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Levi's aims for own stores and e-commerce platform in India

US denim brand Levi's is planning on opening own stores and an e-commerce platform in India "soon" according to the company's president and CEO Chip Bergh.

"One of the company's growth algorithms is to try and reach deeper into countries like India," said Bergh according to Times of India. "Our business could be twice the size of what it is now in the next five years. Investments in e-commerce and retail will help us do that."

When Bergh joined Levi's in 2011 and took over the reins after the company lost 3 billion US dollars in revenue over five years, he focused on re-energizing the company's core brands like the 501 and 511 as well as other categories like womenswear and tops.

"Globally, Levi's used to sell four bottoms for every top and now it's three bottoms for every top. In India, it has the best ratio of 1:1, which is for every bottom there is a top sold. So, the company sees an enormous opportunity for the tops business to grow," explains Bergh.

In India, he made sure Levi's cut down on its 150 franchise partners as quite a few operated only one or two stores, making merchandising and fulfillment quite time consuming. Currently, the denim brand has 22 franchise partners in India, which operate a larger number of stores. This has helped channelise more investment into the brand and streamline operations.

Opening own stores in India is still a challenge though as currently, foreign direct investment (FDI) of only 49 percent is permitted whereas anything beyond that requires the government's approval or an Indian partner. In addition, for FDI beyond 51 percent it is mandatory to source 30 percent of the value of goods purchased from India, preferably from micro, small and medium enterprises.

Despite Levi's entering the Indian market more than two decades ago, the brand turned profitable only in 2014 after years of lull. For fiscal year 2015-16, it reported a net profit of around 79 crore rupees (12.27 million US dollars), an increase of 64 percent compared to the previous year. Sales grew by 18.5 percent to 753 crore rupees (117 million US dollars).

Globally, Bergh believes in driving innovation. On the product side, the company has partnered with Google to launch a tech-wearable trucker jacket later this year while on the supplier side, it has narrowed its supplier network to only those with capabilities in design and fabric technology.

Photo: Michael Carian via Wikipedia
Parisian childrenswear brand to make UK debut

French childrenswear brand Bonton is to open its first UK store in West London, after securing a 10-year lease for a property on Westbourne Grove.

Bonton, which has standalone stores in Paris, Bordeaux, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Seoul, has secured a 1,440 square foot unit at 233-235 Westbourne Grove in London, to sit alongside high-end international and British brands including Club Monaco, Joseph, Matches, Sandro and Maje.

“We are thrilled to have secured this deal with Bonton, which will now bring its globally renowned range of high-end childrenswear, bed linen, furniture and accessories to West London,” said Peter Thomas, director in the Central London retail team at Saville. “Westbourne Grove is an ideal fit for the brand, which will perfectly complement the existing line-up of leading retailers, quality cafes and restaurants.”

Bonton founded by Irene and Thomas Cohen in Paris in 2001 offers clothing and accessories for babies 0-24 months, as well as girls and boys from 3-12 years old. In addition, it also stocks furniture, decorations, toys and beauty products.

Image: via Bonton website

Next to open West Midlands flagship

Next has secured a 75,680 square foot unit within Intu Merry Hill to open one of its largest UK stores to create a West Midlands flagship that will house its fashion, full homeware offering, and a coffee shop, as well as its Lipsy brand.

Located within the former Sainsbury’s store, Next has said that it will invest in a multi-million pound “state-of-the-art” store to create a flagship that will sit alongside fashion brands Topshop and River Island and JD Sports, which have all increased the size of their stores in the last year at the centre.

Nick Round, regional director at intu, said: “We will be working closely with Next to build a fantastic space for what will be one of their biggest UK stores.

“Next’s significant investment at intu Merry Hill reflects our own long-term commitment to the centre and the confidence that exists in it as a destination where brands can really flourish. Our plans are to attract even more great brands and create compelling experiences for customers across the West Midlands.”

