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Financial performance DebenhamsDepartment store Debenhams increased its gross transaction period over the 42 weeks to 19th June by 8.9% compared with the previous year including Magasin du Nord (“Magasin”) and by 1.1% excluding Magasin. Like-for-like sales decreased

by 0.4% over the 42 weeks. and continued to be impacted by c.1.5% by increasing the penetration of own bought trading space, which was predominantly undertaken in the fourth quarter of 2009, and by stronger comparatives in the third quarter of 2009.

Financial performance Debenhams Debenhams continued to make market share gains, particularly in menswear and childrenswear, which saw share gains of 20 basis points and 40 basis points respectively (source: Kantar Worldpanel Fashion 24 weeks market share data to 23 May 2010 vs. 2009). Womenswear share continues to be impacted by lower own bought sales densities. The department store further made progress against four key strategic themes: product strategy, multi-channel, new stores and store refurbishments and balance sheet.

The new designer collections Principles by Ben de Lisi and H! by Henry Holland have been well received by customers and performed in line with expectations. As part of Debenham’s strategy to increase own bought sales penetration, the company reached an agreement in principle to buy the Faith footwear concession business in Debenhams stores from the administrators of Faith subject to contract. There are 115 Faith concessions in Debenhams stores.

One department store has been opened during the second half in Carmarthen taking the current portfolio to 146 department stores, 13 Desire stores and six Magasin stores.  One further department store is scheduled to open before the end of the financial year in Bury, Greater Manchester in July.  In addition, six international franchise stores have opened in Azerbaijan, Egypt, Malaysia, Malta, Slovakia and the UAE during the second half with a further two expected before year-end.

The process of refinancing Debenhams’ debt facilities is progressing and the company expects this to be completed within the next few weeks, ahead of the scheduled date of April 2011.

Image: Debenhams

Gap Sales up 2 % in juneGap Inc. reported that June 2010 net sales were up 2 percent from last year. Net sales for the five-week period ended July 3, 2010 were $1.31 billion compared with net sales of $1.29 billion for the five-week period ended July 4, 2009. The company’s

comparable store sales for June 2010 were flat compared with a 10 percent decrease in June 2009.

CoGap sales up 2% in Junemparable store sales for June 2010 were as follows: Gap North America: negative 3 percent versus negative 10 percent last year and Banana Republic North Americ was up 6 percent versus negative 20 percent last year. Old Navy North America was flat versus negative 7 percent last year. International sales were flat versus negative 5 percent last year.

Gap stated June was a difficult month with lighter traffic than we anticipated,” said Sabrina Simmons, chief financial officer of Gap Inc.  “Looking ahead, we remain committed to our goal of driving top line sales balanced with ongoing operational discipline.”

Year-to-date net sales were $5.70 billion for the 22 weeks ended July 3, 2010, an increase of 5 percent compared with net sales of $5.45 billion for the 22 weeks ended July 4, 2009. The company’s year-to-date comparable store sales increased 3 percent compared with an 8 percent decrease last year.

The company will report July sales on August 5, 2010.

Stylesight extends forecasting through multimediaStylesight, an online provider of trend content, tools and technology for the fashion and style industries, has brought its forecasting to life through motion graphics, video and audio. "Stylesight plans to leverage multimedia content deeper

than any other trend service in the industry," says Frank Bober, Founder and CEO of Stylesight. "We're proving again that we're the leader in online trend forecasting and analysis through our continuous dedication to cutting-edge technology  and  actionable  trend  content.  We're continuing  to  change  the  game,  and  most significantly, we're changing the way designers work."

New York-based Stylesight extends forecasting through multimediaStylesight introduces the expanded multimedia offering as part of its ongoing commitment to offer engaging, inspirational product for its global subscribers.  Stylesight will offer a continuous collection of trend reports and industry analysis using the multimedia experience. Regular programming will include weekly trend reports with Stylesight's team of expert Trend Directors and in-depth presentations of select feature reports uncovering multi-market trends, global trend perspectives and need-to-know content; all of which will be available on Stylesight.com. Stylesight will also be producing targeted segments for key industry events and initiatives,shot on site, to be rolled out as part of an ongoing video strategy. Further plans to extend video production to its global channel partners (including Japan's Itochu Fashion System and Turkey's Cem-Sel) will offer Stylesight subscribers unique style perspectives from around the world. Stylesight's Video Content is currently available in English; all navigation and interface is provided in-language for easy access.

