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Retailer News

FTC Sets to Block Staples-Office Depot Merger

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FTC Sets to Block Staples-Office Depot Merger

The $6.3 billion Office Depot-Staples acquisition hits a snag-- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) files a lawsuit claiming the merger means higher prices and fewer options for companies buying office supplies in bulk.

“The Commission has reason to believe that the proposed merger between Staples and Office Depot is likely to eliminate beneficial competition that large companies rely on to reduce the costs of office supplies,” An FTC statement reads.

The lawsuit has the approval of all four current FTC commissioners.

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MIF Regulation Brings Payment Complications

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MIF Regulation Brings Payment Complications

The Smart Payment Association (SPA) points out the the EU's "MIF Regulation" eliminates the "honour all card" rule from June 2016-- bringing about complications to both retailers and consumers making use of prepaid, credit or debit cards.

Article 10, clause 5 of the MIF Regulation (aka EU Regulation 2015/751 - on Interchange Fees for Card-Based Payment Transactions) states "issuers shall ensure that their payment instruments are electronically identifiable and, in the case of newly issued card-based payment instruments, also visibly identifiable, enabling payees and payers to unequivocally identify which brands and categories of prepaid cards, debit cards, credit cards or commercial cards are chosen by the payer.”  Fair enough, but how will it actually work? The EU offers no guidelines to the the range of issues involved in the complex implementation, as listed below.

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    Europol Stops 999 Counterfeit E-Tailers

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    Europol Stops 999 Counterfeit E-Tailers

    The international Europol In-Our-Sites (IOS) VI operation seizes nearly 1000 websites selling counterfeit goods or breaking intellectual property laws.

    Counterfeit goods included consumer electronics as well as clothing, pharmaceuticals, luxury goods and toiletries. The operation involved law enforcement agencies from Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, France, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain and the UK, with further support from 8 Interpol member countries (Argentina, Chile, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Panama, Peru, S. Korea and Thailand).

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    Indiegogo Teams Up With Retailers

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    Indiegogo Teams Up With Retailers

    Indiegogo makes it easier for entrepreneurs to sell products in brick-and-mortar outlets as it announces partnerships with US retailers Target and Brookstone.

    The Target partnership involves the showcase of 3 successfully crowdfunded devices-- namely the Oomi smart home control platform, the Nanoleaf voice-controlled lighting kit and the Butterfly wireless home security camera-- at its experimental Open House store in San Francisco.

    Meanwhile Brookstone offers "special access to resources and expertise" to products relevant to the technology, wellness, home and travel focus areas. It will also sell 9 crowdfunded devices, such as the Axent Wear cat ear headphones, AIRTAME wireless display device and the Beddit sleep monitor, in a "Funded with Indiegogo" section.

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    Fnac Buys Darty

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    Fnac Buys Darty

    Book & music chain Fnac buys electronics chain Darty for £558 million-- a move the two companies say creates a "key player" in the European CE retail landscape.

    The takeover creates a mega-retail group with sales reaching more than €7 billion and earnings of around €270m (after an estimated annual savings of around €85m).

    Darty refused an offer worth £533m earlier in November, leading to Fnac sweetening the deal with a higher price per share (105p, as opposed to the earlier 101p).

    The two companies combined have 380 stores in France and over 200 outlets in other countries (including Belgium, Netherlands, Spain and Brazil).

    In addition to the Darty electronics chain in France, Darty operates Vanden Borre stores in Belgium and BCC in the Netherlands. The company sold its unprofitable Comet chain in UK in 2012.

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    PCM Buys Systemax's TigerDirect

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    PCM Buys Systemax's TigerDirect

    PCM (formerly PC Mall) acquires TigerDirect and a number of B2B assets of the Systemax North American Technology Group (NATG), in a deal worth $14 million.

    The sale brings the Systemax retail adventure to an end--or, as Systemax CEO Richard Leeds puts it, "[the sale] will allow us to devote all of our time and resources on our other businesses and improving their competitive position to capitalise on their growth opportunities."

    Other Systemax divisions include the European B2B unit, an industrial products group and education- and government-channel operations. After the sale Systemax will close its 3 remaining retail stores and the NATG distribution centre.

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    A Tally Robot to Keep Stock of Retail Shelves

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    A Tally Robot to Keep Stock of Retail Shelves

    Global retailers lose nearly $450 billion due to out-of-stock items and empty shelves, Simbe Robotics says-- bringing about a need for Tally, the autonomous shelf auditing robot.

    The idea behind Tally is pretty straightforward. One or more Tally units roam around brick-and-mortar retail environments to keep track of the merchandise available on the shelves. The robots detect out-of-stock and low stocks, identify misplaced or incorrectly facing items and even validate price tags, all with vendor management and 3rd party supplier compliance.

    Tally operates "safely" during regular store hours, and even heads automatically to charging stations when low on power, Roomba-style. The actual unit is 96cm tall and weighs around 13kg.

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    Google Gives Up on Retail Dream?

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    Google Gives Up on Retail Dream?

    Google fears to thread the New York retail waters occupied by Microsoft and Apple, as business site Crain's reports the search giant gave up on its first US flagship store.

    The space is located in Greene Street, SoHo, a popular shopping district with upscale tenants including Dior, Tiffany, Louis Vitton and Sonos. The 5442-square-foot building reportedly received $6 million in restoration and renovation from Google-- with works including a sunken portion of ground floor in the rear complete with soaring ceilings and glass skylights and a facade restored to its former glory.

    "This is going to be a space for a brand at the top of their field," a real estate broker involved with the building tells Crain's. "It's an extraordinary buildout-- architecturally there really is nothing else like it in SoHo," he added.

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    Dixons Carphone Buys Infocare Workshop

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    Dixons Carphone Buys Infocare Workshop

    Elkjøp, the Dixons Carphone Nordic division, acquires regional service and repair specialist Infocare Workshop. The financial details of the acquisition are not available.

    Infocare Workshop has 4 repair sites located in  Kongsvinger (Norway), Helsinki (Finland) and Växsjö and Linköping (Sweden). It employs 300 people and completes 3-400000 repairs annually.

    As the retailer puts it the Infocare Workshop acquisition allows Dixons Carphone to own the complete end-to-end customer service journey in the region, with Elkjøp (under the KNOWHOW service brand) providing more consistent service repair levels.

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