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Wal-Mart unveils returns service; Amazon eyes pharmaceutical market, report says

TOP NEWS

* Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that it will offer a new service called Mobile Express Returns that combines the retail giant's app with visits to its physical stores to make it easier to send back unwanted items. When it is launched in November, the returns service will cover products sold and shipped by Walmart.com. It will expand to include in-store purchases in early 2018.

* Amazon.com Inc. could decide to move into selling prescription drugs online before Thanksgiving and is in the "final stages" of its new strategy, CNBC reported, citing an email from the company and a source familiar with the matter. The e-commerce giant reportedly declined to comment to CNBC.

APPAREL RETAIL

* New York-based streetwear brand Supreme sold a stake to private equity firm Carlyle Group LP for an undisclosed sum, The Business of Fashion reported. Although terms were not known, the fashion news site reported that it most likely is a minority interest and that the equity firm would look to exit within three to five years.

E-COMMERCE

* Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten Inc. and convenience store operator Lawson Inc. said they will start a trial initiative in Japan that combines mobile sales through dedicated vehicles and product deliveries via the use of drones. The service will run on a trial basis for six months from one of Lawson's store in Fukushima Prefecture, beginning Oct. 31.

PERSONAL PRODUCTS

* Personal care brand Dove, owned by Unilever Plc, apologized for carrying out an ad campaign deemed racially insensitive by social media users, CNBC reported. The brand reportedly pulled the ads and said it "missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully."

FOOD RETAILING

* U.K. convenience store chain and wholesaler Nisa Retail Ltd. appointed Arnu Misra, an independent nonexecutive director at the company, as interim CEO. Previously, Misra held senior executive positions at Matalan Retail Ltd., ASDA Stores Ltd. and Loblaw Cos. Ltd. He takes over the role from Nick Read, who resigned in October.

* U.K.-based food retailer Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc will stand trial for a 2014 data leak by a former employee. The trial will decide if the company should compensate about 100,000 affected workers, the Financial Times reported. The former employee reportedly posted payroll and other information of the affected staff online in 2014. Morrisons denied any legal liability and declined to comment before the trial.

HYPERMARKETS

* Belarusian supermarket chain Eurotorg LLC has recruited banks to issue the country's first corporate euro-denominated bond, the Financial Times reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. The banks are reportedly acting as joint book runners to offer European investors as much as $350 million in five-year eurobonds. The company declined to comment on "market rumors," the newspaper said.

SPECIALTY RETAIL

* Tablez India, a unit of Abu Dhabi-based retailer LuLu Group International, opened India's first Toys R Us Inc. store, which has a total area of 20,000 square feet, India's Business Standard reported. Tablez India reportedly entered into an exclusive master franchise agreement with the U.S. toy company and said it will open three more stores by the end of its financial year.

* Private equity firm Sycamore Partners is looking to raise between $3 billion and $4 billion for a fund to make investments in the retail sector, CNBC reported, citing sources familiar with the situation. The firm, which acquired Staples Inc. in September, reportedly is raising its "biggest-ever fund."

* Japanese electronics company Sony Corp. plans to re-enter the robotics market with the launch of a mechanized dog for households in the spring of 2018, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The company has reportedly formed a development team comprising of people previously involved with its Aibo robotic pet dog project.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* U.K. consumer spending in September fell 0.3% year over year, the fourth monthly decline in the past five months, according to payment services provider Visa, whose findings are based on card transactions. "Despite a slight uptick in U.K. consumer spending in August, the story of the past few months has been one of wariness in household spending," said Kevin Jenkins, U.K. and Ireland managing director at Visa.

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