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Ten buzzes for world’s top retailers

Retailing is the latest slogan in the business. Fashion retailing is getting high visibility in media coverage due to the brands strong economy. Dynamic young people as well as blue-chip companies are suddenly taking pleasure in calling themselves shopkeepers. A number of apparel retail shops cropped up all over the globe. This is the section where we try our best to tell you most recent actions of these retailers around the earth. All concerned are requested to send related news to me, farhan@textiletoday.com.bd. 

Walmart Slammed for “Pathetic” Contribution to Rana Plaza Victims’ Fund: $2.2 Million

Mega-retailer Walmart has come under fire for the amount it pledged to a fund for the victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse: $2.2 million.The international union IndustriALL lambasted Walmart of what it considers unacceptable stinginess. Report said, The paltry amount of compensation money paid by the clothing giants can only be a start. Between them, Gap and Walmart, together with The Children’s Place and Walmart’s UK division Asda, will contribute £1,330,000. That equals around £300 per family. This is pathetic.

Walmart has sustained continued criticism for its response to the Rana Plaza tragedy but has recently tried to improve its strategic approach to factory safety. Just months ago, Walmart released the results of a much anticipated audit of its Bangladesh factories for safety, the first time a major Western retailer has provided such a transparent portal into its inspections process.

Currently, Walmart contracts with more than 200 factories in Bangladesh and has, thus far, managed to inspect seventy-five of them. Approximately 15 percent of these failed the initial round of inspections. One of these was in such egregious violation of code it had to be shuttered. The company’s plan is to have completed an inspection of all of its factories and begin publishing the results in the next few months.

Of the twenty-eight retailers who have pledged contributions to a fund set up to compensate the families of Rana Plaza victims, only sixteen have made good on their promises so far. The International LabourOrganisation (ILO), which supervises the fund, originally intended to raise $40 million, but so far the fund only contains $7 million.

M&S brings underwear and beauty boutiques to Saudi Arabia

British M&S Marks and Spencer (clothing and food) plans for the first time ever to introduce independent underwear and beauty boutiques, not in Great Britain, but in Ryad, the capital city of Saudi Arabia The Middle East is one of the most attractive markets for Western retailers. The plans of M&S forms part of a strategy to expand in the Near East.

Experts estimate that the underwear sector represents around USD 200 million annually and has brought already brands such as Victoria’s Secret to that region. Luxury brands have established themselves in the market. According to a study by Bain & Company, the value of the luxury good’s market of the Near East totals annually around USD 6 billion.

It is true that luxury goods enjoy a dominant position, but also retailers in mass markets have good chances to enter the Near East market. Between 2000 and 2008 the region generated growth rates between 25 – 30 % annually, today, growth rates are a bit more moderate, but still at 8 % annually.

Inditex (Zara) is investing in a new logistics hub in Spain

The world’s largest fashion retailer, Inditex SA, is laying bricks to support growth for the next decade by investing EUR 150 million (around USD 209 million) in a new logistics hub. The new logistics hub at Cabanillas Del Campo (scrubland just outside of Madrid, will be capable of distributing close to half a million garments daily to stores in 87 countries on five continents. It will consist of four gray warehouses and the facility will be operating within months and bring the number of Inditex distributions centres in Spain to 10.

Higher spending on distribution capacity, new stores and a makeover of older Zara stones curbed Inditex’s profits in the fourth quarter of 2013. Net profit during that quarter fell to EUR 703 million (EUR 708 million). Sales rose 4.7 % to EUR 4.8 billion. Profit margins and sales outside the Euro Zone were also dented by the strengthening of the EUR against other currencies. For all of 2013 Inditex reported a net profit of EUR 2.38 billion (EUR 2.36 billion) and annual sales rose 4.9 % to EUR 16.72 billion. The retailer is investing increasingly in larger stores. This year it plans to open new flagship stores in Los Angeles, Miami (both USA), one in New York’s financial district (all USA) and Hong Kong. The expansion will reach 27 countries, with openings planned in South Korea and Mexico.

H&M, Zara Back Sustainable Sourcing Campaign

Green is upping its fashion game. In the latest move linking the young and chic to sustainability, the world’s two largest fashion brands — H&M and Zara — have agreed to partner with nonprofit Canopy, backing its “Fashion Loved By Forest” campaign, an effort to rid rayon and viscose clothing of all traces of ancient and endangered forests.

Canopy says the global clothing market represents some $1.2 trillion in annual sales. And while at least 17 other brands — including Eileen Fisher, Quiksilver and Loomstate, best known for its sustainable cotton products — are already on board, adding retail giants H&M, based in Sweden, and Zara, which is owned by Inditex, adds considerable clout. In its release announcing the partnership, the environmental group says it hopes the addition of such large brands will “send a powerful signal to the logging and pulp sectors that market demands are shifting.”H&M says it intends to have its plan in place by June, and that it will be free of all problematic sourcing by 2017.

