British Land has written down the value of its retail portfolio by more than a quarter due to the Coronavirus ruling out most of its retail rental income. The lockdown pushed the shopping centre owner to a £1.1 billion loss for the year to the end of March - compared with a loss of £320 million the previous year.
Boots will unveil its first entirely digital global product launch alongside a range of new virtual services. Parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance is set to launch its No7 Advanced Retinol Complex Night Concentrate skincare products in the UK tomorrow.
Hammerson chief executive David Atkins is set to resign, as the shopping centre owner faces cashflow problems stemming from Coronavirus shop closures. He will remain in the post until the spring of 2021 at the latest to allow a search for his successor to be conducted.
A new startup has launched aiming to let users to go shopping together on the largest fashion e-commerce websites. Squadded is a Chrome browser extension which lets people register and invite friends, adding the social layer of in-person, in-store shopping.
As a result of COVID-19, 60 per cent of UK retail companies are overhauling their business strategies, with 42 per cent looking to invest in digital. This is according to a survey commissioned by LiveArea and conducted in May by Opinium among 500 business managers across various industries in the UK.
Aldi is launching an automated traffic light system to let people into its UK stores, limiting numbers and promoting social distancing. Following a successful trial of the technology, the supermarket chain will roll the system out this week. Each store will have a specific number of customers it can allow in at any one time to enable two-metre social distancing.
Retail technology provider TrueCommerce has entered into a strategic partnership with payments gateway firm Trust Payments to extend its services to business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce customers. The new relationship will enable users of TrueCommerce’s platform to implement Trust Payments’ payment solutions for all online transactions.
The prime minister has announced that non-essential retailers will be able to reopen stores in England from 15 June, so long as social distancing measures are implemented. Boris Johnson stated yesterday that openings would be “contingent on progress in the fight against Coronavirus” and retailers would have to adhere to the new guidance published for the retail sector “detailing the measures they should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards”.
Amazon Prime Day will be delayed until September to ensure its warehouses and logistics operations are running at full capacity. The Wall Street Journal reported that despite initial Coronavirus restrictions prioritising essential items being lifted, delivery times could still take month to return to the one and two-day pre-crisis norms.
Dixons Carphone has partnered with Age UK to help vulnerable older people tackle loneliness during the Coronavirus crisis. The technology retailer has provided 500 free tablets with internet connectivity and a dedicated technology support phone line to help older people connect with friends and family, access guidance on staying safe and keep up to date with current news.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that all retail sales measures had record declines in April - from 1988 when records began - for both value and volume, as many stores paused trading from the Coronavirus lockdown on 23 March. The record fall of 18.1 per cent in April, followed the fall of 5.2 per cent in March.
Clarks will cut 900 office jobs as part of a new strategy to revitalise the business through the Coronavirus. The footwear retailer has made 160 redundancies globally today, including 108 at its headquarters in Street, Somerset.
Shopify has announced a new range of products and updates to help merchants navigate the Coronavirus crisis. At Reunite, the company’s first virtual event for members, it gave details of Shopify Balance, a new bank account for merchants to pay in and take out money made in their online shops.
The co-founder of Boohoo has partnered with Avacta to develop a 10-minute home saliva test for Coronavirus. The antigen test will look similar to a pregnancy test, but will use a saliva sample rather than urine.
Marks & Spencer has poached George at Asda’s commercial vice president Stephen Langford as its new e-commerce director. He will start in the next few weeks, reporting to the retailer’s new clothing and home managing director, Richard Price, who is set to join from Tesco in July to lead the turnaround strategy for M&S’ struggling apparel department.
The "trauma" of the Coronavirus outbreak has meant that shopping may “never be the same again”, Marks & Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe has said, as he announced an expected £2.1 billion hit on clothing, home, food and international sales. In a trading update for the 52 weeks up to 28 March, he announced that profit before tax had slumped 21 per cent to £403 million, including an adverse profit impact of around £52 million in March, which was “largely attributed” to the impact of COVID-19.
Asda is trialling virtual queuing as part of more long-term social distancing measures. The supermarket chain's new system will allow users to book a place and log into a virtual queue with their phones. They will then be able to wait in their car and be alerted when they are allowed to enter the store.
The City Takeover Panel has blocked Crew Clothing parent company Brigadier Acquisition Company’s attempt to retract its £22.6 million acquisition of Moss Bros. The firm made a submission last month to retract the takeover offer made in March, seeking to scrap the deal due to the material adverse change in conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic on Moss Bros.
Facebook is launching Shops, a free service aimed at making it easier for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature and customise the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colours that showcase their brand.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has announced plans to re-open its flagship London centres when the government advises it is safe to do so. Across Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City - Europe’s two largest shopping centres - the group explained the phased return of up to 30,000 people back to work.
Mamas & Papas has launched the UK’s first virtual personal shopping service for new and expectant parents. The nursery brand has taken its personal shopping appointments online to ensure that even when stores begin to reopen, pregnant women - who are classed as a vulnerable group - have the option to get advice and inspiration without having to leave the house.
Regatta is migrating from on-premise infrastructure management to the cloud with Cegid’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) application. The Manchester-based outdoor clothing retailer is aiming to future-proof the business as it continues to open new stores. It currently sells through 180 stores across 11 countries, employing over 1,400 people.
PayPal is rolling out payment by QR codes in the UK and across 27 markets globally. The payments system, which uses a consumer’s smartphone to scan the QR code before directing them to their PayPal account, is intended as a contact-free way for businesses to receive payment safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Over 60 per cent of consumers have stopped buying from brands that ‘stalk’ them online by using their data, according to new research. A survey of 8,000 consumers in the UK, France, India and the USA by Arlington Research on behalf of data analytics solution provider Truata also found over three quarters (77 per cent) believed that data held digitally about them should be their own property, not an asset owned by a company.
N Brown Group has reported a 25 per cent decline in sales over the last six weeks and is sought new funding from lenders to survive in a “very uncertain environment”. The group, which owns JD Williams, Jacamo and Simply Be, saw apparel sales fall 48 per cent during period, although home and gifting sales were up by 74 per cent.
Prada Group is now using Sprinklr to drive its data-driven social advertising and engagement strategy. The Italian luxury goods group is now enhancing collaboration across global agencies on Sprinklr’s artificial intelligence-powered platform to increase return on advertising spend, reach relevant audiences and gain insight into effective marketing content.
As of 17 May, Apple has begun opening stores around the world, with 100 already welcoming customers inside again. A blog from retail senior vice president Deirdre O'Brien explained that in China, and globally, the tech company was one of the first to close stores.
Graticule Personalisation is launching Forage Lite, a retail technology allowing customers to order via text, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger contact-free from shops and restaurants during the Coronavirus lockdown. The service has been designed for restaurants, take-aways, grocers, retailers and other small businesses, and is currently being offered free of charge to all small businesses in the UK.
Aldi is trialling on-demand grocery home delivery in the UK for the first time, in partnership with Deliveroo. From today, the supermarket will offer a rapid delivery service from its Daleside Road store in Nottingham, before extending the trial to a further seven stores across the East Midlands in June.
UK footfall decreased by 84.7 per cent in April, a record decline for the sector during the Coronavirus lockdown. The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrak figures showed that footfall on high streets declined by 81.8 per cent year-on-year.
E-commerce sales remained 50 per cent higher than pre-lockdown levels during the week ending 11 May.
Retail spending data gathered by fraud protection company Signifyd found that sales of luxury goods rose six per cent for the week, continuing a run going back to 23 March, which has seen sales in this category up 45 per cent since 25 February.
Homebase has gone live with a new e-fulfilment order delivery service. The DIY retailer partnered with Wincanton to help create a more positive customer experience by enabling better communication about items ordered for home delivery.
Boohoo has announced a successful placing of £198 million - priced at 340 pence per share - in a deal led by investment banking boutique Zeus Capital. Following the fundraise, the online fashion retailer is expected to have circa £500 million in cash, "giving it significant firepower to rapidly execute attractive brand acquisitions as they arise around the world", according to a statement.
New research has revealed that 80 per cent of consumers think payments technology is now key to their purchasing decisions. A OnePoll survey of 2,000 UK consumers for FinTech startup Modularbank found that just 22 per cent of respondents did not require anything more in the payments process from online merchants when it came to choosing which retailers, telecoms and utilities companies to use.
Computer vision-based frictionless checkout platform Shopic has closed an $7.6 million Series A funding round. The investment was led by IBI Tech Fund, with participation of existing investor Entrée Capital and others.
With non-essential retail not expected to open until June and retailers prioritising immediate e-commerce initiatives to drive sales, the ability to keep up with retail disruptors is the greatest long-term challenge faced by retail businesses post-Coronavirus. This is according to new research from trade show RetailEXPO, which surveyed 2,227 retail professionals, finding that almost a quarter (24 per cent) saw keeping pace with disruptors as the top long-term challenge facing their business.
Following the UK’s first full month under lockdown, April’s online retail sales results have signalled a seismic shift in purchasing patterns, according to the latest IMRG and Capgemini figures. As COVID-19 shut brick and mortar stores up and down the county, online sales growth surged to a 10-year high – up 23.8 per cent year-on-year.
During May, H&M Group brands COS, Weekday, Monki, & Other Stories and ARKET will make their collections available online in nine additional markets across Europe. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Croatia will launch on 14 May, followed by Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus on 20 May.
Spending on 'isolation economy' categories of groceries, alcohol, entertainment and hobbies is running at £247 million per week during lockdown, equivalent to an annual £12.9 billion increase. However, average overall consumer spending has decreased by 31 per cent per person, equating to an annual fall of £215 billion, according to a new report from Legal & General and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
The Coronavirus crisis has helped reduce the value of Land Securities Group's (Landsec) property portfolio by nine per cent, or £1.18 billion, to £12.8 billion during the year to 31 March. The shopping centre owner, which manages Bluewater in Kent and Trinity Leeds, reported losses before tax up to £837 million from £123 million in 2018/19.
On a total basis, UK retail sales decreased by 19.1 per cent in April, against an increase of 2.4 per cent in April 2019. This is the worst decline recorded since the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG monitor began in January 1995, reflecting the effect of lockdown measures.
Lidl has launched a WhatsApp chatbot to help find the quietest time to shop. Customers in Ireland can now send a message to Lidl through the messaging app informing the chatbot of the day and time they intend to visit. It will then message back letting them know if that is generally a quiet, average or busy time to visit.
JoJo Maman Bébé is partnering with Monetate, a Kibo company, to deliver real-time personalised experiences for increasing customer acquisition. The children's clothing and accessory retailer is using artificial intelligence technology to deal with the challenge of rapidly changing consumer intent.
Morrisons has expanded its same-day online grocery delivery partnership with Amazon. The service will now cover 90 per cent of London and 10 of the largest cities across the UK.
Young Brits have shifted their spending from clothing and shoes to home and gardens during the Coronavirus lockdown, with spending in this category up 262 per cent according to new data from Klarna.
The payments firm analysed spending through its 5,000 retail partners in the UK to identify the product categories most often shopped for using flexible payments options.
Holland & Barrett has opened a new distribution centre to meet a 400 per cent spike demand for online orders during lockdown. The health supplement retailer has reduced its product lines by 2,500 for two weeks in order to clear its backlog - although orders still have a week-long lead time instead of the pre-Coronavirus next-day service. These delays have caused many customer complaints in recent weeks.
As the prime minister alluded to some non-essential shops being able to reopen from 1 June, industry stakeholders have warned that staff safety is what counts. In a speech yesterday evening, Boris Johnson said that as part of phase two of the government’s plan, “we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools”, adding that more detailed guidance would be given this week.
The UK’s retail sector has seen its largest ever decline in footfall last month, down 80.1 per cent according to Springboard's latest figures. This was almost double the already signifiant March drop of 41.3 per cent - with both clearly due to the Coronavirus crisis and implementation of a social distancing lockdown.
Website revenues - which fell by 37 per cent on 23 March, the day the UK went into lockdown - have risen by 57 per cent since the social distancing measures were first introduced. This is according to the latest data from BounceX (soon to be Wunderkind), which also revealed that week-on-week revenue performance was up 20 per cent for the period between 27 April and 4 May.
Asda has added nearly 50 electric delivery vehicles to its fleet as a response to demand for online delivery slots during the Coronavirus lockdown. The supermarket chain announced it will designate the electric vehicles to 48 stores across the UK to transport orders from stores to Click and Collect points, effectively expanding the number of potential slots from 7,000 to 34,000 per week.
Debenhams will close a further five department stores, putting around 1,000 jobs at risk. The shops are all situated in Hammerson shopping centres the Bullring and Grand Central in Birmingham, The Oracle in Reading, Highcross in Leicester, Silverburn in Glasgow and Centrale in Croydon.
Next year's proposed business rates revaluation will now be postponed. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed that the tax changes will no longer take place in 2021 to help reduce uncertainty for businesses affected by the Coronavirus crisis. Legislation had been introduced to bring the next revaluation forward by one year from 2022.
Ocado's retail revenues rose 40.4 per cent in the second quarter, as the Coronavirus crisis saw it deliver “significantly more groceries to households than ever before”. The online grocer has seen “unprecedented demand” for its deliveries during the last three months, causing revenue to nearly quadruple from first quarter trading.
Brompton Bicycle has partnered with Go Instore to launch the Live In-Store Expert feature, matching Brompton Junction product experts with online customers using an immersive live video platform. Staff can now work safely from the store during the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting online customers and giving product demonstrations.
Tomorrow Waitrose is opening a six-acre customer fulfilment centre in Enfield, North London, to double its online grocery orders in the capital by September. The site is creating 370 new jobs, building to 850 when at full capacity, by which time it will be adding 13,000 weekly delivery slots for London customers.
Following an in-depth Phase 2 investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has blocked the merger of JD Sports and Foot Asylum, stating it would "lead to a substantial lessening of competition nationally". The regulator added that this would leave shoppers with fewer discounts, or receiving lower quality customer service.
ASOS is accelerating the roll-out of its augmented reality (AR) app See My Fit, allowing users to accurately see what items look like in different sizes and on different body types. First launched in January, the tool digitally maps its products to 16 different real-life models with different heights and body shapes, ranging from size four to 18.
Back Market has raised $120 million in a funding round led by Goldman Sachs, Aglaé Ventures and Eurazeo Growth. The French marketplace for refurbished smartphones and electronics devices previously raised $55 million from Aglaé, Eurazeo and Daphni.
Tim Bray, a vice president at Amazon Web Services, has quit the company “in dismay” over its firing of employee activists who criticised Coronavirus working conditions. In a blog post, the man perhaps most famous for markup language XML, said that firing strike organisers Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa in April was “designed to create a climate of fear”.
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on retail will be the most significant event on the sector in living memory, according to EY. A new report from the consultancy has tracked changing consumer behaviours, identifying four distinct segments have emerged since the beginning of the crisis: 'cut deep', 'stay calm, carry on, 'Save and stockpile' and 'hibernate and spend'.
