Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.

Billabong, the surfwear brand that lost 99 percent of its market value after taking on debt to build a store network, plans to start opening new outlets again as it tries to reignite profits. Billabong is ready to open new stores "right now," CEO Neil Fiske said. The company based in Gold Coast, Australia, closed or sold about 34 percent of its locations over the past three years as it slashed debt by A$394 million ($333 million). "Stores are key to a brand's health over time," Fiske said in an interview in Sydney.

In retail, innovation is the name of the game. Increasingly, retailers are staying ahead through unique in-store experiences that inspire shoppers through social lifestyles. Take a look at STORY, a Manhattan retailer that continually changes everything in-store, from products to fittings to events based upon different themes like "Love" or "Made in America." It's described as a monthly magazine, meets art gallery, meets retailer concept. Taking the in-store experience to a whole new level, Ikea recently hosted a "one night only" sleepover for shoppers at its store near Sydney.

H&M's websites experienced early disruptions amid high demand from shoppers for its latest guest collection by designer Alexander Wang. "It's been extremely popular among our customers, with many people queuing in all our markets," H&M spokesman Hacan Andersson said, adding 500 people had been waiting outside the retailer's store in Sydney. Earlier, the company's websites gave a message saying shoppers should try again later to gain access amid high demand for the collection. H&M, usually known for fast fashion at inexpensive prices, has used celebrity collections as a marketing tool to stoke sales each November since 2004.

Last week, Arcadia Group CEO Sir Philip Green announced that he had taken a 25 percent stake in, an Australian flash-sales site aiming to reach revenues of about $300 million this year. "[It's a] very, very interesting space. I like the business model, and the reverse season," Green told Women's Wear Daily. The site owns only

In an effort to tap into the $532 billion global marketplace for housewares and home furnishings, Williams-Sonoma, the San Francisco-based omnichnannel retailer, took its business beyond its domestic borders. In a session yesterday at NetSuite's SuiteWorld conference in San Jose, Calif., Rob Bogan, vice president of international systems for Williams-Sonoma, discussed the brand's experiences going global.

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