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(Author : Inside Retail Hong Kong)
Parisian fashion label The Kooples is looking to Asia for expansion, starting with two monobrand stores in Hong Kong in November.

The Kooples is looking to Asia for expansion

It is about to sign a partnership deal with a regional retail group, reports Fashion Network, with its Hong Kong stores to be in the Harbour City and Pacific Place shopping malls. This will build on the handful of retail outlets it currently has in Asia, stores and retail corners mainly in Thailand and South Korea.

Above all, the new partnership will lead to the opening of the label’s first stores on Mainland China, from next year. The Kooples’ only presence in China is a retail corner at the Galeries Lafayette department store in Beijing. Similar formats could follow as Galeries Lafayette is a partner, and is planning further stores in China. Meanwhile, The Kooples is evaluating the launch of a dedicated China e-commerce site.

Following Hong Kong and China, the Parisian label and its local partner are also considering Japan. In the fiscal year to August 31, The Kooples’ revenue was around €220 million (US$263.1 million), on par with the previous year, and the company sees Asia as a crucial growth driver for the 400-store brand. “Asia’s the next challenge” says GM Nicolas Dreyfus. The Kooples has appointed the director for its Asian subsidiary: former Balmain Asia COO Laetitia Mergui.

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(Author : Retail in Asia)
The A.S. Watson Group plans to open 1,400 new outlets globally this year – 60 shops will be in Hong Kong – but it will not expand the electricity group Fortress, says chief operating officer Malina Ngai Man-lin.

Watson group planning new shops

The group doesn’t have a plan for an initial public offering for the moment, Ngai added. Watson plans to invest HK$500 million in the next three years to improve its technology platform as well as enhance big data analysis. Managing director Dominic Ngai Kai-ming said MoneyBack, a member reward program under the Watson Group, has been rebranded with a new mobile app, which allows member to manage their accounts more conveniently.

The scheme has rewarded points with a value equivalent to HK$800 million to their members since the establishment in 2007. Meanwhile, Hong Kong retail sales growth turned positive in May, up 1.8 percent year-on-year, said a Mastercard report.

The increase in grocery sales and the health and beauty sector were the strongest. Groceries were up 2.3 percent and health 5 percent, driven mainly by domestic consumption.

Jewelry sales fell 44 percent in May, which was below the 2013 level. “Discretionary sectors historically driven by tourist spending continue to be a drag, despite stabilization and some recovery in visitor arrivals in recent months,” the group said.
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(Author : Retail in Asia)
Uniqlo said it plans to take its European store count to 100 outlets over the next three years, in a bid to strengthen its retail presence outside of Asia.

Uniqlo wants to double EU store count by 2020

In doubling its current store number from 50 to 100, the fast-fashion chain will make its first foray into Spain and Italy, according to local media. A planned Barcelona location will mark Uniqlo’s entry into Spain this autumn, while a Milan store will open in Italy, according to a report by the Nikkei Review. The Fast Retailing-owned brand already operates some 50 stores in France, Russia, Germany, the UK and Belgium.

The firm said it would be opening new locations in regional cities in some European countries too, those it is already selling in. This includes regional stores in smaller French cities such as Bordeaux and Toulouse. With the store openings in the EU, Uniqlo will be facing stiff competition from two global fast-fashion moguls. Namely Zara, which is operated by Spain’s Inditex, and Sweden’s H&M, both of which have a solid history on the continent and a loyal consumer following.

The Japanese chain told the Nikkei Review that demand for its highly functional basic apparel, however, is strong enough to warrant such fast-paced and vast expansion. This is particularly apparent now, given the Japanese firm’s domestic sales growth has plateaued.

“Overseas operations are what our growth hinges on,” said Fast Retailing CEO Tadashi Yanai.

However, Uniqlo is heavily reliant on Asia. Overseas sales came to 655 billion yen in 2016, with China accounting for half of the firm’s fiscal 2016 revenues made in foreign markets. Yanai said Uniqlo is eyeing global sales of 3 trillion yen ($26.6 billion) by the fiscal year ending August 2020. Japanese sales lifted just 3% to around 800 billion yen in fiscal 2016. Meanwhile, the number of stores in Japan has remained steady at around 840 for several years.

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(Author : Aleksandra Ozimek)
Toys R Us is bringing Selfie Stations to its stores in Asia in order to increase its in-store theater experience for customer, with the hope of keeping customers in the store.


Toys R Us combines digital and in-store tactics


The toy retailer will address the selfie phenomenon by offering customers stations featuring green screens for customers to create unique selfie moments in. The brand wants to turn its stores more into a theme park rather than a trolley dash. The goal is to increase the time customers spend in store.

