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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Primark boosts profits at AB Foods

Category : World News

Clothing retailer Primark’s “exceptionally strong” performance helps to push profits higher at owner Associated British Foods.

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Hemp, Inc. (HEMP: OTC Pink Limited) | High on Environmentalism, Hemp, Inc. Acquires Scrubnuts, Inc.

Category : World News

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High on Environmentalism, Hemp, Inc. Acquires Scrubnuts, Inc.

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LAS VEGAS, April 23, 2013

LAS VEGAS, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –

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Marks and Spencer sales nudge ahead

Category : Business, World News

Marks and Spencer sales rose slightly in the first three months of the 2013, as good trading from its food business offset a fall in clothing sales.

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Cold weather hits March retail sales

Category : Business

Retail sales slowed in March as the cold weather hit demand for summer clothing, the British Retail Consortium says.

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Profits rise at Zara-owner Inditex

Category : Business

Profits at the world’s largest fashion clothing retailer, Zara-owner Inditex, rose by 22% last year, helped by demand in Eastern Europe and China.

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The start-up that was too successful

Category : Business, World News

The clothing firm that found it was too popular

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How John Lewis found fashion and became never knowingly underdressed

Category : Business

Clothing boss Peter Ruis tells how the stores known for good sense and slippers became the fashionistas’ darling

Fashionistas queuing round the block, a sell-out designer collection and breathless reviews by the style press. Can this really be John Lewis? As 84,700 partners working at the department stores celebrate their 17% bonus this weekend, they can rest assured they are back in fashion in a big way. A 9% rise in clothing sales helped drive a bumper year for John Lewis as it increased its market share, mainly at Marks & Spencer’s expense. The chain accounted for 2.1% of the UK clothing market in 2012, according to retail analysts Verdict, 10% up on a year before.

Once associated with sensible knitwear and cosy slippers, the 40-store chain has polished up its fashion credentials through designer collaborations, classy own-label products and the addition of upmarket brands that had previously steered clear of the store.

As a result, fashion sales topped £1.1bn last year – up from about £700m in 2005. That’s still only about a quarter of what Marks & Spencer sells, but it indicates the kind of growth that rivals can only dream of in the economic downturn.

Under the guidance of buying and brand director Peter Ruis, who took charge of fashion in 2007, John Lewis has created a buzz by recognising that shoppers of all ages now want to look trendy – and that older customers no longer want gold buttons and elasticated waistbands.

Sitting in the John Lewis Christmas room surrounded by some very classy Alice Temperley lingerie as well as cute sparkly kids’ dresses – and, of course, an array of tweed slippers – Ruis says: “Everything’s ageless these days.”

John Lewis’s Somerset by Alice Temperley range is a case in point. Now in its second season, the British designer’s collection is already the store’s biggest own-label and its fastest-selling brand ever.

But the fashionistas who line up outside the Oxford Street store and battle for popular items online form a broad church. “We see people in their 50s and 60s wearing it, as well as people in their 20s,” Ruis says.

Its new Kin brand also takes on that concept. Its collection of simple, relatively low-cost pieces includes outfits for children similar to those aimed at their parents and grandparents.

Anyway, Ruis says, the department store’s fans have been misidentified for years: “Historically we have been told that our customers are more affluent and a bit older, but increasingly our research has shown that to be a bit simplistic.”

He says John Lewis has strong market share in all age groups over 25, with a particular “sweet spot” among 35-to-44-year-olds. That demographic includes trendy urbanites who go to John Lewis to buy an iPad and stop to buy some clothes too. The store’s combination of homewares, technology, beauty and fashion has, Ruis says, been vital in helping the business through tough times on the high street.

Instead of worrying about ageing shoppers, he sees an opportunity in the fact that people feel less defined by their age: “The 40s and 50s are the prime of life. People are having kids later, and taking out mortgages later.”

A stylish and well-groomed 44 with three children aged between four and 11, Ruis is a good example of that modern John Lewis customer. He believes the generation that grew up loving brands such as Topshop, Whistles, Ted Baker and Topman don’t feel the need to swap to the classic labels that once formed the backbone of a typical department store.

So in the past seven years, John Lewis has edited out traditional, conservative labels such as German brand Basler and British “mother-of-the-bride” classics Jacques Vert and Alexon, and transformed itself into a kind of indoor high street, but with a grown-up aesthetic.

Ruis say the company works closely with brands to ensure their stock reflects what its customers want: “It’s less likely to be the most overt partygoing outfit of a 16-to-24-year-old. Those shoppers have less income, and the higher cost of going to university means there is less and less business there anyway.”

