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National Tiles seeks a buyer

The AFR reported that National Tiles has made a growth pitch to potential buyers, telling tyre-kickers it has racked up 17 years of uninterrupted sales growth. The privately-owned retailer has informed the market that its sales have grown 12% a year since 2016 while maintaining "its strong margins and disciplined cost management." Bankers reckon likely buyers include offshore strategics and domestic parties that also focus on selling goods into homes, including GWA and Reece. Private equity is also expected to be in the mix.

Coles Local an Aldi imitation?

The AFR reported that Coles is aiming to take market share from independent retailers including IGA and Harris Farm Markets by opening a network of convenience stores to cater to local appetites. The Coles Local is half the size of a traditional full-service supermarket and carries about 8,000 products - a third of the usual range. It appears to us like Coles is simply trying to look like Aldi. And, while imitation may be a form of flattery, it's definitely not a sound long-term strategy for the grocer.

Macy's tests smaller stores to save money

The Wall Street Journal reported that iconic department store Macy’s Inc has started a radical experiment aimed at revival. It is shrinking. Faced with too much space and too few shoppers, the 160-year-old retailer plans to reduce the amount of merchandise and the number of employees at its slower-performing stores—walling off entire sections at some locations and leaving the space empty. It's still unclear what the department store chain will do with the unused space. The department store chain is, meanwhile, taking 350 more productive stores and giving them a facelift, with Starbucks coffee shops and remodeled dressing rooms.

US dollar continues to rise

Reuters reported that the US dollar reached a 16-month high on Monday against a basket of currencies as investors built bets on a Federal Reserve interest rate increase next month, and political risks in Europe put pressure on the euro and the pound. Fears about a no-deal Brexit and a growing rift in Europe over Italy's budget have also boosted the dollar. Back in April AU$1 bought US$0.78. It is now under US$0.72, 7% down.

Woolworths to sell fuel business for $1.7 billion

According to an ASX announcement, Woolworths Group is planning to sell its petrol business to British retailer EG Group for $1.725 billion. EG Group has a substantial global presence in the fuel and convenience space, operating 4,700 sites across Europe and North America. As part of the deal to sell its 540 fuel convenience sites, Woolworths will also commence a wholesale food supply agreement to the network. Woolworths’ four cent per litre fuel discount will continue and customers will continue to earn Woolworths Rewards points on fuel and merchandise.

Aussies to spend $51 billion on retail this festive season

Inside Retail reported that the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan predict Australians will spend more than $51 billion across retail stores over the Christmas trading period, a 2.9% increase over the previous year. The positive forecast follows a recent rise in consumer spending.

Alibaba hits US$1.44 billion in sales within minutes on Single's Day

The AFR reported on that China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group says it logged 10 billion yuan (US$1.44 billion) of sales within opening minutes of its annual "Singles' Day" online shopping sale yesterday. Australian firms, which ranked third globally behind the United States and Japan amongst the most-sold brands last year, are also hoping to cash in on the 24-hour online annual shopping frenzy. Alibaba is under pressure to beat last year's numbers when the company reported 39% growth and 168 million yuan in transactions during the festival.

Cotton On Group reports 20.4% year on year growth

The AFR reported that the Cotton On Group (COG) disclosed $2.59 billion in revenue, up 20.4% year on year and placing the retailer 10th in the 2018 AFR Top 500 Private Companies List. The article also mentioned that COG's Australian business is currently performing strongly relative to international concerns in Brazil, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Namibia, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, the US, and Britain - a marker of active expansion efforts abroad. COG operates 1,500 stores across seven brands and twenty countries. Retail Directions is proud to be a core retail technology partner for the Cotton On Group globally.

Aussie retailers struggling with new US state sales taxes

The AFR reported that, despite a booming economy and Donald Trump's landmark tax cuts, Australian businesses selling to the US are struggling with complex new state sales tax and onerous compliance rules. A United States Supreme Court ruling in June requires firms trading online with US customers to pay state-based sales taxes. Each of the 50 US states can charge their own rates of sales tax, and rates can change regularly. Since July, more than 30 states have now introduced a sales tax and have an effective compliance date. Australian small businesses are required to register in each state they sell into, then implement technology to apply local sales taxes and collect and file sales tax returns.  

5G pushing NBN towards the trash heap

We are picking up more and more signals that 5G is getting closer.  The Wall Street Journal commented that 5G is expected to be 100 times faster than today's wireless networks and will enable blazingly fast movie downloads, virtual reality experiences that are not janky, as well as a new generation of robotics.  Latency in 5G networks could be 1 millisecond or less, compared to 100 milliseconds with current networking methods, allowing for practically real-time connectivity. A worldwide commercial launch is expected in 2020, but Telstra has already (15 August 2018) activated its 5G network on the Gold Coast.  We wonder: where will this leave NBN?  Most likely on the trash heap of history.

New Look recovering but more store closures ahead

The UK's Retail Gazette reported that New Look’s boss has suggested that almost 100 of its UK stores may end up closing down as part of its ongoing turnaround scheme. This includes the 60 stores that were marked for closure and subsequent 980 job cuts under the retailer’s CVA that was greenlit back in March. However, it's not all bad news for the retailer, which recently unveiled a return to profitability in its first half. Its adjusted EBITDA also more than doubled compared to last year, rising from £24.2 million to £49.8 million. Additionally, the retailer is poised to exit the Chinese market, closing 130 stores that are understood to have lost £37 million last year.

Bookmaker sites crash ahead of Melbourne Cup

Multiple media outlets reported about widespread betting site crashes ahead of the Melbourne Cup. Reports flowed in across both news and social media about Sportsbet, Ladbrokes and the TAB going down, costing the bookmakers millions of dollars in unplaced bets. Your Money, the rebranded Sky Business News, invited Retail Directions' MD Andrew Gorecki to comment on the outages, which seem to occur yearly. Andrew noted that it's all retail and retail demands mission-critical systems, which means that they need to be designed with the expectation of failure. Technology is secondary in mission-critical systems - architecture, design, and planning are key. This is the approach Retail Directions uses in the development of our retail platform to ensure our clients are insulated from such outages.