* German household products maker Henkel AG & Co. KGaA warned that supply chain problems in North America during the first quarter of 2018 would cause its sales of consumer goods to shrink, falling short of expectations. However, the company said in an ad hoc announcement that based on current forecasts, organic sales growth for the group in the first quarter was expected to be "slightly positive."
* Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will inject an additional $2 billion into Southeast Asian online retailer Lazada Group. The move brings Alibaba's investment in Lazada to $4 billion after gaining control of the company in 2016. Lazada CEO Max Bittner also will step down from the role to become a senior adviser to Alibaba, while Lazada Chairman Lucy Peng will replace Bittner as CEO.
APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* French luxury group Kering SA said it had complied with its Swiss tax obligations, following media allegations that the company evaded taxes owed by brands like Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent in other countries by billing them through Ticino, Switzerland, Reuters reported. Kering reportedly told the news agency that the group's operating model, wherein it pays its taxes in Switzerland, "is known by French and other competent tax authorities."
* Luggage manufacturer Samsonite International SA is considering adding a handbag line to its portfolio as it plans to increase the sales of its non-travel products for women, Bloomberg News reported, citing an interview with Chairman Timothy Charles Parker. Parker reportedly said that Samsonite is open to a deal that can rival its $1.8 billion purchase of bag maker Tumi Holdings Inc.
* Apparel company V.F. Corp. signed an agreement to hand its Nautica brand over to brand management firm Authentic Brands Group LLC, Women's Wear Daily reported, citing unnamed sources. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. V.F. Corp. and ABG reportedly could not be reached for comment.
* Luxury goods companies Furla SpA and Gianni Versace SpA are the latest retailers to discontinue the use of animal fur in their collections, Retail Gazette reported. Furla and Versace are joining the likes of Kering SA and Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., which announced similar moves in 2017. Furla reportedly will start using ecological fur in November.
* Japan's AEON Co. Ltd. and China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-backed technology startup DeepBlue Technology will form a joint venture in April to co-develop artificial intelligence-powered stores in China, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The Japanese retailer reportedly is looking to use DeepBlue's technologies to develop its own small-format stores and shopping locations. AEON will invest $1 million in the project and hold a 65% stake.
* U.S. department store operator Macy's Inc. will launch a mobile checkout option in all its full-line stores by 2018-end, CNBC reported, citing a statement from CEO Jeff Gennette during a conference. The company reportedly also will expand a virtual reality program for furniture to 60 of its stores by fall, as well as roll out an augmented reality app feature that lets users virtually place furniture in their homes before deciding whether to buy.
* South Korean retailer Lotte Shopping Co. Ltd. expects the sale of its Lotte Mart hypermarket chain in China to be completed by June, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a Lotte Mart official. The retail giant expects that the emergency funds worth 700 billion Korean won it injected into its Chinese business, following Seoul and Beijing's diplomatic row over a U.S. anti-missile system, will be used up by June.
* Amazon.com Inc. is hiring staff to manage a pickup service for items sold at Whole Foods Market Inc. and other retailers, Business Insider reported, citing a job posting that has since been deleted from the e-commerce giant's website. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* French cosmetics company L'Oréal SA acquired Canadian technology company ModiFace, which specializes in the use of augmented reality and artificial intelligence for the beauty industry, for an undisclosed amount. The company plans to add ModiFace to its digital services factory, which designs and produces digital services for its brands.
* U.S. supermarket operator Kroger Co. will stop selling assault-rifle-themed publications at its stores, Bloomberg News reported. The move follows the company's decision to halt gun sales to buyers under the age of 21 at its Fred Meyer stores. Kroger spokeswoman Kristal Howard reportedly told the news agency that the retailer will still continue to sell some gun magazines.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS
* Walmart Inc. is edging closer to acquiring a $7 billion stake in Indian e-commerce platform Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd., Bloomberg News reported. The U.S. retailer reportedly would buy the Flipkart stakes from Tiger Global Management LLC and SoftBank Group Corp. Walmart and Flipkart reportedly declined to comment on the matter.
* Apparel and accessories retailer Claire's Stores Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and commenced a financial restructuring process to decrease its debt by about $1.9 billion. Under the restructuring support agreement, Claire's will receive approximately $575 million of new capital from its ad hoc group of first lien creditors, and it expects to complete the Chapter 11 process in September.
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