Design

Manila, Philippines — Construction recently began on the 300,000-sq.-ft. Ayala Greenbelt Entertainment Center. Situated in Makati, the country's central business district, the $50 million center is being developed by area-based Ayala Land Inc. and designed by Seattle-based Callison Architecture Inc.

The center will have two distinct faces. The “country side” incorporates the Greenbelt Park. The landscaped courtyards and pathways meander through the terraced building on one side, providing protection from sun and rain.

The “city side” presents a unified front, creating the urban street presence desired by businesses. “It creates a subtle sense of place that responds to both the Philippine culture and lifestyle, and the demands of international retail standards,” says Miriam Katigbak, the Ayala executive in charge of commercial real estate development. The project's completion date is scheduled for spring 2002.

Acquisitions

Milan, Italy — Eyewear retailer Luxottica Group made a tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Coral Gables, Fla.-based Sunglass Hut International common stock for $11.50 per share in cash for almost $462 million. Including the assumption of $191 million in debt, the total amount of the deal is equal to $653 million. The stylish spectacles company also owns LensCrafters, the largest optical retail chain in North America.

London — Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's Corp. reached an agreement to acquire a minority interest in locally based Pret A Manager, a fast-food retailer. The company operates more than 100 outlets across the United Kingdom.

Pret opened its first international store in New York last year and is excited McDonald's investment will be used to further support the restaurant chain's international development. “Our minority interest is win/win. It gives Pret A Manager the resources to grow its business outside the United Kingdom, providing McDonald's with another opportunity to advance our long-term strategy,” says Claire Babrowski, executive vice president of McDonald's Corp.

Pret A Manager plans for locations in Manhattan this year and Asia in the near future.

Retailer roundup

Kobe, JapanThe Daiei Inc. will soon be home to 100 McDonald's Japan in-store outlets. Daiei, the country's No. 2 retailer, is struggling and sees the co-branding as a way to boost sales. McDonald's plans to operate 10,000 outlets in Japan within 10 years, according to Bloomberg.

The Daiei Inc. operates in three business segments: retail, consisting of general merchandise stores, supermarkets and discount stores; development, made up of store development and management services; and a third division encompassing the hotel and leisure industries.

Sydney, Australia — The lack of success of the Australian arm of the Franklins grocery chain proves to be a concern for its owner, Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm International Holdings. Franklins is in the process of selling 143 stores in New South Wales to Wal-Mart Stores or Aldi Group, according to Bloomberg, which also reports that Coles Myer has agreed to assume the chain's retail locations in Victoria, Australia and South Australia.

In addition, Woolworths Ltd. will purchase 80 Franklins stores while some 120 stores will be obtained by a joint independent investment alliance with Johannesburg, South Africa-based Metcash. The independents collectively operate under the IGA banner, according to Retail NewsBeat.

Dairy Farm International Holdings Ltd. operates supermarkets, convenience stores and drugstores in Asia and Australia.

Karlsruhe, Germany — Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores lost $335 million in sales last year in Germany, and may lose $248 million this year. The world's No. 1 discount retailer says it doesn't expect to be profitable in Germany until 2003. It plans to remodel stores, tweak the merchandising mix and create a distribution system.

Wal-Mart entered the German market in 1997 through the acquisition of 21 Wertkauf stores, and 74 Spar Handels stores in 1998, according to Wirtschaftswoche magazine.

Bentonville, Ark. — In related news, Wal-Mart Stores may soon be selling its goods in the Philippines — the country supplying the discount goods retailer with approximately $60 million in products annually. Wal-Mart has joined with a local partner for a venture scheduled to launch this month. It has not been announced whether the venture is to be bricks-and-mortar, e-commerce, or a wholesale format, according to Bloomberg.

Technology

San Francisco — Locally based Sharper Image Corp. recently launched a Spanish edition to its U.S. website, www.sharperimage.com. The newest online store aims to serve the increasingly affluent U.S. Latino population, which is believed to be on the rise from 33 million.

Customers can reach the new website by clicking on the U.S. flag that's followed by the word “Espanol.” The customer is then led to the “Best of Sharper Image” — the Spanish, online store featuring more than 125 of the company's best-selling products.

Awards

Falls Church, Va. — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded International Code Council Inc. (ICC) its “Best of the Best” award. ICC was applauded for its contribution to a review of four model-building codes, the International Building Code, National Building Code, Standard Building Code and Uniform Building Code.

Finance

BostonFidelity Investments hopes to expand its German position by establishing an online fund supermarket. The investment management company was among the first to launch such ventures in the United States and the United Kingdom. While the site has taken a considerable amount of time to launch, a number of German online stockbrokers have developed fund markets, making competition in Germany stiff. According to market analysts at Datamonitor, Fidelity must expand its online and offline distribution networks to outgrow the competition and match its success in the United States and United Kingdom.