Halfords has partnered with digital commerce agency Astound Commerce to provide seamless customer experience. Founded in 1982, the motoring and cycling retailer now has 465 stores across the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Research has revealed that 54 per cent of UK consumers have used new forms of payments since the COVID-19 outbreak began, while 84 per cent globally are now thinking differently about how they make payments. This is according to a survey conducted by Paysafe among 8,000 consumers across the world.
Hotel Chocolat is accelerating investment and innovation plans for a digital and subscription model, as its store estate remains closed due to the Coronavirus crisis. In a trading update, the confectionary retailer said closing all its stores over what is typically a lucrative Easter period for the company had a “material impact on trading”, although no figures were given.
TikTok is testing a new 'shop now' button, linking users directly to advertisers’ e-commerce websites from videos. The social media platform is reportedly trialling it with a select group of advertisers and influencers.
Intu has appointed David Hargrave as chief restructuring officer and non-executive director. He has 33 years of experience in the transaction and restructuring businesses of the big four accounting firms, latterly as a partner at both EY and PwC.
Forrester has predicted that due to the Coronavirus, global retail sales in 2020 will decline by an average of 9.6 per cent globally – a loss of $2.1 trillion. The research consultancy also predicted that it will take four years for retailers to overtake pre-pandemic levels.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed that due to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis, it is "giving the industry an additional six months to implement Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) for e-commerce". The new timeline of 14 September 2021 replaces the 14 March 2021 date. The regulator stressed that firms are required to take all necessary steps to comply with the revised detailed phased implementation plan and critical path to avoid the risk of enforcement action.
With most of the UK's retail estate remaining closed for the foreseeable future, new data has showed that many brands are closing the sales gap through their digital offerings – with online sales in the UK increasing 27 per cent from the same time year-on-year and up 23 per cent from last week. Proprietary data from commerce experience firm Bloomreach revealed that despite potentially having more time on their hands, Brits are not wasting it browsing online before purchasing, with search traffic up 46 per cent year-on-year and search sales up 74 per cent from the same time last year.
Sainsbury’s has reported a two per cent fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £586 million for the year to 7 March, with a warning that Coronavirus could put a dent of more than £500 million into the current year’s profits. On a statutory basis, pre-tax profits rose to £255 million, from £202 million the previous year.
AO has partnered with location company what3words so that customers across the UK provide a specific address for their desired delivery place. The partnership will shortly be rolled out nationwide, with all drivers having access to the app and all customers able to share their what3words address.
Waitrose has appointed former Sainsbury’s executive James Bailey as its new managing director. Sky News reported that the hire was approved by Sharon White, chairwoman of John Lewis Partnership.
Shop prices fell by 1.7 per cent in April - compared to a 0.8 per cent decrease in March - marking the highest rate of decline since January 2017. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen's shop price tracker found that non-food prices fell by 3.7 per cent, compared to a decline of 1.9 per cent in March; making April's figure the highest rate of decline since the series began in December 2006.
Mintel research has forecast that the online grocery market will grow by 33 per cent in 2020 to reach an estimated value of £16.8 billion; up from £12.7 billion in 2019. This follows four consecutive years of slowing growth: in 2019 growth fell to a historic low of just 2.9 per cent.
Klarna has committed to support the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in its frontline response to COVID-19, by donating £1, $1 or €1 for every Klarna transaction placed at ASOS globally on 29 April. The initiative will take place in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
Marks & Spencer has secured funding to strengthen its balance sheet during the Coronavirus crisis. The retailer will borrow cash through the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility, and has also reached an agreement with its banking partners to “substantially relax or remove covenant conditions” on an existing £1.1 billion credit facility.
A.F. Blakemore has partnered with online shopping app Snappy Shopper to expand its home delivery service to vulnerable customers during the Coronavirus. The app is being trialled in four Spar stores in the Wrexham area, with plans to roll out across more of the wholesale and distribution businesses' shops by the end of April - including 250 of the 280 Spar stores it owns.
Farfetch has announced the fourth cohort for its Dream Assembly startup accelerator programme. The Coronavirus crisis means that it will be held in a completely digital format for the first time, so mentorship, networking opportunities and support over the coming seven weeks will be provided virtually.
The impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce retailers of fashion, apparel and accessories globally seems to have subsided in April, with total sales revenue rebounding on average 21 per cent higher year-over-year; after a 30 per cent fall in March. Visits are now up nine per cent on average compared to a year ago, with orders 30 per cent higher and the conversion rate rising by 12 per cent, according to analysis by Nosto.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has worked with the Usdaw union to produce guidance on social distancing for non-food retail stores - drawing on lessons learned by essential retailers in recent weeks. This builds on recent BRC guidance on the safe operation of warehouses and distribution and will allow retailers, whose stores have been forced to close, to be ready to operate safely once government restrictions are relaxed.
E-commerce technology firm Venditan has launched at £1 million grant for independent retailers to boost their online operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Manchester-based firm, which specialises in online retail and electronic point of sale (EPoS) software, is offering the funding to support small and independent High Street retailers looking to launch new transactional websites.
Monthly retail sales volume fell by 5.1 per cent in March – the largest fall since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) series began, as many stores ceased trading from 23 March following government Coronavirus guidance. Clothing store sales saw a sharp fall when compared with the previous month, down 34.8 per cent, while food stores and non-store retailing were the only sectors to show growth, with food stores seeing sales rise 10.4 per cent.
The Orion European real estate fund looks set to pull out of a deal to buy Hammerson’s £400 million retail park portfolio. The shopping centre owner said it “did not intend to complete” the transaction agreed on 21 February for seven of its UK retail parks, but it “remains ready and able to comply with completion obligations” and is in ongoing discussion with Orion.
The UK clothing and footwear market is forecast to decline by £14 billion this year due to COVID-19 disruption.Analysis from GlobalData showed that spending on clothes and footwear will plummet by 26.1 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.
In response to the pressures of working through the Coronavirus crisis, Tesco has made two mental wellbeing tools - Headspace and SilverCloud - available for free to all its 300,000 UK colleagues for the next 12 months. Headspace gives easy techniques to help users focus more, sleep better and stress less, while SilverCloud is an online self-help tool that gives access to a range of wellbeing advice in association with Nuffield Health - including on sleep, anxiety, grief and dealing with uncertainty.
Laura Ashley has been rescued from administration by Gordon Brothers, which has acquired the global brand, archives and related intellectual property. The global advisory, restructuring and investment firm stated that it intends to “place a strong emphasis on building e-commerce, developing more strategic wholesale relationships, and expanding the portfolio of licensees and franchisees globally”.
The NHS, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Ministry of Defence have begun work with eBay to create a new online portal to help ease some of the personal protective equipment (PPE) supply issues currently facing the medical community. The new portal, which is currently in a pilot phase, aims to help primary and social care providers to order PPE equipment from NHS Supply Chain.
Google is getting rid of charges for retailers to place their products on its Google Shopping search pages. Until now it has levied merchant fees for showing items in its shopping tab, but in a move to rival Amazon's dominance, Google is scrapping listing fees in the US starting next week - rolling out the change worldwide by the end of the year.
Brigadier Acquisition Company, the owner of Crew Clothing, is looking to pull out of its £22.6 million deal to take Moss Bros private, just over a month after agreeing the acquisition. The menswear retailer stated that its buyer was seeking a ruling from the City Takeover Panel to invoke a condition of its offer, following the closure of stores due to the Coronavirus lockdown less than two weeks after sealing the deal.
Boohoo's annual pre-tax profit have increased 54 per cent to £92.2 million, while during the 12 months to 29 February, revenue rose 44 per cent to £1.23 billion. The online fashion retailer reported UK revenue up 39 per cent and international revenue rising by 51 per cent.
Cath Kidston has filed for administration, closing all 60 of its UK stores and losing 908 jobs. Parent company Baring Private Equity Asia secured a pre-pack administration, which meant it bought back Cath Kidston’s brand and online operations from Alvarez & Marsal.
Tmall Global has announced that it will expand its help for international brands launching the Chinese market, with the aim of bringing 1,000 new retailers onto its e-commerce platform in the coming 12 months. The brand-incubation plan, announced as part of its Global Partners Summit, is part of a $200 billion, five-year-import program that the Alibaba platform unveiled at the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai two years ago.
A new app has been developed to informs shoppers about the size of queues outside their local supermarkets. Supermarket Check-In is available to download on iOS and Android devices, aiming to make shopping easier during the lockdown.
The Coronavirus lockdown has transformed shopping habits among UK consumers, according to new data which showed that 61 per cent of shoppers are visiting supermarkets less frequently, in favour of corner shops. A survey of 1,646 adults, compiled by YouGov, found that consumers have been visiting different types of shops to get their essentials, as pressure on supply chains and bulk buying led to almost all shoppers (93 per cent) struggling to find the products they needed.
Sainsbury's has selected Blue Yonder to transform its supply chain management. The supermarket will deploy new technology to power its end-to-end strategy on a single artificial intelligence (AI) powered platform.
The shortlist for this year's Retail Systems Awards has been revealed, with a range of innovative retailers and technology providers among those in the running. Across a range of new and expanded categories, the best and brightest businesses in the sector are represented. The ceremony will now take place on 19 October, still at the Waldorf Hilton hotel in London's west end.
Blueprint has announced a £1 million seed investment led by MAHR Projects, alongside Founders Factory and Hambro Perks. At a time when worldwide e-commerce adoption and digital payments are accelerating, Blueprint is ramping up the development of a conversational commerce platform which allows consumers to purchase products and speak to brands through a single SMS or WhatsApp message.
Amazon is set to launch a new Ultra Fast Fresh service to bring rapid grocery deliveries to 40 per cent of UK households by 2021. The e-commerce giant is aiming to merge its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service with its speedy delivery arm Prime Now, retrofitting nine warehouses to fulfil fresh orders, according to The Grocer.
Search Fresh, a web-shop startup, is calling for local retailers - including butchers, bakers, delis and florists - to register to sell their goods online during the COVID-19 lockdown. The site is inviting small businesses that haven’t traditionally lent themselves to online sales to join Search Fresh to offer their fresh produce to customers in the local area.
DFS is in the “advanced stages” of talks to secure a debt facility worth around £60 million to £70 million. A statement from the furniture retailer - which shut all its stores last month - explained that the funding would supplement an existing £250 million bank facility.
UK footfall decreased by 44.7 per cent in March, due to the mandatory lockdown; marking a record decline for the retail industry. British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrack data showed that in the three weeks prior to the lockdown on 23 March, UK footfall saw an average decline of 17.7 per cent. Whereas during the two weeks of lockdown, footfall saw an average decline of 83.2 per cent.
Waitrose has announced that the number of delivery slots available each week through its Waitrose & Partners Rapid service will more than treble, giving over 2.5 million households the option to use the service. The supermarket has also confirmed that by the end of next week at least 40 per cent of these new slots will be reserved exclusively for the elderly and vulnerable.
Following the government's three-week extension of the Coronavirus lockdown, businesses that turnover more than £500 million can now apply for support. A statement from the Treasury explained that loans to medium and larger businesses will be included in its £330 billion package.
Scottish technology company Neatebox is offering supermarkets across the UK access to new technology which it claims can remove the challenges millions of individuals are currently facing when they visit a shop during lockdown. Social distancing rules, queues, changing opening times and protected hours for key workers are just some of the new rules being employed by supermarkets to help protect both staff and customers from COVID-19.
Aldi UK will sell ambient food parcels on its website for the first time from today, in order to help vulnerable people and those self-isolating. The parcels will be for home delivery and contain 22 products, including tinned soup, rice and pasta. Each parcel will also include antibacterial handwash and a four-pack of toilet roll.
Iceland is increasing its online delivery operations to meet an almost 500 per cent increase in demand across some stores. Its Food Warehouse branches, which are typically two or three times larger than a standard Iceland store, stocking a wider range of goods, are now being brought online for home delivery at an accelerated rate.
Quiz and Dunelm have become the latest retailers to reopen online operations following last month’s Coronavirus closure. In a statement, Quiz said operations will be undertaken by employees who are willing and able to return to work safely, with a significantly reduced number of employees working in its distribution centre to enforce social distancing, meaning only a standard delivery service will be offered.
VibePay, a social payments app aimed at Generation Z consumers, is to launch its Open Banking services to business for payments and subscriptions. The app, which launched in Beta in October 2019, uses Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to enable payments via online checkouts and subscriptions, with the latter being popular amongst Gen Z and traditionally expensive to process.
On a total basis, UK retail sales decreased by 4.3 per cent in March, against a decrease of 1.8 per cent in March 2019 – the worst decline recorded since the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG began monitoring in January 1995. Sales before and after the lockdown on 23 March contrasted sharply. In the first three weeks of March, retail sales grew 12 per cent on a total basis, but declined 27 per cent in the last two weeks of the period.
As the Coronavirus lockdown started, online clothing sales fell 23.1 per cent year-on-year in March, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index; which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers. Digging deeper into fashion sales, menswear was down 42.9 per cent and footwear was down 32.8 per cent.
Oasis and Warehouse have filed for administration, with 202 jobs immediately lost and a further 1,800 at risk. Following earlier reports that the women's fashion retailers were preparing for an insolvency process, directors appointed Rob Harding and Richard Hawes from Deloitte as joint administrators for the whole company.
Ethoca has expanded its collaboration with Microsoft in order to bring the latter's customers access to digital purchase receipts through their banks’ mobile applications, via Ethoca’s Digital Receipts service. A statement suggested that it's not uncommon for digital goods providers to experience false claim rates of 80 per cent or higher from consumers who often fail to recognise their own purchases, or those of family members who have access to payment credentials.
The latest Springboard footfall figures have revealed an “unprecedented decline” of 41.9 per cent in March. The Coronavirus lockdown's inevitable impact meant that during the final three weeks of March, footfall fell an average of 61.5 per cent.
John Lewis has launched a range of virtual services to help shoppers access online styling and design advice via Instagram and video call. The department store chain said the services - launched today to support shoppers during the COVID-19 lockdown - include expert advice on fashion, home and nursery design, while further services, inspirational talks and learning sessions are planned to launch at the end of April.
Jamie Iannone has been appointed as eBay's chief executive, effective 27 April. Most recently he was the chief operating officer of Walmart eCommerce, and has over 20 years of experience leading digital pure-play and omnichannel platforms.
Next is partly reopening its online business after implementing new COVID-19 safety measures. The move also follows consultation with staff and the USDAW shop workers union.
Matalan is seeking around £60 million of investment after closing 232 stores due to the Coronavirus lockdown. The value fashion retailer is considering options to secure short term funding, according to a statement to bondholders seen by the Mail on Sunday.
As the COVID-19 isolation period stretches on, many formerly profitable retailers fear they may never re-open their doors, so a new local business voucher scheme is aiming to solve the problem. Saving Local enables loyal customers, who are keen to support their favourite local businesses to buy vouchers for products and meals now, for later use when the lockdown finally ends.
