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​Next to open Leeds flagship in former BHS store

High street retailer Next is set relocate its flagship store at White Rose shopping centre in Leeds to the former location of BHS store.

Next aims to invest 6 millions pounds in relocating and upsizing its current store 29,000 square foot at White Rose to its new location.

The new store, which is close to double the size of its current store, spanning 55,000 square meters, spans two floors and will offer the retailer's complete men's, women's, children's and homeware ranges. The new flagship will also feature Next's new store concept, which was developed at its location in Bluewater, Kent.

Set to officially open its doors in July, the new store opening comes as the White Rose Centre undergoes a larger overhaul and 65,000 square foot expansion.

Photo: Next's current store at White Rose, courtesy of The White Rose Centre

Struggling retailers seek silver bullet in Amazon era

Want a coffee while you shop? A glass of wine? Those are just few of the gimmicks being rolled out by retailers as they fight to boost store traffic -- and ensure their survival in the Amazon era. Stores are testing artificial intelligence programs to guide shoppers through their aisles, and swipe-right, swipe-left games, that borrow from dating apps to offer them personalized pickings.

Others have added coffee shops, restaurants and even alcohol in an attempt to drag consumers away from their laptops and back in the dressing room. "It has to be a better experience" and not just "a simple warehouse of goods," said Chris Donnelly, managing director at Accenture Strategy, a business consultancy.

"There's got to be more of an emotional, experiential connection." T he new tech and add-on perks look set to become even more critical following another bad holiday shopping season that has sharpened focus on the oversized US retail footprint. Experts predict some brick-and-mortar stores will survive the period of reckoning, but there will be fewer of them, and the survivors will be more customer-friendly.

Struggling retailers seek silver bullet in Amazon era

A recent Accenture report predicted the next decade will be "the golden age of the consumer," offering a "growing array of products and services, often personalized to their specific needs and wants." But with that comes disruption and Accenture warned of a painful shakeout ahead as old-fashioned malls close and jobs are lost.

Experimentation

Retailers are showing signs of the strain. Last week, Ralph Lauren Corporation announced the surprise departure of chief executive Stefan Larsson due to disagreements with the company founder. Tiffany's chief executive resigned this week. Macy's last month announced plans to close 100 stores and eliminate some 10,000 jobs and reportedly has approached rival Hudson's Bay over a potential merger.

Those woes have sparked a greater willingness to try new things. "There's just a lot of experimentation going on," said Steve Laughlin, IBM's general manager for global consumer industries. "I would argue not nearly enough." Industry insiders are bullish on greater use of hand-held tablets so employees can call up a client's purchase history or parry questions from well-informed customers about pricing and product information.

Retailers also are turning to data analytics, and IBM is working with them to make use of big data from smartphones on customer patterns, for example to see if shoppers are visiting the shoe department but not buying anything. Chains like Target and Macy's have even hired their own engineers to review data. But the new technologies come with risks. Nordstrom in 2013 said it was pulling the plug on a smartphone tracking program after some customers raised privacy concerns.

Struggling retailers seek silver bullet in Amazon era

Retailers also are divided on how to make use of ubiquitous mobile apps. Some view them as valuable tools -- notably for sending promotions or coupons to customers in or near their stores. But others say mobile apps can detract from the in-store experience. "When they come to the store, you don't want them to interact with the app," said Ronny Max, a retail industry consultant who specializes in behavior analytics. "The whole point of them coming to the store is so they can interact with the store."

Interactive dressing room

One new feature generating interest is the interactive dressing room, unveiled at Ralph Lauren's 5th Avenue flagship store in New York and a handful of other stores. The technology, developed at Oak Labs, a company started in 2015 by former eBay employees and others, gives customers an electronic link to staff while they are trying on clothes.

Customers can request different sizes and colors without having to get dressed again and go back into the store. "You've shown a lot of intent if you've picked up an item and gotten undressed," said Michael Franklin, co-founder and chief business officer at Oak Labs. The system also can translate between different languages, suggest complementary items and process transactions.

Oak Labs declined to provide pricing details, but claims the technology boosted average purchases by 55 percent in the handful of places it has been tried. Fans of the technology say it also can play a role in managing inventory and addressing problem items, such as a jacket that is repeatedly tried and set aside because of poor fit.

