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Henkel profit up 10.3%; Walmart-JD shopping event in China results in sales leap

TOP NEWS

* German chemical and consumer goods giant Henkel AG & Co. KGaA reported a 10.3% year-over-year rise in second-quarter profit to €631 million from €572 million, driven primarily by double-digit sales growth in its laundry and home care segment. Sales in the three months ended June 30 grew 9.6% to €5.10 billion from €4.65 billion in the year-ago period. The laundry and home care segment recorded the largest year-over-year sales increase of 26.6% to €1.70 billion from €1.35 billion. Almost all of that came from Henkel's acquisition of U.S. laundry detergent company Sun Products, CFO Carsten Knobel said.

* Chinese e-commerce company JD.com Inc. marked the conclusion of its first omnichannel shopping event held with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. that combined the two companies' customer bases, platforms and inventories. JD.com said the Aug. 8 event resulted in a 13-fold increase in combined transaction volume for Wal-Mart's online retail channels on JD.com compared with its previous one-day sales record. Physical Wal-Mart stores in China also saw increased footfall during the inaugural shopping event.

E-COMMERCE

* JD.com Inc. plans to raise the number of its physical stores in mainland China from 92 to 300 by the end of the year. The 200-square-meter JD Retail Experience Shops are operated on a franchise model and utilize the e-commerce company's technology to offer localized items according to each neighborhood's shopping habits. JD.com added that products customers prefer to test and feel before buying like home appliances, books, baby and maternal products are available in the shops.

* Beauty subscription service Birchbox Inc. is in discussions with several potential buyers, including Wal-Mart, according to a report by Recode. Birchbox declined to comment on the possibility of an acquisition, while Wal-Mart did not immediately return a request for comment. If a deal does come to fruition, it would be Wal-Mart's fifth announcement of an e-commerce acquisition since August 2016, including deals for men's apparel retailer Bonobos Inc. and general online retailer Jet.com Inc.

* Amazon.com Inc.'s India unit is set to inject 4 billion Indian rupees into its logistics arm Amazon Transportation Services, or ATS, The Economic Times (India) reported. According to filings made by ATS, the company increased its authorized equity share capital to 8.75 billion rupees from 4.75 billion rupees to expand business operations. ATS previously received an infusion of 2.07 billion rupees from Amazon Corporate Holdings Singapore and Amazon Malaysia in June, according to the report.

HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS

* Consumer goods giant Unilever PLC said it has agreed to buy Australian ice cream company Weis to expand its business in that sector. The company said Weis ice cream products will continue to be made at its factory in Toowoomba, Queensland. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Unilever's current roster of ice cream brands includes Grom, Ben & Jerry's and Talenti.

* Japanese household products maker Lion Corp. plans to produce matcha-scented toothpaste exclusively for Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Lion plans to produce the toothpaste under its Systema brand and is reportedly considering offering Tmall-exclusive toothbrushes and mouthwash as well. The move reflects the growing popularity of Japanese brands for upmarket products among Chinese customers, according to the report.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The Philippines is set to become Asia's fifth-largest retail grocery market, Inside Retail Asia reported, citing data from the Institute of Grocery Distribution, or IGD. It expects the market to increase by an average of 9.3% year over year annually through 2021, with grocery retail sales projected to hit 7.08 trillion pesos in 2021 compared with 4.53 trillion pesos in 2016. Shirley Zhu, IGD's Asia-Pacific program director, reportedly said the Philippines' growing population, strong domestic consumption and steadfast economy will drive growth.

* E-commerce in the U.K. is slated to comprise 15.8% of the total retail spend in 2017 and rise to 18.5% by 2022, helped by the clothing and footwear sector, according to a report by market research firm ReportBuyer. While comparable figures were not available, the clothing and footwear sector is forecast to grow to £7.2 billion by 2022. The report highlighted the lower penetration of e-commerce in homewares at 34% and furniture and floor covering at 22.5%, recommending that retailers in these sectors offer more competitive delivery and return options. The report also noted that the percentage of consumers shopping online for items not available elsewhere increased to 17.2%, up 1.6 percentage points from 2016.

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