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Retail around the globe

Amazon brings Silicon Valley jobs to UK

Amazon, along with other US tech giants Facebook, Google and Apple, continues to invest in Britain despite any uncertainty caused by Brexit.

Amazon is opening its first office in Manchester, creating 600 new corporate and development jobs. It is also expanding in two other centres – Edinburgh and Cambridge – for a total of 1000 new R&D jobs. Amazon’s UK country manager, Doug Gurr, said, “These are Silicon Valley jobs in Britain, and further cement our long-term commitment to the UK.”

Since 2010, Amazon said it had invested more than £9.3 billion ($17.07 billion) in Britain and was on course to employ 27,500 people by the end of the year.

Troubled Dutch retail chain finds buyer

Struggling Dutch retailer Hema, one of the Netherlands’ largest retail chains, has announced that it will be bought by investment firm Ramphastos Investments, owned by Dutch billionaire Marcel Boekhoorn.

Hema, a discount retailer, has been owned by London-based Lion Capital since 2007, which has been seeking to unload it since 2010. It operates more than 700 stores in nine countries, selling more than 30,000 own-brand products ranging from baby clothing to stationery, food and gardening tools.

Under the new ownership, the company plans to grow its online presence, expand internally and improve its overall profitability. The purchase price was not disclosed. Although Hema’s sales rose 3.5 per cent last year to €1.24 billion ($2 billion), its net loss increased to €31 million ($50 million), while gross debt ran up to €753 million ($1.2 billion).

Alibaba buys into wine merchant

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group will invest RMB2 billion ($410 million) in online domestic wine and spirits shop 1919. cn, buying almost 40 million shares in the company.

The wine and spirit importer, which is traded in China’s over-the-counter market, said that its revenues climbed 16.24 per cent last year to RMB3.36 billion ($680 million) and it expected to clock sales of around RMB4.5 billion ($900 million) this year and RMB7 billion ($1.42 billion) in 2019.

Demand for wine is China is growing exponentially; it is expected to become the world’s second-largest wine market behind the United States in the next five years, with consumption set to rise by more than a third to hit $32 billion, according to wine fair operator Vinexpo.

British fashion group exits China

British fashion group New Look is to exit China and will close its remaining 120 stores there and its Shanghai head office by the end
of the year.

“Despite substantial investments in China in recent years, performance has been below expectations and this business has not achieved the necessary sales and profitability to support the significant future investment required to continue these operations,” the retailer said.

New Look has been struggling, which has forced it to make some significant changes In March it staved off a potential collapse into
administration when British creditors and landlords backed its restructuring plan. This was followed by the closure of 60 UK stores.
New Look said it would ensure obligations to suppliers, landlords, government and other authorities in China are concluded
satisfactorily, and will support all affected staff.

Positive signs for Carrefour recovery

French multinational retailer Carrefour says its five-year revitalisation plan – Carrefour 2022 – is on track after sales growth
accelerated in the third quarter on the back of its core French and Brazilian markets.

However, Europe’s largest retailer also saw weakness in Spain and Italy due to competitive pressures and tough economic
conditions, a sign it may not yet be out of the woods.

This year’s third-quarter sales came to €21.087 billion ($38.7 billion), roughly in line with analyst estimates. Carrefour has recently sought a partnership in China with Tencent in a bid to lift its profits and revenues and help it tackle competition from Amazon. It has also formed a partnership with its British rival Tesco.

Walmart says future is online 

Walmart, the world’s largest company by revenue and its largest private employer, is facing some tough competition from
Amazon, especially in the prized food category, and despite its enormous success over the years is looking to reinvent itself.
Speaking at the annual general meeting, chief executive officer Doug McMillon urged investors to revise their view of the
company’s business, touting its technical investments to grow online sales.

Walmart now holds patents in last-mile delivery, biometrics and augmented reality; it has made investments in machine learning
in areas like merchandising, blockchain to improve food safety and traceability.

McMillon also cited pickup towers in stores to boost online sales and various e-commerce delivery options Walmart also lowered its earnings forecast for its current fiscal year. However it is doubling down on online grocery delivery and pickup options. By the end of the year, 800 US stores will offer grocery delivery and more than 2000 will offer a pickup service

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