But analysts doubt that such deluxe dressing rooms can be a silver bullet for the sector: high costs mean there is little chance of them being rolled out widely in the United States anytime soon. (AFP)

Photo 1: Amazon Go logo, courtesy of Amazon

Photo 2: Courtesy of Denham

Photo 3: Courtesy of Harvey Nichols

Debenhams partners with modest fashion brand

Department store Debenhams will stock clothing from London-based women’s modest fashion brand Aab in selected UK and international stores, including United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

In the UK, Debenhams will host Aab pop-up shops within its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street, as well carrying the range in Westfield London, Birmingham Bullring, Manchester Trafford Centre and Leicester.

Debenhams partners with modest fashion brand

The partnership will also see Aab’s full collection launch in May across 14 international Debenhams stores, including locations in the United Arab Emirates and Asia Pacific in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iran, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Debenhams partners with modest fashion brand

These include prime retail shopping destinations such as Mall of Emirates in Dubai, Avenues Mall in Kuwait City, Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, Red Sea Mall in Jeddah and Starhill Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

“Adding the high quality fashion range to our product mix enables us to offer collections that are highly relevant in both international markets and to our domestic customers and is a step closer to creating a product offer that caters for broader customer needs,” said Debenhams trading director international Jeanette Whithear.

Debenhams partners with modest fashion brand

Aab founder and creative director, Nazmin Alim, added: “We started Aab almost a decade ago as a label that redefined modest fashion and one that caters for everyday modern wardrobe staples that are thoughtfully designed with the highest quality.

“The partnership with Debenhams opens up some very exciting opportunities for us. Debenhams is a quintessentially British department store and among the few department store brands with a truly global reach.”

Debenhams partners with modest fashion brand

Debenhams to stock Aab modest fashion brand in UK and international stores

Alim added: “With its international stores in prime retail locations, this partnership places Aab in front of our target markets in the Middle East and Asia Pacific, which aligns perfectly with our vision and future growth."

Aab launched in 2007 and offers abayas, hijabs, kimonos, long-sleeve shirt dresses and accessories. In March 2015 the brand opened its first standalone store in the East Shopping Centre in East London, followed by its second in Bradford.

Modest fashion is one of the fastest growing sectors in the fashion industry, with the latest Global Islamic Economy report forecast it to be worth 327 billion dollars globally by 2020.

Debenhams partners with modest fashion brand

This forecast expenditure is why mainstream brands and retailers including Mango and DKNY have already begun launching Ramadan collections to capture this market, while House of Fraser started stocking Shorso sportswear hijabs in 2015 and burkinis were stocked at Marks & Spencer’s last year.

This month will also see the first London Modest Fashion Week taking place at the Saatchi Gallery, organised by Haute Elan, an online retailer targeting Muslim women. The event will take place from February 18-19 and will showcase more than 40 modest wear brands including emerging local designers and international brands.

Images: courtesy of Aab

Hermes outlet malls report strong performance

Hermes Investment Management, which owns three outlet malls Clarks Village, Freeport Braintree and Junction 32, have reported a significant increase in sales and footfall in 2016 across all three locations.

Clarks Village in Somerset, Freeport Braintree in Essex, and Junction 32 in West Yorkshire, collectively saw sales increase by 6.7 percent and footfall by 5.8 percent over the year, said the investment management group.

In December 2016 alone, 1.1 million people visited the three outlet retail destinations, up 3.76 percent on the same period in 2015.

Gavin Murray, asset manager, Hermes Investment Management, said: “Our three premier outlet malls provide a compelling mix of shops, restaurants and an engaging experience, which is resulting in unprecedented demand from leading brands. In turn, this is driving a very positive response from consumers, with sales and footfall up at all three of our outlet malls last year.”

Hermes outlet malls report strong performance

The news follows the opening of a number of key retail and leisure brands across Hermes Investment Management’s outlet portfolio over the last 12 months, including The White Company, Wonderbra, and GBK at Clarks Village, as well as Hugo Boss at Freeport Braintree.

Murray added: “Looking ahead to 2017, we will be maintaining our fashion focused offer and providing places that people want to spend time, shop and also dine – complete day out destinations.”

The three retail outlets annually welcome approximately 10.6 million visitors. They offer a combined total of 262 stores and 20 cafes and restaurants, covering a total of 690,000 square foot.

Images: courtesy of Hermes Investment Management

Diesel to roll out wearable authenticity tool

London - Italian denim label Diesel is set to roll out a new verification tool which aims to authenticate its jeans in its fight against counterfeiting by the end of the year.

Diesel has teamed up with Certilogo to produce a heat-printed QR code label which will be attached to all its denim jeans. Wearers will be able to either scan the code using a QR scanner with their smartphone or enter the code in online at www.certilogo.com to verify if the denim is authenticate or not.