Mobile point of sale (MPoS) software startup phos has closed a fundraising round worth €1.3 million, led by New Vision 3 and other angel investors. The investment sees the total amount raised increase to €2.5 million, and will be used to grow the FinTech's development team to introduce new features like PIN on Phone, its Software Development Kit (SDK) and an integrated loyalty system.
The value of retail mergers and acquisitions (M&A) fell to $2.05 billion in February, according to GlobalData. The research firm's analysis found an 8.3 per cent slump in the value of deals in February, compared with January, as the COVID-19 outbreak began to impact investment and drive down share prices around the world.
Arcadia Group is looking to borrow up to £50 million against its distribution centre to sure up its finances through the Coronavirus lockdown. Sky News reported that Philip Green's fashion retail group approached banks and hedge funds about a new round of borrowing, using its Daventry distribution centre - opened last year as part of Topshop's logistics network - as collateral. It was not yet clear whether a deal had been reached.
Yoox Net-A-Porter (YNAP) has extended the donation of its delivery fleet to help charities fighting the Coronavirus in both Italy and Hong Kong. In addition, its London commitment to seven local Age UK charities has been expanded to include a second initiative, the Emergency Designer Network (EDN), delivering essential supplies to vulnerable communities.
As Wuhan - the city at the epicentre of China’s Coronavirus outbreak - prepares to emerge from lockdown, Alipay has launched a series of digital initiatives aimed at helping small businesses get back on their feet. The digital lifestyle platform run by Ant Financial Services, the financial division of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has set up a special section on the landing page of the Alipay app, to allow the platform’s 900 million users easily locate merchants and their respective products and services in Wuhan.
Tesco has revealed that Coronavirus-driven panic buying in recent weeks is behind a 30 per cent increase in sales, but added that the pandemic could also cost as much as £925 million through cost increases from payroll, distribution and store expenses. The supermarket chain's preliminary results included a COVID-19 update, which stated that a previously stretched supply chain has now stabilised and “more normal sales volumes are being experienced”.
ASOS has raised more than £200 million from shareholders to counter the impact of the Coronavirus on company finances. The online fashion retailer also said it would add £60 to £80 million to its existing £350 million revolving credit facility - which runs to 2024 - as well as negotiate changes to the covenant tests on that facility, and apply to access the Bank of England’s COVID-19 corporate finance support scheme.
Online retail saw transaction volumes soar by 74 per cent in March compared to the same month last year.
ACI Worldwide analysis of hundreds of millions of transactions carried out by global online retailers found that as millions of Britons headed online for purchases and entertainment, transaction volumes in online gaming saw a bounce of 97 per cent compared to the same time last year.
PayPoint has acquired full ownership of Yodel’s Collect+ parcel service in a deal worth £6 million. The acquisition of the 50 per cent of Collect+ shares that were owned by Yodel puts payment services company PayPoint in charge of the UK’s largest parcel network.
Nearly 90 per cent of consumers would prefer to shop in stores with 'touchless' or self-checkout options during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a survey of consumers aged 18 to 60 in the US by Shekel, a smart weighing and retail technology company, three quarters of consumers are now using self-checkout or frictionless micro-markets to pay for groceries.
Schuh has relaunched online operations in a move it stated was critical for the business to survive. The footwear retailer closed its stores and e-commerce website on 26 March in response to Coronavirus concerns around staff conditions, but will now start a staggered reopening of its online fulfilment operations after a formal risk assessment was completed.
Online retailers have been delivering parcels almost 20 per cent faster than usual amid the COVID-19 lockdown. Data from ParcelLab, a cloud solution provider for smart parcel and e-commerce deliveries, has shown that as the Coronavirus crisis continued to unfold in the last two weeks, the average speed at which parcels from online orders are being delivered has reduced from 2.1 days to 1.7 days.
Amazon could lose out on revenue of more than $100 million as it is forced to delay Prime Day by the Coronavirus crisis. The e-commerce giant’s annual summer shopping festival will now be pushed back until at least August, according to documents seen by Reuters.
Debenhams today has filed a Notice of Intent to appoint an administrator, naming Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey of FRP Advisory. The department store chain explained that the move will protect it from the threat of legal action that could have the effect of pushing the business into liquidation while its 142 UK stores remain closed in line with the government’s current COVID-19 pandemic advice.
WHSmith has raised £165.9 million, after placing 15.8 million new shares at 1050p per share, in an attempt to stabilise its finances during the Coronavirus lockdown. Chief executive Carl Cowling was among the investors, subscribing to more than 7,000 shares, which will be admitted to the stock exchange on 9 April.
Amazon has confirmed that it will distribute temperature checks and face masks for staff at all its US and European warehouses and Whole Foods stores by early next week. The e-commerce giant, which had recently reported Coronavirus cases among warehouse staff and faced several demonstrations, told Reuters it would use no-contact forehead thermometers at site entrances and send anyone home that registered more than 38 Celsius.
Topshop owner Arcadia has furloughed 14,500 shop and head office staff to cope with “challenging times” amid the Coronavirus shutdown. The retail empire owned by Philip Green - which also includes High Street brands including Dorothy Perkins and Burton - has taken the decision to furlough 14,500 of its 16,000-strong workforce in order to benefit from the government’s salary support scheme.
Intu is preparing to take further action against tenants which have not paid their rent and service charges, despite the challenges retailers have faced during the Coronavirus pandemic. Property Week reported that the shopping centre owner sent a letter to tenants informing them it would “take robust action where rent and service charge payments, contracted under lease obligations” were not paid.
The UK packaging industry is calling for its work to be granted ‘essential’ status from the UK government.
According to analysis from GlobalData, the packaging industry is seeing soaring demand for packaged food - such as tinned food and household essentials - but the workers needed to keep up supply are not able to work on site under current rules.
The Perfume Shop has become the latest retailer to shut its online operations due to the spread of the Coronavirus. Parent company AS Watson had already shut its 231 shops on 22 March, but now as many as 1,875 staff will be affected by the closure of warehouses and e-commerce teams.
Olive oil, outdoor play equipment and painkillers have topped a list of lockdown essentials, according to online retail stats from Criteo. UK data from Criteo’s Shopper Network, which analyses over $900 billion of global spending by two billion shoppers every year, has revealed the changing trends in the online shopping habits since the Coronavirus forced the nation into lockdown.
A new national initiative is set to launch this week, turning pubs into food shops and helping locked-down locals click and collect. The project - mypubshop.com from StarStock - gives pubs the ability to take and process orders online, providing them with a valuable income stream, while offering their local community access to essential staples such as bread, eggs and milk.
Morrisons has won a Supreme Court appeal over whether it was liable for an employee with a grudge who leaked the payroll data of around 100,000 members of staff. The supermarket took the case to the Supreme Court following a ruling in 2018 which gave the go-ahead for compensation claims by employees whose personal details were leaked.
IKEA has set up a drive-through Coronavirus testing centre for frontline NHS staff in the car park of its Wembley store and has committed to opening similar sites around the country. A spokesperson for the flatpack furniture retailer said: “Today, a drive-through NHS Covid-19 test centre has opened in the car park of our Wembley store.
Shop prices fell by 0.8 per cent in March, compared to a 0.6 per cent decrease in February, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen figures. Non-food prices fell at a steady pace of 1.9 per cent in March – which remains the highest rate of decline in non-food prices since May 2018.
The Coronavirus outbreak has seen a dramatic re-shaping of shopping habits, according to a new report, with e-commerce sales in the health and beauty industry outstripping other categories. According to an analysis of data from Forter’s global merchant network - which covers more than 100 global business and $150 billion in global commerce transactions - customers with more time to fill at home bought up to 50 to 100 per cent more in purchase volume on beauty and skincare in the week beginning 22 March.
BrightHouse has formally entered administration, putting 2,400 jobs across 240 stores at risk of redundancy. Sky News reported that the UK’s biggest rent-to-own retailer was in court to make its insolvency proceedings official after appointing accountancy firm Grant Thornton.
More than three quarters (76 per cent) of online shoppers have said that the account creation process can ‘make or break’ their future relationship with a brand. A survey of 1,014 online shoppers in the UK carried out by Trulioo, an online verification company, also found that 77 per cent of respondents were increasingly intolerant of poor online account opening experiences.
Ted Baker has promoted its chief financial officer Rachel Osborne to chief executive. She joined the fashion retailer in November - moving from the chief financial officer role at Debenhams - before being appointed as acting chief executive the following month.
NatWest is waiving monthly hire fees for Point of Sale (PoS) terminals from its payments product Tyl until the end of 2020, to support merchants during the Coronavirus crisis. The bank also provides next day settlement to users of Tyl, helping with cash flow during this difficult period for small businesses.
As the government’s home isolation rules kicked in last week, the immediate impact of the Coronavirus on online consumer shopping habits was laid bare, with online retail sales growth down 2.2 per cent year-on-year. This was according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.
Next, TK Maxx and River Island have all closed their e-commerce operations due to concerns around the health of warehouse staff amid the Coronavirus crisis. Pressure from politicians and trade unions forced the fashion retailers to u-turn on previous commitments to keep online sales going after the closure of stores earlier this week.
Fast, which claims to be the world's fastest online login and checkout experience, has made $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Stripe, along with existing investors Index Ventures and Susa Ventures. The US-based startup will use the investment to accelerate the global rollout of Fast Checkout - its universal one-click purchase product for e-commerce - and to further grow its product and engineering teams.
Following criticism of its ability to crackdown on price gouging amid the Coronavirus crisis, eBay has launched a series of measures designed to protect consumers and businesses, including a 30-day payment holiday for all 300,000 businesses registered on the site. The package also includes a fee waiver for listing or selling items for new businesses registering until 31 May and a pledge to crack down on sellers listing items at unreasonably inflated prices.
February retail sales were flat year-on-year, according to the Office for National Statistics, marking the lowest growth rate since March 2013. The data collection for the period was completed by 29 February, so largely unaffected by recent developments with the Coronavirus. However, a small number of retailers suggested that online orders shipped from China were reduced because of COVID-19.
The UK clothing and footwear sector will bear the brunt of the COVID-19 impact on retail, with 2020 sales down £11.1 billion on 2019, according to preliminary forecasts by GlobalData. Fashion retailers made up the majority of the High Street stores that closed down ahead of government restrictions earlier this week, with several admitting that buying new clothes and footwear was far from a top priority for consumers, wiping out sales of spring and summer collections.
Grocery sales in the UK for the week to 14 March increased by 22 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, as consumers stockpiled items during the Coronavirus self isolation measures. The figures are from Nielsen data, which showed household and pet care items saw the biggest year-on-year sales increase (65 per cent), followed by ambient groceries (62 per cent), while health, beauty, toiletries and babycare sales rose by 46 per cent, and frozen food was up by a third year-on-year.
The Retail Systems Awards 2020 have moved date to 19 October, due to event restrictions surrounding the Coronavirus. The ceremony will still be held at the Waldorf Hilton hotel in London, bringing together the most innovative retailers and technology providers in the industry.
Sainsbury’s has set out a plan to help smaller suppliers deal with financial challenges brought on by the Coronavirus outbreak. The supermarket chain has pledged to help suppliers facing cash flow issues, starting with immediate payment of its invoices immediately to 1,500 smaller suppliers which have less than £100,000 annual turnover.
Amazon Marketplace and eBay are failing to crack down on a spate of Coronavirus profiteering by sellers, according to a Which? investigation which uncovered a wide range of products for sale with inflated prices. At the start of this month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) warned that traders should not be exploiting the outbreak to take advantage of people through price gouging, and threatened to take strong action if the problem persisted.
UK retail footfall has dropped to all-time lows as the COVID-19 pandemic kept customers indoors and shops began to close. Springboard data showed that shopper numbers fell last week by 21.7 per cent from the previous week and by 28 per cent year-on-year.
Sports Direct has u-turned on its intention to keep its shops open in spite of the coronavirus lockdown.
The sports clothing retailer, owned by Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, had initially announced that stores would remain open, as it regarded sales of sports equipment as an essential service during the government’s stringent Coronavirus restrictions, as they could help keep customers “as fit and healthy as possible”.
The impact of Coronavirus will wipe £12.6 billion from retail sales this year, according to preliminary forecasts by GlobalData. The revised forecasts are predicated on the pandemic peaking in April with most stores either closed or severely affected until late May, with non-food spend starting to recover in June, but with more normal spending patterns not arriving until October.
The contactless limit for in-store card transactions will increase from £30 to £45, introduced as a measure in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, to reduce the need for physical contact with PIN-Entry Devices (PEDs) at points of sale. The new contactless limit will be operational at some stores across the UK from 1 April, but may take some time before it can be applied everywhere. For example, it may take longer to rollout at retailers who are currently operating at peak capacity.
Morrisons has turned off its mobile app and imposed a three-item limit on all online orders to help its website “work more efficiently”. The supermarket chain pledged to expand its online delivery capacity amid the “unprecedented challenges” posed by the Coronavirus outbreak, adding that it planned to take measures to cut in-store ranges by up to a third so that shelves could be replenished more quickly.
As government advice on limiting the spread of Coronavirus becomes more stringent, several High Street retailers have announced temporary closures of their stores. The growing list now includes Debenhams, John Lewis, Selfridges, H&M Group, the Inditex Group, the Arcadia Group, the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, IKEA, New Look, River Island, Gap, Reiss, The Body Shop, HMV, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Michael Kors, Oasis, Lego, Abercrombie & Fitch, Monsoon, Liberty London, Primark, Clarks, TK Maxx, Apple, Calvin Klein, Sweaty Betty and Boden.
Cath Kidston is looking for a buyer to save the business and around 800 jobs. The fashion and homeware retailer has appointed a restructuring firm to conduct a strategic review.
UK supermarkets have begun to roll-out opening hours for vulnerable customers and are set to focus staff on ensuring the supply of food and essentials in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Marks & Spencer has introduced dedicated shopping hours for older and vulnerable customers during the first hour of trading every Monday and Thursday in all of its stores and will introduce contact-free delivery for clothing, home, flowers, hampers and wine.
Following a very slow start to the year, the UK’s string of winter storms failed to stimulate online demand in February, as e-commerce sales for the month only grew by 0.4 per cent year-on-year. This is according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.
Starbucks is testing the use of cryptocurrency Bakkt Cash as a payment method. Adam White, president of the Bitcoin futures exchange overseen by Intercontinental Exchange, tweeted about the partnership yesterday. The global coffee chain is also a launch partner for Bakkt's dollar-denominated digital wallet.
Next is preparing for a “significant” downturn in trading due to the Coronavirus outbreak, with sales falling by 30 per cent this week. The fashion and home furnishings retailer’s results for the year to January included stress testing results in response to the pandemic, suggesting that it could “comfortably sustain” more than £1 billion (25 per cent) loss of annual sales over the full year.
The Hut Group (THG) has announced a new payments partnership with Laybuy. The online retail and technology company - which owns beauty and wellness brand including Glossybox, Illamasqua and Myprotein - will now offer customers a flexible payment platform to spread the cost of purchases over six weekly payments.