A spokesperson for Next added: “We’re excited to have secured this fantastic space within the prime retail destination of Intu Merry Hill as the site of our next West Midlands store.”

Intu took full control of the Merry Hill centre, based 10 miles from Birmingham, last year and has since invested 100 million pounds in extending its leisure and retail facilities. The whole centre spans 1.4 million square foot and attracts around 22 million visitors a year.

Image: via Intu website

A new report from German-based e-commerce intelligence firm yStats has revealed that China has been projected to account for more than 50 percent of the world’s online retail market in 2017, according to its 'China B2C E-Commerce Market 2017’ report.

The forecast comes as yStats states that China’s immense population size and high online shopper penetration among internet users means that the country is leading the global business-to-consumer e-commerce marketplace in spite of its internet penetration of just above 50 percent of total population.

The report reveals that online share of total retail sales in the country is already in the double-digits, with around two-thirds of internet users in urban China really shopping online, with this share even higher in top cities.

With the market in China is showing “distinct signs of maturity” yStats reveals, the report also adds that it expects China’s internet retail sales to moderate in the coming years, declining from the high double-digit rate of recent years.

However, it adds that more e-commerce growth is still expected by 2020 due to increasing internet and online shopper penetration rates, growing frequency of online purchases by urban consumers and, most of all, from the surge of online retail sales in rural China, which has more than doubled between 2015 and 2016. Over half a billion people live in rural China, and yet they account for just above 25 percent of Internet users and even fewer online shoppers, indicating strong future growth potential.

Competition within the e-commerce market is still dominated by China’s top two platforms, the largest of which is Tmall.com of Alibaba Group, taking more than 50 percent of the market share in 2016. Its main runner-up, JD.com, did however managed to increase its share by a few percentage points compared to 2015.

Sneak Peak: H&M's latest concept Arket

London - Curiosity concerning H&M newest retail concept, Arket, continues to mount as the retailer prepares to open its debut flagship store at 224 Regent Street, London and launch online this fall.

A post shared by ARKET (@arketofficial) on

Additional stores in Covent Garden and Copenhagen, Brussels and Munich are set to follow the opening of Arket's first store shortly as parent company H&M is said to be working with a new team of designers, buyers, pattern makers, architects, writers, and chefs to bring Arket to life. Designed to be a modern-day market which offers essential products for men, women, children and the home, Arket is set to offer high-quality, durable products at an accessible price point.

H&M shares more information on its latest brand: Arket

The stores will offer both Arket's in-house collections, as well as curated third-party products, "because there is no need to reinvent products that have already been perfected," said the label in a statement. "Arket's collection is complemented by the best from other brands - mainly of shoes, accessories, and homeware." Brands set to launch in Arket include Adidas, Clarks, Converse, Penguin, and Reebok.

A post shared by ARKET (@arketofficial) on

Arket's in house fashion collections will are be designed by a dedicated team working out of a design studio in Stockholm, Sweden and development to last a long time. "To attempt to make products with a longer life, we invest time in their development," added Arket. The archive, a common thread found throughout the new concept, acts as the foundation of the collections and sees the products blending seamlessly with each other, season in and season out.

Each new product, which is said to be "a perfect version of itself" will also feature a unique 9 digit code, to make make it easier for customers to find and re-locate products they wish to purchase online or in-store while acting as a useful tool to track all of Arket products. Sustainability is also another focal point for Arket, and is said to be a primary consideration for the brand.

Photo: Courtesy Arket

Arket to open second UK store in Covent Garden

UPDATE London - Arket, the new retail concept from H&M Group is set to open its second store in the UK, in London later this year.

The new store opening is set to follow on from the debut of Arket’s first flagship store on 224 Regent Street and online launch this autumn. Located at 27-29 Long Acre, Arket’s second London store is located in a former H&M store in one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations Covent Garden. The store is set to offer Arket own in-house array of brands for men, women and children as well as homeware in addition to selected third-party brands.

