Online partnerships and acquisitions are in the headlines today. Marks & Spencer hopes to turn around its food business with the help of Ocado, Harrods teams with fashion platform Fartech, and Walmart has purchased a language tech provider. Meanwhile, Home Depot, Macy's and South Africa's Shoprite are struggling with slowing growth. Enjoy the read!




Wednesday, 27 February 2019





Hello ,

Online partnerships and acquisitions are in the headlines today. Marks & Spencer hopes to turn around its food business with the help of Ocado, Harrods teams with fashion platform Fartech, and Walmart has purchased a language tech provider. Meanwhile, Home Depot, Macy's and South Africa's Shoprite are struggling with slowing growth. Enjoy the read!

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Europe


Tie-up talks ▪ Marks & Spencer has confirmed that it is in discussion with online grocer Ocado to form a GBP 1.8 billion joint venture, which will give the former a food delivery service for the first time. Meanwhile, fellow retailer Harrods has chosen fashion start-up Fartech to offer a state-of-the-art global e-commerce platform.



More alliances ▪ Dutch international retailer Spar is strengthening its position in Spain with a number of new store openings in collaboration with its partners in the region. Britain's John Lewis is teaming with an agri-tech start-up to create sustainable 'mini-farms' within its retail stores.


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Takeover target ▪ US-based investment firm Flacks is considering a GBP 20 million bid to buy British lifestyle retailer Laura Ashley. The Miami-based group's announcement comes despite the current owner's insistence it has no plans to sell the brand. Last week, Laura Ashley issued a profit warning.




US & Middle East


Online efforts ▪ Walmart has acquired Aspectiva, an Israeli start-up whose AI-based technology analyses user-generated content and combines it with shopping behaviour. Furthermore, the retail heavyweight announced it will consolidate advertising sales for its stores and websites.



Struggling with sales ▪ Macy's said it would cut 100 senior management positions to improve profitability after the department store operator reported a mixed bag of results and a meagre growth. Fellow retailer Home Depot also flagged slowing quarterly sales growth, and issued a disappointing profit outlook.



Banner abandoned ▪ Whole Foods Market is dropping the name of its smaller-format 365 a month after the natural grocer revealed plans to discontinue the retail banner altogether. The 12 current locations will be converted into traditional Whole Foods stores by year's end.




Asia & Africa


Cross-border e-commerce ▪ Chinese online start-up Pinduoduo, backed by tech giant Tencent, aims to bring affordable, imported items to shoppers in the country's smaller cities and rural areas. It has started recruiting importers to set up shop on its marketplace.



Coffee competition ▪ Tim Hortons has arrived in China and opened its first location in Shanghai, joining the battle to sell coffee in a country that mostly drinks tea. The Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain is also facing tough competition from the likes of Starbucks and Costa.



Bleak outlook ▪ Johannesburg-headquartered retailer Shoprite posted a 19.0% decrease in half-year trading profit, hit by supply problems in its home country and a currency devaluation in Angola. Sales were up by just 0.2%. The supermarket and furniture retailer thinks that its outlook could improve.




What to watch


In search of buyers ▪ Nestlé has reportedly hired bankers at Rothschild to sell its Herta packaged meat business as it seeks to focus on its faster-growing enterprises. The Swiss food giant is also in the process of selling its much larger skin health business.



Oh baby ▪ Walmart is launching Hello Bello, a range of plant-based baby items, backed by Hollywood celebrities. In addition, the retailer has revamped the baby departments in over 2,000 of its locations. Rival Amazon already jumped into the natural baby products game last year.