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DELOITTE: FALLING OIL PRICES HELP TOP GLOBAL RETAILERS SUSTAIN YEAR OF REVENUE GROWTH

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DELOITTE: FALLING OIL PRICES HELP TOP GLOBAL RETAILERS SUSTAIN YEAR OF REVENUE GROWTH

Lulu group ranks among 25 fastest growing retailers

The top 250 global retailers generated aggregated revenues of US$4.5 trillion in fiscal year 2014, representing a steady growth of 4.3 percent compared with 4.1 percent in 2013, according to Deloitte’s Global Powers of Retailing 2016: Navigating the new digital divide. This is a positive signal for the industry which had not so long ago witnessed revenue declines in 2011. However, the picture is uneven by region with retailers in North America and Africa/Middle East enjoying revenue growth, while those in Asia Pacific, Europe, and Latin America enduring declining growth.

“Slower economic growth in several markets, lower inflation, falling oil prices, and a stronger US dollar, were among dynamics which generated mixed fortunes for retailers across different regions,” explains Dr. Ira Kalish, Deloitte Global Chief Economist. “For US retailers the strength of the US dollar meant increased purchasing power for US consumers, helped also by better economic growth and improving employment conditions in the US. The Chinese economy on the other hand slowed considerably during this time, mainly due to weak exports and weakening investment. Nevertheless, consumer spending held up fairly well, although the luxury sector faltered.”

“Despite plummeting oil prices and its impact on the economies in the Gulf, one of the region’s retailers, the Lulu Group not only achieved revenue growth but it also managed to retain its position as one of the fastest growing retailers in the world,” explains Herve Ballantyne, partner and Consumer & Industrial Products leader at Deloitte Middle East.

“According to the Deloitte “Global Powers of Retailing 2016” the eight retailers representing the Africa/Middle East generated composite growth of 19.4 percent, which is 4.5 times greater than the “Top 250” as a whole. The emerging markets have done a lot to immunize their economies from the effects of the global economic crisis in 1998. Governments reduced deficits and “Debt to GDP” levels, accumulated vast foreign currency reserves and also improved the solvency and transparency of their financial institutions. It appears those efforts were not enough as they were still not immune to global issues. The end result has been substantial slowdown in growth in many countries. On the other hand, since the past year, oil prices have plummeted which has resulted in disinflationary pressure in many countries thereby boosting consumer spending in major markets. For the world’s leading retailers, the weakness of oil process has mostly been good news”, remarked Abbas Ali Mirza, Audit Partner, Deloitte Middle East.

Bottom-line performance was also uneven across the geographic regions, but the overall direction was down. The report indicates that the top 250 retailers posted a composite net profit margin of 2.8 percent in 2014, compared with 3.4 percent in 2013.

The impact of digital technology

Global Powers of Retailing 2016 also highlights the impact of technology on in-store shopping, indicating the rapidly increasing digital connectivity of shoppers. Digital behaviors and expectations of consumers are evolving faster than retailers are delivering on those expectations, says the report, creating a “digital divide.” Three important trends are identified:

  • No single path toward digital adoption. While all markets are moving toward widespread digital adoption, some are taking somewhat different routes. Some emerging markets, for example, are entirely skipping adoption stages previously experienced by developed markets.
  • One digital “size” does not fit all customers. Digital behavior varies depending on demographic factors such as age and income, and also by the product type being sought.
  • Consumers are demanding better digital tools. Digital tools and channels can both extend a retailer’s reach and increase revenue, but customers are currently feeling unsatisfied and underserved by many retailers’ current digital offerings.

“There is a gap between what consumers expect and what retailers are currently delivering in terms of the consumer’s evolving desire to incorporate digital into their in-store shopping experience,” explains Ballantyne. “Some retailers may underestimate the digital influence, while others recognize the real opportunity to capitalize on this digital divide.”

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An unprecedented Black Friday: How can retailers prepare?

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An unprecedented Black Friday: How can retailers prepare? 1

Retailers must invest heavily in their online presence and fight hard to remain competitive as a second lockdown stirs greater uncertainty

With an unprecedented Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend on the horizon (27th – 30th November), eCommerce hosting and consultancy expert, Sonassi, advises retailers to strengthen their online presence and make the necessary preparations for a fatigue in consumer spending.

James Allen-Lewis, Development Director at Sonassi, explains: “This year’s golden quarter has squeezed together three of the biggest sales periods like never before, meaning retailers will have to fight harder than usual to remain competitive this Black Friday. With greater discounts over a longer period of time, alongside the fact that a second lockdown has moved everyone and everything online, retailers will be battling it out for a share of decreasing consumer spending.

“However, this sense of uncertainty should not deter merchants from implementing their sales strategies this Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Instead, they must go further than simply providing online discounts and tackle challenges head on by re-focusing their efforts on creating a highly competitive user experience. Successful merchants will make the necessary preparations for a change in consumer demand and invest more heavily in their eCommerce infrastructure.

“One way in which retailers can do this is by using last year’s Black Friday as a case study to inspire their future response. For example, retailers should take note of the key consumer behaviours that transpired throughout last year’s mega peak in discounting and plan accordingly for the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber-Monday weekend.

“Tactics such as providing the ultimate online delivery service and secure payment methods will also be pivotal for retailers looking to survive a fatigue in online spending. Consumers will look to retailers who do not overpromise on items like next-day delivery and ensure their checkout process is safe and frictionless for all. It is the retailers who embrace this fact and meet the needs of the conscious consumer that will win their share of consumers wallets.