Read more on Arket debut store in London here.

Similar to the flagship store on Regent Street, the Arket store in Covent Garden will also featured an in-store cafe based on the New Nordic Food manifesto. “We’re very excited about opening our second Arket store in London,” said Lars Axelsson, Managing Director in a statement. “The historical Covent Garden district has a tradition of serving as a market that goes back centuries, so it feels like the perfect location for us.”

Arket to open second UK store in Covent Garden

The Market store in Covent Garden will be the third store to launch globally, as a second flagship Arket store is set to open at Købmagergade 33 in central Copenhagen, Denmark. The store will be located in a former post office, which previously served as the headquarters for the Royal Danish Mail. Arket is also set to open additional stores in Brussels, Belgium and Munich, Germany later this year, although exact details have yet to be released.

Photos: Arket stores in Copenhagen and Covent Garden respectively, courtesy of Arket

Intu launches accelerator programme

Shopping centre giant Intu, which owns Intu Trafford Centre, Intu Lakeside and Intu Metrocentre, has launched its Accelerate programme to seek the best retail start-ups and developing them in a 10-week “incubation” programme to “shape the next big thing for the retail and leisure market”.

Intu has stated that they are looking for “exciting start-ups” to join their accelerator programme, who can help Intu achieve its purpose of making its customers smile as well as helping its retailers flourish.

During the 10-week programme, the start-ups will be “fully immersed” in Intu receiving mentorship from senior leadership, as well as experts from across the business and tech worlds. Those selected will have unique opportunities to pilot and test their products whilst enjoying access to central London office space and potential investment.

Intu chief executive David Fischel said: “We have a history of spotting and introducing new ideas to the UK and we want to add a new level of drive and dynamism to the evolution of our shopping centre business, whether physical or digital. We’re also hoping to identify start-ups for potential investment which in turn will help us deliver a healthy return.

“Our business is moving at pace and, to help us answer many of the questions that face us and our industry, we’re looking for the smartest minds out there and the best talent we can find.”

Intu launches accelerator programme

Intu teams up with L Marks to launch start-up Accelerate programme

The Intu Accelerate has four categories for start-ups to enter. These include: ‘Enhanced retail services’ to help Intu’s retail services “be as responsive and agile as possible”; ‘The future of shopping’ looking for ideas that help “create compelling experiences on and off line”; and ‘Boost retailer productivity’ where Intu is looking for pitches that support and boost their retailers productivity while also increasing sales.

In addition, there is also a ‘wildcard’ open category for those start-ups that like to “think out of the box” to create “something different”.

The Intu Accelerate is being run in partnership with innovation specialists L Marks, which has also worked with other UK retail brands including John Lewis and Topshop.

L Marks chairman Stuart Marks added: “The retail sector is rapidly changing and has become one of the most dynamic and disruptive industries to work in. I know this is a unique opportunity for start-ups to partner with Intu and gain true validation for their product with the market leader. I am delighted that L Marks are partnering with Intu to help find the next generation of retail innovators.”

Applications are now open until July 2. The shortlisted start-ups will then be invited to the Pitch Day taking place on August 17, with the 10-week incubator starting on September 12. To finish off the experience there will be a ‘demo day’ on November 17 that allows the start-ups to present their proposals for future engagement with Intu.

Images: courtesy of Intu

Azzedine Alaïa said to set up shop in London

London - Azzedine Alaïa is said to be the latest luxury designer preparing to set up shop in London. The courtier is reportedly set to open his debut London flagship store on 139 New Bond Street in the face of increasing economical and political concerns linked to Brexit.

The three-story store is set to span over 6,000 square feet according to a report from WWD and is located near other luxury retailers Belstaff and Ermenegildo Zegna. At the moment Azzedine Alaïa currently counts two stand-alone stores in Paris and is sold a number of high-end retailers around the world, including 10 Corso Como in Milan, Saks in New York and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong.