Inditex, the parent company of Zara, has announced the closure of 3,785 stores around the world in response to the “uncertain situation” caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. The Spanish-headquartered fashion group - which also owns retail brands including Bershka, Pull & Bear and Massimo Dutti - announced that the stores in 39 markets would be closed with immediate effect following a slump in group sales of 24 per cent in the first two weeks of March.
Ocado has been forced to close its mobile app and turn away new orders, in response to unprecedented delivery demand during the Coronavirus pandemic. The online grocer took its app offline yesterday citing performance issues “driven by continued high demand”, while a reported 1,000 per cent jump in website traffic forced it to inform customers not to wait, as it had “no new delivery slots for the next few days”.
The chancellor has extended the government’s one-year business rates holiday to all retailers as part of a package of economic support for UK businesses in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Rishi Sunak first announced the tax pause for commercial premises with a rateable value under £51,000 last week, causing some consternation that it did not apply to retailers of all sizes. Now, the change will apply across the board, starting in the next government financial year.
Laura Ashley has filed for administration, putting up to 2,700 jobs at risk. The fashion and lifestyle retailer had reportedly been in talks with Homebase parent company Hillco Capital to secure a £15 million emergency loan, along with an unspecified third-party to fund its immediate working capital requirements.
More than eight million people in the UK could suffer in a cashless society due to dwindling supply during the Coronavirus outbreak, according to new research. Analysis compiled by Blueclaw for A2Z Casinos found that it will become essential to curb the use of physical money in order to limit the number of infections, as pathogens and viruses can live on most surfaces for around 48 hours, and paper money can reportedly transport a live flu virus for up to 17 days.
Dixons Carphone will close all 531 Carphone Warehouse stores, resulting in around 2,900 job losses. The closures will be effective from 3 April, as Dixons Carphone focuses on selling mobile phones within its 305 larger Currys PC World stores and online.
Retailers expect to waste £146,000 due to poor e-commerce planning and £158,000 on e-commerce execution next year, according to new research. Digital commerce firm Greenlight Commerce and software-as-a-service platform BigCommerce questioned 100 UK-based e-commerce decision-makers within the direct-to-consumer (D2C) sector, finding that they expect to allocate £1.19 million on e-commerce projects in 2020, but almost a third (31 per cent) think they will miss at least some key objectives.
Starship Technologies has announced the rollout of its robot delivery service in central Milton Keynes (MK). The expansion was prompted by demand for the company’s service in other areas across MK - including Monkston, Emerson Valley and Bletchley - and is the first time that robot delivery has been made available in the centre of a UK town.
H&M sales have hit £5 billion in the first quarter of 2020, as the company moves to protect its profits from the Coronavirus outbreak. The Swedish clothing giant announced that sales were up by eight per cent in in the three months from December to February, while net sales in local currencies were up by five per cent.
Online growth has driven a 7.6 per cent like-for-like increase in sales for the Kingfisher Group during the year to 14 March. The home improvement business, which owns B&Q and Screwfix in the UK, stated that it experienced “no impact on demand from COVID-19”, with growth across all core markets.
Total UK retail footfall decreased by two per cent in February year-on-year, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ShopperTrak figures. Footfall on British High Streets declined by 2.5 per cent year-on-year, which was below both the three-month and 12-month average growths of 1.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.
Carrefour has partnered with Cash Converters to launch a 'shop-in-shop' concept. The French supermarket giant is testing the idea at a 100 square metre site in Les Ulis, with customers able to buy and sell secondhand items such as smartphones, video games, jewellery, computer items, books, CDs and DVDs.
Morrisons has partnered with Atheon Analytics to build a new data platform aimed at improving collaboration with suppliers. The SKUtrak platform will give easier access to more operational data from across the supply chain, to help improve product availability and reduce waste.
Amazon is set to open its first UK supermarket in the west London area of Notting Hill. The Times reported that the e-commerce giant is close to exchanging contracts on a 20,000 sq ft site at 66-74 Notting Hill Gate.
Mastercard has unveiled a pilot project with phos, introducing an innovative mobile solution that lets merchants accept contactless payments on Android mobile devices without the need for any additional hardware. The solution will enable millions of often cash-only micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to accept cashless payments and grow their businesses.
Intu Properties has warned it risks going into administration if it is unable to raise further funds. The shopping centre owner reported a loss of £2 billion for 2019, up from £1.17 billion the year before.
More than half (54 per cent) of Brits are interested in trying out new retail technology while out on the High Street, according to new research. A survey of 2,000 UK shoppers for Outform, a retail innovation agency, found that there are gender differences in interest in retail technologies, with men most interested in tablets and touchscreens (30 per cent) which allow them to find out more about product functionality. Meanwhile half of women said they would be keen to improve their shopping experience with the latest tech.
Debenhams chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste is to resign after less than a year in charge. Sky News reported that he will step down within months, with a search for his successor already started.
Wirecard and Klarna have launched a new enhanced joint payment solution. All three Klarna shopping methods - Pay Now, Pay Later and Klarna Financing - can now be embedded into merchants’ checkout via a single integration through the Wirecard digital financial commerce platform to boost average order value and conversions.
The government has confirmed that from 1 April it will introduce a new two per cent tax on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. The announcement of the Digital Services Tax in the 2018 Budget was followed by a consultation which closed in February 2019. Following today’s Budget, legislation will now be introduced in the Finance Bill 2019-20 to establish a Digital Services Tax.
Retail, leisure and hospitality firms will not pay any business rates in the coming year, the chancellor has announced in the Budget. Rishi Sunak stated that shops, cinemas, restaurants and hotels with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for the ‘tax holiday’.
Debenhams has announced its Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) plans have been upheld and legal challenges have been concluded. The department store chain groups faced legal challenges to its plans to renegotiate rates, close stores and restructure debt when it announced it was launching a CVA after falling into the hands of consortium of investors Celine Jersey Topco in April last year.
Amazon’s Alexa Shopping business has named Tesco technology veteran Paul Wilkinson as its new senior product manager. After nearly 10 years at the grocery chain, he will begin at Amazon’s London offices this week.
Consumer retail spend via chatbots will reach $142 billion by 2024, rising from $2.8 billion in 2019, according to Juniper Research. The market analysis firm identified the retail sector as a key beneficiary of advances in Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technologies, forecasting that this will be essential in providing a seamless retail experience for users and to establish chatbots as a reliable retail channel – as it enables chatbots to efficiently process human inputs and produce more accurate automated responses.
IKEA has launched an e-commerce store on Tmall, Alibaba’s shopping platform, marking the first time the Swedish home furnishings giants has sold its products on a third-party marketplace. IKEA’s ‘flagship’ online store on Alibaba will enable it to sell on China’s largest e-commerce site and build a wider footprint in the world’s second largest economy.
UK retail sales decreased 0.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis in February, when they had increased 2.6 per cent from the preceding year, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG figures. Over the three months to February, in-store sales of non-food items declined 1.8 per cent on a total and 1.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis. This was better than the 12-month total average decline of 3.1 per cent, but positively distorted by the inclusion of Black Friday in December.
Even though retail businesses have spent tens of millions on compliance, 88 per cent still have fundamental IT weaknesses that leave them vulnerable and potentially non-compliant. This is according to Tanium, which commissioned Vanson Bourne to survey 750 IT decision-makers across the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Japan and Canada.
New Look has poached Argos’ head of e-commerce to become its new digital director. Chris Corbin has been at Argos since 2011, being promoted to head of digital trading in 2018. He will now oversee the e-commerce and digital teams at New Look in a newly created role, beginning on 23 March.
Amazon is to launch a new business selling its ‘Just Walk Out’ technology to other retailers. In an interview with Reuters, the retail giant revealed that it is due to launch a website today aimed at selling the tech behind its cashierless Amazon Go stores.
Tesco has agreed to sell its businesses in Thailand and Malaysia to CP Group, following a strategic review. The disposal represents an enterprise value of £8.2 billion on a cash and debt free basis, with net cash proceeds of £8 billion before tax and other transaction costs. Following completion, the board intends to return circa £5 billion to shareholders via a special dividend with associated share consolidation.
Despite the trend of store closures continuing this year, 38 per cent of UK retailers reckon their bricks and mortar outposts are becoming more important to their business. Law firm TLT commissioned GlobalData to interview senior management at 100 UK retailers across food and grocery, fashion and beauty, home, lifestyle and leisure. To compare the retailers’ perspective with the consumer’s, it also interviewed a representative sample of 2,004 UK consumers.
Stormy weather last month caused footfall to fall 7.8 per cent, according to the latest Springboard statistics. The firm’s figures showed that more modest declines in retail parks and shopping centres suggested that the coronavirus outbreak was not a major factor in overall footfall decline. However, Springboard warned the increased severity of the Covid-19 outbreak in recent weeks meant it is likely to bring down shopping activity in March.
Retail industry venture financing deals worth $772 million were announced globally in January, according to GlobalData’s deals database. The value marked a decrease of 24.6 per cent over the previous month and a rise of 9.7 per cent compared with the last 12-month average, which stood at $704 million.
Like-for-like retail sales fell 0.9 per cent in February, according to BDO High Street Sales Tracker. The update blamed storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge, along with fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
Boots has suspended payments using loyalty points in-store and online after hackers tried to break into customers' accounts using stolen passwords. Customers will not be able to use Boots Advantage Card points to pay for products while the issue is dealt with, according to BBC News.
John Lewis Partnership is to cut its staff bonus to two per cent, the lowest award since 1953, as new chairman Sharon White revealed profits were down 23 per cent on last year. In a letter to staff, White announced that the business made profits of £123 million in 2019/2020, down from £160 million the previous year. As a result, a two per cent staff bonus, down from three per cent last year, would be a “prudent and affordable” award given the challenging conditions for UK retail.
Dobbies will digitise its entire indoor and outdoor plant range for the Spring after partnering with SmartPlant. The garden centre chain said the move is part of ongoing work to merge its online and oﬄine oﬀering and improve the shopping experience for customers.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that use of coins and banknotes could be spreading coronavirus. In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for WHO said: “We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses – we would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes, and avoid touching their face.”
Intu has given up on trying to raise up to £1.5 billion, blaming market uncertainty. A statement from the shopping centre explained that potential investors were discouraged due to “poor conditions in the equity market” and the retail property sector.
H&M is planning to shut down its Stoke-on-Trent warehouse, relocating to a new site in Milton Keynes, putting 500 jobs at risk. BBC News reported that XPO Logistics, which runs the Stoke-on-Trent warehouse, stated that the new Milton Keynes warehouse is due to open later this year – with employees given the chance to relocate.
Ant Financial, owner and operator of Chinese payments giant Alipay, has taken a minority stake in payments provider Klarna. This investment supports further development of their strategic cooperation, bringing more of Klarna’s solutions to consumers and merchants within the broader Alibaba ecosystem.
Tesco is to reissue 620,000 Clubcards after fraudulent activity left customer information exposed. The retailer emailed Clubcard members yesterday to explain that hackers were believed to have stolen username and passwords from another website and attempted to use the same details to access Tesco sites.
Business and IT decision-makers working in UK retailers are wasting over a quarter (26 per cent) of their working day on tasks that do not add critical value, with more focus needed on using digital and physical time to promote innovation.This is according to a survey of 2,500 such staff by Vanson Bourne for Dropbox, which found that retailers are engaged in monotonous administrative tasks, with nearly half (49 per cent) saying that increasing employee productivity is a main priority over the next 12 months.
Sustainable online supermarket Farmdrop has signed up to a three year software-as-a-service contract with warehouse management system provider SnapFulfil. The London-based company has moved to optimise its warehousing and distribution efficiencies, choosing cloud-based SnapFulfil for flexibility, functionality and configurability.
N Brown Group is consulting with around 120 members of staff over proposed job cuts as it pushes ahead with strategic transformation plans. Drapers reported that the fashion group, which owns Jacamo and SimplyBe, is cutting positions across the head office and other business operations, affecting around five per cent of total staff of 2,400.
Waitrose has started a national roll-out programme adding its online delivery service to 24 more shops across the country. A statement explained that these shops are strategically placed to handle increased demand for the retailer’s online shopping service in preparation for its split from Ocado.
Ocado has ordered a further 30 natural gas-powered trucks for its distribution fleet. Of that figure, 10 have already gone into service, with the remaining 20 to follow throughout the year.
Kingfisher Group has appointed a new group e-commerce director as it looks to boost online operations. Sue Harries is to take over e-commerce operations for the group, which has 1,300 stores operating under different home improvement brands in nine countries.
BrightHouse has put Grant Thornton on standby to handle a potential administration. Sky News reported that the rent-to-own retailer recorded a surge in customer compensation claims, which has put it close to insolvency – risking around 2,400 jobs across its 250 stores.
Amazon is testing customer service chatbot technology that could produce the first ‘generative chatbot’ capable of original dialogue in real time. A blog posted by Jared Kramer, an applied-science manager on Amazon’s customer service tech team, explained that the e-commerce giant is trialling end-to-end neural-network based chatbots.
AllSaints has partnered with Netacea for protection against unwanted web traffic. Its Enterprise Bot Management solution uses machine learning to analyse bot behaviour, identifying malicious attacks ahead of time in an automated way.
IKEA’s former vice president of digital transformation is to launch a venture developing augmented reality (AR) platforms for retailers. Michael Valdsgaard, who led work on IKEA’s Place app and AR platform, has founded London Dynamics to help retail businesses harness the technology to help customers visualise products in their homes via smartphones.
The UK’s e-commerce market, currently the third largest in the world, is set to be worth £319.8 billion by 2023, according to a new report from Worldpay and FIS. The data was collected using consumer surveys, business-to-business surveys and input from local research teams, with 45,000 consumers surveyed globally.
Homebase has returned to a £3.2 million profit before tax for 2019, compared to a £114.5 million loss in 2018. Like-for-like sales were up 2.6 per cent and gross margin rate was up 2.8 per cent over the year to 29 December, off the back of improvements both in-store and online.
Delivery company Yodel has appointed Helen Marshall to the position of chief information officer. She has been promoted to the position after holding the role of IT director, having previously been director the head of IT services and operations, and director of technology transformation at the business.
Klarna made a loss last year of £87 million, down from a 12.8 million profit in 2018, despite revenues increasing by 31 per cent to £570 million, with 75,000 new merchants using its ‘buy-now-pay-later’ platform. During 2019, the Swedish FinTech reported a doubling of users in the UK to more than seven million, and a sixfold increase in US users.
Tesco has opened its first cashless store, while also making changes to its in-store bakeries this week. The Tesco Express store on High Holborn in central London now has self-service tills which accept a range of electronic payment methods, including debit cards, credit cards and Apple Pay.
Shop prices fell by 0.6 per cent in February, compared to a 0.3 per cent decrease in January, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen figures. Non-food prices fell at a higher pace, down 1.9 per cent this month - compared to a 1.5 per cent drop in January - and the highest rate since May 2018.
As part of modernising its online marketplace, eBay is expanding its management of payments to the United Kingdom. Due for roll-out this summer, the company will offer buyers flexibility and choice in payment methods, and give sellers an easier way to manage their businesses.
