2020 is set to be the year of sustainability as retailers attempt to cut down on carbon emissions and single-use plastic. Fat Face has joined the growing trend by announcing sustainability targets for 2025, including becoming carbon neutral and using 100% recycled polyester. From January 2020, 100% of the cotton used for Fat Face will be sustainably sourced. Debenhams too is set to use 100% of its cotton from sustainable sources by 2023. Drapers has collaborated with the Conscious Fashion Campaign in order to promote the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations Office for Partnership while Sainsbury’s has pledged to invest £1 billion into becoming a “net zero” business by 2040. The European Commission has launched the 2020 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition, with a €150,000 (£128,000) reward for three innovations in sustainable fashion.
Retail sales decreased in January as high street retailers suffered a bruising start to 2020, with sales volumes flat lining for the third month in a row. Anna Leach, deputy chief economist at the CBI, said: “A challenging Christmas has extended into the new year, with little expectation of any improvement soon,” while Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, commented: “It is still early days to see what impact December’s decisive general election result and imminent UK exit from the EU on 31 January with a deal has on consumer behaviour. The initial signs are that it has lifted confidence but this – so far at least – has not translated into higher spending.”This is despite new data, which suggests that the retail industry is likely to see growth of at least 1% in 2020.
As Brexit has loomed nearer, UK manufacturers and suppliers have expressed concerns about skills shortages after the uncertainty created by government plans in the post-Brexit immigration regime. Lobby groups, including the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT), Confederation of British Industry (CBI), British Chambers of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses, have written to the home secretary offering their help in designing a new immigration system. The letter laid out four key priorities that the industry needs: “flexibility for skilled workers to enter the UK through a points-based system, a temporary visa route for all sectors, a minimum salary threshold set at a level that supports the economy, and a “radically reformed” sponsorship process”.
Swedish fashion giant H&M has showcased its focus on international expansion with plans to enter the Central American market. Group CEO Karl-Johan Persson announced that H&M aims to open its first store in Panama at the end of 2020. The new Panama store will be directed by privately owned company Hola Moda SA as a result of H&M striking a franchise deal. President of Hola Moda, Mehdi Beneddine said: “We are honoured and thrilled by the opportunity to bring H&M to Central America. This alliance is especially important for us, as it gives our team the opportunity to work together with H&M in promoting sustainability in our industry and region.”
Closer to home, fashion retailers Jigsaw, American Vintage, Lulu Guinness and Strathberry are opening new stores in London’s Covent Garden this year.
Zara achieved a 10% uplift in UK sales in the year to 31 January 2019 and the Inditex-owned brand said it would continue to open more stores in this market “as soon as suitable opportunities arise”. In accounts filed at Companies House, the UK arm of the Spanish giant, recorded sales of £772.5 million, compared to £704.8 million the year before. However its cost of sales in this market outpaced its sales growth leading to profits being more than halved at £22.3 million at pre-tax level, compared to £53.2 million in the previous year.
N Brown, the online shopping giant, has partnered with fashion tailoring platform True Fit to offer customers a new selection of smart tools providing personalised fit and style recommendations. The retail group, behind brands including Simply Be, JD Williams, Ambrose Wilson and Fashion World, has teamed up with True Fit to enhance the customer shopping experience. True Fit’s Confidence solution collects data from millions of anonymous shoppers to deliver customised fit ratings and size recommendations built on each customer’s unique body shape and likings. Adam Warne, chief information officer at N Brown, stated: “Data-driven customer insight and personalisation is key to unlocking operational efficiencies and improving customer experience.”
French luxury conglomerate LVMH is to launch a set of new delivery promises with the aim of improving omnichannel shopping experience for customers. LVMH owns 75 brands including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy. It has introduced this new feature through tech expert OneStock’s agile order management technology and it will allow shoppers to view real time stock availability and select a guaranteed delivery method depending on the product chosen. This feature has only been launched with one of LVMH’s brands, which is yet to be disclosed, and will only be available in the US and Europe.
New research shows that more than half of retailers that underwent a company voluntary arrangement from 2016 onwards have fallen into administration.
Arcadia is set to close 12 more stores following tough trading over Christmas. The Guardian has stated that Sir Philip Green’s Topshop to Burton group will close stores in Wolverhampton, Newbury, Blackburn, Bolton, Aylesbury and Worthing, despite having agreed 70% rent reductions during its financial restructuring last year.
Ted Baker management has reported that its major accounting blunder is almost three times as bad as first thought, after auditors ripped apart the company’s stock assessment. Auditors at Deloitte found that the value of Ted Baker’s stock inventory was overstated by £58 million. It is a huge increase on the company’s first estimates of between £20 million and £25 million late last year.