In the loop: John Lewis in loss, Medopad acquires American Sherbit and Alibaba announces Jack Ma’s successor

While you’re busy getting your hands on the new iPhone, John Lewis has become the latest retailer to go into crisis mode, UK startup Medopad bought US firm Shirobet and Daniel Zhang was poised to take over Alibaba in 2019

In the loop: John Lewis in loss

John Lewis see 99% plunge in half-year profits

The high street epidemic continues to cause havoc on British retailers. After brands like Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and House of Fraser announced their store closures, John Lewis has now been added to the list after profits slumped by 99% from 2017 to reach £1.2m.

The John Lewis partnership blamed lack of clarity surrounding the Brexit negotiations and huge discounts by competitors for the losses. And that prompted UK’s Brexit secretary Dominic Raab to criticise the business.

“It’s probably rather easy at this moment in time for any business which isn’t doing rather well to point to Brexit,” Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.

Looking at how John Lewis’ profits have been as gloomy as the weather we can be sure the retail apocalypse is indeed affecting all irrespective of offering huge discounts. E-tail seems to be the way forward which was proved by Amazon who become worth $1tn. 

British fashion brand Seasalt bags £16m investment

While big brands are going through turmoil, smaller companies are gaining momentum. Fashion brand Seasalt has secured investment worth £16m to open 40 new stores across Blighty and to sharpen both its online and offline offerings.

£11.5m was invested by BGF, an investment company for SMEs, and £4.5m from Santander Corporate and Commercial, a financial service provider. The partnership with BGF and Santander will allow the Cornwall-based retailer to access a wider network and use their advisers when scaling. With over 800 employees already, it will be creating a further 700 jobs over the next five years.

It’s indeed no secret that amalgamating an online marketplace along with an advanced in-store experience are the ingredients for scaling a brand. So expect great things from Seasalt.

UK-based Medopad acquires Silicon Valley startup

UK entrepreneurs are increasingly sailing overseas. Now, Medopad, the British healthtech company, is set to revolutionise healthcare in the US after acquiring Silicon Valley based startup Sherbit, a data visualisation company, for an undisclosed sum.

With this acquisition, Sherbit’s CEO, Alex Senemar intends to take Medopad’s technology into the US and teach hospitals. Founded in 2011, Medopad helps hospitals track long-term illnesses and conditions. This deal is part of the company’s US expansion after it established an office at Johnson & Johnson’s incubator JLABs in New York City in July 2018. With having secured $28m already, Medopad plans to close a $120m funding round this year to scale further.

We can be sure to say that UK based startups are capitalising on opportunities to expand worldwide and more entrepreneurs like Medopad’s CEO Dan Vahdat must venture westwards.

Single’s Day inventor to spearhead Alibaba after Jack Ma

It’s indeed the end of the Jack Ma era after he announced stepping down as chairman of Alibaba, the e-commerce giant. He is to pass on the baton to the CEO Daniel Zhang who will be the new chairman a year from now, he said in a letter.

Ma will continue to be on the board and a permanent member of the Alibaba partnership to make the transition as smooth as possible for Zhang. The soon-to-be chairman has not only been serving as CEO since 2015 but also the architect of the Single’s Day annual sale. The online event touted as the largest e-retail event in the world – triggering more expenditure than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined –  saw more than $25bn in sales for Alibaba in 2017.

It’s undeniably going to be a herculean task to follow the footsteps of a chief like Ma but Zhang seems to be as promising as his boss.

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Varsha Saraogi
Varsha Saraogi

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