Amazon is launching a new larger store format, spanning nearly five times the floorspace of its current Amazon Go cashierless convenience stores. The Amazon Go Grocery store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill will now accommodate shopping carts and feature around 5,000 goods – compared to the 500 to 700 stocked in the original format.
Online shoppers desire for personalised digital experiences is at odds with demands for privacy, according to Episerver. The digital experience company’s fourth-annual Reimagining Commerce report was based on a survey of more than 4,000 people from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and Sweden who shopped digitally in the past year.
Sainsbury’s has hired a former Amazon staffer to head up its e-commerce operations for clothing brand Tu. According to reports in Drapers, the big four retailer has hired Jessica Brown, who most recently led development of the Amazon Alexa as principal product management, after nine years at the online retail giant during which she held several roles, including head of fashion and senior program manager of fashion.
Hammerson has reported a £573.8 million pre-tax loss in the year to 31 December, compared to a £173.3 million loss over the same period in 2018. The shopping centre owner’s overall rental income fell 11.2 per cent year-on-year to £308.5 million, while on an adjusted basis, full year profits declined 10.9 per cent to £214 million.
PUMA has announced a global partnership with Emarsys to enhance its delivery of personalised customer communications across multiple channels and points of sale. Using Emarsys’ omnichannel marketing platform platform, the sports brand will be able to unify data from all consumer touchpoints throughout North America and Europe.
Asda has upgraded its ToYou e-commerce pick-up and drop-off service with new features, including a new website and automated parcel robots. Launched in 2015, the system lets online shoppers choose their local Asda store as a delivery and returns location when purchasing with 115 third-party retailers, including Missguided, ASOS, Feelunique, Gymshark and PrettyLittleThing.
The Insolvency Service paid out £346 million to former employees of businesses that became insolvent during 2019 – with the cost of payouts rising by 16 per cent to the highest level in seven years. A Freedom of Information request made by property adviser Altus Group, which detailed that the number of retail insolvencies in England and Wales rose by 3.9 per cent.
After a surprisingly strong Christmas sales period, retailer hopes of a continuation of such growth into 2020 were dashed in January, with online retail sales growth back in negative territory, down 0.4 per cent year-on-year. The latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index did reveal a few positive stories at a category level, with online beauty retail sales up 7.1 per cent – although this was relatively subdued in comparison to its average growth of 23.3 per cent in 2019. Meanwhile both home and clothing also saw increases of 6.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.
Bonmarché has reportedly been sold to Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group’s Peacocks. Drapers reported that the Philip Day-owned retailer has acquired the majority of Bonmarché assets, including stock and around 200 of its 270 stores.
Laura Ashley has revealed a loss of £4 million in its interim results for 2019, as the retailer seeks to turn around its finances with a £20 million loan from Wells Fargo. The furnishings and fashion retailer’s interim report for the 26 weeks to 31 December showed losses were up compared to 2018, which saw a £1.5 million pre-tax shortfall, while total like-for-like retail sales were down 10.4 per cent.
Lidl has committed £1.3 billion to expanding its store footprint in the next two years, as the discount retailer opened its 800th UK store. The latest store opening follows a period of rapid growth, with 50 new stores opening in the last 12 months and 16 new stores planned for January and February.
Retail sales grew by 1.2 per cent and 0.9 per cent in January, in terms of the amount spent and the quantity bought respectively, mainly because of a recovery from a weak November and December 2019. This was according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures, which also showed that when compared with a year earlier, both measures reported growth at 2.1 per cent for the amount spent and 0.8 per cent for the quantity bought.
Forever 21 has found a buyer, with Authentic Brands Group and Simon Property Group each acquiring a 37.5 per cent stake and Brookfield Property Partners taking a quarter of the fashion retailer. Authentic Brands stated that the acquisition will boost the value of its brand portfolio to $12.5 billion worth of global annual retail sales. There was no comment from the other two US shopping centre owners.
New research has found that experientialism is crucial to changing shoppers’ behaviour, and could even see them shun online giants and mobile buying in favour of more shopping in store. Global technology firm Epson commissioned Arlington Research to survey 9,750 adults aged 16-65 across 26 countries, who had attended an event or attraction in the last 12 months, finding that 65 per cent would change their shopping behaviour if more shops had an experiential element, rising to 82 per cent of Millennials and 80 per cent of Generation Z.
Beales is set to close its final open stores, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. Sky News reported administrators KPMG as saying that discussions were ongoing with "a number of interest parties" over a sale, but there have so far not been any "deliverable offers", so the process has begun to close remaining branches.
Loop, the online service that delivers refillable versions of big brand products, is set to launch in the UK next month. The Terracycle-owned company is already running in France, in partnership with Carrefour, and the US, in partnership with Kroger and Walgreens. In the UK, Loop is set to work with Tesco when it launches in March.
NearSt has raised £2 million in seed funding to drive more footfall into bricks and mortar stores. The Google-backed UK startup was founded in 2015 by Max Krejin and Nick Brackenbury, using technology to link products on shop shelves in real-time with nearby customers searching online.
Zalando has announced three additions to the company’s senior leadership team. Anne Pascual, who joined the e-commerce platform in March 2017, has been promoted to senior vice president of product design, responsible for “translating group strategy into an inspiring, uniting and leading digital experience”.
Laura Ashley’s Malaysian owner MUI Asia has confirmed it is in talks with its bank Wells Fargo over access to emergency funding. The fashion and furniture retailer revealed that sales fell 10.8 per cent year-on-year in the second half of last year, which it blamed on “market headwinds and weaker consumer spending”. Sales were flat for the first seven weeks of trading this year.
New research has revealed that 81 per cent of retail business have plans to grow and adapt in a post Brexit landscape, with one in 10 planning to move their headquarters to an EU country. Software consultancy ThoughtWorks commissioned research company Maru/Blue to survey a nationally representative sample of 1,026 British business leaders, finding that 19 per cent plan to diversify across more business lines and channels, while 24 per cent will take more business online to reach new audiences.
Reiss has partnered with OneStock to upgrade its omnichannel order management system. The fashion retailer, which operates 230 stores in 15 countries in addition to its online store, has chosen OneStock’s order management software to let it fulfil both digital and in-store orders from any stock location.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for pragmatic solutions on future compliance and regulatory checks that will apply from January 2021, arguing that without these, consumers will face higher costs and reduced availability of goods. The trade association’s new report outlined the retail industry’s priorities for the upcoming government negotiations with the EU.
JD Sports has adopted Laybuy’s buy now, pay later service for online orders in the UK, letting shoppers spread the cost of purchases over six equal weekly interest-free payments at checkout. Customers will also have the option to pay more upfront if their credit limit is lower than the total purchase order, using Laybuy Boost.
Marks & Spencer is set to shut two of its clothing distribution centres, putting 662 jobs at risk. The centres in Long Eaton in Derbyshire and Thorncliffe in Sheffield are set to close next year as part of a wider network restructuing to cut costs and improve stock availability.
N Brown Group has partnered with Oracle as it migrates systems to the cloud. The company in charge of JD Williams, Simply Be, Ambrose Wilson and Jacamo is working with Oracle Retail Consulting Services and will implement the Retail Demand Forecasting Cloud Service to maximize forecast accuracy for the entire product lifecycle.
Westfield’s parent company has scaled new developments pipeline and increased disposals, as net retail income fell across its UK centres last year. Unibail Rodamco Westfield reported a 4.2 per cent decline in like-for-like net rental income in the UK for the year to 31 December – making it the worst performing region for the group, as the US and continental Europe recorded growth of 2.4 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.
Over fifty major retailers have called on the government to take the first steps towards fundamental business rates reform in the Budget. The letter, coordinated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), focuses on fixing transitional relief – a component of the business rates system.
Mountain clothing and shoes retailer La Sportiva has seen its monthly online sales go from nothing to €85,000 after re-platforming with digital commerce platform Kooomo. The Italian manufacturer employs approximately 280 staff and has four stores in Italy and Spain, with distribution to more than 70 countries worldwide.
Standard Chartered is partnering with Australian FinTech firm Assembly Payments for a new e-commerce venture. The new company, which will be headquartered in Singapore, is aiming to develop “next generation payment solutions” for the $29 million e-commerce industry.
Sainsbury’s has opened a new On The Go city centre store, with plans to roll the concept out to other locations as part of a trial. Located in Mansion House store in the City of London, it combines fresh food and drink with convenient ways to shop.
The Glen Dimplex Group is rolling out a global e-commerce platform for its brands Morphy Richards, Roberts Radio and Faber. The consumer home appliances group has chosen commercetools to provide microservices architecture, meaning it can take a step-by-step approach to e-commerce development, releasing non-transactional product catalogues first and then adding transactional capabilities later.
Ocado has revealed a £214 million pre-tax loss for the year to 1 December, due to heavy investments in robotic warehouses overseas. Despite group sales increasing 9.9 per cent to £1.76 billion, the online grocery business’ earnings before tax fell 27.2 per cent to £43.3 million.
JD Sports has slammed the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after it warned that it could block the planned takeover of sportwear retailer Footasylum.The competition regulator said its investigation into the £90 million acquisition had provisionally found that it could result in a “substantial lessening of competition in the retail supply of sports-inspired casual footwear” across both in-store and online channels in the UK.
Retail sales increased by 0.4 per cent in January on a total basis, against an increase of 2.2 per cent in January 2019, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG figures. Sales were flat on a like-for-like basis from the same month last year, when they had increased 1.8 per cent.
New research has revealed the scale of many merchants’ problem with managing chargebacks in relation to card-not-present payments. Dispute management firm Chargebacks911 surveyed more than 200 online, multi-channel and mobile commerce merchants, finding that ‘friendly fraud’ - when customers contact their bank for a refund on a purchase they made without a legitimate reason - was the number one cause of chargebacks.
Selfridges managing director Simon Forster has left after just over a year in the role. The Sunday Telegraph reported that he left last week due to a loss of confidence in his leadership. The department store stated that he left to “pursue other interests”, while the paper quoted insiders saying it was a mutual agreement after concerns were raised over the direction of Selfridges and its culture.
Retail footfall declined by just 0.5 per cent year-on-year in January, with shopping centre footfall rising for the first time in three years. Springboard’s latest statistics showed an increase in footfall for both shopping centres and retail parks – 0.2 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively.
Marks & Spencer has expanded its Mobile Pay Go checkout-free payment technology to 50 stores, 49 of which are in London. The roll-out follows a trial across a selection of London stores - Edgware Road, Bankside, Waterside Paddington, West Hampstead, Canary Wharf and Stratford Westfield - where there was a Mobile Pay Go transaction every three seconds during lunchtime.
John Lewis’ new chairman has warned staff that there could be jobs cuts and store closures on the horizon amid tough trading conditions. Sharon White, former chief executive of Ofcom, used her maiden speech to staff to set out the “difficult decisions” the retailer is facing, following a lacklustre Christmas trading period, which left the John Lewis staff bonus in doubt.
Almost 2,000 appeals a week are made by companies over their business tax rates, according to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). In the fourth quarter last year, 23,660 premises liable for business rates appealed over their bills, bringing the ‘Checks and Challenges’ total by retailers, bars, restaurants and offices for 2019 to 164,050 since a revaluation of business rates came into effect on 1 April 2017.
Deliverr has secured $40 million in a Series C funding round, as it prepares to do battle with Amazon Prime in the quick delivery space. The funding round was led by Activant Capital, alongside 8VC, GLP and Flexport founder Ryan Peterson; bringing its total investment so far to over $70 million.
Amazon has given a preview of the design for 100,000 new electric delivery vans, as the e-commerce giant focusses on building the world’s most sustainable transportation fleet. A video published to the Amazon news channel showed clay models of the custom-designed van, produced by electric vehicle (EV) startup Rivian. The blue vehicle will feature Alexa integration with voice commands to help drivers finds packages in the van and central screen with a digital instrument cluster.
Marks & Spencer has appointed Katie Bickerstaffe as its new chief strategy and transformation director. She is currently a non-executive director of the company, and will make the move on 27 April, serving on the M&S board and operating committee.
Failed e-commerce projects cost direct-to-consumer (D2C) retailers an average of £174,000 last year, according to Greenlight Commerce and BigCommerce research. The pair commissioned a survey of 100 D2C retail decision-makers in the UK, finding that 98 per cent were facing some sort of e-commerce challenge, with nearly three quarters expecting the number of projects they carry out to increase this year.
WHSmith is partnering with payments platform Laybuy to offer online customers a buy now, pay later option. This will let customers spread the cost of online purchases over six weekly instalments on an interest-free basis.
IKEA has announced plans to close its Coventry store this summer, amid declining footfall as shoppers switch to online.It marks the first time the Swedish furniture and homeware giant has closed a UK store. Built in 2007, the city location was one the earliest examples of a new store format aimed at catering to changing customer expectations.
Wilko has promoted its group transformation director and online managing director, Jerome Saint-Marc, to become chief executive. This marks the first time someone has held the role since Stuart Mitchell stepped down in 2012.
Most shoppers are now ready and waiting for retailers to implement innovative payment methods and in-store technologies to improve their shopping experience. This is according to survey of 6,000 consumers commissioned by Wirecard and carried out in the fourth quarter last year in select countries in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas.
John Lewis & Partners is testing new augmented reality functionality in its app and over 123 of the shops best selling sofas. The Virtual Sofa feature lets users place prospective chairs and couches into a 3D scan of their own rooms, playing with different positions, upholstery options and colour swatches.
Retail chief executive turnover is at its highest level in seven years, according to new research highlighting the torrid conditions on the High Street. Consultancy Korn Ferry’s data suggested that the UK’s retail industry replaced 55 CEOs in 2019, up 25 per cent on 44 in 2018. The rate of churn is the highest since 2012.
Hermes has revealed plans to build a new automated parcel distribution hub in Barnsley. Due for completion in 2022, the £60 million development will be the largest of its kind in Europe and will create around 1,300 new jobs in the area. Up to 800 people will work on site during shifts.
Barclaycard has announced a new partnership with e-commerce platform BigCommerce to introduce an integrated payments solution for online retailers across the UK and Europe. Barclaycard’s infrastructure will integrate directly into the BigCommerce platform, which will allow merchants to have their payments system set up within days rather than weeks or months, with a dedicated support team from the start.
H&M has revealed that it will move towards using its 5,000-strong store network as logistical hubs for online stock, as the company looks to boost its digital growth. According to the Financial Times, the Swedish fashion giant will reshape its physical store strategy to reflect the growing demand for online shopping.
Online construction materials supplier CMO Stores has partnered with Peak to implement artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology into its six digital superstores. The Customer AI solution will provide predictive recommendations by learning from customers' interactions with the websites.
A majority (54 per cent) of UK shoppers don’t care whether customer service is provided by a robot or a human, as long as their issue is resolved fast, according to research from Genesys. The omnichannel customer service firm commissioned Vitreous World to survey 800 consumers in the UK, finding that 28 per cent would never deal with a bot, while 48 per cent use them for solving simple and transactional queries; such as checking a bank account balance.