John Lewis fashion floors now mix the likes of Jaeger, Hobbs, Mango and Whistles with smaller brands such as Toast and Fenn Wright Manson. Prices have stretched up to Ralph Lauren levels, and down to the cheaper Kin.

Somerset and Kin are the department store’s newest and most adventurous creations, designed to suit a different kind of customer from those who would wear the classic John Lewis Collection or John Lewis & Co menswear.

“We have now started to find our feet on own brands. In the first few years we were getting the core range right, but last year we got a bit more feisty and fun,” Ruis says. “We have taken the customer with us, and the more fashionable we get, the more interested they become.”

He predicts that own-label will move up from about 30% of John Lewis fashion sales today to 35% or 40% as Somerset and Kin expand. This autumn, there will be a 50% bigger range of Kin clothing in stores and Somerset will expand into lingerie for Christmas, as well as cashmere, kidswear and even, eventually, home textiles and electricals.

Ruis is also in talks about bringing in a new designer name for menswear but says that despite the success of the Temperley range, he won’t be signing a whole catwalk of collaborators, Debenhams-style. “I’d hate to have 20 or 30 of them and lose our point of view,” Ruis says.

The Temperley range hasn’t been the only hot success. Ruis says sales of John Lewis & Co menswear shot up 20% after advertising featuring a long-haired bearded model proved controversial. A certain newspaper may have described the model as a “gingery tramp”, but Ruis says shoppers were won over by the clothing, and menswear sales increased faster than womenswear over the year.

Ruis, clad in a slimline Burberry Prorsum suit with a Richard James shirt and Grenson shoes, says men are more interested in fashion than they ever used to be. While it was once accepted that 80% of men’s clothes were bought by their partners and mums, now men in their 40s are happy to shop for themselves.

“There is no embarrassment about men’s fashions now. We used to talk about the pub factor – a man didn’t want people to point at what he was wearing, even if as a compliment. Like with men’s moisturiser, it isn’t an issue any more.”

Yet it’s not even metrosexual urbanites who are the main drivers behind John Lewis’s fashion explosion. What is? The internet, of course.

Sales of clothing in stores rose 3% last year, thanks partly to additional floor space. There are plans to add a further 10% of fashion square-footage by 2020 as John Lewis puts fashion into more stores. But that is all small beer compared with online growth.

In the year to 26 January, online fashion sales increased 41%, and the Temperley range sold three times as much on the internet as it did at the Oxford Street store. Ruis suggests it could have sold more had there been more stock in the warehouse.

There is no doubt that John Lewis’s highly effective online operation has brought the brand to a much wider customer base – people who would never have dreamed of buying their dream outfit in an emporium that also sells irons, bedlinen and curtain rails.

Yet Ruis believes John Lewis has just discovered the fashion in its bones. He says it is the story of the partnership and the way thousands of workers get a share of profits that really helped him persuade fashion brands to give the department store a whirl.

“What John Lewis has is quirkiness. It is unorthodox with a slight eccentricity to it. Great British brands of 150 years old work really well with fashion. We have always had that tradition, whether it’s Savile Row or Barbour. I always thought it could work well.”

‘Outstanding’ sales boost Primark

Category : Business, World News

Associated British Foods says its half-year results will beat expectations thanks to an “outstanding performance” at its clothing chain Primark.

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Marks & Spencer chief faces a less than happy new year after Christmas turkey

Category : Business

Chief executive Marc Bolland could be under threat inside head office as he tackles problems on the shelves

They say 13 is lucky for some. After a miserable Christmas, Marc Bolland, the embattled chief executive of Marks & Spencer, will need more than luck to get through 2013 with his job intact.

The Dutchman’s fate is likely to rest on his performance over the next 12 months when he must bounce back from a miserable Christmas in clothing while trying to drag the UK’s favourite knicker seller into the 21st century.

Things did not get off to a good start last week when leaked news of M&S’s poor festive clothing sales forced him to rush out a financial statement late on Wednesday evening. The incident added fuel to rumours that Bolland is facing rebels within his own head office, as well as issues with knitwear and pants.

A string of management changes and restructurings appear to indicate an unhappy ship, with rumours that Bolland tends to micromanage his staff.

What’s more, the 128-year-old retailer posted an unexpectedly bad 3.8% fall in underlying sales of clothing and homewares, the main factor in a 1.8% fall in overall underlying sales for the group in the three months to 29

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Post Christmas clear-outs boosting secondhand goods market

Category : Business

In January charities benefit from Britons discarding 73,000 tonnes of clothes and 60,000 tonnes of electrical goods

After a possibly indulgent Christmas, a clear-out in January of old clothes, books and gadgets comes as a timely tidy-up – but people’s new year purges are also feeding a growing market in secondhand goods.