The Italian firm currently features the Certilogo QR code in its 5-pocket denim, which has been used by customers in more than 70 countries around the world.

Photo: Courtesy of Diesel

4 technologies that will change the retail landscape forever

London - Fashion as we know it evolves every season. The zeitgeist determines the trends, directions and silhouettes that we have come to expect to be updated season after season, year after year. But while the essence of fashion and design is to embrace change, the retail industry has been slow to adapt where it too must embody change. This time in the form of technology and connecting with a more empowered consumer.

Over the next decade, technology will be a key driver in transforming the retail industry and the consumer shopping experience. That’s the view from the latest report by the World Economic Forum and Accenture called Shaping The Future of Retail for Consumer Industries.

Consumers are changing the retail landscape

Consumers are already helping to drive the changing retail landscape, writes Jamie Murray Wells, the Industry Head of Retail at Google UK. They are becoming accustomed to, and demand, a rapid and seamless service. Consumers are already experiencing this with some current service models such as Uber, Amazon and Deliveroo which have set the standard high for other retailers.

Murray Wells states there are four main technologies that are predicted to be the most transformational for retail and CPG industries over the next decade: The ‘internet of things’ will gather valuable consumer data to create personalised experiences in connected stores while also driving efficiencies in the supply chain.

Autonomous vehicles and drones will help to increase the speed of delivery, both to store and to the end consumer and will provide savings on labour costs.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning will enable businesses to gather and analyse much more consumer data to help understand their purchase behaviour and buying patterns which in turn, will help retailers improve trend and volume forecasting;

Robotics will impact the retail sector via manufacturing, picking and packing in-store and through some in-store jobs such as shelf-stacking. Robotics will help to reduce costs and also free up staff to focus on consumers.

Connecting with an empowered consumer is a key driver

The key drivers of success over the next decade will be centred on building a deep understanding of and connection to the empowered consumer, promptly incorporating disruptive technologies, embracing transformative business models in both the of ine and online space, and establishing key capabilities.

These new and disruptive technologies will impact and improve the retail industry to ultimately benefit both the business and the consumer. But although the introduction of technology does offer exciting opportunities, it does also present some challenges. The investment in technology could be costly and businesses will have to ensure that they are realistic with their investments. They will also need to ensure that they have a motivated and skilled workforce who are trained to use the new tools and systems that will be introduced.

The full report highlights the game-changing technologies which will fundamentally change how retail and consumer brands do business over the next decade and shape new frontiers for physical stores, breakthrough approaches to e-commerce, new capabilities, and implications on society.

Photo credit:Shaping the Future of Retail for Consumer Industries report; article source: The Retail Gazette, WeForum.org

Weekday to open in London and Paris

Weekday, the Scandinavian brand owned by the H&M group, is expanding its retail footprint with store openings planned in London and Paris this spring/summer.

The stores will be located on Regent Street in London and on Rue Vieille du Temple in Paris' Marais district, said the brand, marking two new markets this year for the retailer.

Weekday to open in London and Paris

Launched in 2002 in Stockholm, Weekday currently has 27 stores across Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, and it has stated that it has a “strong expansion plan” to grow in its existing markets as well as expanding into new countries in the coming years.

“The UK and France have always been on the agenda for our European expansion, as both cities are fashion capitals. To open on Regent Street in London is a big opportunity for us, as it is one of the world’s premier shopping destinations,” said the brand’s managing director, David Thörewik. “Rue Vieille du Temple is the epitome of current and youthful fashion in Paris. We are confident that our modern and mindful approach to fashion will be a great fit for both these two new locations.”

Weekday to open in London and Paris

Weekday is known for its minimal staples and denim offering, aimed at “urban, conscious and style aware young adults”. It carries an extensive in-house collection as well as a small selection of external brands.

Confirmation of the opening dates will be announced in the coming months.

Images: courtesy of Weekday

Abercrombie & Fitch to debut new store concept

Ailing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is keen to revolutionise its brand image, starting with rolling out a new store concept. Gone will be the cloud of overbearing fragrance and mega wattage of thumping music, making way for a cleaner and more inclusive image to appeal to its twenty-something demographic.

The company is to debut the first new store in Columbus, Ohio on 17 February, echoing the brand's evolution and creative vision, the first overhaul of its retail concept in 15 years. Six other stores are expected to follow, as the company aims to reclaim the high street success it once enjoyed in the nineties.

