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Paul Smith to open new store in Berlin

London - Paul Smith is set to open a new store in Berlin next month. Located on Potsdamer Straße in Tiergarten, the shop will feature the brand’s ready-to-wear collections, shoes, and accessories for men and women.

The new store, spanning 1,000 square feet, marks Paul Smith second store opening in Germany, following on from its debut store opening in Hamburg in 2014. Similar to every Paul Smith store, the new store’s interior will be designed to reflect and complement its surroundings. The front of the new Berlin store will be covered in hooks, which offers the store the possibility to customise its facade.

Paul Smith to open new store in Berlin

Inside, the new store’s interior will feature a blend of authentic features from the shop’s history, which dates back to the 1800s. Paul Smith has created custom, matching fixtures and fittings for the interior, to complement its history. For example, a plaster mural hints at the store’s previous life as a supplier of religious artifacts.

In addition to featuring the Paul Smith collections for men and women, the new store will also offer a changing selection of curiosities and special items. These are set to range from vinyl records and gig posters to vintage leather bikers jackets and other unique objects found by Paul Smith during his travels around the world. Paul Smith Berlin is set to open in March 2018.

Photos: Courtesy of Paul Smith

Brits to splash out up to 1 billion pounds this Valentine's Day

REPORT London - Love is in the air as Brits are predicted to spend more on Valentine's Day gifts than Easter. Romantic partners spent 620 million pounds on Valentine's gifts in 2017, compared to the 575 million pounds they spent at Easter, according to research from Mintel, market research firm. And this amount is predicted to increase this year, as consumers continue to share the love.

In spite of weakening consumer confidence, Mintel foresees sales of Valentine's Days gifts increasing to 650 million pounds in 2018, a 5 percent increase from 2017. Valentine's Day spending has received a boost from growing interest in the holiday, which has bolstered average spend. Consumers spent 60 pounds on average on Valentine's Day gifts on 2017, compared to 41 pounds in 2016. In comparison, the average spend for Easter was 41 pounds in 2017 and 35 pounds in 2016.

Brits to splash out up to 1 billion pounds this Valentine's Day

UK consumers spend more on Valentine's Day than Easter

"Valentine’s Day is now the biggest spending retail event in the first half of the year, overtaking Easter by a significant amount," said Samantha Dover, Retail Analyst at Mintel, in a statement. "This year we expect more shoppers to trade up as retailers continue to increase their Valentine’s Day ranges with both premium and personalized gift options, and tapping into consumer demand for quality gifts."

However, growth on Valentine's Day gifts is expected to slow compared to 2017, as a growing number of consumers turn to shopping at discounters for the occasion. Although GlobalData, digital retail firm, predicts UK sales on Valentine's gifts and cards will hit the 1 billion pound mark this year, sales growth is forecast to slow, as tightened household budgets and a lack of positive feelings towards the love holiday continue to affect sales. Less than a third of shoppers felt that Valentine's Day was an important celebration last year, as 31.7 percent actively avoided the occasion according to GlobalData Valentine's Day 2017 report.

Brits likely to favour discounters for their Valentine's Day shopping

"Although in the past Valentine’s Day was seen as an opportunity to spoil loved ones and shower them with luxury gifts, with 45.8 percent of consumers last year thinking Valentine’s Day is a waste of money and 56.2 percent believing it costs too much, consumers are expected to be more willing to receive and shop for cheaper gifts at discount players," commented Eleanor Parr Retail Analyst for GlobalData in a statement. "After a successful year for many discounters in 2017, these retailers are likely to gain further share in Valentine’s Day market as they continue to improve consumer perception of their ranges by introducing more luxury options alongside their value assortments."

