What's fresh

Retail Round Up—30th March

Multi-channel retailing calls for new breed of boss

Recent appointments at Argos, Marks & Spencer and Dixons have highlighted an emerging breed of multi-channel retail chief executives.

Research from Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann shows that multi-channel retail functions are becoming central to the sector, integrating the customer experience across stores, websites, direct mail and catalogues, mobile platforms, social networks, home shopping and gaming.

“They have to work with IT, marketing, product, supply chain and store teams to ensure that the brand experience remains consistent and the organisation is equipped to meet customer expectations.

“As a result, the multi-channel director is pulling the strings on much of the leading-edge innovation in retail at present and his or her remit is likely to continue to expand so that they will oversee every aspect of the customer journey including strategy, brand and all sales channels. 

“A culture of innovation needs to emanate from the top of the company but not stop there, and forward-thinking retailers are ensuring innovation is led throughout their business.”

Diet Coke launches new “Love It Light” activity

Diet Coke is set to roll out the latest phase of its “Love It Light” fashion-focused activity, featuring another high profile TV campaign and its first tie up with Benefit cosmetics.

Diet Coke is also supporting this year’s activity with three new pack designs, promoting the brand’s partnership with Benefit, which includes money-off offers and limited edition make-up packs.

The activity will also be supported with a dedicated Facebook page, encouraging consumers to “Get Glam” with Benefit make-up.

Diet Coke set out a three-year strategy in March that sees all marketing activity for the brand linked to fashion. Activity so far has included partnerships with Asos, London Fashion Week and Nails Inc.

Tesco trials Facebook virtual fitting room

Tesco is trialling a virtual 3D fitting room service on its Facebook page in a bid to reduce returns for its F&F clothing brand.
The six-to-eight week trial, lets customers create a 3D model of their bodies by either uploading two photos of themselves, or by entering their measurements and a photo of their face.

The fitting room will then suggest clothing sizes based on the details entered.
In what the retailer claims is a first, customers can then dress their personalised 3D bodies online in either a complete outfit or mix and match skirts, jackets, tops and shoes.
It will launch with 50 items, with a further 10 added each week throughout the trial. Customers can add the clothes they like to their Tesco basket.

Game administration sparks trade interest

The owner of Irish entertainment retailer Xtra-Vision is thought to be interested in acquiring parts of Game after it collapsed into administration this week. Sources close to the situation said Xtra-Vision owner, Birchall Investments, is “sniffing around” the games retailer, along with US giant GameStop, Comet-owner OpCapita and restructuring specialist Hilco. It is thought thatGame’s banks, led by state-backed RBS, are also working on a deal to buy Game in order to claw back its money.

Brand Alley sales soar 60% in 2011

Revenue rose to £28.9m over the year, driven by its growing customer base. Member numbers jumped 43% in 2011 with 160,000 new customers joining the private sales site. The etailer, which sells luxury fashion, beauty and homewares at discounted prices, is targeting a 40% sales uplift in its current year.

Amazon buys automated picking firm for $775m

Amazon has acquired Kiva Systems, a technology firm specialising in automated picking, for $775m; a deal designed to help the online giant improve the speed and efficiency of its picking operation. The retailer’s vice president, global customer fulfilment, Dave Clark said: “Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva’s technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow.”

Waitrose online sales boosted by relaunch

Waitrose’s online grocery orders have shot up by more than a third since it relaunched its website. Waitrose.com orders have risen 34.5% over the past year and last week sales were up by more than 50% year on year. Despite well-publicised complaints about its usability, Waitrose claimed customers preferred the new site.


Brakes snaps up £100m in business from collapsed DBC

Foodservice giant Brakes has taken on at least £100m worth of business from the administrators of its collapsed rival DBC. Under the deal, Brakes will pick up the supply to most of DBC’s large customers. The contracts are worth approximately £100m-£120m per year and accounted for 30-40% of DBC’s volumes.

Government unveils Portas-Plus high street plan

The government has rubberstamped “virtually all” of the 28 recommendations put forward by retail guru Mary Portas to revitalise the UK’s ailing high streets. Approved measures include the creation of “town teams” tasked with managing high streets, the establishment of a national market day on 23 June and a relaxation of planning laws allowing empty shops to be more easily converted into crèches and gyms. The government has also approved a £10m innovation fund to bring some of the nation’s 48,000 vacant shops back to life.