* Nestlé SA reported earnings for 2017 that beat expectations although sales slowed in the fourth quarter, and it said it remained committed to its stake in L'Oréal SA despite the expiry of a shareholder agreement between the company and the controlling shareholders of the French cosmetics company. However, the maker of Nescafé coffee and KitKat chocolate bars said in a statement that it had decided to explore strategic options, including a potential sale, for the Gerber Life Insurance business it acquired from Novartis AG in 2007.
* Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.'s net income surged to $508 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 from $165 million in the comparable prior-year period due to a $297 million tax benefit stemming from the new U.S. tax law. Diluted EPS for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2017, stood at $2.81, up from 90 cents in the fourth quarter of 2016, while net sales grew to $1.64 billion for the quarter, compared with $1.58 billion in 2016.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* Burberry Group Plc, the U.K. luxury goods label known for its plaid patterns and trench coats, partnered with Farfetch to roll out its products on the e-commerce company's portal in a move to strengthen the brand's online presence. The collaboration will see the London-based startup distributing Burberry's inventory to more than 150 countries.
* Fast Retailing Co. Ltd.'s flagship brand Uniqlo said it plans to open a store that spans about 2,040 square meters in Kalverstraat, Amsterdam, in 2018, the Japanese brand's first in the Netherlands and its largest shop in the region.
* South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group called for an emergency management committee to fill the leadership vacuum left by the imprisonment of its chairman, Shin Dong-bin, who was involved in a bribery scandal, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a company news release. The committee reportedly will handle "key decision-making issues" in lieu of Shin to recover operations in China, following a diplomatic tussle between Seoul and Beijing in 2017, while Lotte Holding Co. Vice Chairman Hwang Kag-gyu will serve as the group's acting chairman.
* Amazon.com Inc. will create 2,000 more permanent contract positions in France in 2018, over a week after the Seattle-based e-commerce giant settled a tax dispute with French authorities, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. Amazon, which also plans to open a 142,000-square-foot delivery warehouse in the country in 2018, reportedly will increase the total number of its permanent staff in France to 7,500 from about 5,500.
* The Indian unit of Amazon.com Inc. may launch its own appliance brands as it looks to fill any "selection gaps" through the company's private brand expansion, India's Mint reported, citing two unnamed executives of the online retail company. Manish Tiwary, vice president of Amazon India, reportedly said the U.S.-based retailer was looking at potential launches in new categories but declined to identify categories that may see Amazon roll out new private labels.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* Hindustan Unilever Ltd. is following parent company Unilever Plc in its plan to pull advertisements from online platforms, such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google Inc., that display "unreliable and harmful content," a company spokesperson told the Nikkei Asian Review. The Indian arm of the consumer goods giant, which was recently embroiled in a profiteering probe, reportedly spent $552.5 million on online advertising in 2017, with digital marketing accounting for 15% of the company's budget. The Nikkei said Google India did not respond to its request for comment, but Facebook India reportedly said it supports Unilever's commitments and is working closely with the company.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* U.K. retailer Tesco Plc issued an apology to its customers for taking up to three months to process their credit and debit card payments, which affected about 300 of its 1,700 Tesco Express convenience stores, The Guardian reported. The affected customers, who were sent letters notifying them of an "unexpected transaction" in their bank statements, reportedly will be reimbursed any bank charges incurred as a result of the technical glitch. A company spokesperson noted that Tesco had "contacted as many affected customers as possible" and that the issue had been resolved.
* German discount retailer Lidl Gmbh & Co. KG plans to hire 700 employees in the U.K. as it opens new outlets in Edinburgh, Stockton, Hull, Polegate and Rosehill in South London in the week commencing Feb. 12, The Independent reported.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS
* Sam's West Inc. said its Plus membership program would provide free shipping on over 95% of the items it sells online with its first e-commerce fulfillment center in Memphis, Tenn., expected to start shipping in the spring. The members-only warehouse retail unit of Walmart Inc. plans to accelerate growth in its network by the end of 2018, considering locations for fulfillment centers in Texas, central Florida, the mid-Atlantic, Southern California, Chicagoland and the Northeast.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* The Home Depot Inc. and Lowe's Cos. Inc., the two largest home improvement chains in the U.S., are hiring seasonal workers for their busy spring remodeling season. Home Depot is hiring about 80,000 people for its spring shopping season using a tool available on candidates' devices that allows them to self-schedule interviews for the seasonal positions. Lowe's, which originally announced plans in January to hire more than 53,000 seasonal workers for the spring season, said it will host a hiring day on Feb. 21.
* The House of Representatives passed legislation renewing the Generalized System of Preferences program for three years, a move that industry groups and lawmakers say will help save companies millions of dollars in tariff costs through 2020. The House passed the bipartisan measure, which provides duty-free treatment to 3,500 imported products from 120 beneficiaries, or developing countries and territories, through Dec. 31, 2020, on a 400-2 vote after just 40 minutes of debate. A companion bill in the Senate has not been introduced.
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