Brits to splash out up to 1 billion pounds this Valentine's Day

But which Britons are the most likely to go hard on their Valentine's Day spending? Older millennials, those aged between 28 and 37, are said to be the most active Valentine's Day spenders, with 60 percent of them purchasing gifts in 2017 and spending 81 pounds on average according to Mintel. Men, in particular, were found to be more likely to purchase a Valentine's Day gift than their female counterpart. 53 percent of men bought Valentine's Day gifts in 2017, spending an average of 72 pounds, compared to 39 percent of women who spent 44 pounds on average. Romantic favorites, such as jewelry (112 million pounds), flowers (102 million pounds) and clothing and footwear (80 million pounds) top the list of the top four most purchased Valentine's Day gifts with food and drink (128 million pounds) in 2017.

Personalized gifts and experiences top Brits choice for Valentine's Day gifts

More and more Brits are also seeking out more personalized gifts and experiences for their loved ones. 59 percent of Valentine's Day shoppers believe think retailers should offer more options to personalize gifts, while 55 percent think that experiences make better gifts than products. UK consumers also showed a strong preference for more inspirational gift ideas, with 53 percent stating that retailers' suggestions for gifts in the run-up to Valentine's Day are boring. "Shoppers are looking for creative ideas ahead of the 14th February, especially those that go beyond the traditional assortment of lingerie, flowers, and jewelry, with experiential gifts one way to make gift suggestions more appealing," added Dover from Mintel. "These include retailers offering embroidery classes to teach people how to make Valentine’s themed decorations or chocolate making."

Brits to splash out up to 1 billion pounds this Valentine's Day

"With more demand for personalized gifts, retailers also have the chance to encourage higher value purchases by offering services such as monogramming and engraving, which have become increasingly popular. There remain plenty of opportunities for retailers to offer more in-store services, giving shoppers a personal experience as well as personalized gifts." Another way retailers can help improve their Valentine's Day sales is by driving increased marketing around alternative Valentine's Day gift recipients. For example, more and more Brits are purchasing Valentine's Day gifts for pets. Notonthehighstreet features a dedicated webpage for quirky pet present ideas.

"Moreover, there is a new trend, recently imported from the US, ‘Galentine’s Day,’ which celebrates female friendships on the 13th of February," continued Parr from GlobalData. "In 2018 more brands and retailers are expected to capitalize on this day, with moonpig.com and Etsy offering Galentine’s Day cards this year and retailers using the occasion to promote products suitable for females on social media sites."

Photo 1: via Pixabay.com
Photo 2: Courtesy of Hunkemoller, SS18
Photo 3: Courtesy of Topshop, women's SS18
Photo 4: Courtesy of Roberto Cavelli, SS18

Brora marks 25th anniversary with new store

UK cashmere brand Brora is set to open its 15th standalone store later this week in Scotland, as it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Opening in St Andrews, Fife, the 500 square foot store will be located on the well-known west side of Bell Street in the centre of the town, in close proximity to Jack Wills and Jo Malone.

The store will launch with its spring collection and will be opened by founder and creative director of the brand Victoria Stapleton, who will introduce the brand and showcase some seasonal styling.

Stapleton said: “I’m really pleased to have found the perfect little shop in the heart of St Andrews to open a specialist Brora cashmere destination full of our colourful cashmere knitwear and signature accessories.

“I have every confidence that the locals and tourists alike will love the Spring collection and the newness we can bring to the town as the seasons roll on.”

Brora, which remains 100 percent privately owned by Stapleton, is also set to roll out four more concessions with John Lewis this year, including within the department store’s new White City store at Westfield London.

Image: courtesy of Brora

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks has announced that construction on its 40,000 square foot extension will begin this month to add an additional 25 new premium fashion and food and beverage brands.

The new phase will be the centre’s sixth expansion since the designer outlet opened in 1995, and the additional 25 units will take the total number of stores at the centre to over 170.

Kenny Murray, centre manager at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks, said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet as we embark upon our latest extension to the centre which will see over 40 million pounds invested in expanding and upgrading facilities over the coming year.

