A Fish named Fred opens first mono-brand store

In around three weeks, men’s lifestyle brand A Fish Named Fred will open its first brick-and-mortar store. Set to be located in Maastricht, The Netherlands, CEO Rob Schalker talks to FashionUnited ahead of the opening.

Plans for a physical store came about when "a retailer had the idea of creating an A Fish Named Fred corner in his shop, but during the conversation we talked about a complete branded store." Later, an opportunity arose for a property on the retailer's street, and so Schalker decided to open the first Dutch, A Fish Named Fred store, located at Platielstraat 22, in the centre of Maastricht.

In addition to the Maastricht store, A Fish Named Fred will open a second store in Sofia, Bulgaria. Schalker comments, verifying the locations were chosen due to the demand of local retailers.

"The store is big enough to lay out the whole story of the brand," says Schalker. The store only covers 25 square meters, but according to the CEO, it is enough to start to show a picture of A Fish Named Fred.

The appearance of the store did have to be carefully considered though, with colourful, extravagant products, “we cannot arrive with a boring shop”. Further details on the layout of the stores are not yet known, but according to Schalker “of course, water will play an important role in the theme.”

The news that A Fish Named Fred will open its own store has spread rapidly since Schalker posted a message on LinkedIn. Since then, retailers in Mexico, China, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have expressed their interest in more monobrand stores for A Fish Named Fred, but "it's not [set] in stone, of course," emphasizes Schalker.

A Fish Named Fred was founded six years ago with the idea that 'the world could use more color and pleasure'. The brand is now renowned for colorful, stand out designs which started on shirts, and has grown to offer blazers, polos and shoes, available in 26 countries worldwide.

Photo courtesy of A Fish Named Fred website

Weekday store to open at Westfield Stratford

H&M group have revealed that Weekday will launch their second UK store at Westfield Stratford, this Autumn.

The brand, which finds inspiration in youth culture and street style debuted in London earlier this month on August 18. Opening on Regent Street alongside the group’s new brand Arket.

Weekday was founded in Sweden, 2002 and joined the H&M group in 2008. The brand now counts 29 stores in eight countries, and an online store for 18 markets.

Photo courtesy of Weekday

Asics gears up for EMEA retail expansion

Japanese sports brand Asics has set its sights on strengthening its presence in Europe by expanding its own retail footprint and opening new concept stores. The sportswear giant, which recently opened its new flagship store in London, plans on growing its EMEA retail business from 26 stores to more than 140 stores over the next three years to 2020.

The sportswear company, which owns brands Asics, Ontisuka Tiger and Asics Tiger, first outlined its expansion plan for its EMEA region in its 2020 growth plan, a five-year strategic plan to attend sustainable growth. Although the US remains Asics most important market, the sportswear brand is investing in expanding its European footprint and will be implementing lessons learned in the US in its EMEA region.

Asics new retail strategy sees the sportswear retailer focusing on opening a series of new stores in European capital cities, with the aim of offering a broad range of its products directly to consumers. “Displaying our brands and product lineup to consumers is the most powerful form of marketing, and the feedback from visitors to our stores goes into developing future products,” said the company in a statement.

At the moment Asics aims to operate flagship stores in Amsterdam, London, Milan, and Cologne by the end of 2017. In addition Asics also plans on growing its online revenue and strengthening its relationships with multi-brand retailers by opening shop in shops in cities. The first shop-in-shop is set to open this autumn at Citadium Caumartin department store in Paris, with another one to follow in Berlin.

Photo: Asics flagship store, London

M&S begins talks to franchise stores in Hong Kong and Macau

London - Marks & Spencer may be pulling out of certain loss-making international markets, but that has not stopped the British department store from strengthening its relationship with its established franchise partners. M&S revealed on Wednesday morning that it has begun talks with its long-running franchise partner Al-Futtaim for the potential purchase and franchising its owned retail business in Hong Kong and Macau.

The discussion period, which includes commencing a period of due diligence, is expected to take several months. M&S will keep its employees up to date on any key developments during the process and M&S stores in Hong Kong and Macau are set to trade as normal. If the talks prove to be successful then Al-Futtaim would become the sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau.

