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28
Mar-19
Thursday

Retailers target plus-sized collections for revenue growth

18
DigiDay reported that more retailers are developing plus-sized collections - a sign they are starting to see them as bigger potential revenue streams than they have in the past. Recent announcements to this tune from Kohl’s and Anthropologie follow a steady march of brands like Ann Taylor Loft, Nike and J.Crew, which have released plus-sized collections for the first time within the past couple of years. And, retailers including Target and Nordstrom, which are starting to increase the size spectrum of brands carried in-store and online. Walmart’s acquisition of DTC plus-sized brand Eloquii last year also underscored the importance of this market. Recent research shows that the plus-size market is expected to grow to US$24 billion in the US by 2020, with an annual growth rate about twice that of the total clothing market.
27
Mar-19
Wednesday

Coles partners with online shopping leader Ocado

20
The AFR reported that Coles aims to steal leadership of the $3 billion online grocery market from arch-rival Woolworths, entering into a long-term deal with leading British online food retailer Ocado. Under the agreement, Coles will launch a new website and build two highly automated fulfilment centres in Melbourne and Sydney at a cost of as much as $150 million. The centres, which will each have about 1000 robots moving orders around, are expected to start operating in four years. Each will be able to handle products worth between $500 million and $750 million a year. Ocado, an online food retailer which is transforming itself into a global digital technology company, will install and maintain equipment in the fulfilment centres and provide Coles with its smart platform technology, including an online grocery platform, automated single-pick fulfilment technology and home-delivery solutions.

Kathmandu braces for tough second half

22
The AFR reported that outdoor clothing retailer Kathmandu is bracing for further weakness in sales in New Zealand this year following the terrorist attacks in Christchurch. Kathmandu's same-store sales fell 2.2% in the six months ending January, crimping earnings, and the retailer is expecting another tough half-year as the nation grieves for victims of the Christchurch tragedy. Kathmandu also expects gross margins in Australia and New Zealand to weaken in the July-half as costs rise and it steps up promotions to boost same-store sales. Kathmandu will attempt to counter the downturn in New Zealand by increasing sales in Australia, its largest market, and in North America, where the Kathmandu brand will begin trading after striking relationships with leading outdoor clothing chains.
26
Mar-19
Tuesday

Noni B responds to union's allegations

20
Fashion retailer, Noni B responded via ASX media release to news articles alleging staff employed by the group have not had enough time for toilet breaks and face unrealistic work demands such as sales targets. The articles came on the back of a media release issued by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) as part of the union’s campaign against Noni B Group’s proposed Enterprise Agreement. In today's release, Noni B says the agreement has been approved by 81% of employees and that the Union’s campaign is not in the best interests of its members, and, is perhaps based on an incomplete understanding of the facts. The company says the wellbeing and safety of all team members is paramount and at the core of the Group’s corporate values, and, that it is very proud of its safety record and achievements in promoting the welfare and wellbeing of its team members. Noni B also expressed its disappointment in SDA's chosen course of action towards a resolution.

Retailers at risk as consumer spending stalls

22
The AFR reported that more than 900 retailers are at high to severe risk of collapse in the next 12 months as consumers tighten their belts and lenders withdraw credit amid falling house prices and the fallout from the financial services royal commission. Data from a recent commercial risk outlook report shows that 916, or 2.6% of Australian retailers, are facing commercial ruin. Though it must be noted that this figure is down from 1460 in March 2018 and 1413 in March 2017. According to Deloitte Access Economics, retail sales growth is expected to slow to 1.6% this year as cash-strapped, heavily-indebted consumers cut back on spending, before returning to 2.2% growth in 2020.
25
Mar-19
Monday

Union calls out Noni B over workplace issues

20
Inside Retail reported that The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) says it has received numerous complaints from Noni B employees on a range of workplace issues, from cuts to part-time hours and take-home pay, to health and safety concerns, to consistent understaffing and pressure to meet unrealistic sales targets. The complaints follow the SDA’s refusal earlier this month to approve a proposed enterprise bargaining agreement that it had been negotiating with Noni B after the Fair Work Commission ordered the fashion chain to scrap its previous agreement by March 4. That agreement, which expired in 2014, allowed staff at the recently acquired Specialty Fashion Group chains to be paid below the industry award, with no overtime, evening or weekend penalty rates. According to a report by the AFR, the SDA was on board with the proposed new agreement until Noni B declined to back pay employees and cut part-time hours by 20% in the final days of the old agreement.

