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Fashion and lifestyle brand FatFace is set to expand its distribution operations with a new facility in Havant, Portsmouth, to help “drive” the business forward.

FatFace has said that it is in advanced negotiations with Portsmouth City Council to acquire a new 120,000 square foot distribution centre at Dunsbury Hill Farm, which will be bigger enough to support its growth in the UK and overseas.

Simon Ratcliffe, infrastructure director at FatFace, said: “For some time we have been exploring options to expand our distribution facilities in order to support the company’s ambitious growth plans. Having considered a number of locations across the UK, we have decided to maintain our commitment to the Havant region.

“The new site will support our expansion plans whilst allowing us to better serve our customer base. We also look forward to continuing our support for local employment in the Havant area where our excellent staff, which now total 300 people in both head office and our existing distribution facilities, continue to drive this business forward.”

The lifestyle retailer will retain its existing head office site at Ridgway in Havant.


Lululemon expands to Middle East

Lululemon has their eyes set on the Middle East as part of their expansion plan. On Monday, September 28, the company unveiled their first store at the Mall of the Emirates. Their plan is to open fifteen to twenty stores in the Middle East over the next five years as part of a licensing agreement with UAE-based Majid Al Futtaim.

In addition to the Middle East, the company is also focused on expansion in other countries such as Europe, Asia, and specifically in cities including London, Paris, Munich, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Beijing. Two more stores are expected to open in Dubai in 2016.

While the brand's offerings are still very much rooted in yoga, they've also expanded to athletic wear geared towards other physical activities like cycling, running, and cross fit. Five athlete ambassadors in Dubai have been chosen to represent Lululemon and help the brand connect with customers there. Lululemon currently has a team of over 1500 community ambassadors worldwide, who are currently very underused, but the company's CEO Laurent Potdevin aims to change that.

Lululemon opens store at the Mall of the Emirates

“We partner with ambassadors to learn about the community and they are also an integral part of designing product, looking at function and innovation and working closely with our global R&D teams,” he said to WWD.

Competition in the athleisure market is very tough, with athleisure being one of the biggest trends in fashion right now. The company's business plan revolves around developing new product ideas based on experiences around the world. For example, from entering the Australian market they learned a lot activewear for hot and humid climates, which allowed them to create better apparel for those markets.

The athleisure market might be competitive, but Lululemon is making all the right moves to continue their company's success. The Mall of the Emirates is in for a treat as Lululemon has made their landing.

photo:kochphotography.com

House of Fraser has added two new premium choices to its list of next day delivery options, namely pre-noon and afternoon.

The department store already offered two premium next day delivery options, namely an early morning and an evening delivery. The two alternatives that House of Fraser has introduced this week allows customers to place an order and choose to be delivered for 8 pounds between 9 a.m. and midday from Monday to Saturday or between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

"We are continually researching new options and investing in expanding our delivery services to make customers’ buying experiences as hassle-free as possible. The latest development in our delivery proposition strengthens our market-leading position. We’re proud to offer our customers a flexible and truly premium home-delivery service,” says Andy Harding, Chief Customer Officer at House of Fraser. In addition to offering the choice for a specific time slot, consumers can also opt to pay 6 pounds and have their order delivered the next day or another day between 8am and 8pm.

According to the press release, this move is part of their plan to develop a customer-centric business model. “Customers don’t think about channels anymore, they think of us as one business, whether mobile, tablet, or store. They want a consistent experience,” stated Harding on Retail Week´s website.

Research published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that 96 percent of UK adults now go online via mobile devices and 76 percent shop online, meaning retailers without a comprehensive mobile commerce strategy risk extinction, an e-commerce veteran has warned.

Dan Wagner, Internet entrepreneur and founder of Powa Technologies, which created the PowaTag mobile commerce platform, said that despite the vast majority of people shopping online: “A surprising number of brands and retailers have still not adapted their strategies to match consumer demand.”