“Once complete, visitors will be able to enjoy some 400,000 square foot of premium shopping space and an even greater mix of fashion, lifestyle and restaurant brands. We’ve continued to enhance the brand mix following a strong couple of years, and this latest phase is the next step in creating an even better shopping experience for our local catchment as well as our short and long haul visitors from Europe and beyond.”

Set for completion in autumn this year, the extension will deliver an extra 300 parking spaces for visitors, taking the total number to 3,200, as well a year-round community space that will be expanded and enhanced, a new guest welcome centre, Premium Lounge, a children’s play area, additional guest toilets and a ‘Changing Places’ facility.

In addition, there will be a new footbridge added to improve access for both guests and the 2,600 staff who work at Cheshire Oaks. The new phase is also expected to create up to 300 additional jobs at the centre and generate further economic benefits for the local area.

Chris Farrow, chairman of the Ellesmere Port Development Board, said: “We are very proud to have Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, the largest Designer Outlet Village in the UK, on our doorstep here in Ellesmere Port.

“This is an exciting time for Ellesmere Port with this new phase of development generating additional employment for the town adding to the many fantastic reasons to live in Ellesmere Port, not least the unbelievable value for money, host of family attractions, incredible shopping and some excellent green spaces.”

UK construction firm Mace will serve as the main contractor for the extension.

No brands have been confirmed for the new extension, however, the designer outlet has added brands such as Cath Kidston, Puma and Karl Lagerfeld in the past two years.

Next signs on as first retailer for The Glass Works, Barnsley

Style and home retailer Next has signed on as the first retail tenant for The Glass Works retail and leisure development in Barnsley town centre.

Development manager Queensberry has confirmed that Next has secured a 20,000 square foot store, which will be spread over two floors to house the brand’s clothing and footwear. It will take up the “chief pitch” within the new 130 million pound glass-covered mall development.

Once opened in 2020, the new, bigger store will replace the town centre’s existing store found in the Alhambra Shopping Centre.

The Glass Works is being funded by Barnsley Council to regenerate the heart of the town centre. Construction is well underway on the first phase of the scheme, which includes the new state-of-the-art library and a contemporary renovation of the Metropolitan Centre and the town’s famous markets.

The second stage of the development, which will include 26 new retail units and 7 family-friendly restaurants, will begin in the autumn. This work will also see the delivery of the scheme’s two key leisure anchors, Cineworld and Superbowl UK.

The entire scheme is expected to be completed in 2020.

Councillor Sir Stephen Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said: “Next is without doubt one of the UK’s keynote fashion retailers and one that is proven to help attract other retailers to a location. The upgrade to a bigger store will greatly improve the town centre’s shopping offer, thus making us more attractive for inward investment.”

Stuart Harris, commercial director and co-founder of Queensberry, added: “We have received lots of interest in The Glass Works, with many national retailers keen to be part of the development. Today, we are delighted to announce Next as the first retail occupier.

“Securing a reputable and highly-successful retailer like Next, alongside leisure tenants like Cineworld and Superbowl UK, really signals the strength and attractiveness of this scheme to major organisations.”

Image: courtesy of The Glass Works

Morrisons to launch Nutmeg apparel label online

London - Morrisons is set to launch its own-brand clothing range Nutmeg online via its own dedicated e-commerce platform this autumn.

From September onwards, shoppers will be able to purchase Nutmeg clothing through its own website, via mobile devices or through in-store click and collect. Customers will also receive rewards online through Morrisons’ current loyalty programme.

The move comes as more retailers adapt their business strategies, placing digitalization at the centre. To help facilitate Nutmeg’s online launch, Morrisons has partnered with cloud commerce platform Kooomo. Under the new partnership, Kooomo is set to handle Nutmeg’s digital operations, including the web store management, visual merchandising, search engine optimization as well as social media marketing.