About 73,000 tonnes of clothing, worth about £70m, are ditched in the UK in the first month of the year. At this time textile processors experience a 20% to 30% rise in the volume of goods they collect following the December lull.

Age UK, a charity with 440 shops around Britain, last week received 66,000 bags of donated goods, nearly double the average amount donated per week in 2012.

The British Heart Foundation said it had had an influx of toiletries, pyjamas and socks (many still bearing a gift tag), as shoppers ditched unpopular Christmas presents.

Jack Chandler, manager of Oxfam’s book and music store in Marlborough, said that donations had risen by about 15% last week, compared with a typical week. He said there had been big donations of books, perhaps due to some readers clearing their shelves after receiving an e-reader for Christmas.

The biggest January clearout is of electrical goods. About 60,000 tonnes of TVs, washing machines, fridges and other home gadgets, worth about £20m, are dumped in January – a quantity that is about double that in a typical month.

Almost half of those items are suitable for resale by charity shops or on online sites such as eBay, while the remainder are broken up for recycling.

The electricals reuse market is thought to be growing by more than 40% a year as an increasing number of charity shops, local authorities, retailers and reprocessors work together to put unwanted goods back on the shelves.

Sean Feeney, chief executive of Environcom, an electrical recycling company, said that more charity shops were now prepared to sell refurbished electrical goods.

He said: “There is huge demand for these goods. The only thing holding us back is supply. We are encouraging people to hand unwanted but functioning electrical goods to charity shops in the same way they do clothing.”

Charity shops, meanwhile, can struggle to secure sufficient stock to supply the public demand.

Age UK said its strong start to January followed a dip in donations in the last quarter of 2012 compared with the year before. The number of bags donated slid 10% as shoppers made goods last longer and spent less on new items during the economic downturn. The charity said that sales at its stores remained steady as it had been able to command better prices for quality goods.

Helena King, from Age UK, said: “We always get a good response after Christmas, with an influx of people bringing in unwanted goods.

“But the long-term prognosis is that it is getting increasingly harder to find donations. When people have got less disposable income they don’t give as much. The flooding also prevented people from leaving out bags for collection.

“Bogus collectors, cash for clothes companies – all those things weren’t around five years ago, and now they are fighting in the same space.”

As people hold on to their possessions for longer to avoid having to buy anew, auction sites, businesses willing to pay for secondhand goods and doorstep collections by companies posing as charities are all competing for castoffs.

The Charity Retail Association warned that the sector was losing more than £50m a year to bogus collectors. And competition for clothing could step up as local authorities experiment with collecting textiles as part of doorstep recycling programmes.

Suffolk began a trial collecting clothing along with other recyclable goods last summer, and three more as yet unnamed councils are to take part in a similar scheme supported by the government-backed Waste Resources Action Programme this spring.

Councils say they are not competing with charity shops but trying to capture the estimated 350,000 tonnes of clothing that ends up in rubbish tips each year.

But charity shops are now looking at new ways to attract donations in the face of rising competition.

Traid, the international development charity, has partnered with the London borough of Kensington & Chelsea to organise doorstep collections and allows potential donors from anywhere in Britain to request a pick-up online.

Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer’s tie-up with Oxfam, which gives shopping vouchers in exchange for bags of clothing, has encouraged more than 10m donations so far.

King said Age UK was considering a similar partnership to help attract donations and shoppers, and also encouraging those handing in goods to register for Gift Aid. The government-backed scheme means the charity can earn an additional 25p a pound of goods sold.

One note of good news for clothing recyclers is that a slowdown in donations of British clothing this autumn helped keep prices high.

Ross Barry, manager of the LMB clothing recycling firm, said prices were holding up despite a slowdown in world market demand amid global economic troubles and a surge in donations in the UK at the end of the summer.

Where does it all go?

Much of Britain’s secondhand clothing goes abroad – an estimated 540,000 tonnes a year, or about 70%, according to the government-backed Waste Resources Action Programme (Wrap). Just 14% is reused in the UK.

Figures collated by HM Revenue & Customs indicate that the bulk of secondhand clothing exported from the UK goes to sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly £115m worth of old clothes were sent there in 2011, up from £70m in 2007. The biggest destination in Africa is Ghana, followed by Benin and Kenya. The second largest overall market is Ukraine, which accepted £30.9m of secondhand clothing from the UK last year, up from £18.7m in 2008. Total exports of secondhand clothing from the UK to countries outside the EU rose from £112.1m in 2007 to £179.7m in 2011.