Entertaining shopping experience

Toys R Us will also roll out augmented reality booths and 3D floor stickers, which will entertain families visiting its international stores. The Selfie Station initiative was introduced at the Marketing’s Customer Experience Conference 2015, during which Jo Hall, regional general manager for merchandise and marketing at Toys R Us Asia spoke about the retailer’s digital growth, in-store activity and plans to turn the brand into more than just a brick and mortar store. The retailer will focus more on social media and digital platforms, as it looks to position itself as a media channel. Hall explained that the company’s media channel strategy is the result of its need to cater to digital savvy customers.

Social media is aiding in this revolution as Toys R Us sees 300 million page views on YouTube, and continues to reach and entertain its consumers to drive interest and build a loyal customer base. The retailer introduces its Kidizoom smartwatch through a WeChat campaign, and out of its over 28 thousand followers viewing the message, 40% of them went to the product’s buy page immediately after the launch.

Toys R Us’ physical presence

Despite the push towards digital, the in-store experience is still important for the retailer especially in Asia, where malls are seen as being an essential part of quality family leisure time. The brand is also focusing on speed.An example of this is a Rubber Duck sculpture from 2013, which attracted 300,000 visitors daily. The retailer then sold replicas of the duck and set up 3D printing boots to recreate the store experience.

The retailer also sets up pop-up stores to lure in customers and to create excitement and thrill, and uses events like holidays to its advantage. Such events are held off-site from the stores to expand the Toys R Us physical presence.

In the UK, the company is emphasizing its in-store activity, by holding special experience events for families, one example being an autism friendly event on March 29th for families affected by autism in support of World Autism Awareness Week. Families will be able to browse toys and games in a calm environment. Stores will feature reduced fluorescent lighting, no loud music or announcements and autism friendly signage.

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(Author : Caitlyn Bohannon)
Fashion label H&M is entertaining shoppers on its mobile catalog with a customizable music mixer to encourage positive vibes and more spending. 


H&M fashions reflect music styles in far-reaching mobile strategy
Consumers across China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia are able to create their own personalized playlists while browsing through apparel and accessories from the summer collection. H&M is encouraging fans to share tunes on social media platforms to win prizes while an in-store component pushes interaction with iPads to hear the musical style for different items. “Instead of browsing through product images like a traditional fashion catalogue, people can explore what music styles the fashion items they love represent,” said Sascha Engel, deputy head of digital at Ogilvy, Shanghai. “By putting together favorite fashion items of the catalogue they create music that represents their fashion style,” she said. H&M teamed up with Ogilvy and Mather Advertising on the campaign to add flavor to the catalog and the brand.
Mixing it up 
Users begin the experience by selecting their favorite products from the summer collection. Each apparel product on the mobile catalog has a unique sound effect as each carries a different style of music. Users can drag and drop an item from the catalog to a sampler that mixes the corresponding sounds into a tune. Users can choose from one of four digital Skullcandy headphones to use during the experience. The user can then record and remix the song. When users share their creations on social media channels, the mix with the most likes will be entered to win a pair of Skullcandy headphones. The experience extends to H&M’s stores, as iPad terminals will be available to showcase the product line and the music style that each item represents. Similar to in-store shopping, music creates an inviting atmosphere for consumers, encouraging them to spend more time with the products.
Tuning the soul 
Music is an easy addition to any campaign and can influence consumer shopping patterns. Coca-Cola began a campaign in China that put lines from popular songs on bottles of soda, allowing for on-demand access to content and creating a shareable experience via popular social application WeChat. Each Lyric Coke bottle featured a QR code that could be scanned to activate a short clip featuring the lyric on that bottle. The animated musical clips were designed specifically to be shareable in social media, and were being positioned as a whole new way to consume music – the shareable musical sound bite. Food chain McDonalds also associated music with its products. McDonald’s helped McFlurry fans get the scoop on their favorite pop musicians via a new music entertainment show appearing on 4Music in Britain this summer. Summer Scoop consists of four 30-minute shows focused on the personalities of some of pop music’s biggest names. Mobile users, who can watch 4Music from the Box TV + app, were encouraged to share a selfie for a chance to appear in the final episode of the show.
In addition to music, WeChat, the popular Asian messaging app, is the key to reaching consumers in this region, and H&M’s music mixer is conveniently compatible. “Very importantly in regards to strategy is that this fashion mixer is optimized to live fully within mobile social networking channels like WeChat,” Ms. Engel said. “Teens can access the mixer fully through WeChat and can share within the social network.”

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