1. Marie Kondo of Konmari is looking to raise $40M
Netflix sensation Marie Kondo is planning to raise $40M in VC funding to scale “Kon Mari”, the business entity behind her personal brand, books, and TV show reports Techcrunch. The company reportedly closed a small funding round led by Sequoia Capital. Sources have confirmed to Techcrunch that there are plans to build an eCommerce platform. Kondo’s show “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” encourages people to keep only things – clothes, books, papers, and miscellaneous items – that spark joy and discard those that no longer spark joy.
2. Philadelphia bans cashless stores
Philadelphia is set to introduce a law that penalizes businesses that do not accept cash, reports Wall Street Journal. Starting in July, most businesses will have to accept cash. The backlash against cashless stores – particularly against Amazon Go which plans to open about 3000 Go cashless stores by 2021 – has been growing with critics pointing out that the system unfairly discriminates the lower-income demographic that may not have credit or debit cards.
3. AlipayHK reaches 50K users in its first year
Alibaba’s affiliate Alipay claims 50,000 merchants and 2 million users have signed up for its cashless payment services in its debut year in HongKong. According to InsiderRetail, AlipayHK is a joint venture between the mainland financial services company and local conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings. For its second year, Alipay will reportedly focus on widening the e-wallet adoption across public transport providers and expand its cross-border payment services by strengthening collaboration among merchants.
4. Abercrombie and Fitch plans to close 40 stores
Upscale casual retailer Abercrombie and Fitch has announced that it will close up to 40 stores this year. This is higher than the 29 stores that it closed last year. The company’s primary goal right now seems to be to turnaround its retail stores, and improve its omnichannel approach to business and revamp stores it thinks have the ability to perform better. The company has closed 475 stores since 2011. Its CEO Fran Horowitz has stated that the company is however still committed to brick-and-mortar.
5. Costco Q2 earnings
Costco’s earnings hit $889 million, or $2.01 a share, for the quarter ended Feb 17, from $701 million, or $1.59 in the year-ago period. This was ahead and against a consensus of $1.69. Total sales came in at $35.39 billion, below analyst expectations of $35.65 billion. Profits, which had fallen in the previous three quarters rose to 11.29%. Given Amazon’s penetration into the grocery market, Costco has bolstered its delivery operations and offers same-day grocery delivery with Instacart. It has however downplayed expectations of easing competition in the grocery sector.