Wal-Mart to buy 51% of South Africa’s Massmart
Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores announced Monday that it is buying a controlling stake in South Africa’s Massmart in an approximately $2 billion deal. The investment gives the discounter a substantial presence in South Africa and paves the way for further expansion across the continent. Wal-Mart International president and CEO Doug McMillon made clear his company is pursuing a regional strategy.
"The more we learn about South Africa and the surrounding countries the more we are convinced that this is an important region with attractive growth characteristics," he said in a statement.
The two retailers said that Wal-Mart would purchase 51% of Massmart for 148 rand ($20.71) per share. Massmart Holdings Ltd. currently has approximately 203.5 million shares outstanding, according to Thomson Reuters.
Massmart will continue to be listed on the Johannesburg exchange, addressing the concerns of stockholders. The company, based in Johannesburg, runs nearly 290 stores in 14 countries in Africa, with most in South Africa. It also manages eight wholesale and retail chains under various brand names.
“Owning a majority stake allows them that degree of control that they need at this stage, while it also appeases (Massmart’s) shareholders," said Natalie Berg, global research director at Planet Retail, an industry research firm, in a Reuters report. "Wal-Mart is not going to be making many changes initially. Even though they are present in 16 countries around the world, ranging from India and Costa Rica, retailing in South Africa is a whole new ball game."
Massmart is Africa’s third-largest distributor of consumer goods, the leading retailer of general merchandise, liquor and home improvement equipment and supplies and the leading wholesaler of basic foods.
The deal will pit Wal-Mart against South Africa’s powerful trade unions, which are known for their propensity to go on strikes. Analysts have said local expertise would be critical to avoid a bruising union fight.
By taking a smaller slice of Massmart, Wal-Mart is alleviating some of the concerns of shareholders, because it allows Massmart to keep its JSE listing and investors can keep their stakes.
Solstice taps Demandware for e-commerce platform
Woburn, Mass. – Demandware on Monday announced that sunglass specialty retailer Solstice is taking its first step into the ecommerce arena by announcing the launch of its new online retail store www.solsticesunglasses.com built on the Demandware Commerce platform.
The new site mirrors the company’s upscale store design, combining clean sophisticated lines with the brands’ seasonal advertising campaigns. It offers more than 40 luxury, designer and sport sunglass brands, with easy-to-navigate search options designed to make shopping easier.
“We needed an ecommerce platform that would mirror our dedication to providing a unique, tailored shopping experience and that was scalable to the broad range of inventory we offer to our customers,” said Rick Talmage, chief operating officer for Solstice. “The Demandware platform enabled us to meet the needs of our customers as well as the demands of our luxury partners. Demandware is the platform that will grow with us while at the same time support our increased marketing initiatives.”
The new site will be integrated with many of the top social networking sites. Customers will not only be able to send detailed product information and photos from the online store to their mobile devices using the latest mobile shopping technology, they will also be able to share information and photos with others using advanced social networking tools. Combining ecommerce with social networking allows for instant uploading of favorite picks on Facebook, sharing new styles on Twitter, or sending a few selections via email.
In addition, select Solstice stores will offer customers the unique opportunity to interact with www.solsticesunglasses.com while in store using touch-screen kiosks. The feature allows further browsing through the entire virtual inventory available while providing detailed product information.
Solstice used the Demandware SiteGenesis storefront application as the foundation for its new ecommerce site. The solution includes best practices in usability, site merchandising and technical architecture, along with hundreds of apparel-optimized ecommerce features.
Holiday off to positive start as retailers gear up for Cyber Monday
New York – The holiday shopping season got off to a positive if unspectacular start, according to preliminary results from the Black Friday weekend. The number of people who shopped at stores and online between Thursday and Sunday was up 8.7% to 212 million shoppers, according to a National Retail Federation survey of 4,306 shoppers conducted by BIGresearch. The total amount spent during the four-day weekend reached an estimated $45 billion, with the average spending rising 6.4% to $365.34, the survey showed.
Online-specific data from IBM’s Coremetrics also pointed to strong momentum in the early part of the season, with total sales up more than 14% between Thanksgiving and Saturday. Average order size was up 14% while items per order were up 15% during the time, according to Coremetrics data.
However, there are also some reports of caution. ShopperTrak estimated Black Friday sales rose a less than expected 0.3% to $10.69 billion even as traffic increased 2.2%. The slower-than-expected sales were partly due to early holiday sales and promotions that boosted sales and traffic in the first half of the month, according to ShopperTrak.
"This means the American shopper has adapted to the economic climate over the last couple of years and is possibly spending more wisely as the holiday season begins," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.
A record 106.9 million shoppers are expected to hit retailers’ websites Monday, up 11% from last year, as more retailers offer deals online and tout free shipping, according to a separate NRF survey, also conducted by BIGresearch.
About nine in 10 retailers said they will have a special promotion for Cyber Monday, which has grown each year since 2007, when 72.2% planned promotions, NRF said.
Early indications point to a strong online holiday. comScore said that online sales totaled $648 million on Black Friday — a 9% jump from last year. That makes Black Friday the heaviest day of online spending so far in 2010, according to the report.
Amazon was the most popular shopping site on Black Friday, experiencing a 25% boost in traffic, according to comScore. Other leading sites included Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy.