Despite a double-digit drop in profits, Aldi is set to power ahead in Britain. Unilever landed a billion-dollar acquisition in Southeast Asia. US heavyweight Costco has big plans in China, while Alibaba's Alipay enters the Canadian market. In Europe, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's explore their online and tech skills.




Tuesday, 26 September 2017





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Despite a double-digit drop in profits, Aldi is set to power ahead in Britain. Unilever landed a billion-dollar acquisition in Southeast Asia. US heavyweight Costco has big plans in China, while Alibaba's Alipay enters the Canadian market. In Europe, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's explore their online and tech skills.




Asia & Australia


Big spender ▪ In its latest move to build a global beauty business, Unilever has agreed to buy Carver Korea, a Seoul-based maker of skin care products, for US$ 2.7 billion. The Anglo-Dutch conglomerate has also begun to offload its spreads business in South Africa as part of a major structural review.



Going physical ▪ Alibaba has opened a home-furnishing flagship store similar to Ikea in Hangzhou, which is fully equipped with e-commerce technology. The Chinese powerhouse has expanded the partnership between its Taobao platform and Lazada and will now sell selected items in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.



Gearing up ▪ Costco accelerates its push online in the lead-up to the arrival of Amazon in Australia by trialling a new delivery service on big orders in Melbourne. Over in China, the US wholesaler is expected to soon build physical stores after its official opening recently on Tmall.




Europe


Driving growth ▪ Sales at Aldi UK rose 13.5% to GBP 8.7 billion in 2016, but operating profit fell 17% to GBP 211.3 million. The discounter blamed the fall on its "continued investment in prices". Nevertheless, Aldi is opening more than one store a week in Britain with the aim of 1,000 stores by 2022.



Assessing options ▪ Marks & Spencer has started trials for an online grocery service, which might be a challenge considering the upmarket retailer is largely used for top-up shopping. Meanwhile, Sainsbury's has begun testing a mobile checkout system, seeing customers scan items with their smartphone.



Beauty alliance ▪ Debenhams has acquired a minority stake in UK's largest on-demand beauty services provider, Blow. The exclusive partnership enables the department store operator to ramp up its presence in the GBP 4 billion beauty services market.




USA & Canada


Payment partnership ▪ Alibaba's online payment platform Alipay will officially launch in Canada through a partnership with tech firm SnapPay enabling Canadian retailers to accept Chinese currency through a mobile wallet and offering the opportunity to access the market in China.



Raising the wage ▪ In a bid to attract new workers, US discount chain Target said it would increase its minimum hourly wage from US$ 10 to US$ 11, with plans to offer US$ 15 by 2020. US wages have barely risen in almost a decade, and it is difficult for retailers to recruit staff.



Thinking local ▪ Supporting small-business owners and local vendors, supermarket giant Kroger has launched a new website aimed at recruiting emerging brands that can be sold in its 2,800 stores across the US. Sourcing locally also supports the company’s sustainability commitments.




Digital trends


High-tech gadgets ▪ California-based company Opter Life has created a wearable and stylish "smart" bamboo pendant called Pose. Among other features, it vibrates when the wearer has bad posture or is getting too much sun exposure.



Booming wearables ▪ Fitbit announced that its Ionic smartwatch and bluetooth headphone will hit the market come October. Sales of wearable electronic devices are expected to continue growing strongly for at least the next four years.