Formulate has closed a late-seed round worth €3.7 million, led by henQ with participation from Industrifonden and J12 Ventures. The Swedish artificial intelligence-driven retail promotion platform will use the investment for international expansion and growing its team.
Farfetch has raised $250 million by selling convertible senior notes to Tencent and Dragoneer. Chinese tech giant Tencent purchased $125 million of the notes, while San Francisco-based investment firm Dragoneer bought the remaining $125 million, with the funds being used to execute its growth plans, including moves into the Chinese market, and driving towards operational profitability.
Amazon has posted a better-than-expected 21 per cent jump in sales for the Christmas trading period, as the e-commerce giant continues to reap the benefits of its Prime delivery service. The results for the final three months of 2019 saw $87.4 billion worth of sales, compared with $72.4 billion for the same period the previous year.
Laura Ashley chief executive and executive director Kwan Cheong Ng will step down from his position on 30 April, although he will remain part of the board as a non-executive director. The women’s fashion and homeware retailer’s current chief operating officer Katharine Poulter will succeed Ng in both positions, effective from 1 May.
H&M Group chairman Stefan Persson will step down after more than 20 years in the role, to be succeeded by his son and current chief executive Karl-Johan Persson. The clothing retailer’s full-year trading update further explained that chief operating officer Helena Helmersson will be promoted to chief executive, effective today.
Two thirds (67 per cent) of e-commerce companies say they feel they need to work with Amazon as it continues to dominate the online economy. A Censuswide survey of 503 senior decision-makers in digital commerce, for retail consultancy Wunderman Thompson Commerce, found that 72 per cent said that they felt compelled to invest more in their presence on the Amazon marketplace in order to remain competitive, as the majority of product searches are on its platform.
Frasers Group has got the all clear from the Belgian authorities over an alleged failure to pay a €674 million tax bill. The company formerly known as Sports Direct International revealed in its delayed full-year report last July that the Belgian taxman was “requesting further information in relation to, amongst other things, the tax treatment of goods being moved intra-group throughout the EU via Belgium”.
December saw $2.78 billion worth of retail industry mergers and acquisitions (M&A), according to GlobalData. The data platform’s deals database registered an increase of 127.7 per cent in the last month of 2019, compared to the previous month, although this represented a fall of 41.5 per cent compared to the previous 12-month average, which stood at $4.75 billion.
The Debenhams Group has appointed Stephen Sunnucks as a non-executive director of parent company Celine Jersey Topco. He joins the retailer as it pushes ahead with its Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) programme of store closures aimed at restructuring the company’s finances.
Adoption of point of sale (PoS) credit services remains low, but the speed at which consumers are signing up for them means the £10 billion market is growing at more than 15 per cent per year. This is according to research by consulting firm Kearney, which surveyed 2,239 UK consumers in the autumn, which showed that 41 per cent have never used PoS credit services, and those who so use them do so infrequently – on average only 2.4 times during the past five years.
Shop prices fell by 0.3 per cent in January, compared to a 0.4 per cent decrease in December. The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen figures showed that non-food prices fell by 1.5 per cent in January, the same rate of decrease as in December.
New York’s city council has approved new legislation which will see any retailer which does not accept physical currency face a significant fine. After being voted in almost unanimously, the bill is now awaiting approval from New York mayor Bill De Blasio before being enforced across the city.
Sainsbury’s has announced plans to invest £1 billion towards making its operations emit a ‘net zero’ of emissions by 2040. The supermarket chain stated it would take action to cut carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water use, while increasing recycling and sustainable initiatives.
Reiss has reported an 18 per cent rise in like-for-like sales over the Christmas trading period, as owner Warburg Pincus continues its search for a buyer. The upmarket fashion retailer said total group sales were up 21 per cent in the seven weeks to 18 January, defying the wider performance on the UK High Street over the festive period.
Nearly 10,000 retail jobs have been lost in the first three weeks of 2020, according to new research.Data from the Centre for Retail Research and Altus Group found that 9,949 retail roles have already been axed this year, as a swathe of brands shuttered stores to mark the start of another torrid year for the UK High Street.
Iceland has become the latest UK supermarket to start a restructuring review, although it has promised no “major reductions” across its 25,000-strong workforce. A statement from the discount chain explained the review is to ensure it is running the “business as efficiently and economically as possible”.
Tesco is using Ocado’s tech partner Swisslog to help roll-out automated robots at its logistics centres across the UK. According to The Grocer, Swisslog will provide an automated pallet retrieval and storage system, using machines riding on conveyor belts to pick up and drop off products.
Morrisons is to axe 3,000 manager roles to boost its shop-floor workforce by 7,000. The big four supermarket said the managerial staff affected will either leave the company or see their roles downgraded, as the chain looks to reorient its business model to “serve customers better”.
As automation technology matures, it is increasingly becoming a point of competitive advantage for retailers, with consumers responding positively to the improved convenience, according to the Capgemini Research Institute. During October and November, it surveyed 5,110 consumers across North America, Europe and Asia, along with 500 senior executives at director level and above, spread across the world. Retail sub-sectors included: electronics, grocery, home improvement, fashion and quick service restaurants.
As shoppers continue to shift away from visiting physical stores and towards digital channels, UK online spend is set to reach £75 billion by 2024, rising 30.4 per cent over the next five years. This is according to GlobalData, whose latest report suggested that the online channel will account for 19.8 per cent of UK retail spend by 2024, with clothing and footwear remaining the largest product sector.
Revenues at Asos reached £1 billion during the Black Friday and Christmas Trading period thanks to the return of “customer momentum”. A trading update posted by the e-commerce fashion brand disclosed a 20 per cent rise in retail sales in the four months to 31 December to £1.1 billion, with a good performance across all regions. UK retail sales came in at £408.9 million for the period.
The total global annual spend on point of sale (PoS) software by retail and restaurant businesses will grow to $1.7 billion in 2024 from $1.1 billion in 2019. According to Juniper Research, this growth will be fuelled by the increasing availability of app integrations, such as Shopify and QuickBooks, as vendors expand and seek to augment their capabilities through partnerships and consolidation.
Mothercare chief executive Mark Newton-Jones has today stepped down as part of the embattled retailer’s transformation plans. Chief financial officer Glyn Hughes has been drafted in as interim chief executive officer with immediate effect, with Newton-Jones due to remain as an executive director until July.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, the total number of retail employees fell by 1.8 per cent year-on-year, marking the 16th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline in the retail workforce. According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), this decline in retail employees year-on-year, when applied to the Office for National Statistics fourth quarter 2018 figure of 3,183,000 employees, equates to 57,000 job losses since then.
UK online retail sales growth spiked to 9.4 per cent year-on-year in December, bringing 2019 to a close with a strong Christmas trading period. This was according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.
Marks & Spencer has expanded its retail, operations and property leadership team with the appointment of Will Smith as property director and Helen Milford as retail director. Both will report into retail, operations and property director Sacha Berendji, who commented: “Building a store estate that’s fit for the future with industry-leading store operations and empowered colleagues is a key part of our transformation programme.”
Visa is joining with its partner banks to launch an industry-wise ‘access to cash’ scheme aimed at incentivising retailers to offer cashback in areas of UK where ATMs and bank branches are limited. The new initiative will incentivise shops and businesses to offer cashback to consumers using their Visa debit cards, prioritising rural and remote communities. It is hoped to also encourage individuals to visit and shop in their local communities, driving footfall and revenue for independent retailers.
Reiss has reported a four per cent sales rise as a direct result of the increase in stock accuracy from implementing a new RFID solution. The fashion retailer completed its roll-out of a Detego solution in May last year, in partnership with technology consultants Retail247.
Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe is set to leave after six years in the role, along with cuts to several other head office positions. A statement explained that he would remain in post until the end of May, after which he will be replaced by current retail and operations director Simon Roberts from 1 June.
The number of profit warnings issued by UK companies hit an “exceptionally high” level in 2019, with a third of FTSE-listed retailers raising the alarm, according to EY. The quarterly profit warnings report from the professional services firm found that a total of 313 warnings were issued by FTSE-listed companies in 2019, up nine per cent on the 287 issued in 2018.
While half of the British public are comfortable using facial recognition to unlock their phones, only a third are willing to use the technology to pay for goods and services. OnBuy analysed the latest findings from Mindshare, which surveyed 5,000 Brits to discover how comfortable they are using biometric systems which capture the geometry of an individual’s face to verify and authenticate them.
Annual revenues from tokenised mobile payments - where account details are replaced with data useless to fraudsters - are set to exceed $40 billion by 2024, growing from an estimated $17 billion in 2019. Of this, over $30 billion will be through remote e-commerce, rather than contactless payments at the point of sale.
Amazon is working with Visa to develop a contactless biometric identification system to let customers to pay by waving their hands through a scanner. The Wall Street Journal reported that the e-commerce giant is working with Visa, and is in discussions with MasterCard, to test its hand scanner terminals, which will digitally map a shopper’s hand, link it to their credit card and allow them to pay with a wave.
Asda is testing 3D holograms, electronic shelf labels and other new technologies to try and make both its staff’s lives easier and customers’ shopping experience better. The grocery chain’s Stevenage store is a testbed for more than 20 different initiatives, including 3D holographic signs in the store’s bakery department which advertise products and tell customers how to use its Scan & Go technology.
Dixons Carphone has appointed Lindsay Haselhurst as its new chief supply chain officer. She was previously global supply and logistics director at Kingfisher, and will now report to chief executive Alex Baldock after taking up the role on 27 January.
A mystery shopping exercise has revealed that many of London’s prime shopping outlets are inadequately prepared for the many Chinese tourists predicted to visit the UK. Digital commerce firm JGOO visited 107 retail outlets in Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and New Bond Street during December 2019, finding that only a very small minority had both staff that could speak Mandarin and accepted China’s leading mobile payment platforms WeChat Pay and Alipay.
N Brown has partnered with fashion personalisation platform True Fit to integrate data-driven personalisation across its portfolio of fashion brands. The True Confidence and True Discovery solutions are now available for customers when buying products from JD Williams, Simply Be, Jacamo, Ambrose Wilson and Fashion World.
G-Star RAW has collaborated with Yext to update the information across more than 150 online channels, including Google, Amazon Alexa and Facebook. By enhancing its online discoverability, the Dutch denim brand has driven over 1.5 million clicks to its listings, while experiencing a year-over-year growth rate in clicks of 16 per cent since launch in December 2016.
Beales, one of the UK High Street’s oldest department store chains has collapsed into administration, putting 1,300 jobs at risk. According to Sky News, the struggling retailer appointed KPMG to supervise the administration process after a formal sales process, which ended today, failed to find a buyer.
Fears over cyber security and the digital skills shift have topped the list of technology concerns for UK retail small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to a new report. A survey of technology decision-makers in SMEs with 50 to 500 employees by OGL Computer across a range of industries found that the top worries centred around cyber security attacks (65 per cent), keeping pace with competitors (59 per cent) and a lack of technology-savvy workers (41 per cent).
Intu is aiming to raise £1 billion worth of new equity next month in order to fix its balance sheet. The Sunday Times reported that the shopping centre operator, which owns Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Lakeside in Essex among many others, was planning the fundraising to accompany its full-year results at the end of February.
Molton Brown has seen a threefold uplift in conversions after introducing onsite social commerce technology. The bath and body fragrance brand also saw the average order value of customers who engaged with the site’s social commerce elements increase by 38 per cent.
Retail sales were down one per cent in the crucial Christmas trading period compared to the previous quarter- marking the steepest decline since March 2017, according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). All sectors except household goods stores and fuel saw a decline in the quantity bought between the third and fourth quarters of 2019, driven mainly by a one per cent drop in sales at non-food stores.
Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group is preparing to close at least a dozen stores in the latest round of cost-cutting for the retail empire that owns Topshop, Topman and Dorothy Perkins. According to the Guardian, disappointing trade for the Christmas period has led the company to forge ahead with closing twelve sites including its store in Westfield Stratford shopping centre.
HMV has struck deals with landlords on five stores which had previously been under threat of closure, while the future of three further stores could face the axe by the end of January. The embattled music retailer announced that branches in Glasgow Braehead, Edinburgh Ocean Terminal, Reading, Sheffield Meadowhall and Grimsby will remain open after deals were struck with landlords.
The amount spent by UK households fell 1.2 per cent on an annual basis in December despite Cyber Monday and festive trade driving up e-commerce sales, according to data from Visa. According to Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index, compiled by IHS Markit, there was a softer fall in household expenditure in December ( down 1.2 per cent) than the 2 per cent drop seen in November.
Revenues at fashion retailer Quiz fell 9.3 per cent over the festive trading period despite strong Black Friday sales, driven by a 14.8 per cent slump in online sales.The fast fashion retailer, popular with Gen Z shoppers, said the “disappointing” results for the seven weeks to 4 January reflected falling sales across in-store and online channels.
Adobe has launched cloud service Adobe Experience Manager to help retailers improve digital customer experience management. The software giant said the new cloud-native solution combines content customisation options with software-as-a service style agility, with onboarding and access to the application in minutes.
Boohoo has boosted its full year guidance after it posted record trading figures for the final quarter of 2019.The e-commerce fashion platform reported group revenue across its brands including PrettyLittleThing and NastyGal of £473.7 million for the four months to 31 December, up 44 per cent, as online spending accelerated ahead of the festive period.
More than two thirds of consumers think mobile technology now delivers a better shopping experience, according to new research.
A global survey of 4,000 consumers by Arlington Research for enterprise mobility and IoT solutions provider SOTI Inc found that shoppers are increasingly open to using new and emerging technologies, with one on three (31 per cent) saying they would be happy to receive their goods via delivery drones.
65 per cent of Generation Z shoppers say contactless payment is a “must have” at the checkout, as a third of consumers under 35 predict that merchants will become 100 per cent cashless in the next five years. A survey of 350 retailers and 1,350 consumers by Hanover Research for Ingenico and FreedomPay found that more than half of shoppers have experienced a technical issue at checkout at some point, demonstrating a disconnect between merchants’ efforts and the shopper’s actual experience.
The owner of Beales department stores has warned that the chain could collapse into administration, putting 1,000 jobs at risk. According to the BBC, Beales, which has been trading since 1881, has said that the future of 22 stores would hang in the balance should the company fail to find a buyer within the coming days.
Microsoft has formed a global strategic partnership with customer data science firm dunnhumby, in an attempt to transform the $5.9 trillion retail sector.As part of the partnership, dunnhumby will move its customer insights products to Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure, giving retailers and suppliers instant and secure access to its customer data science tools.
Revenues at Superdry dropped by 15.8 per cent over the Christmas trading period, with the struggling fashion retailer blaming shortages of better selling products. A trading update for the 19 week period from 27 October 2019 to 4 January 2020 showed that store revenue e-commerce also fell by 9.3 per cent, while wholesale revenue was down 16.9 per cent.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has imposed a £500,000 fine on DSG Retail, after till systems at Currys PC World and Dixons Travel were hacked, leaving the data of 14 million customers exposed to attack. A hacker installed malware affecting the point of sale computer systems of 5,390 tills stores in an attack lasting from July 2017 to April 2018.
