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Gucci sues Forever 21; Sainsbury's to give employees a 4.4% pay increase

TOP NEWS

* Kering SA-owned luxury brand Gucci filed two lawsuits in a California federal court against Forever 21 Inc. in response to an earlier filing by the U.S. apparel retailer over a trademark spat, The Hollywood Reporter reported. Forever 21 filed a lawsuit June 26 seeking approval to use alternating blue-red-blue and green-red-green stripes on its clothes and accessories; Gucci claims the color combinations have been "iconic codes" of its brand for more than 50 years. The first of Gucci's two filings reportedly seeks to dismiss Forever 21's claim, while the second alleges Forever 21 engaged in "willful trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition."

* U.K.-based food retailer J Sainsbury Plc is planning a 4.4% pay increase for 135,000 employees across its stores, to £8 an hour effective Aug. 27, Retail Week reported. CEO Mike Coupe said this is the third consecutive year that the company has given employees a pay raise of 4% or more. The move by Sainsbury comes amid reports that the company is looking to cut more than 1,000 head-office jobs as part of a plan to reduce costs by £500 million.

E-COMMERCE

* The number of subscribers of Amazon.com Inc. paid membership program Amazon Prime may reach more than 50% of U.S. homes before year's end, CNBC reported, citing a note by Cowen and Co. analyst John Blackledge. About 49% of 2,500 U.S. consumers surveyed by the financial services firm had a Prime membership in July; Cowen and Co. also estimated there were more than 54 million Prime subscribers in the U.S., up from the 46 million it gauged in July 2016. Amazon's annual Prime Day sales event was reportedly expected to be the catalyst in driving Prime memberships above 50%, with the back-to-school shopping season and upcoming holiday season also expected to help grow that figure. Amazon did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the estimates.

* U.K.-based online retailer ASOS Plc said it signed an agreement to open a new fulfillment center in Union City, Ga., to strengthen its North American market. The company will make an initial investment of $40 million in the center and plans to set up a facility with a capacity of 10 million units and operations scheduled to start in fall 2018.

HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS

* Japanese consumer electronics company Sharp Corp. will help startups that develop sensors and other devices related to the internet of things find manufacturers to build their products, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Many of Sharp's suppliers reportedly are suffering from lesser-used plants and poor profitability due to a temporary disruption in the company's liquid crystal panel production. Sharp's initiative would reportedly help pair such suppliers with appropriate startups, with an aim to use the startups' technologies developed for in-house products, in addition to taking on some of their personnel.

SPECIALTY RETAIL

* Indian watchmaker Titan Co. Ltd. is teaming up with Amazon to sell its products in the U.S., Livemint reported. Titan reportedly plans to offer its watches and range of Fastrack accessories through the e-commerce platform's global selling program. The two companies will also consider eventually expanding their partnership to the EU and Japan. S. Ravi Kant, CEO of Titan's watches and accessories unit, said the company has not yet had formal discussions about Amazon becoming the company's exclusive e-commerce partner in the U.S., according to the report.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Online grocery shopping has yet to pick up in the U.S. even as the popularity of e-commerce continues to rise, with only 9% of American adults ordering groceries online for pickup or delivery at least once a month, according to a consumption habits survey by Gallup. The annual survey also showed that 83% of respondents said someone in their household shops for groceries in person at least once a week. This pattern of in-person shopping highlights "enormous potential" for growth in the online grocery business, the survey noted.

* An increase in the number of renovation projects and a growing preference to shift malls near pricier urban areas helped raise construction spending on U.S. shopping centers to $1.6 billion in June, the highest since 2008, Bloomberg reported. Amid an ongoing slump in the retail sector that has seen several companies shuttering stores, builders reportedly spent $404 million on mall construction in April, the second-highest monthly total in nominal terms. Many mall owners have been renovating their sites to make space for restaurants and other attractions in a bid to draw visitors, while others are seeking to shift to denser urban areas that can pose higher costs for labor and land.

* Teen apparel companies and department stores are losing out during this year's back-to-school shopping season, according to a note by analysts at Jefferies. Overall, their survey found that back-to-school shopping should continue to grow at about the same rate it did the previous year. Of 500 shoppers surveyed, 24.6% plan to spend more on back-to-school shopping this year, compared to 25.5% of those surveyed in 2016. About 50.4% plan to spend about the same as last year. Some 42% of those surveyed said they planned to increase spending on apparel and accessories, compared to 48.3% of respondents in the same period in 2016. About 16.1% of shoppers said they planned to increase purchases on electronics, compared to 22.8% in the year-ago period.

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