House of Fraser boss calls for Brexit transparency

London - Yuan Yafei, the chairman of Sanpower Group and owner of House of Fraser, is calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to give a "definite signal" concerning what type of Brexit deal the government wants to make.

As May is set to visit China this week, the billionaire department store owner, revealed to the BBC at HoF's flagship store in Nanjing, China, that although he was confident that the UK's exit from the UK would not be "too bad" for the economy, the Prime Minister needs to send out a strong signal.

Yuan added that he welcomed May's visit, stressing that he believes in this global era that "no country can ignore China." Sanpower's subsidiary, Nanjing Xinjiekou Department Store Co., Ltd took control of HoF September 2014 for approximately 480 million pounds.

The British department opened its first stores in China in December 2016, as Yuan aims to expand the department store chain across the country.

Photo: Courtesy of House of Fraser

Alvanon launches fashion innovation hub with Asian Pioneers

London - Global innovations firm Alvanon has partnered with former Editor-in-Chief of Apparel Monthly Jenny Liu, to launch a unique industry hub: The Shanghai Apparel Experience Center (SHAEC).

The new hub aims to connect market pioneering technologies and sustainable innovations to help transform the fashion industry in China and the rest of the world. SHAEC is set to showcase Asia's most advanced digital fashion and consumer-facing innovations, offering industry leaders and business professional direct access to transformative technologies. In addition, the hub will also offer a programme of professional seminars and workshops aimed at addressing the most challenging issues in the industry.

"By bringing together fashion industry pioneers and China business leaders who have local, regional and global perspectives, the Shanghai Apparel Experience Center will create a community hub that connects and inspires new ideas and solutions," explained Alvanon founder and CEO Janice Wang in a statement. "It will accelerate collaborations and development between the fashion industry and adjacent industries such as digital technology and media."

Alvanon launches fashion innovation hub with Asian Pioneers

Located at Shanghai Mart Mall, visitors can either call or email Alvanon or Jenny Liu to book an appointment. "For a very long time there has been a big gap in the Chinese market between international brands and local know-how, SHAEC will bring the key players together and provide the resources, tools, news and information businesses really need to thrive and succeed in the Chinese and wider global market," said SHAEC partner Jenny Liu.

Li Xin, the China National Garment Association’s deputy secretary general concluded: "To align with China’s expansive One Belt, One Road Initiative the fashion industry is going through a historical revolution. We want to build an industry of innovation-driven technology, culture-led fashion, and responsibly guided sustainability. SHAEC creates a shared space and a new model that drives innovation and development."

Photo: Courtesy of Alvanon

John Lewis weekly fashion sales down 0.4 percent

Total sales at John Lewis for the week ended January 27, 2018, were 75.9 million pounds (107 million dollars), up 4.7 percent on the same week last year. Style sales were down 0.4 percent, while womenswear sales remained strong at 9.9 percent.

The company said, electrical and home technology sales were up 11.9 percent driven by sales of large electrical items, TVs and smartphones and sales of large electrical items were up 12 percent and sales of communications technology products were up 11.7 percent.

Home sales for the week were up 2.9 percent and furniture and flooring sales were up 7.3 percent on last year.

Picture:John Lewis website

Fyodor Golan sells minority stake to Eiesha Bharti Pasricha

London - British luxury sportswear label Fyodor Golan has sold a "significant minority stake" to fashion investor Eisha Bharati Pasricha. Together the two share a vision to see the brand becoming a "leading international designer" within the sportswear market.

The terms of the deal, which was announced ahead of Fyodor Golan's Autumn/Winter 2018 London Style Week show, were undisclosed. The new investment will help the luxe-sports brand, which had been entirely-self funded until this point, strengthen its team, improve its production capabilities and expand its studio space.

Fyodor Golan sells minority stake to Eiesha Bharti Pasricha

Eiesha Bjarti Pasricha acquires "significant minority stake" in Fyodor Golan

The Indian-business woman, who has been called 'fashion's fairy godmother' previously invested in fellow London Style Week designer brand Roksanda and Jonathan Saunders' namesake fashion brand, as well as eyewear brand Zanzan and digital florist Flowerbx. Pasricha, who was first introduced to Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman brand in late 2016, was impressed by Fyodor Golan's business acumen, "which is rare with emerging designers," said Bharti Pasricha in a statement.

"Looking beyond their eye-catching colourful statement pieces, and collaborations with some of the biggest international brands, there is a deeper level of considered intellectual design happening, and I want to help that become more visible," continued Bharti Pasricha. "The clothes are bold and expressive, and wearing them gives you a sense of positive empowerment even in a casual way. I’m thrilled to support the brand and to be working on the next exciting chapter."

Fyodor Golan sells minority stake to Eiesha Bharti Pasricha

The new investment will also be used to revamp the brand e-commerce platform, which is set to relaunch next month, as it aims to strengthen its direct to consumer business model. "We are so pleased by Eiesha’s investment and the opportunity it brings to our brand," said Golan Frydman, co-founder of Fyodor Golan. "Her support will undoubtedly take us to the next level. We have so many plans for the brand and can’t wait to put them into action!"