According to ONS’s Internet Access report, 96 percent of UK adults access the internet through a mobile phone, more than doubling from 24 percent in 2010, while 76 percent of all adults in the UK made a purchase online 2015, up from 53 percent five years ago, stressing that retailers need to up their mobile activity.

“The advent of the smartphone and access to reliable mobile internet has changed the landscape completely in the last five years. In today’s always-on, mobile-driven culture, it seems hard to believe that only 24 percent of people accessed the Internet via mobile in 2010,” said Wagner. “People have become accustomed to the ability to browse and buy on a whim, and time is running out quickly for those brands without a comprehensive mobile strategy.”

Wager added: “It is not enough to simply provide an online store – brands must seek out new ways to attract and engage their customers through mobile devices wherever they are, whether walking past a shop window, waiting for a bus or browsing online at home.

“Mobile engagement also holds the key to uniting online and physical sales, creating a single seamless experience to match consumer expectations.”

New consumer laws have come into effect, with the aim of making consumer and retail rights clearer, including guaranteeing shoppers a full refund within 30 days of buying a faulty item.

The 2015 Consumer Rights Act is one of the biggest shake-ups to consumer rights in a generation, replacing the Sale of Goods Act, which has been in place since the 1970s.

In addition to entitling consumers to a full refund for up to 30 days after the purchase, the new law also protects digital purchases such as downloads and apps, gives shoppers the right to a repair or replacements, as well as making it easier for consumers to challenge hidden fees and charges, preventing companies from enforcing terms if they are deemed to be unfair - even if they are written in plain language.

In the case of a dispute, certified Alternative Dispute Resolution providers, such as the Retail Ombudsman, are now available to help as a quicker and cheaper alternative to going through the courts.

Business Minister Nick Boles said: "Whether it’s downloading music or buying a fridge freezer, the Consumer Rights Act makes it easier to understand your rights. UK consumers spend 90 billion pounds a month and it is important they are able to shop with confidence.

“These changes will also simplify the law for businesses so they can spend less time worrying about unclear and unwieldy regulations.”

Poor mobile connectivity costing retailers up to 1.2 billion pounds

UK retailers may be missing out on as much as 1.2 billion pounds in sales due to abandoned mobile purchases, according to new research from e-commerce service Webloyalty. Together with retail expert Conlumino they surveyed over 2,000 UK consumers this August to discover that 85.7 percent have had to abandon a purchase via phone or tablet, with nearly seven in ten citing internet connectivity issues as the main reason for leaving a purchase.

Those surveyed who did not claim internet connectivity as an issue laid the blame on the retailer's web stores - citing either a lack of optimisation for mobile devices (14.9 percent), failure to complete transaction (12.8 percent) or website crash (9.7 percent). An additional 2.2 percent complained the mobile versions of the web stores did not offer the full range available on the desktop website or in-store.

Over 40 percent revealed to browsing via mobile phone or tablet before making the final purchase via a different device, with almost a quarter of UK consumers claiming they do no think payments are secure when shopping via a mobile device. With only one in eight of UK consumers browsing via a mobile device making a direct purchase whilst shopping on-the-go, this indicates that shoppers are still adapting to mobile shopping.

"There is a call to action. Not only do network providers need to upgrade connectivity for UK consumers, retailers need to provide good quality, free Wi-Fi and ensure that their websites are optimised for mobile devices," commented Guy Chiswick, Managing Director of Webloyalty Northern Europe. "Mobile sites and apps need to be as functional as their desktop sites. Google’s algorithm update earlier this year means that customers are more likely to click through and make purchases from mobile-friendly sites."

"By offering faster, more secure payment routes such as one-click payments, not only would retailers benefit from the additional transactions, but consumers’ confidence in mobile shopping would increase even further.”

Anders Holch Povlsen, the CEO and sole owner of fashion conglomerate Bestseller, has his sights set on taking over the next redevelopment opportunity available on London's Oxford Street.

The Danish billionaire is currently seeking to purchase a number of assets located between Hanover Square and Oxford Street, for the neat sum of 172 million pounds according to Estate Gazette. The stretch of property, up for sale via investment manager M&G, is located on the iconic shopping streets and includes: 3-18 Harewood Place, 14-15 Hanover Square, and 293-297 Oxford Street.

