Tesco faces £4bn equal pay claim

Tesco faces an equal pay lawsuit that could cost the supermarket up to £4 billion in back pay after female shop assistants claimed that they earn up to £3 an hour less than male warehouse workers in similar roles.

The legal firm behind the action, Leigh Day, believes that this could be the biggest UK’s equal pay claim ever.

Up to 200,000 shop floor staff could be affected by the claim, which could cost the supermarket up to £20,000 per worker in back pay over at least six years.

Debenhams to lay off 320 management jobs in UK

Debenhams is planning to lay off nearly 320 store management jobs as part of its cost-cutting measures.

As part of the new initiative, the UK-based retailer intends to remove 25% of its department store managers and introduce a new structure by the end of next month.

By laying off store management jobs, the retail company aims to save £10m per annum.

Burberry to strengthen e-commerce presence with Farfetch partnership

Global luxury brand Burberry partnered with online fashion retail platform Farfetch to further strengthen its presence in the e-commerce segment.

Under the new partnership, the technology developed by Burberry has been integrated into Farfetch’s API, allowing the e-commerce platform to access the former’s global inventory.

The integration is expected to expand Burberry’s international distribution capabilities, giving the brand access to more than 150 countries.

Albertsons agrees to merge with Rite Aid

US-based grocery retailer Albertsons entered a definitive agreement to merge its business with drugstore chain Rite Aid.

The transaction was reportedly unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

Both companies expect to close the deal by the second half of this year, after obtaining regulatory approvals and fulfilling customary closing conditions.

US gun sales fall following mass shootings

Gun sales in the US fell in the aftermath of recent mass shootings. However, this hasn’t stopped some manufacturers from attempting to benefit from a lack of action on gun control laws.

A bump stock manufacturer called Slide Fire Solutions offered a Presidents’ Day discount on the device as a salute to President Trump’s decision to oppose any new gun control laws. The company used the hashtag #HeresToFreedom in its marketing.

Bump stocks enabled the Las Vegas gunman to fire semi-automatic rifles with the rate of a fully-automatic weapon.

Russia’s VTB Group to buy 29% stake in Magnit for $2.4bn

Russian financial services provider VTB Group signed an agreement with Magnit owner Sergei Galitsky to acquire his 29.1% stake in the company for approximately RUR138bn ($2.4bn).

Founded by Galitsky in 1994, Magnit is said to be one of the leading food retailers in the country.

The completion of the deal is subject to securing approval from the Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation.

Alibaba acquires stake in China’s furniture chain Easyhome

China’s e-commerce company Alibaba further expanded its retail presence by acquiring a 15% stake in Beijing’s home-improvement supplies and furniture chain Easyhome Furnishing (Easyhome) with a $867m investment.

By investing in Easyhome, Alibaba intends to expand its new business model that focuses on integrating brick-and-mortar and online shopping segments to create a seamless experience for consumers.

China’s Hayat to invest $300m in GNC business in US

GNC entered a strategic partnership and joint venture (JV) agreement with the Chinese pharmaceutical company Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Holding (Hayao).

According to the agreement, Hayao will invest nearly $300m in GNC and become a single largest shareholder in the company.

Under the JV agreement, GNC and Hayao will manufacture, market and distribute GNC-branded products in the Chinese retail market.

Apple opens first store in Vienna, Austria

US-based technology company Apple opened Apple Kärntner Straße, marking its first retail store in Vienna, Austria.

Located on the pedestrian shopping street between St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Vienna State Opera, Apple Kärntner Straße has been designed to complement the heritage of the original building.

The company is reported to have hired 150 employees, who can collectively speak 44 languages in order to serve international customers visiting the store.

EU bans the use of geo-blocking in e-commerce

New legislation approved by European Parliament banned the use of geo-blocking for e-commerce, meaning websites must sell their goods throughout the EU, regardless of the country the buyer resides in.

The law voted on by MEPs in Strasbourg on 6 February was adopted by a large majority. It prohibits geo-blocking restrictions for the purchase of goods and online services. Music streaming and eBooks are currently excluded from the legislation.

The move is set to widen access to many online services including shopping, travel booking, hotel reservation and car rentals within the EU, where many companies continue to use geo-blocking to restrict their content nationally.