Abercrombie & Fitch to debut new store concept

Abercrombie to use its logo from the early 1900s

The new store is designed by MJ Sagan Architecture and features separate shop-in-shops for denim and fragrance, innovative ‘suite’ fitting rooms, customer-friendly checkouts, omnichannel capabilities, and storefronts featuring a metal sculpture of an A&F logo first used in the early 1900s, “The new Abercrombie & Fitch store design illustrates a strong brand, with a rich history that is evolving and moving forward,” said MJ Sagan. “A cohesive material palette, an elevated collection and residential scale elements enhance the personal, more intimate aspect of the A&F shopping experience.”

“It is important that our stores reflect what the Abercrombie & Fitch brand is today, so we`ve created a new space for our customers, that is warm, inviting, inclusive and open,” said Stacia Andersen, brand president of Abercrombie & Fitch and abercrombie kids.

The store has taken on board experiential merchandising, and collections will be displayed to inspire the customer and showcase how pieces can be mixed together. A 36-foot concrete runway with 40 mannequins will be greeting customs as they walk in.“It’s very long and intended to be very dramatic,” Andersen told WWD. “The reason we put the platform down the middle of the store is that our customer loves to see different ways to mix and match.”

The roomy fitting rooms will be a draw for shoppers allowing for privacy with a friend or family complete with controllers for lighting, music and mobile phone charging docks.

Photo credit: Abercrombie & Fitch/p>

​Men continue to outspend women on Valentine's Day gifts

London - Back in the day buying a card, or a box of chocolates or even a bouquets of flowers was the norm for most couples on Valentine's Day, with 1 in 3 adults participating in the holiday each year.

However, over the years the amount couples spend on each other during this romantic day has increased to approximately 1.3 billion pounds, according to data from OnBuy, as the average spend continues to increase 1 million pounds year on year.

UK male consumers spend more than women's during Valentine's Day

New data shows that men still outspend women when its comes to buying their significant other a romantic gift. Men in the UK are said to spend 35 pounds on average on their partner's gift during Valentine's Day, with 1 in 10 spending up to 75 pounds or more. Men between 25 and 34 are thought to be the most generous of them all, spending 33 pounds on their partner on average.

​Men continue to outspend women on Valentine's Day gifts

Women on the other hand are expected to spend 20 pounds on average, with 1 in 3 women spending less than 10 pounds on their loved one's gift. Statistics from 2015 indicate that men in the UK spent a total of 622 million pounds compared to the 354 million pounds women spent, highlighting the difference in spend and sentiments towards the romantic holiday. 13 percent of women state they only celebrate Valentine's Day just because "everybody else does."

In addition, women tend to be seen as savvier shoppers and are more likely to buy gifts in advance or take advantage of any deals. 80 percent of the 2000 women and men surveyed by Onbuy added sales were crucial to buying gifts. Fashion and accessories also remain popular gifts for Valentine's Day as the three most popular sales items purchased for men were shirts, jumpers and aftershave and for women lingerie, handbags and dresses.

Valentine’s Day can definitely divide opinion, and can cause many couples – old and new - a lot of gift-related (or lack of) stress," commented managing director for OnBuy, Cas Paton. “My advice would be not to panic-buy, plan in advance and keep alert for any secret hints your partner may be throwing your way over the next few weeks."

Photos: Pexels.com

New research has revealed that 18 percent of shoppers have used their smartphones to pay in a shop, reflecting an increase in ‘physical’ mobile transactions, as just two years ago the figure was just 8 percent.

The findings from global trade body Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s annual Mobile Money Report supported by Wirecard, reveals that Apple Pay is one of the main reasons for this upturn as it is now available in 13 countries and has helped to raise awareness of the mobile wallet.

The biggest impact is in China, where 38 percent of Chinese consumers have made an in-store mobile payment, nearly double the global average. This is due to mobile wallets such as Tencent/WeChat and Alipay, as users frequently make QR-code based payments with these products in physical stores.

While in-store mobile payment gathers momentum, mobile shopping on apps and sites has gone fully mainstream, with the report revealing that 78 percent of people had made a purchase by mobile in the previous six months, up 4 percent on the figure for 2014.

Rimma Perelmuter, chief executive at Mobile Ecosystem Forum added: “The adoption of mobile money continues to advance. In developed markets, mobile payments and banking are driving a revolution in convenience. In growth markets, they are giving millions of people access to financial services for the first time.

“It’s important that the industry builds on this momentum. The research shows we can still do more to improve payment flows, improve consumer trust in mobile money to allay privacy and security concerns. But overall, the news is good: mobile remains the key driver of online commerce.”