The fashion house is currently stocked at a number of retailers across the UK as well, such as Dover Street Market, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and Selfridges. It remains unclear if the store will stock Azzedine Alaïa ready-to-wear lines as well as its accessories. The flagship store opening is set to come after Azzedine Alaïa launched his ready-to-wear line exclusively online on Net-a-Porter earlier this year, as the designer expands his offering.

New Bond Street, part of the West End of London, is rapidly becoming home to a number of luxury brands and is seen as one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. So it should come as little surprise that Alaïa is believed to be paying approximately 1,500 pounds per square foot for its store, according to sources.

The London flagship store opening would follow on from Parisian fashion house Chloé, which is set to open a store at 143 New Bond Street later this summer. Both fashion houses are owned by luxury conglomerate Compagnie Financière Richemont and believed to be expanding their international presence.

Photos: Courtesy of Alaïa and Net-a-Porter, SS17

Barclaycard trials ‘queue-less checkout’ payment

Barclaycard has begun trials on a brand new payment concept that allows consumers to buy low-value goods by simply scanning and paying for their shopping using their smartphones, without the need to visit a physical checkout.

The new ‘Grab+Go’ app technology transforms a smartphone into a ‘pocket checkout’, meaning that consumers can scan the items they want to buy with the phone’s camera as they pick them and then complete their purchase with a single click and walk out of a store. This concept the credit card and payment services provider states will save consumers time and allow merchants to serve more customers.

Usman Sheikh, director of design and experimentation at Barclaycard, said: “One of the key customer frustrations with shopping is the time spent queuing to pay for items they want to buy – especially when they are in a hurry. Using the latest technology, we’ve developed Grab+Go to streamline the shopping experience by removing the need to physically check out every time you want to buy something.

“The way in which people shop and pay has evolved significantly over the past decade, and as the use of mobile and wearable payments grows, we are constantly looking at how we can use technology to make our customers’ lives easier.”

The concept is currently being trialled by Barclays and Barclaycard colleagues in the staff restaurant in London with Northampton, Teesside and Wilmington in the US to gather feedback before a public roll-out of the technology.

Sheikh added: “An important part of this trial will be getting feedback from colleagues, as well as the operators in the staff restaurants, to further develop the product and proposal. Once the final version is complete, it will be available to our clients to help revolutionise payments in their own businesses.”

Image: via Barclaycard website

Jack Wills opens first store in Germany

British fashion and lifestyle brand Jack Wills has opened its first store in mainland Europe in Sylt, Northern Germany as part of the retailer's international expansion plans.

Jack Wills has been shipping to Germany since 2009 and last year it saw its online sales in the country grow by 75 percent. It has chosen Sylt in the north of the country as its first store location due to it being a luxury summer resort destination that it is popular across Germany and Europe, in line with its successful entry into the US through the popular and exclusive resorts of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

The new store in Germany forms part of Jack Wills’ international expansion plans and extends the brand’s physical presence into Europe, marking the first time that Jack Wills has opened a store in mainland Europe.

Commenting on the new store, Jack Wills founder and chief executive Peter Williams said: “I am really excited about the opening of our first store in Mainland Europe. Germany has been an increasingly important market for Jack Wills and in recent years we have seen a surge in demand from customers online. I am particularly pleased that our brand has been able to grow organically in the region.

“It is only natural that we look to expand our store footprint internationally as we grow as a business and look to reach new customers. Our increasingly international store portfolio provides a natural hedge as we look to reap the benefits of a diversified currency base in the face of a prolonged weakening of the Sterling. In the coming months we will look to open 11 additional international stores as we continue to export a uniquely British brand abroad.”

Jack Wills was founded in 1999 as a single shop in the seaside town of Salcombe. The brand has since expanded to become an international brand with 90 stores across the globe, including those in the UK, US, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Middle East.

Image: courtesy of Jack Wills