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18
Feb-18
Sunday

Steinhoff APAC appoints Chief Restructuring Officer

7
According to Inside Retail, Steinhoff APAC has appointed a Chief Restructuring Officer.  Last month, Steinhoff said it has “largely addressed” its short-term liquidity requirements, after securing funding from subsidiary companies while its Asia Pacific businesses are continuing “discussions with their banks to secure additional funding by mid-February”.
15
Feb-18
Thursday

US consumer prices rise more than expected

6
Geopolitical Futures  reported that US consumer prices have risen more than expected – 2.1 percent vs. 1.9 percent. This means the U.S. Federal Reserve will feel pressured to raise interest rates, likely an unwelcome development in U.S. economic growth.  The volatility of the stock market last week certainly doesn’t instil confidence either.  

Global beauty market grew between 4% and 5% in 2017

6
L'Oreal CEO Jean-Paul Agon commented that the global beauty market likely grew between 4% and 5% last year and luxury skincare and makeup sales rose by up to 9.5%.  Mass-market beauty sales increased by about 3%, led by a few countries including the US, and e-commerce beauty sales booked a double-digit sales increase.

Myer CEO Richard Umbers steps down

6
Inside Retail reported that Myer’s CEO, Richard Umbers stepped down at the request by Myer’s Board.  The chairman, Garry Hounsell, has been appointed Executive Chairman and he has reaffirmed Myer’s strategy.  The Chairman also stated that he didn’t believe that the recent profit decline, even when combined with an impairment, would put Myer at risk of going into administration.
14
Feb-18
Wednesday

Construction boom a catalyst for business

8
The Australian Financial Review commented that an intensifying multi-year infrastructure construction boom is solidifying the best business conditions on record.  Some of the biggest supply companies are now struggling to keep up with the surge in demand.  This will invariably have a flow on effect in the wider economy, also impacting wages.

Home Hydroponic gardens take off in the US

7
The Wall Street Journal reported an interesting new trend, something to be noted by the home-related retailers in Australia – the growing popularity of a soil-free way of growing plants in water and a medium such as pebbles.  Known as ‘Indoor hydroponic gardening’, it is particularly popular among consumers in their 20s and 30s – they like the idea of gardening without the need to handle the dirt.   Even when it’s cold outside, successful gardeners get fresh veggies, with plants getting minerals from solutions added to the water instead of through soil and lighting systems replacing the sun. The number of households growing vegetables hydroponically has doubled in the past year in the US.
13
Feb-18
Tuesday

Fletcher Buildings breaches loan covenant

7
The AFR reported that Fletcher Buildings have breached one of its loan covenants is now engaged in discussions with its bankers.  AFR commented that one of the options going forward could be sale of some assets and Tradelink was mentioned.  We think that Tradelink needs and will be sold, sooner or later, but it is hard to see how it could bring Fletcher's any solid money.  For a number of years now Tradelink has been persistently unsuccessful.

JB HiFI will cut prices to defend market share

6
According to Richard Murray, the CEO of JB HiFi, the electronics retailer will cut prices in order to defend its market share.  The Australian Financial Review reported that despite solid revenue growth, a slight decline in expected profits resulted in 8% share price drop.  This defies logic, as the short term prospects of JB are solid.  The investors should be more concerned about the long term viability of the JB's business model in the rapidly evolving marketplace.
12
Feb-18
Monday

Global markets struggle to shake off the wobbles

6
The Wall Street Journal reported that markets continued to struggle to find a new equilibrium after plummeting shares and soaring volatility drove billions of dollars out of global stock markets. The scale of the selloff prompted traders and analysts to look more closely for underlying cracks in the market. 
9
Feb-18
Friday

Bret Blundy’s BBRC sells Bras N Things to Hanes

8
Bret Blundy’s BBRC sold Bras N Things chain to Hanes (who also operate Sheridan and Bonds brands).  The business has grown remarkably over the last 3 years and the value of the deal was $500 million.  An interesting development for Retail Directions as both: BNT and Hanes use our software platform.  Obviously many factors had to come together to underpin BNT’s success and Retail Directions’ powerful platform was definitely one of them.

NRF forecasts US sales growth in 2018

6
The NRF released its 2018 economic forecast, projecting that retail sales in the US will grow between 3.8% and 4.4% over 2017. The number includes online and other non-store sales, which are expected to increase between 10% and 12%.  The kind of numbers most Australian retailers can only dream about…