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Bebe Stores appoints ex-Lacoste executive as CEO

Women’s apparel retailer Bebe Stores Inc named retail industry veteran Steve Birkhold as its new chief executive as it looks to turn around its business amid declines in same-store sales.

The company also reported weaker-than-expected second-quarter sales, hit by a 15 percent drop in same-store traffic.

Birkhold, who replaces founder Manny Mashouf, joins Bebe from French fashion brand Lacoste, where he was heading its North American business.

The appointment comes three months after Bebe’s board said it had started a search for a new CEO. The retailer, at the time, said it was looking for an executive who could build the brand and lead its strategy of turning into an omni-channel company.

Omni-channel retailing is a structure which enables retailers to speed up their supply-chain operations and enables customers to experience a single mode of shopping whether online, through catalogs or at brick-and-mortar stores.

The company in November appointed Ben Baum as its chief digital officer, a move aimed at beefing up its omni-channel operations.

Bebe on Thursday reported sales of $124.6 million. Analysts on average had expected sales of $142.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company said sales were hurt by lower traffic at stores open for more than a year and the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Same-store sales fell 10.5 percent in the quarter.

Bebe’s shares, which have lost a third of their value in the last six months, closed at $4.00 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

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REVEALED: The UAE's 50 biggest companies

UAE telecommunications giant Etisalat has topped Arabian Business’s countdown of the Gulf state’s largest listed companies.
With a market capitalisation of AED71.78bn (US$19.54bn) at the start of 2013, the firm beat lender National Bank of Abu Dhabi and port operator DP World to come first in the rankings.

Click here to see the full countdown of the UAE’s top 50 listed companies

The countdown indexes UAE-based firms listed on the Dubai Financial Market, NASDAQ Dubai and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange bourses.

This latest list was heavily dominated by banks and construction firms, with six of the top ten firms operating in these sectors.

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McDonald's rebrands to Macca's in Australia

The international fast food giant will temporarily change signs at selected stores across the country to the affectionate Australian nickname for the chain, in celebration of Australia Day, which falls on January 26 – a move that is its first such globally.

“We’re incredibly proud to embrace our ‘Australian-only’ nickname,” said Mark Lollback, the company’s chief marketing officer in Australia, in a statement on Tuesday.

“What better way to show Aussies how proud we are to be a part of the Australian community than change our store signs to the name the community has given us?”

Surveys have showed at least 50pc of Australians use the nickname.

Thirteen stores will change their store signage this week, starting from the state of New South Wales on Tuesday, the company said.

McDonald’s signage will return to each site from early February.

According to a national survey, “Macca’s” is the second most recognized Australianism, just behind “footy” for Australian rules football.

Australia is the only country in the world that refers to McDonald’s as Macca’s and the restaurant has formally submitted the word to the Macquarie Dictionary for consideration in their next update.

The restaurant has said the abbreviation reflects its place in the Australian community, which has a penchant for jocular nicknames.

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Dubai’s Just Falafel opens first store in London

Dubai’s Just Falafel opens first store in London

Dubai-based restaurant chain Just Falafel has opened its first store outside the Middle East in London’s Covent Garden, amid plans to open 200 outlets in the UK over the next five years.

“With our central kitchen now fully operational, two additional London locations under construction, and a further ten-plus stores in our pipeline, Just Falafel plans to satisfy the UK’s growing appetite for fresh, healthy dining choices in 2013,” Just Falafel’s CEO Fadi Malas said in a statement.

“Just Falafel plans to achieve at least ten percent of that objective this year with the opening of 20 stores; with Cambridge, Exeter and other markets currently in development,” the statement added.

“We are receiving more than 100 franchise enquiries each week. The challenge is in securing suitable storefronts to meet our expansion objectives,” Malas said in October.

Co-founder Malas is an entrepreneur with family ties to England as well as Beirut. The brand, which has previously said it may list its shares in the UAE, said full-year profit in 2011 was AED7m ($1.9m).

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Irish Nov retail sales show first fall in five months

Jan 7 (Reuters) – Irish retail sales volumes fell on a monthly basis for the first time in five months in November, dropping 1.1 percent from a month earlier, provisional data showed on Monday.

Volumes were 0.5 percent lower in November on an annual basis having posted their largest growth this year in October when the index climbed 3 percent, a slight downward revision from provisional data posted over a month ago.

The statistics office confirmed that retail volumes rose 1.7 percent month-on-month in October. Economists polled by Reuters expectedc that retail sales fell by one percent for the year as a whole in 2012.

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Morrisons appoints new group marketing and customer director

Morrisons has announced that it has appointed Nick Collard as its group marketing and customer director.

He will be appointed to the management board in June, with responsibility for marketing, own brand ranges, insight, loyalty, customer relationship management and format. Casper Meijer will lead the other commercial functions from June as group trading director.

Morrisons also said that Belinda Youngs has been promoted to corporate brand marketing director, reporting to Nick Collard.

Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said: “Nick’s doing a great job in taking our marketing forward and now has the opportunity to lead one team integrating our own brand and customer engagement.

“The recent announcement of our partnership with Ant and Dec is a great sign of how Nick’s team can showcase the talent of Morrisons colleagues and the value they offer our customers.”

Nick Collard joined Morrisons in January 2011 as commercial director for ambient and frozen from Boots, where he was brands director. He was appointed marketing and operations director in April 2012.

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