Stylesight.com is the premier provider of trend content and Software-as-Service (SaaS) designer tools, and the only online service available in Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Turkish translation. Stylesight offers its global subscribers the unrivaled ability to intercept, interpret and transmit the impulses of the style industry through its timely, relevant trend content and state-of- the-art technology.

Stylesight was founded in 2003 by former apparel manufacturer Frank Bober,  The company's subscribers include  retailers, designers and manufacturers.

Bottega Veneta takes Online luxury to next levelItalian luxury brand Bottega Veneta has revamped its website adding a visual refinement to the Online user experience. Be it shopping or browsing, the new site features a number of significant innovations, foremost among them the seamless

integration of the branding and shopping.

TBottega Veneta takes Online luxury to next levelhe aim is to give the customer a similar experience as she or he would have in a Bottega Veneta store.

“Our aim in launching the next generation of bottegaveneta.com is to establish Bottega Veneta as a premium luxury brand within the digital space, just as we have done in the world of bricks and mortar,” says Bottega Veneta CEO and President Marco Bizzarri. “Looking ahead, we believe there is enormous potential for cross-channel interaction that works to build brand awareness while enhancing the service we offer our customers.”

Clean, elegant layouts offer vivid, full-screen views of the merchandise. Shopping categories are organized to allow browsing by product category as well as by curated theme, such as Tomas Maier’s picks, similar to what one would find in the store. Toolbars and indicators reveal themselves in helpful but non-intrusive ways, while tools for sharing content are evident throughout the site.

Shopping directly from the online catalog is effortless thanks to a simple click-to-purchase function. And a useful track bar at the bottom of the page captures a tiny screenshot of the content that’s been viewed, allowing the customer to “flip back” to products and stories visited earlier.

One of the most engaging elements of bottegaveneta.com is the wealth of exclusive online content available and the variety of ways the customer can interact with that content, all in crisp, full-page view.

BE STUPID Diesel ads banned by ASAFashion brand Diesel have been banned from using two posters likely to cause “serious offence” to adults by the advertising watchdog responding to 33 complaints. The first poster featured an image of a woman holding open her bikini

bottoms with one hand and taking a photograph of her genitals with the other while a lion prowls behind her.

Be stupid Diesel ads banned by ASAThe second advertisement showed an image of a woman on a stepladder lifting her top and exposing her breasts to a security camera. Both ads displayed the text “smart may have the brains, but stupid has the balls. Be stupid. Diesel.”

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 33 complaints objecting that the ads were unsuitable to be seen by children, were offensive and condoned or encouraged behaviour that was anti-social.

Diesel defended the campaign in the following statement: “[the first poster] portrayed a very strong and unexpected image of femininity, aligning it with typically masculine themes such as the lion and that the confident behaviour in combination with the use of the text "Stupid has the balls" described her way of thinking.”

The fashion brand added: “[the second poster] showed the woman on the ladder in a non-exploitative way and that the message tackled society’s pre-occupation with 24/7 camera surveillance, yet in a light and non-threatening way,” arguing that “collectively the Be Stupid campaign was a rallying call to do things differently from the accepted wisdom and to live a life less ordinary.”

The ASA acknowledged that none of the ads showed full frontal nudity but concluded that the posters contained sexual undertones: “We noted both ads were posters and therefore appeared in an untargeted medium that were difficult to avoid and were likely to be seen by children. We considered the image of the woman in the first poster was likely to cause serious offence to many adults because it was clear that she was taking a photograph of her genitalia and that the image of the woman exposing herself on the ladder in the second poster ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence because, although her breasts were only partially visible, the image showed her exposing herself to a surveillance camera.”

