Global Retail update
In its latest move to build a global beauty business, Unilever has agreed to buy Carver Korea, a Seoul-based maker of skin care products, for US$ 2.7 billion. The Anglo-Dutch conglomerate has also begun to offload its spreads business in South Africa as part of a major structural review.
Alibaba has opened a home-furnishing flagship store similar to Ikea in Hangzhou, which is fully equipped with e-commerce technology. The Chinese powerhouse has expanded the partnership between its Taobao platform and Lazada and will now sell selected items in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Two fierce rivals have taken the hotly contested convenience space to a whole new level. Walmart’s new service will see it delivering fresh groceries straight to customers’ fridges, while Amazon’s deal gives it access to 200 restaurant brands across 40,000 US locations.
Target’s latest app upgrade will make life easier for its shoppers, with the introduction of in-store maps. Grocery platform provider Unata has launched new technology which will allow grocers to offer voice ordering capabilities for their customers.
While Toys ‘R’ Us stumbles, Canadian toy retailer Mastermind is ramping up, with plans to open another four locations in Canada before the end of the year and another twelve next year. Amazon will open a large new office in New York City, creating 2,000 highly paid jobs.
UK grocers have lead the way in cutting the price of petrol and diesel, easing the pain for motorists facing rising costs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Tesco is relaxing its tight fruit specifications for apple farmers facing the prospect of dumping hundreds of tons of perfectly good fruit marred with ‘frost ring’.
Retailer Auchan is reportedly considering discontinuing its Jumbo brand in Portugal by the end of next year. Carrefour’s new boss has named his leadership team, tapping the man credited with reviving its Spanish operations to take charge of its biggest market – France.
The passing of L’Oreal heir Liliane Bettencourt has re-ignited questions over the cosmetic giant’s future, and how major shareholder Nestlé features in this. It remains silent on what it will do with its 23 percent stake, but analysts say there is the possibility of Nestlé buying the company outright.
Speculation is mounting in some quarters that the retail heavyweight is backing off China, with rival Alibaba’s Kindle promotion adding fuel to the fire. Estimates have it that Amazon has less than 1% market share of the business-to-consumer e-commerce market in the country.
Tech giant Tencent is getting into traditional finance, buying a 5% slice of CICC International. Singaporean start-up Sea, which owns online retailer Shopee, has filed its much-anticipated US IPO with the aim to raise US$ 1 billion.
This year Aldi is releasing a boozy Advent calendar rewarding holiday makers with a miniature bottle of wine each night. The 200-milliliter bottles will be a mix of red, white, rosé, and bubbly.
Aussie discounter Big W is apparently axing the word ‘Christmas’ from its range of trees, opting instead for the likes of ‘Grand Pine Tree’. The move has left shoppers furious, although one media outlet is questioning the merit of the claims.
Australian unions are furious over New South Wales legislation which will allow shops to open on Boxing Day, after a two-year trial of the measure. They say it will “ruin Christmas” for workers.
Costco accelerates its push online in the lead-up to the arrival of Amazon in Australia by trialling a new delivery service on big orders in Melbourne. Over in China, the US wholesaler is expected to soon build physical stores after its official opening recently on Tmall.
Sales at Aldi UK rose 13.5% to GBP 8.7 billion in 2016, but operating profit fell 17% to GBP 211.3 million. The discounter blamed the fall on its “continued investment in prices”. Nevertheless, Aldi is opening more than one store a week in Britain with the aim of 1,000 stores by 2022.
Marks & Spencer has started trials for an online grocery service, which might be a challenge considering the upmarket retailer is largely used for top-up shopping. Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s has begun testing a mobile checkout system, seeing customers scan items with their smartphone.
Debenhams has acquired a minority stake in UK’s largest on-demand beauty services provider, Blow. The exclusive partnership enables the department store operator to ramp up its presence in the GBP 4 billion beauty services market.
Alibaba’s online payment platform Alipay will officially launch in Canada through a partnership with tech firm SnapPay enabling Canadian retailers to accept Chinese currency through a mobile wallet and offering the opportunity to access the market in China.
Raising the wage
In a bid to attract new workers, US discount chain Target said it would increase its minimum hourly wage from US$ 10 to US$ 11, with plans to offer US$ 15 by 2020. US wages have barely risen in almost a decade, and it is difficult for retailers to recruit staff.
Supporting small-business owners and local vendors, supermarket giant Kroger has launched a new website aimed at recruiting emerging brands that can be sold in its 2,800 stores across the US. Sourcing locally also supports the company’s sustainability commitments.
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