Morrisons to launch Nutmeg apparel label online

“We have served customers better by introducing Nutmeg womenswear into nearly 100 stores and extending our baby range to every Morrisons store," said Christine Bryce, Category Director for Nutmeg at Morrisons in a statement. "This agreement with Kooomo will enable us to offer our affordable, quality clothing - with real attention to detail - to more people.”

Morrisons launched Nutmeg in March 2013 with babywear and kid’s clothing, which is stocked across all of its 491 stores. It also debuted a womenswear collection in February 2017, which is stocked at 49 stores.

Photos: Nutmeg SS18, Courtesy of Morrisons

BHS International to open four stores in Iraq

BHS International Limited has announced a new franchise partnership with the City Center Mall located in Sulaimaniya, Iraq to open four stores over the next five years. The company said that first two-floor ‘anchor’ store is scheduled to open in Sulaimaniya in May 2018 showcasing full product range in the men’s, women’s, kids, sleepwear and lingerie and home segments.

Commenting on the development, Rebecca Rajeswaran, Managing Director of BHS International, said in a statement: “This new partnership represents a significant step forward in the evolution of the modernised BHS as we extend our brand footprint in this exciting emerging market. In City Center we have found a partner that shares our passion for quality with an emphasis on British design.”

“It was key for us to establish our mall with a brand that could engage with a wide addressable market and the blend of product, coupled with the beautiful new store concept, is a robust cornerstone for us to develop a mutually beneficial and long-term partnership with BHS International,” added Soran Ahmad Ali, Managing Director of City Center.

Picture credit:J E Communications

Hammerson footfall outperforms industry benchmark in 2017

Hammerson, the manager and developer of leading retail destinations in Europe, saw a 0.4 percent increase in annual footfall across its UK shopping centres throughout 2017, outperforming the industry benchmark which fell 2.8 percent.

The property developer welcomed more than 300 million visitors to its European shopping centres, with footfall outperforming the market benchmark every month in 2017, thanks to its strong offering of retail, leisure and entertainment as well as its seasonal calendar of interactive events, innovative pop-ups and targeted activities. During the Christmas light switch on at Cabot Circus footfall increased 4 percent year on year, as the shopping centre welcomed more than 22,000 shoppers between 5 pm and 8 pm, which helped boost sales by 100 percent. The Oracle saw footfall grow 6 percent year on year during the relaunch of The Riverside in September, which featured a Las Vegas style light and fountain show.

During the Christmas period, Hammerson's retail sales across its UK shopping centres outperformed the market as well, with December store sales falling 1.3 percent versus the market average which was down 2.7 percent. However, department stores across Hammerson's UK portfolio also reported a strong Christmas, with sales up 3.7 percent in December, underlining consumes preference for shopping at flagship stores in larger high-footfall centres. Retail sales including Hammerson major extensions which opened at Westquay, Southampton and Victoria Gate Leeds were up 3 percent in 2017.

The well-document challenges in mainstream women's fashion did impact headline numbers, but sales of athleisure and sports fashion were up 1.8 percent in 2017. Hammerson also reported a growing appetite for men's fashion at its shopping centres, with the category growing 3.8 percent in 2017. Consumers also sought out more experiences, with leisure sales up 6.9 percent, supporting Hammerson's strategy of enlivening retail destinations with events and experiences. The volume of leasing at Hammerson shopping centres was also up 34 percent in total, highlighting a record year of leasing for the company.

“Our shopping centres performed well at the end of 2017 with strong footfall and leasing. Consumers are spending more discerningly; exciting brands are winning market share; and footfall is drawn to centres which offer the full line-up of retail brands alongside entertainment," said David Atkins, CEO of Hammerson in a statement. "It is no coincidence that we have purposely positioned our shopping centres to respond to these trends, dedicating our time to carefully curating the right brands, adding more leisure space and creating an engaging environment for consumers. Our strategy is aligned with that of retailers and we have continued to see strong momentum in leasing in Q4 as we will update in February.”

