May, good month/bad month

May, good month/bad month

Retail Technology Innovation Hub takes a look at the retail technology space during May and rounds up the winners and losers

Good month for…

Delivery tech venture, Sorted, has secured £15 million in a funding round led by Praetura Ventures and NVM Private Equity.

Payments venture Checkout.com has raised $230 million from investors including Insight Partners and DST Global, in what is Europe’s largest ever FinTech Series A round.

Salesforce has inked a definitive agreement to acquire conversational AI startup Bonobo. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but media reports put it at $50 million.

Marks & Spencer and Founders Factory have announced a third startup to enter their retail accelerator programme under joint venture, Founders Factory Retail. Take a bow Texel, which lines up alongside ChargedUp, a mobile phone battery sharing solution and Rocketo, a healthy subscription dog food service.

UK mobile retail spend will double in the next five years to reach £33.2 billion, according to GlobalData.

Walmart is now a major competitive force in e-commerce and is capable of capturing shopper share from Amazon and others, according to Neil Saunders, Managing Director at GlobalData Retail.

Saunders was speaking as Walmart reported better-than-expected earnings during the first quarter,  with e-commerce sales in the US up 37%, driven by strong growth in online grocery and its home and fashion categories on Walmart.com.

The UK online shopping boom saw courier and express delivery sales increase by 12% to reach £12.6 billion in 2018, according to Mintel research. 

BrandHouse, a London-based online platform for fast moving consumer goods, has landed €4 million in Series A funding.

FinTech startup Wagestream has closed a £15 million series A funding round, co-led by venture capital investors Balderton Capital and Northzone.

Walmart has topped Starbucks and Amazon in a new mobile app adoption study.

Research from Cornerstone Advisors and StrategyCorps reveals that more than 58 million Americans have the Walmart mobile app on their smartphone. Amazon is in second place with 54 million. Uber lands in third (52 million) and Starbucks takes fourth spot (44 million).

B&M is planning to open 50 new stores this year. The discount goods retailer said profit before tax in the year to 30th March came in at £249.4 million - a rise of almost 9% on the previous year.

US startup Modsy has raised $37 million in a series C funding round led by TCV, with participation from Norwest Venture Partners, Advance Venture Partners, and Comcast Ventures. 

Bad month for…

UK town centre vacancy rates rose to their highest level in four years in April, according to research by BRC and Springboard.

Some Asos workers have been threatened with baliffs over unpaid bills, the result of a payroll issue with XPO logistics, according to the GMB union.

Ocado has launched a redundancy process after the online grocer said it would take two years to rebuild a Hampshire distribution centre destroyed in a fire. This will affect just under half the 850-strong workforce.

The UK online retail sector experienced a disappointing first quarter, and Easter failed to deliver a turnaround in fortunes, with April recording sales growth of just 5.2% YoY, according to research from IMRG and Capgemini.

Marks and Spencer reported the heavy costs of its restructuring programme just at it prepared to stick its hand out to investors for more money to fund its Ocado deal.

WHSmith has been voted as the worst High Street store in a Which? survey of more than 7,700 shoppers.

The jury’s out on…

Sainsbury's has reported a 41.6% fall in pre-tax profits, weighing in at £239 million, for the 52 weeks to 9th March 2019. Revenue rose slightly to £29 billion, from £28.5 billion last year.

The GMB union called for an urgent meeting with Walmart over a possible Asda £12 billion stock market float.

Amazon has teamed up with Next for the UK launch of Counter, which enables the e-commerce giant’s customers to pick up orders via a network of partner retailers.

UK shoppers should pay a transaction charge of 1p when they use self-service checkout machines, as part of a drive to heal generational divisions.

That’s a proposal put forward by the parliamentary panel on social integration, chaired by Chuka Umunna. The aim is "to counteract potential damage caused by a lack of everyday contact between people" and to raise money for intergenerational projects.

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