Founded in 2011 by design duo Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman, Fyodor Golan is best known for its use of bold prints, vivid colours, and technical fabrics. Over the years the brand has gained a strong following, thanks to its design-led sportswear paired with advanced-contemporary ready-to-wear.

Photos: Fyodor Golan backstage SS18, courtesy of Fyodor Golan

Temperley London raises 1.8 million pounds to support 'significant growth'

British fashion house Temperley London has managed to raise 1.8 million pounds in funding to help turnaround its business and transform Alice Temperley's brand into a fully-fledged luxury lifestyle label.

The London Style Week stalwart raised the money through its existing shareholders in late 2017, which include banker Rupert Hambi and founder Alice Temperley herself. Backers of the brand have invested over 3 million pounds in London Temperley since 2015.

The latest cash-injection will be used to "support significant growth" in both the brand's wholesale and e-commerce, according to a statement from Temperley London. The fashion brand, which was first founded in West London in 2000, is best known for its high-end range as well as its mid-range collection, Somerset by Alice Temperley, which it sells through John Lewis.

However, losses at Temperley London fell to 2.8 million pounds in 2014 and last June the brand reported a post-tax trading loss of 3.89 million pounds for the year to December 2015. Since then the brand has strived to turn the business into a more 'coherent luxury lifestyle brand.' The label shut its underperforming store in Los Angeles and turned its focus to improving its flagship store in Notting Hill, London, and relocating the bulk of its product sourcing from the Far-East to Europe.

The scheme helped Temperley London's revenues increase 5 percent in 2016 to 11.7 million, as preliminary results indicate growth nearly doubled to 9 percent in 2017, with pre-tax losses down to 0.2 million pounds.

Photo: Temperley London, Pre-Fall 2018, Catwalkpictures

Ann Summers: FY17 profits surge 180 percent

For the 52 week period ended June 24, 2017, lingerie player Ann Summers has posted a 180 percent jump in profit before tax at 2.9 million pounds (4 million dollars) against 0.9 million pounds (1.2 million dollars) in the previous year.

The company said airing of ITV’s six-part drama series ‘Brief Encounters’ in July 2016 led to a double-digit growth in its Party Plan business. Ann Summers’ turnover increased from 102 million pounds (143 million dollars) to 109 million pounds 153 million dollars) during the year.

“Our Party Plan business has had an exceptional year where we reaped the rewards of the work put in to re-engage our party ambassadors and to drive recruitment. In July 2016 the airing of ITV’s Brief Encounters reminded the nation of their favourite night in, and Party Plan has seen double digit growth since then,” said Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold in a statement filed with Companies House UK.

During the year under review, the company continued with its store refurbishment program and opened three new stores while refitting eight existing ones including a flagship at Marble Arch. In October 2016, Ann Summers re-launched its Knickerbox range inspired by a love of art, fashion and rebellion for the younger customer.

“Our core lingerie and fashion lines continue to be hugely successful both in our channels as well as driving demand from our wholesale partners, including House of Fraser, Asos and Shop Direct,” added Gold.

Picture:Facebook/Ann Summers

Luxottica expects strong adjusted net profit growth in FY17

In a preliminary results statement, Luxottica Group said that the company closed the fourth quarter of 2017 with sales up 4.3 percent at constant exchange down 2.3 percent at current exchange rates as a result of the strong appreciation of the euro against the group’s other primary currencies. The company added that the fourth quarter results were driven by the acceleration of sales in both the retail and wholesale divisions and the positive performance of the business in Europe, North America, Australia and Brazil.

In 2017, the group's revenues rose to 9,157 million euros (11,325 million dollars), up 2.2 percent at constant exchange and 0.8 percent at current exchange rates). The company said, free cash flow is expected to reach record levels and adjusted net income is expected to grow strongly.

Review of the fourth quarter results

Luxottica added that the fourth quarter of 2017 was the best of the year for the wholesale business, retail comparable store sales, Sunglass Hut performance in its main geographies and ecommerce sales.

In the fourth quarter, the wholesale division grew by 4.7 percent at constant exchange but declined 0.4 percent at current exchange rates, posting a double-digit growth in North America and Brazil. The retail division’s net sales rose by 4.1 percent at constant exchange but were down by 3.3 percent at current exchange rates due to the contribution from new stores and with comparable store sales flat to the fourth quarter of 2016 but showing improvement from the third quarter of 2017.

Sunglass Hut revenues were up 5 percnt at constant exchange rates. LensCrafters continued its focus on transforming its business model and reported negative. During the fourth quarter, Ray-Ban, the company said, continued to grow in every segment and region and Oakley, with rising sales, recorded its best quarterly growth when looking at quarterly performance over the previous two-year period.