M&S begins talks to franchise stores in Hong Kong and Macau

“As long-term partners of Marks & Spencer, I’m delighted that we are now working together to explore the potential expansion of our partnership to Hong Kong and Macau,” said Stephen Rayfield, Senior Managing Director, Fashion & Lifestyle Division at Al-Futtaim. “M&S and Al-Futtaim share values, and an approach that focuses the customer at the heart of our businesses.”

M&S seeks to franchise retail business in Hong Kong and Macau

“Al-Futtaim looks forward to building on our solid foundations as we continue to enrich our customers' lives and aspirations through the provision of quality products and services in Hong Kong and Macau - these are among Marks & Spencer’s most successful and important international markets.” Marks & Spencer first began trading in Hong Kong in 1988. Since then the British department store group has gained a strong reputation and brand awareness, currently operating 27 stores in Hong Kong and Macau.

The move follows on from Marks & Spencer strategic review of its international business in November 2016. At the time M&S revealed it would be pulling out of 10 loss-making markets while focusing on strengthening its established franchise and joint venture partnership in order to continue running with less wholly-owned markets.

M&S begins talks to franchise stores in Hong Kong and Macau

“Al-Futtaim is a key partner to M&S in Asia and the Middle East and we are both committed to putting the customer at the heart of everything we do," said Paul Friston, Marks & Spencer’s International Director. "With significant scale and retail expertise in the region, we are looking forward to discussing the potential extension of our partnership to Hong Kong and Macau as we continue to grow and develop our business together.”

Al-Futtaim has been a key franchise partner of M&S since 1998 when it opened the first Marks & Spencer store in Dubai. Today, Al-Futtaim operates 43 M&S stores across seven markets in the Middle East, as well as Singapore and Malaysia.

Photos: Courtesy of M&S International

Primark announced as first retailer to join new Barton Square renovation

Intu have announced Primark as the first retailer to join Trafford Centre’s Barton Square in Manchester, amid plans for a 74 million pound renovation. Set to open in 2019, Intu will add 110,000 square foot of retail space, a new glass domed room and a fully redesigned interior.

Primark will move into retail space that was previously occupied by BHS Home, amongst other stores including SEA LIFE Manchester, LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre and Next Home, with others yet to be revealed.

Colin Flinn, regional managing director for intu, said: “This is a significant milestone for intu Trafford Centre that will enable us to reposition and redevelop an important part of the centre so that we can create even better customer experiences and more opportunities for retailers to flourish.

The renovation is set to start in 2018, and will build on the retail destination, already known for the unique design and architecture. “The work we are planning at Barton Square will attract more visitors for longer by expanding the centre’s retail and leisure mix and creating a new space befitting this architecturally-rich building,” Flinn continued.

Intu is the UK’s leading owner, manager and developer of prime regional shopping centres, their centres support over 120,000 jobs, representing about 4 percent of the total UK retail workforce.

Photo courtesy of Intu

H&M set to open new store in Barnet

H&M have announced that they will open a new store in The Spires Shopping Centre, Barnet, North London.

Set to launch on September 22, the store is spread over 2000 square meters and will house Ladies, Divided, Mens and a Kids section.

Carlos Duarte, Country Manager for UK & Ireland said: “We are delighted to be opening a brand new store at The Spires Shopping Centre in Barnet. This location is an exciting opportunity for the H&M brand to expand its portfolio and introduce our fantastic fashion offering to new customers.” in press statement from the brand.

The store will hand out 25 percent off wristbands to customers queuing before 11am, as well as goodie bags to enjoy whilst they listen to tracks from an in store DJ.

Founded in Sweden in 1947, H&M offer simple, and increasingly sustainable fashion worldwide.The UK and Ireland now counts more than 260 stores, adding to the 4,087 stores that the brand has worldwide.

Photo courtesy of H&M

Oliver Bonas prepares to open debut Welsh store in Cardiff

British lifestyle retailer Oliver Bonas is set to open its debut Welsh store in Cardiff. The popular homeware, fashion and accessories store is set to open its first store in Wales at Cardiff’s St David shopping centre this November.

“As the capital and foremost commercial centre in Wales, we are thrilled to call Cardiff the home of our first store in the country,” said a spokesperson for Oliver Bonas in a statement. The store in Cardiff will be Oliver Bonas 62nd store in the UK.

The new 2,290 square foot store is located adjacent to fashion retailer Reiss at 37 The Hayes. The store, developed by Oliver Bonas in-house team, is set to offer an edited selection of the brand’s own range of fashion, jewellery, homeware and gifting as well as products from selected third-party brands.