Allen-Lewis concludes: “With Black Friday and the build-up to Christmas just around the corner, retailers must adapt to changing consumer demand, invest more heavily in their eCommerce infrastructure and focus their efforts on creating the ultimate online experience. The only way to plan ahead amid challenging times is to listen to the needs of the customer.”

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Optimistic outlook for 2021 public M&A

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Optimistic outlook for 2021 public M&A 2

Optimism is returning and the outlook is positive for the Australian M&A market in 2021 after a COVID-induced crash in deal activity in 2020, according to Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s tenth M&A 2021 Outlook report.

The special report reveals that an environment of historically low interest rates positions M&A as a significant means of achieving growth and generating returns, including for private equity firms looking to deploy capital and strategic buyers focused on complementary acquisitions.

With the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, global political instability and arguably the greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression, M&A 2021 Outlook details somewhat surprising trends emerging for the next 12 months and analyses a number of common COVID-19 myths and their influence on future M&A deal making.

Corrs’ detailed examination of the Australian M&A market draws on data taken from the firm’s proprietary database of transactions combined with in-depth research for the 12-month period ending 30 September 2020.

Key trends identified in the report include a rapid escalation in M&A levels and an increase in creativity in pricing and speed in closing deals, while also highlighting the critical need for support from target shareholders. Conditions also appear to be set for a continued rise in equity prices as a result of the ongoing influx of capital into Australian equity markets, making it imperative that bidders employ strategies to move quickly on M&A transactions.

Discussing the M&A 2021 Outlook, Corrs Head of Corporate, Sandy Mak, said “Despite a challenging year, our research indicates that 2021 could well see the volume and value of deals continue to grow. We are already witnessing this uptick in activity and while some industries and sectors are seeing a faster rebound than others, early indications are that the wider public M&A market will continue to strengthen over the coming months.”

Based on its detailed research, the M&A 2021 Outlook report discusses further key findings including:

  • Deal volume and value is the lowest since 2016, however volumes have shown significant recovery since June 2020.
  • More than 50% of deals in 2020 were ‘hostile’ and not recommended at the outset.
  • 71% of deals over A$500 million were structured by way of a takeover – a significant increase from prior years – largely as a result of increased competition for assets through rival bids.
  • Despite border closures and the tightening of foreign investment regimes, the percentage of deals with foreign bidders has increased materially since April 2020.
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5 steps for SMEs to budget properly for the coming year

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5 steps for SMEs to budget properly for the coming year 3

By Fabio Comminot, Head of Dealing, Switzerland at Ebury, one of Europe’s largest Fintechs, has provided a five-step guide to make sure budgeting is done on time.

During the challenging times of COVID-19, it is difficult to forecast orders and costs. This is especially true for SMEs that operate internationally and therefore are exposed to currency fluctuations and market movements. So budgeting is immensely important.

Autumn is budget season for most companies. Upcoming project costs, sales and fixed costs must be defined or forecasted. Budget planning should be as accurate as possible right from the start of the process to avoid unexpected consequences at the end of the year..

With the effects of the COVID pandemic it has become difficult for all companies, no matter their size or history, to plan and make sales forecasts. Early planning and hedging are especially important for companies that work internationally and are therefore particularly exposed to currency risk.

These five steps will help SMEs take the right measures for the coming financial year, in time for budget season:

Step 1: Estimate your costs or sales in foreign currencies 

As difficult as it may seem, every company must estimate its expected fixed and variable costs for the coming year. Most companies can forecast their revenues based on experience or existing orders.

However, start-ups or young companies should also be able to at least estimate their costs including rents, insurance, wages and production costs. Special attention should be paid to costs or revenues that are spent or received in a foreign currency.

Step 2: Profit or cost assurance – define the strategy

As soon as an approximate plan for the coming year is in place, the company should consider the importance of currency management. Regular earnings or expenditures in foreign currencies are exposed to movements in exchange rates. If costs in a foreign currency are to be forecasted until the end of the year, the company needs to minimise volatility. This means that the exchange rate should be fixed so that there are no unexpected negative consequences at the end of the year.

Another option would be to protect the operating profit. Fluctuating exchange rates can rapidly ruin intended profit margins. In this case the company could aim to define the forecasted sales in the foreign currency and fix the margin based on this.

Step 3: Fix your budget rates 

The budget is set, the currency management goals are defined, the major part is done. Now it is a matter of defining the budgeted rates for the various currencies based on the current exchange rate. A buffer of about 5% can be useful when doing this – for example. instead of fixing the exchange rate from US dollar to Swiss franc at the current 91 cent, a rate of 95 cent could be budgeted. In this way, the minimum budget rate is defined and any negative exchange rate movement can be at least partially compensated for.

Step 4: Define the hedging strategy

With the targets and the budget course set, the next questions are: What currency developments can be expected? What is the industry outlook? Is the order situation relatively secure? Or is there practically no empirical data?

This step is where Ebury can support the company. Our experts in FX markets help answer these questions and begin to define the individual hedging strategy.

Step 5: Ensure a flexible fit

It’s done: the measures have been defined, now it’s time for implementation.

Ebury will implement the previous steps and , so that the company focuses on its core business. In contrast to traditional financial services providers such as banks, Ebury constantly monitors international trade and political events in order to assist clients with strategy adjustments. The Ebury team is supported by state-of-the-art technology and international currency analysts. It makes no difference whether the changes are driven by the currency market or whether the company’s order situation itself is changing. This allows the SME to focus on its operational business, which is worth a lot in uncertain times like these.

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