“Regarding 2018, the group is looking forward with confidence to the growth of the next twelve months,” said Leonardo Del Vecchio, Executive Chairman of the Luxottica Group in a statement.

Picture:Sunglass Hut website

East enters into administration for the second time in under three years

London - East Lifestyle Limited, the high street retailer known as East, has entered into administration for the second time in under three years today, putting 314 jobs at risk.

Phil Armstrong and Geoff Rowley, partners at specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory LLP, were appointed as joint administrators on January 29. The womenswear retailer, which currently operates 34 stores and 15 concessions, employing a total of 314 members of staff, will continue to trade as normal, while the joint administrators evaluate all potential options for the sale of all, or parts of the business.

East slips into administration after failing to realise expansion plans

East, which was founded in London in 1994, cited difficult trading conditions and a lack of funding as part of the reasons linked to its administration. “Unfortunately East is the latest high street casualty following a tough trading period at the end of last year,” said Rowley in a statement to Yankeemagazines. “The retailer was making progress to expand its footprint, particularly looking at international opportunities, however it has been unable to secure the necessary funding to realise those plans.”

“We’re now working closely with all stakeholders to evaluate the options to sell all or parts of the business,” he added. The womenswear retailer, known for its colourful prints and bohemian style, previously revealed a 6.5 percent increase in like-for-like sales over the Christmas period, driven by a strong online performance.

East enters into administration for the second time in under three years

This is not the first time the womenswear retailer has undergone an insolvency process. East first entered into administration in June 2015, linking an “inconsistent” approach to the design of its products and the “continuing difficult economic climate” to its deep losses. The womenswear retailer reported losses of 712,300 pounds for the year ending March 29, 2014, after turnover slipped 2 percent to 39.7 million pounds. A new company named East Lifestyle Limited purchased parts of the business back through a pre-pack administration deal worth 3.4 million pounds, saving 550 jobs across 82 stores.

However, 19 stores across the UK were not saved, leading to the loss of 155 jobs. Later on in September 2016 Fabindia, an Indian retail group which has been East’s controlling shareholder since 2012, sold an 80 percent share in the womenswear retailer to New York-based investor Rahul Kakar, from Crore Capital. Suzi Spink, East’s CEO at the time left the business as a result of the sale and East appointed Erica Vilkauls, former chief operating officer at Thomas Pink as its interim CEO two months later.

East’s administration comes as Deloitte issued a statement concerning the number of retailers falling into administration. This number had increased 28 percent to 118 last year, the first major growth in five years. High street retailers including Jaeger, Store Twenty One and Brantano all fell into administration last year.

Photos: East SS18, website

London - French luxury group Kering is said to be in early discussion to sell back its 50 percent stake in premium label Stella McCartney to the British designer herself according to media reports.

Kering and Stella McCartney have been operating the business as a 50-50 joint venture since 2001, and issued the following joint statement on the reports: “As often between stakeholders, there are regular discussions about the future of the partnership. Any significant change to the current relationship would naturally be made public at the appropriate time.”

The potential talks come not long after Kering announced it would distribute the majority of shares in German sportswear brand Puma, as the company aims to restructure its business as a pure luxury group. As Kering turns its focus to its larger, fastest-growth and higher-margin luxury brands, such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga, it seems highly likely that the group would seek to disinvest from its smaller brands.

"The Stella McCartney brand is one of Kering's smaller luxury brands within the 'other luxury' division and as such is most likely somewhat dilutive to profitability," said analysts at Berenberg in a note to Reuters.

Hundreds of ​store manager roles at Topshop/Topman at risk

London - Retail roles at hundreds of Topshop and Topman stores across the UK may be cut, as parent company Arcadia Group begins consultations on a major business restructure.

Previous reports indicate that Arcadia Group may cut one of two brand manager roles in stores which house a Topshop and Topman under one roof. Rather than having two separate brand managers for each brand, the high street retailer may condense the role to a single brand manager to look after both brands.

Arcadia Group may also cut one brand manager role for Topshop and Topman stores that are in close proximity to each other. At the moment Arcadia operates 300 Topshop stores and 250 Topman stores across the UK - which could see hundreds of brand managers roles axed.

“As part of an ongoing business review and as a response to the ever-evolving fashion retail landscape, areas in our store management structures have been identified where resource can be used more effectively in servicing the needs of our customers,” said an Arcadia spokesperson in a statement. “As a result we are working to restructure our retail management across Topshop and Topman.”

However, part of Arcadia Group’s new business restructure sees a number of its brand managers taking on a ‘newly created roles.’ “We remain committed to all our team members and our first priority is to redeploy managers into newly created roles within the proposed structure,” continued the spokesperson. “We fully appreciate that this will be a difficult time for those affected and we will ensure our teams are supported through the process of change.”

News of the business restructure comes weeks after Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's revealed plans to cut thousands of collective store jobs throughout the year.

Photo: By Mtaylor848 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons