* The Unilever Group's shares fell 5.6% in early trading after it warned that underlying sales growth for fiscal 2019 is expected to be "slightly below" its guidance of the lower half of its 3% to 5% multiyear range, with sales growth anticipated to be below 3% in the fiscal first half of 2020. The company cited the economic slowdown in South Asia and challenging trading conditions in West Africa for the revision but noted that there are early signs of improving performance in North America.
* Amazon.com Inc. is barring its third-party sellers from using FedEx Corp.'s ground delivery network for Prime shipments, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an email sent by the e-commerce company to merchants. The ban is reportedly due to a decline in the logistics service provider's shipment performance during the holiday season and will continue until the service improves. Amazon and FedEx did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* L.K. Bennett Ltd. appointed former Head of Digital at Topshop and Topman Zoe Donovan as digital director, replacing Graham Broomfield, Drapers reported. Donovan will join the company in January 2020.
* IBV Licensing signed a long-term agreement with WHP Global to market and distribute its Anne Klein brand in Mexico, Women's Wear Daily reported.
* Ted Baker PLC said senior independent director Ron Stewart stepped down after nine years on the board. Current board member Helena Feltham will become senior independent director. It also appointed Jon Kempster as independent nonexecutive director.
* Pandora A/S appointed former Bulgari SpA executive Carla Liuni as chief marketing officer. Liuni will join the company in March 2020.
* Crocs Inc. appointed Beth Kaplan to its board of directors, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Kaplan is managing member at investment firm Axcel Partners LLC.
* Greek jewelry business Folli-Follie Commercial Manufacturing and Technical SA's former CEO George Koutsolioutsos stepped down from the company's board, Reuters reported.
* U.K.-based department store chain Beales hired KPMG to undertake a strategic review that could see the closure of a small number of stores, Sky News reported. Beales, which employs about 1,300 people, is seeking to negotiate rent reductions with some of the owners of its 22 stores.
* Studio Retail Group PLC posted a 12% year-over-year jump in fiscal first half 2020 adjusted pretax profit to £13 million, driven by positive contributions from both its core Studio retail brand and its education business. Revenue for the half ended Sept. 27 was flat year over year at £228.1 million. The company formerly known as Findel also appointed managing director Paul Kendrick to its board.
* Germany-based Zalando SE agreed to sell its basketball and streetwear subsidiary KICKZ AG to Play Hard GmbH, a unit of incubator Crealize GmbH.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* Amorepacific Corp. agreed to acquire a minority stake in U.S.-based beauty company Milk Makeup LLC to help the brand's expansion in South Korea, Women's Wear Daily reported.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* U.K. retailer John Lewis Partnership PLC reported a 7.8% year-over-year decline in sales for the week ended Dec. 14, which the company attributed to a "more subdued week following a successful Black Friday." Its John Lewis & Partners department store business saw sales drop 11.9%, while its Waitrose & Partners grocery store chain reported a 3.4% drop in sales excluding fuel.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS
* Carrefour SA's Italian unit signed a deal with Consorzio Nazionale Dettaglianti Società Cooperativa, or Conad, to acquire 28 Auchan stores in the Lombardy region for an undisclosed amount, European Supermarket Magazine reported.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* Best Buy Co. Inc. said Cindy Kent will step down as a board director at the company's annual meeting in 2020. The move follows Kent's appointment as executive vice president and president of senior living at Brookdale Senior Living Inc.
* Hibbett Sports Inc. named Michael Longo as CEO, president and board director, replacing Jeff Rosenthal.
SPECIALIZED CONSUMER SERVICES
* WW International Inc. extended its partnership with Oprah Winfrey and granted her a fully vested option to purchase about 3.3 million shares, representing 4.3% of the company. Winfrey will continue as an adviser to the company, formerly known as Weight Watchers, until May 2025.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 1.22% to 27,843.71, and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.47% to 24,066.12.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.21% to 7,503.42, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.38% to 1,141.94.
On the macro front
The housing starts report, the redbook, the industrial production report and the Labor Department's JOLTS 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.
The Daily Dose is updated as of 8 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.