Povlsen currently owns connecting property Oxford Street 301-308 and 309, suggesting he may be looking for a flagship location for one of Bestsellers numerous brands. The assets were previously selected for redevelopment earlier this summer with a potential final value of 400 million pounds. Once completed the redeveloped sites combined surface is predicted to cover 25,000 square of retail space and 75,000 square feet of residential and office space.

Wal-Mart Stores is planning to lay off hundreds of headquarter staff as part of the discount retail giant’s efforts to cut costs, the Wall Street Journal noted.

Fewer than 500 employees are expected to lose their jobs and an announcement could be made as early as Friday, according to an un-named source. So far Wal-Mart has declined to comment.

The cuts come as the world's largest retailer struggles to shore up its profit margins, which have been weighed down by a 1 billion dollar investment announced earlier this year to increase wages for half a million store-level workers and other cost pressures.

Top executives are due to present their strategy for the company at an annual meeting with analysts and investors later this month.

Vionnet opens first Paris boutique

new York - Vionnet will be returning home to Paris at 31 Rue Francoise-1er, just in time for Paris Fashion Week. The label, which in 2012 went under the creative direction of Gogo Ashkenazi, hasn't had a boutique in Paris for over half a century. The new boutique is located in close proximity to wear Vionnet's original headquarters was decades ago, as Ashkenazi wanted to do her best to stay true to the label's heritage.

The boutique was designed by architect Renato Mentagner who worked diligently to ensure that the space had as many ideas of the original atelier in mind as possible. Plaster-work on the walls recreated Vionnet's signature draping and a geometric-spiral staircase draws inspiration from her revolutionary bias cut.

Vionnet opens boutique at 31 Rue Francoise-1er

“For me, it was important to have those references, because I think our heritage is one of the most important parts and one of the biggest privileges that we have working with such a name,” Ashkenazi said to WWD.

The aesthetic of the boutique also drew a lot from Greek architecture. White travertine and crystal marble line the space, giving it a classic historic feel. Vionnet's signature bright blue appears on the terrazzo flooring on the ground. Illustrations by Thayaht taken from archives have been re-created for decor on Murano glass windows and carpets.

This store will be a blueprint for future stores, as Vionnet works on returning to its historic glory and reclaims its place in the fashion industry. A New York store is expected to open by the end of 2015, with additional stores planned for London and Tokyo. Vionnet will also launch e-commerce on October 15.

photo:Vogue UK

High street fashion chain Oasis has launched two new integrated e-commerce features, with the aim of maximising its social awareness and engagement, as well as bring its online and bricks-and-mortar offerings closer together.

Oasis My Way uses Olapic’s visual marketing platform to collect and share customers photos and videos from social media channels including Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #OasisFashion and places them into a gallery on the Oasis homepage. The software also allows Oasis to tag the featured products so visitors can shop straight from the customer gallery.

The partnership with Olapic also means that Oasis can request and receive rights for using customer content in email, print, in-store, online and offline and more, as well as measuring the influence of sales, conversion and engagement.

Oasis My Way launches across four Oasis stores: London Argyll Street, Birmingham Bullring, Glasgow Buchanan and Manchester Arndale.

The womenswear retailer has also launched a localised live fashion feed, enabling Oasis to show live content filtered by country or geographical area, to three of its stores in London’s Argyll Street, Birmingham Bullring and Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries.

The new social integration will use existing digital screens and projectors in the stores to show shoppers what has been bought online in their area in real time, a new unique proposition for the UK high street.

Briony Garbett, Oasis director of digital, said: “As we continue to respond to the ever-evolving shopping habits of our customers, we are thrilled to launch Oasis My Way in partnership with Olapic and our Oasis localised fashion feed.

“Both functions continue to support our mission to establishing an exciting and enriched omnichannel shopping environment that is equally aligned to our brand and trading values across online, social, mobile and in stores.”