Retail news from around the globe

Walmart swallows up Jet platform

Walmart has announced a sweeping overhaul at Jet.com, integrating its retail, technology, marketing, analytics and product teams with its own online business.

Jet, an online startup acquired in 2016 for US$3.3 billion, is focused on online grocery sales and was expected to boost Walmart’s reach in that category, particularly with city dwellers and millennial shoppers.

However, Jet’s sales have been falling, as has the number of customers dealing with its platform.

Jet president Simon Belsham will leave in early August, to be replaced by Kieran Shanahan, who oversees Walmart’s food, consumables, health and wellness categories. He will be responsible for Jet’s strategy and management in addition to his current role.

Amazon drops restaurant deliveries

The mighty Amazon has had a rare setback, as its US restaurant food delivery service will close on June 24, apparently defeated by intense competition from GrubHub, DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Amazon Restaurants was launched in 2015 in Seattle for Prime members. The service was expanded to more than 20 US cities, and then to London, where the program ended in November.

Analysts say the service was doomed to fail because the competition in the sector is so entrenched, Adweek reports. They also cite the lack of investment in SEO, which made the service virtually invisible in searches, the poor app and a lack of restaurant partnerships.

Tesco chief to stay the course

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis has responded to rumours that he is leaving the 100-year-old company, saying that he was very focused on Tesco and its team.

Lewis took over Britain’s largest retailer following a major accounting scandal in 2014.

Cold, volatile weather and political uncertainty have led to slower sales growth this quarter of just 0.2 per cent to £14 billion ($25.7 billion). But Lewis said that the company’s recovery was on track and that Tesco was doing better than its rivals, with online growth up 7 per cent.

However, recent industry data has shown that all of Britain’s big four grocers – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – are continuing to lose market share to German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl, which last week announced a big expansion in London.

Arcadia lives another day

British retailing company Arcadia has avoided collapse as creditors have approved its restructuring deal. Arcadia is the owner of a number of major UK retail chains including Topshop, Topman, Burton Menswear, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge and Wallis.

The restructuring will close stores, cut rents and make changes to the funding of the group’s pension schemes, but it will enable it to keep operating under the ownership of chairman Philip Green and Tina Green.

The deal is no guarantee of the company’s survival, analysts said.

“Topshop and Topman still have a strong following among millennials, however many of the others, such as Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins, are now irrelevant in a highly saturated market and chances of revival are slim,” Chloe Collins, senior retail analyst at GlobalData, told Reuters.

Ted Baker issues profit warning

British fashion retailer Ted Baker has warned that underlying profit for the year will fall short of analysts’ estimates after an “extremely difficult” start to 2019.

The announcement caused company shares to lose more than a quarter of their value.

Ted Baker says it expects underlying profit before tax for the year to January 2020 of £50 million ($91.7 million) to £60 million, compared with a company compiled consensus of £70.9 million and last year’s £63 million.

The company is still under a cloud following the March resignation of founder Ray Kelvin, who was accused of instigating a culture of “forced hugging”, charges which he denies.

Hong Kong shops join protest movement

Retailers in Hong Kong closed stores and other businesses last Wednesday in a show of solidarity with the millions of protesters flooding the streets of the city.

A proposed extradition bill, which would have those accused of crimes to be sent to mainland China for trial, has sparked the protest movement.

More than 100 shops announced strikes in social media posts. Businesses included retail store Gethemall, transport startup Call4Van, coffee shops, bookstores, electronics and clothes shops, eateries and florists.

Businesses say the proposed law would undermine freedom in the former British colony, and reduce confidence in its commercial hub.

Expansion boosts Zara owner’s profit

Spanish fashion group Inditex, the owner of Zara, has recorded a strong performance in the first weeks of the second quarter, in sharp contrast with many others in the struggling apparel sector.

The group cites its worldwide expansion as the reason for its success. Inditex took its Zara brand online in Brazil during the three months to April 30, and also pushed into eight other countries, including Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

Sales were up 5 per cent in the quarter to €5.9 billion ($9.63 billion), while profit rose 10 per cent to €734 million.

Besides Zara, Inditex owns such brands as Pull and Bear, Stradivarius, Oysho and Zara Home.

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