IKEA has bought Hammersmith’s Kings Mall in west London for £170 million as part of a strategy to move closer to city centres. The shopping centre opened in 1980 and has 40 stores, including H&M, Primark, Sainsbury’s and Wilko. The move marks the Swedish furniture chain’s first shopping centre purchase, following the October statement that it had strengthened its property team in the UK to capitalise on the decreased valuations of shopping centres due to retail store closures.
GAME has today confirmed that it intends to close 40 stores throughout the UK. To date, 13 sites have had notice served, including existing stores in Mansfield, Canterbury, Watford, Glasgow Fort and Leicester.
Consumer spending grew by one per cent in December compared to the same month last year, according to Barclaycard. Using its access to nearly half of credit and debit card transactions made in the UK, the company said a rise in consumer confidence in the last month of 2019 had failed to boost festive spending on the High Street.
John Lewis Partnership’s managing director of 25 years, Paula Nickolds, is set to step down as the department store reported like-for-like sales down 2.3 per cent to £1.13 billion during the seven weeks to 4 January. She is due to leave in February as part of the retailer’s ongoing management reshuffle.
Alibaba has cut European sellers’ fees by nearly half as part of a move to overcome Amazon’s dominance in the West. The Chinese e-commerce giant, which has around 1 billion users in Asia, is making concerted efforts to attract new merchants to its international platform AliExpress.
Total sales for 2019 decreased by 0.1 per cent, compared with 1.2 per cent growth in 2018; making last year the worst on record. This is according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG’s latest market analysis, which revealed that during the five weeks from 24 November to 28 December, sales increased by 1.9 per cent on a total basis, against a flat December 2018.
Shoezone has reported a fall in underlying profit before tax from £9.6 million to £1.7 million for the 12 months to 5 October, although the online side of the business fared well during the year. Preliminary annual results showed group revenue up by 0.9 per cent to £162 million, while digital revenue rose by 13 per cent in the second half 0f 2019, on top of 5.2 per cent growth in the first half; or 9.2 per cent for the full year.
The UK’s big four grocers have suffered a slump in sales over the festive period, as discount retailers Lidl and Aldi drove up competition in the sector. Like-for-like sales at Sainsbury’s dropped 0.7 per cent in the 15 weeks to 4 January, driven by a slowdown in sales of gaming and toys in the division including Argos, which was bought by Sainsbury’s in 2018. Grocery sales were up by 0.4 per cent.
Asda has begun the new year with several new appointments to its executive board, including a new chief operating officer and chief customer officer. In a message to staff, chief executive Roger Burnley announced that Anna-Maree Shaw will become chief customer officer at the end of January, replacing Andy Murray, who is repatriating to the US after four years with the supermarket chain.
M&S has deployed an artificial intelligence-based platform to unify employee communication channels and simplify in-store operations for 80,000 colleagues working across 700 stores.The High Street retailer’s collaboration with supply chain management platform JDA has deployed Microsoft Team technology to help stores co-ordinate staff and ensure they are working the right shift at the right time.
M&G Investments has sold the Ravenside retail park in Edmonton, North London to industrial property developer Prologis for £51.4 million, in a move indicative of the shift towards e-commerce. The deal, finalised shortly before Christmas, will turn the shopping centre into a logistics and warehousing park, as Prologis head of UK capital deployment Robin Woodbridge explained.
L’Oreal has launched a new system which analyses the user’s skin and environment to create personalised skincare products. Revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, Perso has been developed by L’Oreal’s technology incubator, using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the results of a face scan made using the app.
HMV has confirmed plans to close three stores by the end of January in the latest sign of turbulence on the High Street. The music retailer said that stores in Bury St Edmunds, Nuneaton and the Fopp in Glasgow Byres Road would be closing at the end of January as new tenants move into the properties.
The UK has reached mass adoption level of smart speaker devices, according to new research showing that 22 per cent of homes now have a voice activated device, up from nine per cent in 2017. Consumer consultancy firm Quadrangle found that adoption of devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home has been driven by the younger Millennial and Generation-Z age groups.
Home improvement retail group Kingfisher has appointed Jean-Jacques (JJ) Van Oosten as chief customer and digital officer. He joins from the LEGO Group, where he was chief digital officer, leading the toy manafacturer’s e-commerce push.
Forever 21 is relaunching its international online store to drive growth from consumers in Canada, Asia and Latin America, as part of a shift in focus away from physical retail ahead of upcoming store closures. The US fashion retailer is working with Global-e to accelerate this global online expansion, which includes an improved localised e-commerce experience for international shoppers.
Mountain Warehouse has reported record Christmas trading, with sales up 16.2 per cent to £95.8 million in the 13 weeks to 29 December. Online sales were up 21.6 per cent during the period.
Debenhams has announced that 19 stores will close in January, as the embattled department store chain forges ahead with its rescue plans. The closures, which will begin on 11 January, will be spread across the company’s UK store network, and will put up to 660 jobs at risk.
Amazon has announced plans to increase fees for its Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) service, after investing more than $15 billion into it last year. Third party sellers - which now account for more than half of all sales made on its platform - that want to use Amazon’s largely automated warehousing, shipping and delivery services will pay an average of three per cent throughout 2020.
December shop prices fell by 0.4 per cent, a slight improvement on the 0.5 per cent decrease in November. The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen statistics revealed that non-food prices fell by 1.5 per cent last month, compared to a 1.6 per cent decrease in November.
The UK’s retail sector should be “cautiously optimistic” about its prospects in 2020, according to the KPMG and Ipsos Retail Think Tank. The sector is predicted to grow by at least one per cent this year, after what the report described as “three and a half years of pain”.
Store virtualisation company Zynstra has been acquired by NCR, a global enterprise technology company, for approximately £100 million. This means that venture capital firm Octopus Ventures has exited its investment in Zynstra. It first invested in 2013, participating in the company’s seed round and all subsequent funding rounds.
Boxing Day footfall decreased by 11.8 per cent compared to 2018, according to ShopperTrak. However, while footfall was down year-on-year on Boxing Day itself, 27 December was the fifth busiest in-store shopping day of the entire Christmas trading period, according to Sensormatic Solutions.
With 2019 nearly over, we crunched the numbers and can bring you a round-up of the most popular stories of the year across Retail Systems.
Super Saturday footfall declined by 10.3 per cent compared to the last shopping Saturday before Christmas in 2018, according to ShopperTrak. However, overall UK footfall for the year sits 0.2 per cent up against the same period last year, according to insights from over 1.5 million collection devices in the retail marketplace and 40 billion shopper visits captured by ShopperTrak each year.
Another year gone, another yet to come. It’s time to assess what happened in 2019 and look ahead to what might happen in 2020. As is customary, we rounded up a range of industry experts to tell us what they’re expecting to happen in the retail sector.
Amazon has confirmed its next fulfilment centre will be in Darlington, creating more than 1,000 jobs. The e-commerce giant has now started recruiting for the jobs at the 1.6 million sq ft site at Symmetry Park in Darlington, with work starting on the location back in July 2018.
November retail sales fell by 0.6 per cent when compared with the previous month, with only household goods reporting growth. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures put year-on-year growth at one per cent – the lowest growth since April 2018, owing to a decline of 1.1 per cent in non-food stores.
Schuh has expanded its partnership with Klarna, with its Pay in 3 product will now be available in over 110 UK stores before Christmas. The integration is part of the footwear retailer's omnichannel strategy, with customers able to receive a mobile notification to start the in-store application of Pay in 3, followed by three steps of personal detail entry and a real-time decision made in just seconds.
British shoppers blame business rates and rents for poor in-store experience, according to new research. RetailEXPO commissioned a survey of 2,000 UK consumers, finding that 68 per cent thought the High Street wouldn’t be the same without shops on it, but half felt that the burden of business rates and rents was negatively impacting retailers’ ability to innovate and make their stores engaging.
WHSmith investors have backed a $400 million takeover bid for Marshall Retail Group (MRG). In October, the retailer revealed plans to acquire the US firm as a “compelling opportunity to accelerate the growth of WHSmith’s international travel business in the $3.2 billion US airport travel retail market”.
Farfetch has opened applications for the fourth iteration of its Dream Assembly startup accelerator programme. The seven-week programme, starting at the end of April and running until early June, will be based in Farfetch’s Lisbon office.
McDonald’s has entered into an agreement with Adyen to roll-out its payments platform globally, beginning with the UK early next year. The move is aimed at bringing simplicity and scalability through one integration so the food and beverage brand has a consistent customer experience everywhere it operates. In addition to making it easier to add new stores, markets, or regions, Adyen offers support for preferred payment methods, as well a single data view and customer insights.
Ocado has the potential to become the FTSE’s biggest tech company if the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) chooses to de-designate it as a retailer. In a note circulated to investors, analysts at Peel Hunt reiterated the value of Ocado’s technology solutions business, which opens up the company’s warehousing, software and automated solutions to third party clients, suggesting that further growth could drive net revenues of £3.5 billion per year.
The Book People has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as it files for administration. The children's book retailer had been struggling against difficult trading conditions and working capital pressures.
Almost three quarters of UK shoppers (72 per cent) think that retailers could do more to make their e-commerce websites more engaging, according to Tribe. The web performance and testing service provider surveyed more than 2,000 UK consumers, finding that 79 per cent felt retailers could do more to make their websites easier to shop.
Despite forecasts of poor turnouts and a number of retailer boycotts, November’s annual discount days set online sales soaring last month, with a growth rate of 16.4 per cent year-on-year. The latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, revealed that this was not only the highest growth of the year to date, but was also over double the growth achieved last November (up eight per cent) - and up 54 per cent on October.
Footfall across UK retail destinations fell 0.9 per cent last week and five per cent year-on-year. The latest Springboard figures showed that shoppers held off visiting stores in person from 8 to 14 December, following a Black Friday that had “confounded expectations”.
Retailers must react quickly to customers’ radically evolving expectations and demands to remain relevant and successful, according to Fujitsu. The technology firm's new whitepaper argued that implementing successful digital transformation as a solution to challenges of this magnitude will determine which retailers survive and which competitors cease to remain relevant.
ASOS has extended its partnership with Klarna to offer customers in the UK the option to pay in three monthly instalments, interest and fee-free – adding to the option of Pay later in 30 days which was first introduced in 2017. The first payment is made at the point of purchase via either a debit or credit card, with the final two payments then automatically scheduled to align with customers monthly pay cycle at 30 and 60 days respectively.
The Hut Group has raised €1 billion to help fund ambitious expansion plans. According to Sky News, the health and beauty retail group has received significant investment from US asset manager BlackRock and Belgian investor Sofina.
Sports Direct has reported sales growth of 14 per cent to £2 billion over the six months to 27 October, while pre-tax profits rose 160 per cent to £193.4 million. The Mike Ashley-run retailer also gave updates on its ownership of House of Fraser and a tax enquiry launched by the Belgian authorities.
Klarna’s chief executive has not ruled out taking the company public, while also indicating more private investment is possible to fund US expansion plans. In August a $460 million funding round valued the payments company at $5.5 billion - making it the most highly valued privately held FinTech in Europe.
As buy now, pay later payment options continue to increase in popularity, new research has revealed that the majority of customers (83 per cent) would use point of sale (PoS) finance when purchasing from smaller retailers. Duologi surveyed 500 small and medium-sized enterpristes (SMEs) across a range of retail sectors, finding that 28 per cent are now asking buy now, pay later options when shopping with such retailers.
New Look has promoted Nigel Oddy to chief executive, effective from 1 January. He joined the fashion retailer in April as its chief operating officer, after previously being the chief executive of House of Fraser and The Range.
Ocado and Marks & Spencer’s joint venture has reported 10.8 per cent growth in retail revenue to £429 million for the 13 weeks to 1 December, broadly in line with previous guidance. There was also growth in average orders per week of 10.4 per cent to 350,000, with overall average order size staying stable during the period at just over £100. Sales did slow from 11.4 per cent growth in its first reported results in September.
Dixons Carphone has reported a 60 per cent fall in first half profits to £24 million, compared with £60 million during the same period last year. Over the 26 weeks to 26 October, like-for-like revenue in UK and Ireland fell by one per cent, although wider group revenue was up by three per cent by the same measure.
Zara owner Inditex has reported a 12 per cent rise in net profits, driven by greater emphasis on its online platforms.The Spanish retail giant - which also owns the Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear and Bershka brands - reported a rise in net profit to €2.7 billion over the nine months to October, as the group continued to roll out its integrated store and online model.
Brex has announced a $200 million debt capital raise to help continue the expansion of its e-commerce product. The capital comes in the form of a warehouse line of credit from Credit Suisse, backed by Brex’s corporate charge card receivables. This is the FinTech’s second warehouse line of credit – its first was a $100 million debt facility announced with Barclays Investment Bank in April.
The Co-op has announced it will be opening 30 new stores in the run-up to Christmas. The investment of more than £25 million will see stores open at transport hubs, key city locations and within residential apartments – creating up to 500 jobs.
Amazon’s investment in Deliveroo has raised “serious competition concerns” for UK customers that may require an in-depth investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Earlier this year, Amazon announced a substantial investment in Deliveroo, which would give it a minority shareholding along with certain other rights, allowing it to participate in the management of the company.
For the third year in a row, Homebase came bottom in the Which? list of 100 online retailers, with shoppers bemoaning its poor customer service and stock availability. The consumer champion’s survey of over 7,604 customers found that at the other end of the scale, beauty retailer Liz Earle and tech businesses Richer Sounds and WexPhotoVideo were voted joint-best online retailers.
Majestic Wine has been sold to Fortress Investment Group. The retailer confirmed that it would keep all of its 190 stores open following the acquisition. Under the company’s previous ownership there were plans to cut the store estate by almost two thirds, closing as many as 140 stores and move mostly online.
Paul Price has resigned as chief executive of Topshop and Topman. A spokesman from parent company Arcadia Group confirmed: “After two years as Topshop Topman CEO, Paul Price has made the decision to re-locate back to the USA and will be leaving the business at the end of December 2019.”
Interflora has launched an Amazon Alexa skill allowing customers to order and pay for flowers using only their voice. In what it claims to be a first for the UK’s retail sector, customers can now ask Alexa to ‘open Interflora’, place an order, check out with Amazon Pay and send the flowers; all through one voice interaction.
Ted Baker has issued another profit warning and revealed the immediate departure of its chief executive and chairman. The fashion retailer said chief executive Lindsay Page – who took over from founder Ray Kelvin after a scandal saw him quit in March – has been replaced on an interim basis by recently-appointed chief financial officer Rachel Osborne.
Retail is the sector where UK businesses are most likely to feel exposed to a series of threats to business growth in 2020, according to new research. ThoughtWorks commissioned Maru Blue to survey a nationally representative sample of 1,026 adults in September, finding that 87 per cent of retail business leaders are not prepared for the perceived threats to business continuity that may arise as a result of Brexit.
