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German discounter Aldi, one of the fastest-growing retailers in the US, is challenging Walmart's hold on higher-income shoppers by accepting credit cards. Meanwhile, Sam's Club and Albertsons aim to improve their offer. Danish toymaker Lego enjoys stellar profits and Chinese internet companies Baidu and JD.com beat expectations. Enjoy the read and please share.

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asia & Australasia 
Solid growth for Baidu and JD.com    China's second biggest e-commerce company behind Alibaba, JD.com, has reported better-than-expected revenue growth in the last three months of 2015 and Internet search giant Baidu made “significant progress” last year amid a significant revenue jump.   ▪
Kate Spade goes to India   Partnering with Reliance Brands, the New York-based retailer has entered into a new distribution agreement to establish its footprint in India. The Indian company plans to open the first few stores for the brand before the end of the year. ▪
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Honey alliance Down Under   New Zealand manuka honey company Comvita is teaming up with its Australian counterpart, Capilano Honey, to form a leptospermum apiary business in Australia. The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a jointly owned business. ▪
europe & middle east
Retail property decisions   Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid has unveiled plans to build Dubai Wholesale City, a 550 million square foot global wholesale hub with an expected cost of EUR 2.5 billion +++ Over in Spain, department store operator El Corte Inglés plans to sell off 200 properties worth up to EUR 1 billion in order to reduce its debt level. ▪
Strong market positions   Denmark-based toymaker Lego's empire keeps growing with a profit of US$ 1.34 billion in 2015, which is more than the profits of Mattel and Hasbro put together +++ On the back of a successful year with a 33.6% increase in revenue, clothing etailer Zalando has reiterated its commitment to investing in infrastructure. ▪
Trade deal revised   The European Union and Canada have reworked their landmark free-trade agreement to limit how and when companies can directly sue governments. The changes, aimed at appeasing European critics, clear the way for the trade agreement to be signed this year. ▪
usa & canada
Aldi accepts cards   The German discounter, which is one of the fastest-growing retailers in the US, is now allowing its 30 million monthly customers to pay for products with a credit card, a move that could challenge Walmart’s hold on lower middle-class shoppers. ▪
Improving grocery offers   In a bid to attract wealthier customers, Walmart's warehouse club unit Sam's Club has built a team of regional US buyers to bring in more local and organic products +++ Citing animal welfare concerns as well as customer buying habits, Albertsons is set to source only cage-free eggs for all stores by 2025. ▪
Preparing for bankruptcy   Sporting goods retailer Sports Authority plans to file for bankruptcy and close about 150 stores. The Colorado-based retailer is also in discussions about potentially selling stores to rival chain Dick’s Sporting Goods. ▪
Africa
Edcon focuses on private label   Tackling declining sales, Johannesburg-based retail company Edcon is cutting costs and stocking fewer premium brands. Its department store chain Edgars will source more locally and offer private labels. ▪
Barclays exits Africa   After reporting a 2% profit drop and slashing its dividend, British bank and financial service company Barclays plans to scale back heavily in Africa, ending its presence on the continent after more than a century. ▪

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