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Discount powerhouse Lidl does not hesitate to implement the living wage across Europe. Apple Pay is getting a boost from Starbucks and logistics companies from Australia to Africa explore the benefit of rail. If you enjoy our roundup, please invite your friends and colleagues to a FREE subscription of RetailUpdate. Have a great weekend.

asia & australasia
Online giants seal blockbuster deal   Two of China’s biggest Internet start-ups are about to create the country’s largest on-demand services platform. Group-buying site Meituan, owned by Alibaba, and Tencent’s Dianping, a restaurant review app, are set to merge their operations. ▪
Japanese decisions   Fast Retailing, owner of clothing chain Uniqlo, says it is slowing down its expansion in the US. Instead of 15, it will only open 5 new stores +++ Japanese-owned Independent Liquor sells its 21 Mill stores to New Zealand supermarket giant Foodstuffs, which will add them to its Liquorland chain. ▪
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Announcements from Down Under   Trans-Tasman dairy company A2 Milk plans to expand in China, the US and Britain, after it has completed its $40 million capital raising +++ Melbourne-based logistics company Asciano plans to spend AU$ 100 million to expand its Sydney freight hub network and shift container traffic from road to rail. ▪
Kiwi honey seeks protection  Manuka honey producers in New Zealand are seeking the same trademark protection accorded to French Champagne and Scottish Whisky. This comes after imitations that aren't made from the native manuka bush have damaged the brand. ▪
Lidl Ireland raises wages    One month after the German discount giant promised to pay the UK living wage of GBP 8.20 per hour to workers in England, Scotland and Wales it has now committed to pay the living wage of EUR 11.50 to its workers in Ireland. ▪
Implementations and completions   Rewe’s Austrian subsidiary Billa is set to improve its customer service by deploying NCR FastLane Self-Checkouts in all its stores. The move follows the success of a similar roll-out at sister chain Merkur. Meanwhile British beverage giant Diageo streamlines its global operations with the sale of stakes in two overseas brewers to Heineken in a deal worth US$ 780.5 million. ▪
Anuga kicks off   The world's leading food fair for the retail trade and the food service and catering market is about to start tomorrow. Dietmar Eiden, vice-president of trade fair management at Koelnmesse, the organisation behind the fair, explains what lies ahead at this year's event. ▪
usa & canada
Amazon launches new services   As promised not long ago, the e-commerce giant has officially launched its market place for handmade goods challenging artisan marketplace Etsy. Amazon is also rolling out a new service for cloud data analytics, called QuickSight and considering the creation of a live online TV service. ▪
Changes on the top   Walmart is reorganising its sustainability leadership and has named Laura Phillips as the company's senior vice president of sustainability +++ Clothing retailer Gap says Banana Republic's creative director, Marissa Webb, is stepping down as the chain reported a sharp decline in revenues +++ Ascena Retail Group appointed Kay Krill to its board of directors. ▪
Starbucks accepts Apple Pay   The mobile-payment service is getting a boost from the coffee retailer, which will begin accepting Apple Pay in some US stores this year. KFC and Chili's restaurants also will begin accepting the service. ▪
Uchumi shuts down stores   The supermarket chain has closed four of its stores in Kenya and Uganda as part of the plan by its new chief executive that involves closing non-performing outlets. The new restructuring process is expected to turn around the struggling retailer. ▪
Sustainable fruit transport   Fruit South Africa, a non-profit organisation formed by the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa, aims to have 10% of exports transported to ports by rail in the years to come, cutting down on both costs and carbon emissions. ▪

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