“At OB, almost all our products are designed in-house, from concept sketch to finished article. From the tiny details, like our hand-sketched cosmetics packaging, to statement sculptural lighting, our passion for design always plays a role,” added the spokesperson.

Founded in 1993 by Oliver Tress, Oliver Bonas has grown into a lifestyle brand focused on good design and innovation.

Photo: Oliver Bonas, website

Brora to open in Glasgow

Luxury Scottish cashmere and fashion brand Brora is to open its first standalone store in Glasgow next month on Ingram Street.

Launching with the brand’s autumn/winter 2017 collection on September 14, the opening will come just a day after the label launches its first multi-brand partnership with John Lewis, which debuts in four of its department stores on September 13.

In Glasgow, Brora has secured a 750 square foot unit on the well-known designer fashion destination street, Ingram Street, situated in prime position next door to Mulberry in close proximity to Gant, Armani, Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren.

Brora founder and creative director Victoria Stapleton said: “We have been keen to open a shop in Glasgow for a while now; when the stunning corner pitch became available on Ingram Street, we were quick to decide!

“We have many loyal local customers, who I'm sure will be pleased to see our Scottish made cashmere & ever growing clothing collection available in the heart of Scotland's retail centre.”

Brora has 14 stores in some of the UK’s prominent shopping hotspots, including Sloane Square, Covent Garden, and Marylebone High Street in London, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Bath, and Harrogate. It also has a single international store on Madison Avenue in New York.

Images: courtesy of Brora

British Home Stores (BHS), the former Arcadia owned department store closed its 160 remaining stores last August when the company collapsed into administration. 16 months later, 60 percent of those stores are still unoccupied.

Of the 64 stores that have been occupied, most are situated in key cities London, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol as well as more affluent areas including Redditch in Worcestershire and Kingston upon Thames. Taken up by stores such as Primark - who acquired 13 of the spaces, as well as Next, Sports Direct, and H&M.

Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, commented on the low rate of reoccupation: “With large stores over multiple floors come large rents and rates bills, along with a format that is not conducive to modern retailing without a considerable cost to reconfigure the space,” in an interview with The Times. He also said that some had “legacy issues such as asbestos to deal with.”

It is likely that the remaining stores will not be taken by retail but instead leisure spaces such as cinemas or gyms.

The downfall of BHS saw a loss of 11,000 jobs as well as a £571 million pension deficit that provoked public backlash after Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green was accused of selling the company to avoid paying its insolvent pension schemes.

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Majid Al Futtaim to open first Abercrombie store in Jeddah

Abercrombie & Fitch in partnership with Majid Al Futtaim, will be opening the first Abercrombie & Fitch store, including a shop-in-shop for its Abercrombie Kids brand, at the Red Sea Mall in Jeddah. The company will open doors to the new store in September offering the fall/winter collection for men, women, and children.

“We are excited to be expanding both the Majid Al Futtaim Fashion brand portfolio and the Abercrombie & Fitch label in the Middle East, and continuing to bring highly sought after brands to the KSA region,” said Shireen El Khatib, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Fashion in the media statement.

First Abercrombie store in Jeddah to open in September

The company said in a statement that this continued brand expansion is part of the franchise agreement between Majid Al Futtaim Fashion and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. announced in 2016. Majid Al Futtaim first introduced the Abercrombie & Fitch brand regionally in Kuwait, both at 360 Mall and The Avenues, followed by a flagship store in Mall of the Emirates in December 2015, that also saw the launch of the brand’s first fragrance boutique. Two further stores opened in Qatar at Doha Festival City and Mall of Qatar in March 2017.

“We are looking forward to bringing our unique Abercrombie & Fitch store-based brand experience to our customers in Saudi Arabia, and complementing our existing omnichannel capabilities, supporting our goal of providing our customers with the ability to engage with our brands, whenever, wherever and however they choose to do so,” added Fran Horowitz, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

Including the launch in Saudi Arabia, Majid Al Futtaim partners with Abercrombie & Fitch on a total of six Abercrombie & Fitch and three Abercrombie Kids stores in the Middle East in a mix of franchise and joint venture arrangements. The franchise agreement will see the brands eventually expanding into Oman and Bahrain strengthening the company’s profile and the brands’ reach in the region.