The ASA also commented: “We were further concerned that the images of young women photographing their genitalia and exposing their breasts to a camera in a public place were unsuitable to be displayed on posters, an untargeted medium that was likely to be seen by children, because of the overt ‘sexualisation’ involved in the depicted acts.”

The watchdog ruled that both ads fell foul of the responsible advertising and the decency codes and should not appear again in poster form.

A further two ads from the same campaign, which featured in the magazines Grazia and Dazed and Confused, avoided the ban because they were unlikely to be seen by children because the magazines were aimed specifically at adults and both publications included material that covered sexual themes, which were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to readers.

Next fails to refund online chargesA BBC investigation has found that Next has been breaking consumer law by failing to refund delivery charges applied to goods bought online, but then returned. The BBC has also discovered that staff at other mail order companies

are giving out the wrong information about their refund policies. Under the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs), a customer returning goods within seven days is entitled to a full refund and the initial delivery charge.

These legally binding rules were introduced in 2000 to protect customers who, unlike high street shoppers, are unable to inspect goods before they buy them.  But Next has been breaching the regulations by billing customers for delivery costs - even if goods are returned within seven days.

When Next fails to refund online chargesthe BBC questioned Next, it said it would change its policy from the start of August. A spokesman said: ''During the last three years, Next has not offered a refund of the delivery charge.

"This was in line with our interpretation of the Distance Selling Directive. However following clarification from the European Court of Justice in April this year on interpretation of the Directive, Next is in the process of implementing the necessary changes to ensure that delivery charges will be refunded. "

Trading Standards said that since the Distance Selling Regulations had been legally binding in the UK since 2000, there was no excuse for not adhering to them.

Andy Foster, operations manager at the Trading Standards Institute, said: ''If there is a failure to refund delivery charges that is clearly wrong and we will interpret that to be a breach of contract."

Mr Foster said there were steps customers could take if the rules were not adhered to. "What they should do is approach the retailer and ask them to give them their money back or they can take their case to the small claims court. He added: ''The majority of businesses we speak to are law-abiding, but there is a small minority that
are not and those are the companies we need to take action against.''

Matt Bath, Technology Editor from Which? said many customers aren't aware of their online rights. ''People face an uphill struggle when trying to convince online stores to give them the money back that they are rightfully owed, the only recourse we have to complain to trading standards or go to the small claims court. Both are long and laborious processes and it's unfair that consumers have to go through that.''

If consumers do believe they have been unfairly charged, Trading Standards is now urging them to get in touch.

Eucalyptus' international expansion marketingHow to market a brand? With the numerous options companies have today, making choices is not easy. FashionUnited contacted Eucalyptus and got some interesting answers. Eucalyptus is essentially a womenswear British label, based in London. The

brand was officially launched in 2001 by Sonia Au-Yeung, founder designer and Managing Director. The company has been enjoying a steady expansion, growing from a local market (Camden Town) to supplying fashion boutiques, independent shops and trendy websites across the UK and now wider Europe and Japan. Eucalyptus participates of Europe’s fashion calendar at Bread and Butter (Berlin) and Pure (London). The label’s distinctive, feminine and contemporaneous designs have gained a strong following that keeps growing, thanks to a consistent and well articulated expansion plan.

Eucalyptus' international expansion marketingFashionUnited: How would you describe the roll of marketing in your company?
Sonia Au-Yeung: Marketing is applied in addition to the commercial activities developed by the company. The business is
developed organically and careful consideration is taken when promoting expansion and marketing activities. Eucalyptus believes in sustained growth and takes extra care in expanding activities, especially on the current economic climate.

FU: What is your expansion plan into new markets the coming year?
SA: We first stared working with a distributor in Italy in 2007. We have appointed distributors in Germany in 2008 and a
distributor for the BENELUX area in 2009. We feel that it is important to develop our markets through sustained growth, allowing time for us to build a strong and lasting working relationship with each distributor and country before moving on to develop another area. We are in the process of looking at representation through distribution in Spain and Scandinavia for 2010 and 2011.

