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The week that was

Myer3Another busy week in retail, with a raft of leadership changes and international tidings.

Ring in the appointments

Steve Donohue, current director of buying and merchandising for Woolworths Supermarkets, was announced as the new managing director of Endeavour Drinks, effective from April this year.

Endeavour Drinks includes retail liquor brands, Dan Murphy’s and BWS, as well as Cellarmasters, Langton’s and Pinnacle Drinks.

Donohue will replace current Endeavour Drinks MD Martin Smith, who will retire at the end of the financial year.

Ex-DKNY executive Paul Kotrba was appointed as Seafolly’s new CEO.

The swimwear brand said making the international appointment fuels the 42-year old Australian retailer’s ambitions of further developing its global growth potential.

Myer restructured its management team, today appointing Mark Cripsey to the newly-created role of chief operating officer and former Spotless executive Nigel Chadwick to replace Grant Devonport as chief financial officer.

Myer CEO and managing director Richard Umbers also announced further consolidation across the retailer’s supporting operations – with 50 jobs cut from Myer’s support office as the retailer exits a further floor to bring the total vacated area to 4.5 floors or over 40 per cent of the space since September 2015.

The Iconic’s chief executive officer Patrick Schmidt has meanwhile been appointed as the co-CEO of parent company Global Fashion Group (GFG) alongside GFG board member and Swedish investment company AB Kinnevik director Christoph Barchewitz.

Schmidt will begin the role in February, but will remain as CEO of The Iconic in addition to the new role until a successor is named later this year.

Late in the week saw Jayendra Naidoo step down from the supervisory board of embattled retailer Steinhoff International, in order to focus his efforts on the board of Steinhoff Africa Retail Limited (STAR) where he is chairman.

NRF Retail’s Big Show wrap

Some of the world’s biggest brands and retailers, including Walmart, Levi Strauss & Co and Brazil’s Via Varejo, took to the stage at the NRF Big Show in New York City on Sunday, 14 January, exuding a sense of cautious optimism.

Amid pronouncements that retail is undoubtedly “hard” and “changing fast”, few speakers seemed interested in discussing the “retail apocalypse” that has dominated headlines in the past.

Indeed, when asked about the state of the industry, Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon simply said, “The person who ultimately decides whether we survive or not is the customer.”

In the first keynote of the day, Levi’s president, James Curleigh, discussed the company’s move to find points of strategic balance between delivering the expected (having products in store, providing a level of service) and surprising customers with the unexpected; between leveraging the brand’s heritage and acquiring new customers through innovation.

Day 2  kicked off with insights from a trio of powerful female executives. Former vice chair of General Electric, Beth Comstock shared her take on how large organisations can survive and thrive in this new era of constant change.

Tommy Hilfiger was the first retailer to partner with Facebook Messenger on chatbots

Later, Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and Thrive Global, spoke about the importance of “switching off” from smartphones, email and social media from time to time.

“We take better care of our smartphones than ourselves. We get so used to running on empty it’s the new normal,” she told Jo Ling Kent, a correspondent for NBC.

On Day 3, the final keynote at the NRF Big Show featured iconic fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger speaking with IBM’s Michelle Peluso about technology and transformation at the iconic fashion label.

Tommy Hilfiger was an early adopter of the see now, buy now trend in fashion and the first retailer to partner with Facebook Messenger on chatbots. The brand has embraced mobile shopping, such as ‘snap to shop’, and influencer marketing, striking advantageous partnerships with the likes of Gigi Hadid.

International games

Luxury group, Kering, is getting out of the sports lifestyle business as it plans to spin off the German sportswear label Puma to its shareholders, part of the company’s move to focus purely on its luxury brands.

Kering, the owner of high fashion labels such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, will distribute 70 per cent of total Puma shares to its investors, leaving it with only a 16 per cent stake from 86 per cent.

Not a great week for South African retail giant Woolworths Holdings, who’s shares have dropped after the conglomerate signalled a revaluation of its $2 billion David Jones investment.

According to the retailer, earnings per share for the 26-week period ended 24 December 2017 are expected to be over 20 per cent lower than the prior year, “due to the inclusion in the prior period of the profit on disposal of the David Jones´ Market Street property in Sydney, as well as the impact of a potential reassessment of the carrying value of the David Jones´ assets, which is currently in process.”

Stockland will build its fifth WA centre

Local tide

On a more positive note, consumer confidence has risen to a more-than-four-year high thanks to surprisingly strong building approvals and retail spending figures while Australia’s retail landscape is entering a period of stabilised growth, with turnover in the sector growing 3 per cent in the third quarter of 2017, according to property firm CBRE.On the e-tail side of things, online boutique marketplace Archfashion has relaunched customised menswear retailer Kent & Lime after rescuing the brand from administration last year.

Elsewhere, online wine retailer Vinomofo will be selling to customers in 14 American states by the end of the year if co-founder Justin Dry gets his way.

Just over a month after launching its marketplace in Australia, Amazon has decided to launch its music service in Australia and New Zealand and will begin pre-orders on its suite of voice devices early next month.

Not-for-profit organisation Oxfam Australia hit out at retailers’ back to school campaigns, pinpointing leading brands turning over billions of dollars each year, while the women working making the clothes are paid poverty wages and struggling to give their children the basics.

Stockland received state and local planning approvals for its fifth shopping centre in WA.

Over to next week…

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