” results for the seven weeks to 4 January reflected falling sales across in-store and online channels.
Adobe has launched cloud service Adobe Experience Manager to help retailers improve digital customer experience management. The software giant said the new cloud-native solution combines content customisation options with software-as-a service style agility, with onboarding and access to the application in minutes.
Boohoo has boosted its full year guidance after it posted record trading figures for the final quarter of 2019.The e-commerce fashion platform reported group revenue across its brands including PrettyLittleThing and NastyGal of £473.7 million for the four months to 31 December, up 44 per cent, as online spending accelerated ahead of the festive period.
More than two thirds of consumers think mobile technology now delivers a better shopping experience, according to new research.
A global survey of 4,000 consumers by Arlington Research for enterprise mobility and IoT solutions provider SOTI Inc found that shoppers are increasingly open to using new and emerging technologies, with one on three (31 per cent) saying they would be happy to receive their goods via delivery drones.
65 per cent of Generation Z shoppers say contactless payment is a “must have” at the checkout, as a third of consumers under 35 predict that merchants will become 100 per cent cashless in the next five years. A survey of 350 retailers and 1,350 consumers by Hanover Research for Ingenico and FreedomPay found that more than half of shoppers have experienced a technical issue at checkout at some point, demonstrating a disconnect between merchants’ efforts and the shopper’s actual experience.
The owner of Beales department stores has warned that the chain could collapse into administration, putting 1,000 jobs at risk. According to the BBC, Beales, which has been trading since 1881, has said that the future of 22 stores would hang in the balance should the company fail to find a buyer within the coming days.
Microsoft has formed a global strategic partnership with customer data science firm dunnhumby, in an attempt to transform the $5.9 trillion retail sector.As part of the partnership, dunnhumby will move its customer insights products to Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure, giving retailers and suppliers instant and secure access to its customer data science tools.
Revenues at Superdry dropped by 15.8 per cent over the Christmas trading period, with the struggling fashion retailer blaming shortages of better selling products. A trading update for the 19 week period from 27 October 2019 to 4 January 2020 showed that store revenue e-commerce also fell by 9.3 per cent, while wholesale revenue was down 16.9 per cent.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has imposed a £500,000 fine on DSG Retail, after till systems at Currys PC World and Dixons Travel were hacked, leaving the data of 14 million customers exposed to attack. A hacker installed malware affecting the point of sale computer systems of 5,390 tills stores in an attack lasting from July 2017 to April 2018.
IKEA has bought Hammersmith’s Kings Mall in west London for £170 million as part of a strategy to move closer to city centres. The shopping centre opened in 1980 and has 40 stores, including H&M, Primark, Sainsbury’s and Wilko. The move marks the Swedish furniture chain’s first shopping centre purchase, following the October statement that it had strengthened its property team in the UK to capitalise on the decreased valuations of shopping centres due to retail store closures.
GAME has today confirmed that it intends to close 40 stores throughout the UK. To date, 13 sites have had notice served, including existing stores in Mansfield, Canterbury, Watford, Glasgow Fort and Leicester.
Consumer spending grew by one per cent in December compared to the same month last year, according to Barclaycard. Using its access to nearly half of credit and debit card transactions made in the UK, the company said a rise in consumer confidence in the last month of 2019 had failed to boost festive spending on the High Street.
John Lewis Partnership’s managing director of 25 years, Paula Nickolds, is set to step down as the department store reported like-for-like sales down 2.3 per cent to £1.13 billion during the seven weeks to 4 January. She is due to leave in February as part of the retailer’s ongoing management reshuffle.
Alibaba has cut European sellers’ fees by nearly half as part of a move to overcome Amazon’s dominance in the West. The Chinese e-commerce giant, which has around 1 billion users in Asia, is making concerted efforts to attract new merchants to its international platform AliExpress.
Total sales for 2019 decreased by 0.1 per cent, compared with 1.2 per cent growth in 2018; making last year the worst on record. This is according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG’s latest market analysis, which revealed that during the five weeks from 24 November to 28 December, sales increased by 1.9 per cent on a total basis, against a flat December 2018.
Shoezone has reported a fall in underlying profit before tax from £9.6 million to £1.7 million for the 12 months to 5 October, although the online side of the business fared well during the year. Preliminary annual results showed group revenue up by 0.9 per cent to £162 million, while digital revenue rose by 13 per cent in the second half 0f 2019, on top of 5.2 per cent growth in the first half; or 9.2 per cent for the full year.
The UK’s big four grocers have suffered a slump in sales over the festive period, as discount retailers Lidl and Aldi drove up competition in the sector. Like-for-like sales at Sainsbury’s dropped 0.7 per cent in the 15 weeks to 4 January, driven by a slowdown in sales of gaming and toys in the division including Argos, which was bought by Sainsbury’s in 2018. Grocery sales were up by 0.4 per cent.
Asda has begun the new year with several new appointments to its executive board, including a new chief operating officer and chief customer officer. In a message to staff, chief executive Roger Burnley announced that Anna-Maree Shaw will become chief customer officer at the end of January, replacing Andy Murray, who is repatriating to the US after four years with the supermarket chain.
M&S has deployed an artificial intelligence-based platform to unify employee communication channels and simplify in-store operations for 80,000 colleagues working across 700 stores.The High Street retailer’s collaboration with supply chain management platform JDA has deployed Microsoft Team technology to help stores co-ordinate staff and ensure they are working the right shift at the right time.
M&G Investments has sold the Ravenside retail park in Edmonton, North London to industrial property developer Prologis for £51.4 million, in a move indicative of the shift towards e-commerce. The deal, finalised shortly before Christmas, will turn the shopping centre into a logistics and warehousing park, as Prologis head of UK capital deployment Robin Woodbridge explained.
L’Oreal has launched a new system which analyses the user’s skin and environment to create personalised skincare products. Revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, Perso has been developed by L’Oreal’s technology incubator, using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the results of a face scan made using the app.