FU: What are your expectations for the coming year?
SA: I expect trading in the coming year to be quite tough, but with the right strategy in place, we will be able to stabilize and grow our markets.

FU: What marketing tools do you implement to reach international clients?
SA: Eucalyptus international activities and clients are a result of trade shows that the company takes on a regular basis, being part of its budget calendar. The brand also employs international distributors (well structured and trusted companies), which are in part responsible for sustaining contacts in those countries.

FU: What tools do you use to build relationships with buyers both in the UK and abroad?
SA: Eucalyptus has recently been introduced to the social media tools, in addition to the brand’s website. They are fantastic in facilitating contacts and keeping costumers and admirers up to date with our events, news and launches. The press in the countries we operate are contacted on a regular basis and activities intensify according to the fashion calendar in those countries.

FU: How would you define your focus, online vs offline?
SA: Eucalyptus is essentially, a wholesale company, therefore, the brand does not sell directly online. Our focus online is strictly for brand awareness purposes, building costumers and press relationships.

FU: What do you need to increase brand awareness in oversees markets?
SA: We are currently working on celebrity placements strategy, as we believe it is the next step forward in reaching larger audiences.

FU: How do you manage culture differences?
SA: Eucalyptus’ designs are very wearable and easily translate to the contemporaneous woman. Being an independent and modern woman is an embedded global effect so; geography is not a barrier to how this specific woman sees our designs. We do however notice that certain styles are preferred in determined regions and countries. Whenever that is detected, the company prepares a suitable selection and adaptations if required. That way, we keep in tune with our markets.

FU: Can you tell us a little more about your latest success story (a milestone)?
SA: Eucalyptus has had a very successful story so far, with sustainable, firm and small steps. The latest achievement for the brand was to launch its sister label “Friday On My Mind” this year. S/S 10 has seen the 50s inspired clothing range to quickly take its own identity within Eucalyptus branding. It has been particularly important to the company to spot this market within its costumer base and successfully attend to the demand. Also, launching a new brand when many companies are retreating is an important factor that sets the brand apart from its competitors.

FU: What kind of marketer are you? Are you an inventor who uses their intuition to accomplish wonderful product innovations and designs? Or someone who successfully combines existing products and services to consumer wants and needs?
SA: I think we are very individual in what we do. We have a consumer pattern that we attend to and always take in consideration when creating and marketing our products. We implement innovations every season, being a new sister label, being the introduction of denim for the first time; however, we never loose sight from our faithful consumer base. Generally, our  designs have broad appeal and being based in a culturally diverse city such as London, we are aware of the many cultural differences, but feel that this is not generally an issue with our designs.

June retail spending cautiousConsumer spending at large department stores in June was relatively strong, but sales at other store chains in the US remained uncertain, said the Financial Times. According to Retail Metrics, June benefited from a late Memorial Day weekend,

seeing same-store sales at large department stores like Nordstrom and Saks rise 6.1 per cent on the year before.

For department stores in general, however June 2009 saw double-digit sales declines compared with the previous year.

June retail spending cautiousConsumers are still recovering from a shopping “binge” in the first quarter of the year, said Deborah Weinswig, retail analyst at Citigroup. Strong sales in March, which suggested that consumers might be ready for a return to their free-spending ways, turned out to have been a false indicator, she said.

“The feeling is that you had this binge where consumers starved themselves in 2008 and 2009, and they started to spend a little bit more,” she said. “But sales for June are probably going to be a little weaker than anticipated. Now we’re getting questions about a double dip.”

The June results are important, Ms Weinswig said, because for many retailers, June is the middle month of the quarter and its results will determine whether earnings will be strong, or whether they will have to resort to significant discounting to offload inventory in July.

For the most part, luxury purchases have outperformed general retail sales, said Michael McNamara, vice-president of research and analysis for SpendingPulse.

“In June, for the first time in 2010, there was a decline in year-over-year sales in the luxury sector,” he said. “This was the first decline since November 2009. The performance of the luxury sector is closely tied to the performance of the capital markets.”

Image: Nordstrom shopper
Source: Financial Times