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Lenders pressure Sears to liquidate; L Brands seeks alternatives for La Senza


* A group of Sears Holdings Corp. lenders is pressing the department store operator to liquidate as the embattled company barrels toward bankruptcy, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The lenders, which include Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup Inc., met with Sears on Oct. 10 to discuss emergency financing for Sears, but the meeting ended in a stalemate. Meanwhile, Sears CEO and Chairman Edward Lampert is exploring the purchase of Kenmore and other Sears assets as the company auctions them off during the bankruptcy process, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

* L Brands Inc. is "pursuing all alternatives for its La Senza business" less than a month after it announced plans to shut down operations of its high-end women's retail banner Henri Bendel, the apparel retailer said in its September earnings release. For the five weeks ended Oct. 6, L Brands posted a year-over-year increase in net sales of about 8% to approximately $1.1 billion from $981.6 million.


* Footwear startup Allbirds Inc. has raised $50 million in a round of funding led by T. Rowe Price Investment Management and Fidelity Management, valuing the company at $1.4 billion, sources told The Wall Street Journal. According to a Women's Wear Daily report, Allbirds will use the funds to invest in the research and development of new materials and for international expansion. The company is set to open a pop-up store in London later in October and to build a U.K. distribution facility, the report added.

* British women's apparel retailer Karen Millen agreed to buy parts and certain assets of fashion chain Coast out of administration for an undisclosed amount, preserving about 600 jobs, administrators at PricewaterhouseCoopers said. Coast will trade primarily across Karen Millen's websites but also in its concessions in the U.K. and Republic of Ireland as well as through wholesale and franchise partners. "Regrettably, other parts of the business including 24 retail stores were not included in the transaction. We will make every effort to help those employees in parts of the business that were not included in the sale," the administrators added.


* Japanese general merchandise retailer Don Quijote Holdings Co. Ltd. will change its name to Pan Pacific International Holdings to reflect its plans of expanding in the U.S. and China, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing president and CEO Koji Ohara.


* The U.S. Postal Service is seeking to raise its shipping fees after U.S. President Donald Trump in May personally urged Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double rates for online retailers, such as Inc., CNBC reported. The Postal Service reportedly proposed a 9.3% fee increase for packages weighing over a pound and a 12.3% increase for lighter packages.

* Online marketplace SoleTrade LLC, known as StockX, plans to expand into Europe by opening an operations facility for trained authenticators in west London, the Financial Times reported. Josh Luber, co-CEO and founder of the reselling platform for high-demand sneakers, reportedly said the U.K. accounts for about 5% of all StockX transactions, while international sales, from continental Europe to China, account for 20%.

* Asos PLC rolled out its voice shopping assistant, called Enki, on Google Assistant for its customers in the U.K. and the U.S., Retail Gazette reported. Asos previously launched Enki on Facebook Inc.'s Messenger platform as a fashionbot that can help shoppers discover products, the report said.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s online portal Tmall said its research and development unit, Tmall Innovation Center, formed an alliance with 10 market research firms to strengthen the platform's product innovation strategy for its partner brands. The research firms, which include Nielsen, Ipsos, Kantar TNS, GFK, Euromonitor International and AdMaster, will pool in their specialized analytics and research methodologies to help cut the time and costs required for brands to develop new products.


* The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. is suing Deciem co-CEO and founder Brandon Truaxe after the executive announced on Instagram that the skincare company will temporarily close all its stores due to "major criminal activity" among its staff, The Wall Street Journal reported. Estée Lauder, a minority shareholder in Deciem, wants Truaxe removed as co-CEO and board director and for Nicola Kilner to step in as Deciem's sole CEO on an interim basis, the company reportedly said in the lawsuit. An Estée Lauder spokeswoman confirmed that the company has commenced legal action but declined to comment further on the litigation, while efforts to reach Truaxe were unsuccessful, the report said.

* Investment firm Centerbridge Partners LP and a group comprising PAI Partners and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners are expected to submit bids for Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s European tissue business, Bloomberg News reported, citing anonymous sources. The Texas-based consumer products company could get €1 billion to €2 billion in a sale, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg, adding that final bids are due in late October. Kimberly-Clark did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment.


* Supermarket chain Esselunga SpA hired advisory firm Zaoui & Co. to look into possible business options, such as a stock market listing, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reportedly said Esselunga may go public in 2019, a move that could value the company at over €7 billion. It was not possible to reach Esselunga and Zaoui for comment, Reuters said.


* Walmart Inc. announced a strategic joint venture with video technology developer Eko to form W*E Interactive Ventures in a bid to further its customer engagement and expand its entertainment ecosystem. The new venture includes plans to develop original and interactive content, which could include a range of offerings such as cooking shows and interactive catalogs. The U.S. retail giant also teamed up with PayPal Holdings Inc. to roll out PayPal services at Walmart stores for $3 per service, extending the payment processor's cash in and cash out money services in a brick-and-mortar environment for the first time.

* Walmart Inc. said it will pay $65 million in settlements to almost 100,000 current and former cashiers in California because they were refused seating while working, Reuters reported. The workers accused the Arkansas-based supermarket chain of violating California state law by not providing them with seats, the report said. The settlement, if approved, could be the largest ever under California's Private Attorney General Act.


* Amer Sports Corp. confirmed that it held talks with a consortium comprising rival Anta Sports Products Ltd. and private equity firm FountainVest Partners regarding a possible acquisition. The company said it will release further information about the matter at an appropriate time. Amer Sports in September received a "non-binding preliminary indication of interest" from the group to buy the retailer for €40 per share in cash.

* Panasonic Corp.'s Indian arm is considering raising the price of its mobile phones and consumer appliances by 5% to 7%, Manish Sharma, Panasonic India and South Asia CEO, told the Press Trust of India. The company reportedly may proceed with a price hike if the Indian rupee continues to decline in value versus the U.S. dollar after the annual Diwali festival in November.

* Sports Direct, through its SDI (Propco 66) Ltd. subsidiary, agreed to acquire heritable property in Glasgow for £95 million from the city council. The retailer intends to use the property to enhance department store chain House of Fraser Group Ltd., which it bought in August. The transaction is expected to complete in January 2020.

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The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng climbed 2.12% to 25,801.49, and the Nikkei 225 increased 0.46% to 22,694.66.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.86% to 7,066.94, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.55% to 995.60.

On the macro front

The import and export prices report, the consumer sentiment report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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