Photo: High Cross, Courtesy of Hammerson

H&M moves into the off-price marketplace with Afound

London - The rumors have proven to be true - Swedish fashion giant Hennes & Maurtiz is set to launch Afound, an off-price marketplace in 2018. The move sees the H&M group going head to head with leading online marketplaces (as well as offline), as the retail giant aims to create a “style-and deal-hunting paradise” which offers discounted fashion and lifestyle products.

Afound will feature both external brands, as well as H&M’s own brands, including a wide range of well-known, popular brands for men and women, according to a statement. H&M has yes to specify which brands these will be, but a spokesperson has confirmed to Yankeemagazines that a list of all participating brands will be released closer to the launch date. The off-price marketplace is set to offer a selection of season-less products from both Swedish and international brands from a broad price spectrum in both online and in physical stores.

H&M moves into the off-price marketplace with Afound

H&M Group to launch off-price marketplace concept: Afound

The new concept will also offer unique, limited product releases from a range of brands, all set at an appealing price to the consumer. “We see big potential for Afound and are looking forward to introducing the marketplace to our audience in Sweden in 2018. Afound cares about both the value of the products and the mix. And by offering personal style inspiration, quality labels, and the sense that you’re getting a really good deal, Afound will offer a new form of off-price experience”, said Fredrik Svartling, Managing Director of Afound in a statement.

H&M is set to launch its new retail concept online as well as in traditional brick and mortar store, starting in Sweden in 2018. The first Afound store to open is set to be located on Drottninggatan in Stockholm and its opening will coincide with the launch of Afound’s digital marketplace in Sweden. The launch of Afound comes not long after speculation concerning H&M new retail concept first emerged. A report from Swedish news website Breakit stated that H&M was working on a new digital project under the code name "P12".

At the time H&M was said to be working with NA-KD, one of Scandinavia's fastest growing online fashion stores, to create a new sales platform which would offer consumers the best deals for branded apparel. H&M had reportedly already signed on 63 brands, although the exact brands have yet to be confirmed.

The announcement concerning the launch of Afound comes as H&M reveals its results for the full financial year to November 30, 2017. As sales continue to grow for the entire H&M Group, increasing 4 percent with VAT to 231,771 million SEK, the Swedish fashion giantturns its focus to strengthening its digital arm. In order to keep up with the fashion industry’s ever-changing pace and to increase its market share, H&M is branching out into new concepts, like Afound.“We constantly work on new ideas and innovations that will drive us forward – and there are many in our pipeline for 2018 and the years to come,” said Karl-Johan Peon, CEO of the H&M Group in a statement.

Photo: H&M, Afound

Former Under Armour executives launch new brand

Two former Under Armour executives have launched a new e-commerce brand called Revtown based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company officially launched today, and features men's performance denim and casual shirts. They are planning to launch a women's collection in 2019.

Founded by Henry Stafford and Steve Battista, the two executives took the smart approach to the growing e-commerce market and the increasing trend in performance based denim to launch this company. Prior to starting this business together, Stafford oversaw Under Armour's North American business through 2016. Battista, who spent 17 years working at Under Armour was most recently head of brand and creative. The company's founders also include chief digital officer Matthew Maasdam, former head of Under Armour's e-commerce Operations, and CFO Chris Lust, founder and partner of Dock Street Capital Management and SLC Capital Management.

Customers are allowed to combine orders with a service called Revtown Crate, where they can purchase two pairs of jeans and three t-shirts for 210 dollars, which according to Stafford is "less than a typical pair of designer jeans." Jeans are offered in two styles, a more formal style that can be dressed up, and a more comfortable, casual style. Pima cotton t-shirts also come in four styles.

While the denim market once seemed to be losing ground as consumers turned to more athleisure options like joggers, the market is still going strong as manufacturers and apparel companies attempt to make offerings sportier.

photo:via Revtownusa.com