* As expected, U.S. children's apparel retailer Gymboree Group Inc. and its subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. and Canada, marking the company's second bankruptcy in less than two years. The company plans to shut down all Gymboree and Crazy 8 stores and operations and sell its Janie and Jack business. Gymboree, Janie and Jack, and Crazy 8 stores and online platforms will remain open for now, but the company will provide updates as the bankruptcy process progresses, the company said.
* British grocer Tesco PLC is renting refrigerated containers to increase its frozen food storage capacity in the event that the U.K. departs the EU without a deal that covers trade, the Financial Times reported, citing an internal memo. Refrigerated containers that Tesco rented over the Christmas period "are now planned to stay on site for the rest of the year as part of a contingency plan due to Brexit," the newspaper reported, citing Tesco's communication to store managers. Tesco reportedly declined to comment on the matter.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE is in talks with singer Rihanna to launch a luxury house under her name, Women's Wear Daily reported, citing multiple sources. The collection reportedly will offer a range of items including ready-to-wear, leather goods and accessories, but details regarding the launch and timing were not mentioned. LVMH declined to comment on the matter, WWD added.
* General merchandise retailer ShopKo Stores Inc. said the company, along with its subsidiaries, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nebraska. The retailer said the move comes in response to excess debt and "ongoing competitive pressures." In its bankruptcy court filing, the company listed estimated assets of between $500 million and $1 billion and estimated liabilities of between $1 billion and $10 billion.
* U.K.-based Paperchase Products Ltd. has appointed KPMG to explore restructuring options and is considering a company voluntary arrangement that would allow the specialty store chain to close its stores, The Telegraph reported. Paperchase reportedly employs 2,000 staff and has 130 stores in the U.K. KPMG and Paperchase declined to comment, the report added.
* U.K. retailer Marks and Spencer Group PLC rolled out over 90 lines of loose fruits and vegetable with plastic-free packaging at its store in Tolworth, in southwest London. The retailer has set up two aisles, stocking fruit and vegetables free of plastic packaging, for a three-month trial period. The retailer also aims to save 580 tonnes of plastic waste over two years by launching more lines of loose produce and introducing sustainable alternatives to plastic at its U.K. stores.
* Sterling Jewelers LLC, owned by Signet Jewelers Ltd., settled parallel claims by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the state of New York alleging that the company opened store credit card accounts and enrolled customers in payment-protection insurance without their consent, and misrepresented credit card financing terms. The company paid a $10 million civil money penalty to the CFPB and a $1 million penalty to the state of New York as part of the settlement, as well as injunctive relief to prevent further illegal conduct.
* EBay said it appointed Steve Wymer as senior vice president and chief communications officer, effective Feb. 4.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* German personal-care company Beiersdorf AG said organic group sales for full year 2018 increased 5.7% year over year to €7.23 billion from €7.06 billion, with both consumer and adhesive product Tesa business segments contributing to the sales growth. CEO Stefan De Loecker said the company "will take further key strategic steps" in 2019 to deliver sustainable growth. Beiersdorf added that its 2018 EBIT margin from ongoing operations will be at the same level as in 2017.
* The Procter & Gamble Co. has created an alliance with other global companies, including Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, to launch a new organization that will tackle plastic waste. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which has about 30 member companies, pledged to donate $1 billion with the goal of investing $1.5 billion over the next five years to help eliminate plastic waste, especially in the ocean. The organization will also make additional investments to help improve infrastructure, technological innovation, education and engagement, and the cleaning up of concentrated areas of plastic waste.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV-owned food retailer Stop & Shop, through a partnership with San Francisco-based startup Robomart, will launch driverless grocery vehicles in Greater Boston starting this spring. Shoppers can use an app to access the Robomart vehicle service, and the autonomous vehicles will carry select products to customers' doorsteps.
* Russian food retailer PJSC Magnit appointed Jan Dunning to the newly created role of president.
* London-based food and retail company Associated British Foods PLC's group revenue from continuing operations for the 16 weeks to Jan. 5 saw a 2% increase from the year-ago period at a constant currency basis. Sales at the company's Primark clothing unit grew 4% year over year at both constant currency and actual exchange rates. AB Foods added that its full-year outlook remains unchanged.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS
* German food retailer Metro AG reported a 2.3% year-over-year increase in like-for-like sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2018-2019, driven by its 6.4% sales growth in Eastern Europe excluding Russia and a 5.9% sales increase in Asia. Metro also maintained its outlook for fiscal 2018-2019.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* Home furnishings retailer Leggett & Platt Inc. completed the previously announced acquisition of foam and beddings company Elite Comfort Solutions Inc. The retailer, which bought Elite Comfort Solutions for $1.25 billion, said it financed the acquisition through its expanded commercial paper program and the issuance of a $500 million five-year term loan.
* Chinese electronics retailer Suning.com Co. Ltd. plans to open 15,000 physical stores in 2019, Technode reported. The company is also highlighting smart retail solutions in its sales networks across 350 domestic cities, the report added.
* Britons are likely to spend a record £25 billion on products ordered from smartphones and tablets this year, £10 billion more compared to 2018, according to a survey by price comparison service uSwitch. The research found that approximately 30 million consumers in Britain will use their phone to shop in 2019, a 66% increase from 2018.
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The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.54% to 26,755.63, while the Nikkei 225 was down 0.20% to 20,402.27.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.52% to 6,827.00, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.26% to 934.70.
On the macro front
The U.S. Housing starts report, the jobless claims report, the EIA natural gas report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply 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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