Nets has launched a pilot programme testing facial recognition as a payment method. Around 1,000 people - all working at Vibenshuset, an office community of 25 companies in Copenhagen - can now sign up to participate in the pilot. By linking their face with their employee ID card, they can now pay for their lunch using their face at the cafeteria.
Jessops has called in the administrators, putting 500 roles at risk of redundancy. Dragons’ Den panellist Peter Jones bought Jessops out of administration in 2013, with rumours of a second administration starting in October.
November’s footfall figures fell 3.4 per cent, down from last year’s 3.2 per cent decline, exacerbated by not including the results from Black Friday, which fell outside of the monthly trading period. Springboard’s monthly results found that heavy rain impacted footfall in the second half of the month.
A major shift is underway in terms of what influences where people choose to shop, with two seemingly conflicting trends of value shopping and ethical consumerism both gaining popularity. This is according to the latest OC&C UK Retail Proposition Index, where 50,000 consumers globally are asked to rate the retailers they have shopped with.
Sweaty Betty has warned customers that their personal data - including credit card details - may have been compromised after it fell victim to a cyber attack. The womens sportswear retailer emailed its customers yesterday informing them that a third party had gained unauthorised access to its platform.
JD Sports’ proposed £90 million acquisition of Footasylum has been halted by an ongoing investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). It issued an interim order against JD Sports proceeding any further with the takeover, with the latest ruling explaining that no action should be taken which might prejudice or impede the taking of any further action.
M&G Investments has temporarily suspended dealing in the shares of its £2.54 billion Property Portfolio and its feeder fund with immediate effect. The investment manager owns shopping centres such as Fremlin Walk in Maidstone, Kent, the Gracechurch Centre in Sutton Coldfield and the Bridgend Designer Outlet in Wales.
M&Co has increased overall online conversion rates by 1.5 per cent and has seen a 27 per cent increase in average order value (AOV) since implementing personalisation platform True Fit. The independent fashion retailer sought to engage with new consumer demographics, reduce high return rates and size sampling behaviour, and increase online conversion rates.
Clintons has been bought out of administration, saving 2,500 jobs and keeping 334 UK stores open. Will Wright and Steve Absolom from KPMG’s restructuring practice were appointed as joint administrators to the business on 4 December, before the greetings card retailer was immediately sold to Esquire Retail, a new firm set up by Clintons’ current owners, the Weiss family.
Harvey Nichols has appointed Marcel Borlin as its group IT director. He joins from being chief technology officer at Carpetright for the last three years, and prior to that group head of IT at the floorings retailer, spending almost five years at the business during a period of digital transition.
Boris Johnson has pledged to implement an 'Amazon tax' in the UK, forcing US tech giants to pay more tax on their digital sales, despite opposition from Donald Trump. The British prime minister announced yesterday that he would push ahead with a digital sales tax ahead of today’s Nato summit.
More than a third (39 per cent) of British Generation Z consumers shopping with legacy brands would opt to go into a store to speak to staff, versus using digital communication channels. The research, commissioned by Zendesk and carried out by YouGov among 2,061 consumers across the UK, showed that while the stereotype may be that over 55 year-olds would prefer to go into a store, the majority of those respondents chose email as their preferred form of communication with legacy brands (57 per cent).
Quiz has reported a £6.8 million loss and group revenue falling five per cent during the six months ended 30 September, as "continued challenging market conditions" hit the company. The interim results also revealed that revenue from UK stores and concessions decreased 11 per cent to £31.3 million, from £35.1 million during the first half of the year.
Finnish headless commerce company Digital Goodie has acquired Maginus, a UK-based company developing e-commerce software for mid-market retailers and distributors. Digital Goodie, founded in 2009, has a focus on the grocery industry with customers like Cooperative UK and S Group, one of the largest retail chains in the Nordic countries.
On a total basis, UK retail sales decreased by 4.4 per cent in November, against an increase of 0.5 per cent last year, although this was distorted by the later timing of Black Friday this year. When adjusted for Black Friday, the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG figures showed sales up by 0.9 per cent on a total basis from November 2018.
Klarna has selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its preferred cloud provider. The payments FinTech stated that it chose AWS’s scalability and security to provide its teams with the ability to innovate at a faster pace, while maintaining regulatory compliance and protecting customer data.
Ocado is launching a £500 million bond issue to help fund the expansion of its robotic automated warehouses in other countries. The online grocer told potential investors that its unsecured convertible bonds, which are due in 2025, will pay out a coupon rate of between 0.75 per cent and 1.25 per cent every year.
Boots deployed 135 robots in its Burton warehouse over the course of cyber weekend. The 'cobots' – or collaborative robots – are still in action today, as the Black Friday deals continue into the first week of December.
Ted Baker has overestimated the value of its stock and appointed a law firm to carry out a comprehensive review. The fashion retailer, which has recently appointed a new finance director, estimated that the value of the inventory held on its balance sheet was overstated by £20 million to £25 million, based on preliminary analysis.
Black Friday has beaten last year’s records, and the weekend of pre-Christmas sales appears to be on course to break all previous records. Barclaycard reported that between 1pm and 2pm on Friday, it recorded 1,184 transactions per second; a Black Friday record.
Mobile point of sale (MPoS) transaction values will exceed $1.9 trillion by 2024, up from $850 billion in 2019, according to Juniper Research. Its analysis suggested that this growth will be driven by service adoption from new business users, including pop-up stores and street vendors, for whom the acceptance of card payments was previously inaccessible.
Intu Properties has brought in PwC to help advise on the restructuring of its balance sheet. Sky News reports that the shopping centre group has called for external expertise to help its in-house team in restructuring its balance sheet ahead of future fundraising.
Notonthehighstreet has launched a new iOS app feature which uses machine learning and image recognition to let customers shop directly from its Christmas catalogue. Rather than scanning in barcodes, QR codes or having to search for product numbers, users can hold their phone over an image in the catalogue, which then instantly finds the product and makes it available for purchase through the app.
Poundstretcher will migrate its 460-store supply chain to the cloud after signing a five-year software-as-a-service (SaaS) contract with Symphony RetailAI. The discount retailer has been running its warehouse operations for more than a decade using Symphony’s warehouse management and voice solutions, but with needed an upgrade to drive “aggressive growth plans”.
Despite the boom in online retail over the past years, shopping in physical stores is still key for consumers worldwide – but only if the purchasing experience integrates all sales channels, innovative technology and data-driven incentives. This is according to a Wirecard-commissioned global study of 4,500 consumers in eight countries, which found that while 70 per cent of UK shoppers preferred to purchase in-store over the past 12 months - compared to buying online and picking up in store (BOPIS) (42 per cent), on desktop sites (37 per cent) and mobile apps and sites (27 per cent); consistent cross-channel experiences are vital.
Peacocks has been selected by administrators as the preferred bidder for Bonmarché. A total of 30 underperforming and unsustainable stores could be earmarked for closure by 11 December, resulting in a multiple redundancies.
Data from FIS has shown that Black Friday sales in the UK are set to grow again this year, but retail returns following the big day could cost unprepared retailers millions. Analysis of Worldpay data showed that transactions online and in-store in the UK were up five and 12 per cent respectively year on year – a trend set to continue in 2019.
Oasis has partnered with video email marketing specialist Playable and artificial intelligence-based marketing platform Emarsys to drive innovation in its email channel. By using responsive video, overall revenue and engagement rates have risen dramatically for the High Street fashion retailer. In one campaign, emails that featured responsive video drove a 175 per cent increase in revenue over those in which video didn’t feature.
E-commerce attacks targeted directly at shoppers have increased by 15 per cent compared to last year, according to Kaspersky. This comes as Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit this weekend, with millions more shoppers making online transactions during the promotional period.
IKEA has reported a 10 per cent fall in full-year profits, despite online sales increasing 50 per cent, as it announced new investment plans. Holding company Ingka Group stated that operating profit fell to £1.7 billion in the year ending 31 August. Sales increased 5.3 per cent to £33.5 billion, while pre-tax profits increased by 19 per cent to £2.49 billion due to the rise in income from financial investments.
Shop prices fell by 0.5 per cent in November, compared to a 0.4 per cent decrease in October – marking the sixth consecutive month of falls. The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen figures showed that non-food prices fell by 1.6 per cent in November, compared to October’s decrease of 1.5 per cent, while food inflation eased to 1.4 per cent in November from 1.6 per cent in October.
Hackett has achieved 97 per cent growth in international online revenue three months after partnering with Global-e. The British clothing brand implemented the cross-border e-commerce firm's solution to offer its international online consumers a localised experience.
Over a quarter of Brits would rather queue in store than make a purchase on their mobile during the imminent Black Friday sales, as it’s ‘too stressful’. This is according to a survey of 2,011 UK consumers carried out earlier this month by Censuswide on behalf of Judopay, which showed that 26 per cent find the in-store Black Friday experience more relaxing than buying the same thing on their mobile phone.
Sports Direct International is set to change its name to Frasers Group to reflect a “changing profile and consumer proposition” which is part of its “elevation” strategy. The rebranding is expected to take place after a shareholder meeting on 16 December.
Retailers that breach consumer laws on refunds and returns are paying Google to secure the most prominent slots in its shopping listings, according to a Which? investigation. Among the most serious breaches were firms charging 'restocking fees' of up to £300 for customers who wanted to return a purchase, demanding goods are returned in 'brand new' condition and insisting on customers bearing the cost of posting faulty items back to Hong Kong.
Dixons Carphone has launched a transactional mobile app for Currys PC World. With a "comprehensive set of additional features" promised over the course of the next year, the more basic platform comes in time for the crucial Black Friday and Christmas trading period.
Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) has acquired Tiffany for €14.7 billion. The French luxury conglomerate will pay $135 per share, valuing the US jewellery retailer at 13 per cent above an initial $120 per share bid.
Clarks has appointed McKinsey & Co to conduct a review of its business. The British-based shoe retailer reported a loss after tax of £82.9 million in the full year to 2 February 2019, more than double the £31.3 million loss reported the previous year.
Global spending on digital commerce will reach $18.7 trillion by 2024, up from $11.2 trillion in 2019 - an increase of 66 per cent over the five-year period. The report from Juniper Research found the largest single digital commerce sector is the remote purchase of physical goods, which will have driven just under 27 per cent of all digital commerce spend by the end of 2019.
The Labour Party has proposed a review into business rates which would levy an extra tax on property landlords to help back the UK's ailing High Streets. In its pre-election manifesto, the opposition stated that the existing system was “causing real issues for high street retailers”, suggesting instead a “land value tax” on commercial landlords, alongside a new “retail sector industrial strategy”.
The Entertainer has launched a new and improved website for The Early Learning Centre, developed by LiveArea. The Early Learning Centre was acquired by the toy retailer in February this year, with work initiated to streamline customer experience.
Holland & Barrett has adopted Paragon’s routing and scheduling software as part of its ongoing transformation. The software solution will let the health and wellness retailer restructure its store replenishment operation which supplies over 900 locations across the UK from its warehousing and international distribution centre in Burton-on-Trent.
Naked Wines chief executive Rowan Gormley is poised to step down from the business he founded, with current chief operating officer Nick Devlin taking up the post in the new year. Gormley founded Naked Wines in 2008 and continued to lead the retailer when it merged with Majestic Wine in 2015.
UK manufacturers stand to gain £13 billion over the next five years by using new technologies to sell direct to consumers (DTC), according to a report from Barclays. An Opinium survey of 500 managers at UK manufacturers found that 72 per cent believe retailing goods DTC and cutting out the middlemen is good for both consumers and manufacturers.
Alibaba has revealed plan to raise up to HK$100 billion (around £10 billion) through a stock exchange listing in Hong Kong. China’s biggest publicly listed company is selling 500 million shares, with an extra 75 million available if there is substantial demand. This means the e-commerce group should raise between HK£88 billion and HK$101 billion, before underwriting fees and other expenses.
The number of UK businesses selling via social media sites and apps is predicted to double in the next six months, according to PayPal. Its latest annual Commerce Index suggested that British shoppers will be able to shop on the social media channels of a further 600,000 UK businesses, as the popularity of mobile shopping expands to new sites and apps – in addition to the 24 per cent of British businesses already selling via these platforms and 22 per cent which plan to sell via social in future.
Generation Z consumers, who are leading the rise in online shopping, are the most likely to be concerned about payments fraud and want to see action from banks to tackle it, according to new research. A survey of 1,096 consumers from Gen Z (those aged 4 to 24) by IDEX Biometrics ASA and Arlington Research, found that 79 per cent thought banks should do more to protect their customers from fraud, while more than half (52 per cent) were worried about someone stealing their identity.
New research has revealed that 85 per cent of grocery retailers globally lack the capabilities, technology, people and processes to use insights to monetise their data and drive customer experience. This is according to a dunnhumby study conducted by Forrester Consulting, comprising a survey of 613 global respondents and 13 interviews with decision-makers involved in the strategy and management of data analytics and/or customer strategies at grocery firms globally.
Online sales grew by 6.2 per cent year-on-year in October, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, although it was the lowest growth for online sales ever recorded for the month. Though still behind the five-year average of 10 per cent, October’s results beat the three, six and 12-month rolling averages – respectively five per cent, 4.5 per cent and 5.1 per cent. Growth for the overall year is currently tracking at less than half that of the previous 12 months – five per cent versus 12 per cent.
Nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of shoppers will avoid hitting the High Street in their search for Black Friday bargains this year, according to new research. A study of 4,005 adult consumers by Vitreous World for Genesys, an omnichannel retail solutions provider, found that the annual day of discounting and pre-Christmas sales - which this year falls on 29 November - is set to be quiet for struggling shops, as shoppers dodge the crowds and cold to make their purchases.
Europe’s payments industry saw a rise of 32.3 per cent in overall deal activity during the third quarter, when compared to the four-quarter average, according GlobalData. The market analysis firm’s database showed a total of 41 deals worth $5.93 billion were announced for the region during the third quarter this year, against the last four-quarter average of 31 deals.
Space NK London Apothecary has partnered with payments platform Adyen to help enhance its e-commerce offering as it expands internationally. The British beauty retailer made a strategic decision to change its payment provider to enhance customer experience and launch faster into new regions. Using Adyen’s singular platform, Space NK will have visibility of transactions across regions to better understand trends and optimise the approach in each market.
Retailers with 10 or more stores have already closed 5,834 shops this year, up 77 per cent on the whole of last year, according to the Centre for Retail Research. Between 1 January and 30 September, 708 shops have been closed by large retailers falling into administration, while a further 333 shops were closed through Company Voluntary Agreements (CVAs) and 4,793 shops were shut by large retailers as part of cost-cutting programmes.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are forecast to add £62.5 billion to the UK economy - a 2.4 per cent boost to GDP - by 2030, according to PwC. The use of VR and AR in the retail and consumer sector will provide a £183.9 billion boost to global GDP by 2030.