Levi Strauss net profit drops on restructuring

Levi Strauss & Co. said its fiscal first-quarter profit slid 53% as the jeans maker posted restructuring-related charges and revenue edged lower.The results come about two weeks after Levi outlined a plan to cut 800 jobs as part of a cost-savings plan to help boost its profitability. While Levi’s sales and net income grew for the company’s latest fiscal year, both metrics declined in the final quarter, hurt by higher promotions.For the quarter ended Feb. 23, Levi reported a profit of $50 million, down from $107 million a year earlier. The latest period included $58 million in restructuring charges. Revenue declined 1.5% to $1.13 billion.Gross margin narrowed to 51% from 51.6% due to higher discounted sales and inventory markdowns.In the Americas, where Levi does most of its business, sales dropped 3.1%. Sales were up 1% in Europe and were flat in the Asia Pacific region.

Walmart Gives a Mother’s Day gift with Meaning

In time for Mother’s Day, Walmart expands its Empowering Women Together product offering of unique and meaningful gifts that will celebrate moms everywhere while supporting small women-owned businesses from around the world. The retailer announced it is increasing the availability of products created by small women-owned businesses beyond its current online platform into more than 2,600 stores nationwide – a move that provides abundant opportunities to women’s businesses and furthers Walmart’s efforts to help improve women’s lives.  Tremendous progress has been made for women in business, yet there are still a number of barriers to overcome. According to the EY “Growing Beyond” report, currently in the United States 46 percent of privately held firms are now at least half-owned by women, but these businesses often have difficulty scaling up.

Nike Shoemaker Yue Yuen Says Over 1,000 China Workers on Strike

Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd., a shoe supplier for Nike Inc. and Adidas AG, said more than 1,000 factory workers in a southern Chinese city went on strike recently, demanding better social security payments.The employees took to the streets of Dongguan before being stopped by local police, according to a statement from the Hong Kong-listed company. Yue Yuen said 600 workers staged a demonstration yesterday, though Hong Kong-based China Labor Bulletin put the number at more than 10,000 and New York-based China Labor Watch at “tens of thousands.”

Yue Yuen is the latest foreign company to have seen its China operations idled by strikes. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. have also become targets of employee activism in China this year, thanks to a shrinking labor force and as more workers become aware of their rights and bargaining power. Labor disputes led to 31 percent of the 871 mass protests from January 2000 to end-September 2013, state- owned China Daily said this month, citing a government report.

Gap Outlines Expansion Plan

Taking forward its intention to penetrate deeper into the $1.4 trillion global apparel retail market, The Gap Inc.(GPS) outlined its growth strategies at the Investor Meet held. The premier international specialty retailer stated that it would increase focus on widening its international presence, enhancing omni-channel strategies, building an efficient inventory model and streamlining its supply chain.

As part of its global expansion plans, Gap intends to speed up its Asian operations, particularly in China. Gap evidently views China as a country with high growth potential, as reflected in its strategic moves over the past few years. The company expects to treble its revenues from the country over the next three years from over $300 million at the end of fiscal 2013.

Reporting on The Boston Consulting Group projections, The Wall Street Journal revealed that apparel sales in the urban areas of China will expectedly reach $156 billion by 2017, registering a 58% rise from 2013. This high growth potential has attracted many U.S.-based retailers including Ralph Lauren Corp. (RL), V.F. Corp. (VFC) and Tiffany & Co. (TIF) that have led to an overcrowding of the Chinese market.

Primark becomes latest British brand to invade U.S. retail market

Dublin-based Primark, a staple British brand that has already expanded over much of Europe, will look to establish a foothold in the U.S. retail market by opening a store in Boston by the end of next year. The cultural similarities between the United States Northeast and Europe along with the heavy Irish ties and large student population of Boston make this Massachusetts city an ideal location for the first Primark store in North America.While Primark looks to capitalize on their formula that has already been successful throughout Europe; offering trendy clothes at an unbelievably low price, they are not afraid to adapt merchandise, pricing and store environment as they are well aware that the Bostonians reception of the Primark Brand will be heavily indicative of the retailers future success in the rest of the country.

eBay Expands Global Shipping Program with 9 New Countries

eBay is expanding its Global Shipping Program yet again, this time to nine additional countries including some located in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. eBay is pushing sellers to use the Global Shipping Program (GSP) to make their items available to buyers 44 countries – soon to be 53, but without having to ship internationally. eBay will add the following nine countries to the GSP program beginning April 8, 2014: Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Croatia, Malaysia and Turkey.

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