OPERATIONS

Joe Fresh to expand globally

BY Dan Berthiaume

Toronto – Loblaw Companies Ltd. and its affiliates, the owners of Joe Fresh, have signed three separate partnership agreements that bring the brand into 23 new countries. The agreements cover markets in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South Korea.

The partnerships represent the first expansion for Joe Fresh beyond North America. The international agreements encompass the Joe Fresh women’s, men’s and children’s lines.

Fawaz A. Alhokair & Co., based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is the partner for the Joe Fresh expansion into 17 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia, Serbia and Spain. Under terms of the agreement, the company plans to open at least 96 stores by 2018 in those markets, including 40 in Saudi Arabia alone. The first stores scheduled to open are in Saudi Arabia by summer 2014.

Retail Arabia International, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is the partner for five countries in the Middle East including United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. The company plans to open at least 15 stores by 2018 including nine in the UAE. The first stores are slated to open in the UAE later this year.

Origin & Co. Ltd., based on Seoul, South Korea, is the partner for South Korea. The company plans to open up to 30 Joe Fresh retail locations in high traffic shopping districts, malls and department stores over the next five years. One of the first units will open in the Lotte World Mall this spring. The company plans to open a flagship store in Seoul later this year.

"These first international agreements signify an important milestone for Joe Fresh as we build on the strong foundation we’ve established at home in Canada,” said Joe Mimran, creative director of Joe Fresh. “We continue to evolve the brand forward and I’m thrilled to see Joe Fresh grow into a global brand, developing on the success we have had in the U.S. since launching there in 2011.”

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OPERATIONS

Report: Lululemon ending resale ban

BY Dan Berthiaume

Vancouver, Canada – Lululemon Athletica Inc. is reportedly ending its ban on customers who have resold its goods on sites such as EBay and Amazon.com from purchasing items on its e-commerce site. According to Bloomberg, Lululemon instituted the policy to stop consumers from purchasing and reselling merchandise in bulk, but is rescinding it after a large volume of customer complaints.

Lululemon has strict return policies that only give customers 14 days from date of delivery to return items, which must be unworn with original tags attached. The retailer is reportedly apologizing to all affected customers and will change the language on its website to make clear it does not mind customers reselling small quantities of goods on other sites.

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OPERATIONS

NRF credits Obama on ‘patent troll’ response

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – The National Retail Federation (NRF) is publicly crediting the Obama administration for its response to “patent trolls,” or companies that purchase patents for the sole purpose of launching infringement suits against other companies. The administration has implemented a series of executive actions designed to have the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office promote transparency, clarity and fairness in the patent process.

David French, senior VP of the NRF, held meetings at the White House on Feb. 20. Before the meetings, he issued a statement supporting the Obama administration’s efforts.

“The National Retail Federation credits the administration’s attention to strengthening the United States patent system and proposing a series of measures aimed at protecting Main Street retailers and restaurants from abusive patent trolls,” said French. “The President has recognized the economic harm caused by patent trolls, and we welcome the administration’s leadership on this priority. Further transparency, clarity, education and enforcement are all welcome steps for the nation’s business community. Congress needs to act this year on patent reform and address the lingering questions around demand letter transparency, the customer stay provision and expanded covered business method patents in order to fully protect local shops and stores from costly and abusive patent troll lawsuits.”

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