* Walmart Inc., Target Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp. were among 25 U.S. companies that sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, saying consumers would ultimately bear the burden should the reported tariffs be imposed on Chinese imports. The retailers, which also included Macy's Inc., Levi Strauss & Co. and Best Buy Co. Inc., argued that pushing up tariffs on a wide range of consumer products could have a "negative impact." A group of more than 80 footwear companies, including Nike Inc., Under Armour Inc. and Allen Edmonds Corp., wrote their own letter to Trump, saying tariffs would require major sourcing and production changes for the industry.
* Amazon.com Inc. is considering buying some locations from Toys R Us Inc. as the troubled toy retailer plans to sell or close all of its stores in the U.S. and wind down its U.K. operations, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources. Additional stores would allow Amazon to expand its presence in the brick-and-mortar retail space, putting the company's inventory nearer to consumers, the report said.
* Muji, owned by Japanese general merchandiser Ryohin Keikaku Co. Ltd., will open its largest store, spanning about 4,300 square feet, on March 20 in Osaka's port city of Sakai, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.
* Google Inc. launched Shopping Actions, a feature that lists products of retail companies on Google's platforms in exchange for getting a percentage from each sale, Reuters reported, citing president for retail and shopping Daniel Alegre. The Alphabet Inc. unit reportedly now has partnered with retail companies, including Target, Walmart, Home Depot Inc., Costco and Ulta Beauty Inc.
* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is looking into buying Daraz, the Pakistani e-commerce unit of German venture capital firm Rocket Internet SE, in order to expand its foothold in the country, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The companies are reportedly in early stage discussions as Alibaba is still negotiating with Rocket on a sale price for its online retail subsidiary.
* Capital Square Partners' move to merge its Aegis Global unit, which provides services to e-commerce companies Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd. and Paytm E-Commerce Pvt. Ltd, with StarTek Inc. may pose "challenges" as Flipkart rival Amazon owns warrants issued by StarTek, industry experts told The Economic Times.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* South Korean cosmetics label Etude Corp., owned by personal products manufacturer Amorepacific Group, debuted in the Middle East with the open of its first store at the Dubai Mall, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a company affiliate. Etude reportedly will open another outlet in Kuwait on March 22 and plans a foray into Saudi Arabia in the first half of 2018.
* Amorepacific Group issued an apology as it recalled six products that South Korea's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety found contained the heavy metal substance antimony above permitted levels, Yonhap News Agency reported.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* U.K. food distributor Conviviality PLC said its CEO, Diana Hunter, resigned from the company's board, effective immediately. Conviviality's nonexecutive chairman, David Adams, will serve as executive chairman "until further notice." Hunter will remain with the company to provide support during the transition.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS
* Walmart is offering at-home assembly and installation of furniture and appliances bought in 25 of its Atlanta stores through the company's partnership with home services provider Handy. It plans to expand the program to 2,000 more stores in April. Customers can use Handy's services by scheduling an appointment with a qualified local professional while checking out their in-store purchases.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* South African retailer Steinhoff International Holdings NV is looking into selling part of its 77% stake in Steinhoff Africa Retail Ltd., Bloomberg reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. The move follows the embattled company's sale of its stake in investment holding company PSG Group Ltd. and chemical company KAP Industrial Holdings Ltd in a bid to raise cash and improve its liquidity.
* Toys R Us Inc. canceled in-store events that it hosts as the company begins to close shops in the U.S. and the U.K., CNBC reported, citing sources familiar with the situation. However, the retailer reportedly plans to save 200 of its best-performing stores in the U.S.
* Newell Brands Inc. entered into an agreement with investor Carl Icahn, who disclosed that he has a 6.86% stake in the company. Under the deal, Newell appointed Patrick Campbell, Brett Icahn, Andrew Langham and Courtney Mather, all of whom were designated by Icahn, to the board of directors, effective immediately, the company said in an SEC filing. Campbell also was elected board chairman.
* Retailers and consumer brands are doubling down on mobile technology in 2018, with companies from Nike to Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd.-owned 7-Eleven Inc. developing new ways for customers to use smartphones as they shop. The companies are disclosing their mobile ambitions as Amazon finds its footing with its Amazon Go store in Seattle, a concept that uses a mobile app to admit customers, track what they pull from the shelves and then charge their accounts. Amazon has indicated that it is still refining Amazon Go and has no immediate plans to deploy it on a large scale, including at its roughly 470 Whole Foods Market Inc. stores.
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