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Retailer News

FTI Consulting: Retailers Need to Evolve

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FTI Consulting: Retailers Need to Evolve

According to FTI Consulting in the future the retail industry will be stuck in "The New Mediocre", a period where one must take action if brick-and-mortar outlets want to remain relevant in an increasingly online world.

The analyst says a number of factors have led to the declines the industry current faces-- an oversupply of stores, maturation (and lack of differentiation) in many stores and brands, a lack of "hot ticket" items, changing demographics, uneven economic recovery, customers wanting to spend money on services and experiences and, ultimately, online retail sales causing a destabilising effect on store economics.

“Retailers today are facing a magnitude of issues and challenges in a landscape where the only constant is the accelerating pace of change,” FTI adds. “Retailers have reached a crossroads, with many of them merely hanging on, it is clear to us that there needs to be an evolution in their business approach to stay afloat.”

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WSJ: RadioShack May Declare Bankruptcy

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WSJ: RadioShack May Declare Bankruptcy

RadioShack may be preparing for bankruptcy protection starting from as early as February 2015, the Wall Street Journal reports, and is already in talks with a private-equity firm in order to sell its assets.

However the WSJ adds the talks are not final, and as such RadioShack might go for other debt-restructuring options, including reaching out to other potential lenders. An earlier WSJ report says Salus Capital Partners, the retailer's asset-based lender, offered a $500 million debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan replacing its current $585m financing package.

The anachronistically-named retailer suggested it is on the verge of bankruptcy last month, following bigger-than-expected fiscal Q3 losses.

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Darty Cautious Despite Improvement

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Darty Cautious Despite Improvement

No. 3 European CE retailer Darty sees improvement in the 6 months ending 31 October 2014, with revenues growing by 3.5% Y-o-Y as the retailer continues to narrow focus on its core France, Belgium and Netherlands businesses.

In part such improvements come through the sale of majority stake in Datart, the retail business in Czech Republic and Slovakia. It also dropped loss-making operations in Italy, Spain and Turkey. As a result net losses for the 6-month period reach €4.7 million, an improvement from €19.8m last year, while operating profit totals €9.3m (against a €1m loss a year ago).

However sales drop by 1.2% due to "strong comparatives in Q2" and a "challenging" market.

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Apple Preps First Belgium Store

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Apple Preps First Belgium Store

A recent set of job listings confirm Apple plans to open a flagship Store in Brussels, Belgium-- a first for the country, if one still to be confirmed by the iPhone maker.

The retail-specific job listings total 13, and include a Manager, Expert and Genius, among others.

As mentioned earlier the actual location of the store is unknown, but according to Belgium-iPhone it will be in "The Golden Fleece," a complex currently under construction at Toison d'Or (Golden Fleece), Brussels. Apparently the Apple Store is located on the right-hand side of the building, spans around 1500 square metres and includes a mezzanine.

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Best Buy Exits China

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Best Buy Exits China

Best Buy bids farewell to its Chinese dreams as its sells its Five Star operation to the Juayuan Group, a Chinese real estate company in the name of focusing on the home N. American market.

The financial details of the sale are not available, but the Wall Street Journal speculates it cost around $300 million.

“The sale of Five Star does not suggest any similar action in Canada or Mexico," Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly insists. "Instead, it allows us to focus even more on our North American business. We will also continue to invest in and grow our China-based private label operations, with brand names that include Dynex, Insignia, Modal, Platinum and Rocketfish.”

Reportedly to blame for the exit are a slumping Chinese real estate sector causing declines in home appliance acquisitions, as well as an all too crowded market.

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Black Friday Arrives in Europe

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Black Friday Arrives in Europe

The "Black Friday" retail phenomenon arrives in our side of the globe, as more retailers embrace the pre-Christmas shopping extravaganza-- and the customer brawls and near riots it brings about.

Friday 31 November saw eager customers scrambling, if not fighting, for the chance to snap up low(er) cost TVs and consoles, as an estimated 65% of UK retailers, including the likes of Dixons, Argos, Tesco and John Lewis, planned Black Friday promotions. And we mean "fighting" in the most literal sense, as Reuters reports police were called in to control crowds in London, Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow.

"There was a fight in the queue in front of us," one shopper says.

Other European nations are getting into the Black Friday spirit as well, as Spanish retailer El Corte Ingles used the term to promote discounts in France and Denmark.

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Online Retail, Cuts Help Best Buy Q3

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Online Retail, Cuts Help Best Buy Q3

Best Buy's "Renew Blue" strategy appears to be working as the retailer reports better-than-expected fiscal Q3 2015 results with revenues growing by 0.6% Y-o-Y to $9.4 billion through 2.2% Y-o-Y sales growth.

Further growth for the retailer comes from online retail, as it reports online sales growth of 21.6% Y-o-Y, up from 15% seen in the previous year. Also helping were budget cuts worth around $1 billion.

“In Q3 our teams delivered positive comparable sales, improved profitability and continued progress in our Renew Blue transformation," Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly says.

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How Much Does Phones 4U Owe?

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How Much Does Phones 4U Owe?

Phones 4U owes a number of creditors £168 million in various debts, The Telegraph reports-- debts the retailer will only pay very little of (if at all) following its controversial collapse last September.

For the curious, the above mentioned includes £78m in taxes (as divided between £69.2m in VAT and £8.8m in corporation tax), £4.8m in customer refunds, £42m to suppliers, £25.9 to employees and £17.2m in unpaid bills.

And here's the fun (or not, if you're a Phones 4U creditor) part-- according to administrators PwC only 0.4%, or £6720000, of the debt will be repaid. The retailer is currently raising funds through the sale of shops, and made £15m from the sale of 198 outlets to EE and Vodafone, but 365 shops remain closed.

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Amazon Has a Voice Assistant… In a Tube

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Amazon Has a Voice Assistant… In a Tube

In a surprise announcement Amazon reveals what is surely its oddest product yet-- the Echo, a black cylindrical speaker that is actually cloud-powered, voice-controlled, always-on virtual assistant.

Essentially the Eco is a lot like Apple's Siri, but within a piece of hardware. It promises room-filling sound via 360-degree speaker, and carries 7 microphones paired with beam-forming technology and "enhanced" noise canceling to hear speakers from any direction, even while it is playing music.

As for actual functionality, an adorably awkward video shows the various uses the Echo can find, such as assistant duties (wake up alarms, shopping lists, reminders, news, weather information), the answering of queries via Wikipedia, unit conversion, music playback (from Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn and iHeartRadio). Powering all is the Amazon cloud, to which the Eco connects via mobile device and companion Echo app.

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