“I expect that the agreement with Boohoo may provide some job opportunities but we regret that this outcome does not safeguard the jobs of Debenhams’ employees beyond the winding down period. We are very grateful that they have worked tirelessly through this very challenging period.”
L’Occitane US files for bankruptcy
Skincare company L’Occitane has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US, after “disproportionately high rent store obligations” made trading “no longer tenable”, according to a press release from the company.
Managing director of L’Occitane North America Yann Tanini said the company’s lease obligations surpassed $30 million a year, and it currently has $15.1 million in arrears.
“The debtors’ primary goal in chapter 11 is to right-size its physical footprint in part by rejecting certain leases to enable the debtor to better adapt and cultivate sustained profitability in light of the increasing shift to online purchasing and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on bricks and mortar retail sales,” Tanini said.
L’Occitane had a drop in bricks-and-mortar sales of 56.5 per cent between April and December, compared to last year. At the same time, its online sales surged by 72 per cent. It filed a “first day” motion in courts to continue paying its staff and suppliers, and will continue to honour gift cards.
Amazon tries to block Future’s retail asset sale
The Amazon-Future Group-Reliance Industries deal continues to sour. Last year, Future Group’s retail arm and Amazon entered a deal that would allow, among other things, Future Retail to list products on Amazon, and would give Amazon the option to acquire some or all of the company within 3-10 years.
In August, Future Group — in an attempt to resolve debt and under pressure from lenders — was looking to sell shares in several of its companies (it owns WHSmith and 7/11 convenience stores, among others), with limited success. It then made a deal to sell its retail assets to Reliance Industries for US$3.4 billion.
Amazon has now declared the Reliance Industries deal a violation of Future Group’s non-compete clause, and has requested an Indian court block the deal. Amazon has also urged Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani be detained, according to a court filing seen by Reuters. Future Group insists it has not violated any terms of its contact.
In October, a Singapore arbitrator — which Amazon and Future had agreed to use in case of disputes — issued an interim order to put Future’s deal with Reliance Retail on hold, and Amazon has asked the High Court to upholding its ruling. Future, meanwhile, has said the arbitrator’s order is not binding and it has to be ratified by the court. It also warned that failure to close the deal could lead to the company’s liquidation and job losses for more than 29,000 employees.
Amazon has also reportedly asked the court to attach Biyani’s assets to the lawsuit so they can’t be disposed of.
Shopee ramps up Brazil operations
E-commerce platform Shopee is reportedly scaling up its operations in Brazil and eyeing Latin American markets, according to two anonymous sources familiar with the matter. The Singapore-based business’ shares lifted by more than 400 per cent last year, bringing its market capitalisation to $120 billion. It raised almost $3 billion in a stock offering in December.
While the company declined to comment, according to Reuters, Shopee is currently recruiting more than three dozen job positions in Brazil. Pine Kyaw is listed on Linkedin as the new Shopee Brazil country head. The sources said the company is assessing the potential of other Latin American markets, such as Mexico, if Brazil becomes successful.
NBA signs licensing deal with Decathlon
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has granted sporting goods retailer Decathlon as the company’s official licensee in Asia and four other regions. The latest partnership will launch NBA x Decathlon collection in 1200 bricks-and-mortar stores and online stores globally. The stores will sell NBA team and league-branded base layers, accessories and footwear by Decathlon under its basketball brand, Tarmak.
“Since the creation of Tarmak four years ago, it has been our dream to collaborate with the NBA, the greatest basketball league in the world,” said Damien Dezitter, brand leader of Tarmak. “We have a common objective to develop basketball all over the world, so it’s natural to work together to make this possible.”
The new collection will be available for pre-order in March before it is sold at bricks-and-mortar stores in April.
“Through this partnership, NBA fans and basketball players around the world will have access to an exciting and innovative range of merchandise to help them get in the game,” said Steve Griffiths, EME director of global partnerships at NBA.