Premier plays hardball with retail landlords

26
The AFR reported that Premier Investments is fanatical about understanding how the retail property landscape is changing, and how its retail chains are going to be affected. Recently, with landlords trying to plug the empty holes left by retail chains collapsing, Premier has noticed a new trend. Mall owners are offering reduced rents and other incentives to new entrants in the fashion category, and not extending the same deals to long-standing tenants such as Premier. And where landlords aren’t budging, Premier is voting with its feet. The group has shut 101 unprofitable stores in the past six years and 16 stores in the past 12 months. The pressure on bricks and mortar retail is, of course, a global issue, and Premier is clearly thinking hard about the property commitments it will make in the future. This includes taking a new, capital-light growth plan that will see Smiggle move quickly into new markets via wholesale agreements, new transactional websites, concessions in department stores and a broader online push.
22
Mar-19
Friday

Sigma to shut warehouses and cut staff

22
Nine Finance reported that Sigma Healthcare will lay off 300 warehouse employees and let go another 200 agency staff as it adapts to the loss of its My Chemist/Chemist Warehouse supply deal. Sigma reported a 33.7% fall in full-year profit on Thursday and said it will close distribution centres in Shepparton, Victoria; Newcastle, NSW and Launceston, Tasmania late this year. The layoffs involve those workers and other staff across its distribution network. The layoffs are part of what Sigma's plan to save $100 million over two years based on recommendations from global consulting firm Accenture. The company currently has 15 distribution centres serving 4,000 pharmacies across the country, making over a million deliveries a day.

Myer cuts a further 50 jobs

21
The AFR reported that beleaguered department store chain Myer has promised customers will not be affected by another major redundancy program. Myer chief executive John King has cut another 50 jobs, mainly in marketing and merchandising roles and store administration, in an attempt to reduce labour costs and pressure on margins as sales continue to slide. More job cuts are likely when Myer starts shrinking its store network by handing back floor space to landlords. On a positive note, Myer shares have jumped 48% this month after Mr King delivered the retailer's first underlying profit growth in eight years by pulling back on discounting to boost gross margins and counter weak sales. Mr King, the former CEO of UK department store House of Fraser, has warned that revenues will be "lumpy" over the next year but Myer can grow earnings nevertheless by cutting costs and abandoning profitless sales.

Officeworks defends against Amazon with experience

23
The AFR reported that Officeworks has unveiled its latest defence against Amazon, opening the world's largest office supplies store where customers can test pens, paint and office chairs while experimenting with voice technology and home automation. The new store in Mentone in Melbourne's south east is almost 6500 square metres, four times the size of the average Officeworks store, and carries about 35,000 products, more than double the number in a typical store. Mentone customers will be able to book a home visit from Geeks2U, the tech services business Officeworks acquired earlier this month, and order customised sports and corporate gear from ONTHEGO kiosks. Officeworks has also taken a leaf out of Bunnings' playbook, opening its first in-store cafe and playground.
21
Mar-19
Thursday

Another fad seems to be over

21
The Wall Street Journal reported that Bitcoin is in the longest slump of its 10-year history, forcing even ardent supporters to shelve dreams of global disruption and focus on simply outlasting the downturn. Also wounded in the crash have been many companies and technology platforms that promised to transform institutions from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, and raised billions of dollars through initial coin offerings.  Bitcoin now trades below US$ 4,000, massively down from its peak of US$19,650 in December 2017.

Bunnings to roll out full e-commerce offering

19
The AFR reported Bunnings is cutting expenses in stores to offset the cost of the biggest investment since its ill-fated expansion to the UK: selling its entire product range, from packets of screws to pot plants and garden sheds, online.  Bunnings managing director Michael Schneider expects Bunnings to have a fully transactional website offering more than 60,000 products in 18 months. However, Analysts fear the cost of establishing and operating a full e-commerce offer, including click and collect, home deliveries, staff picking orders from shelves and developing online content such as DIY videos, will crimp Bunnings' margins, which are currently the highest in the world in home improvement.