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Retail round up - the Sunday papers

Sunday January 27th 2013

House of Winser goes online, Gym aims to bulk up, Judgment day for the Viking raider, Ramsay profits cooking again, Unilever ordered to remove plastic beads, Morrisons stuns its suppliers at new round of price negotiations, Allders former chiefs face questions about money owed to outlets, 'I could make a bullying supermarket pay millions', HMV rescue firm Hilco to begin talks with global music giants, Cable pledge on shops tax delay, Starbucks threatens Cameron after 'unfair' tax attacks, HMV kept alive by Hilco deal

Sunday Times
The former boss of Pringle of Scotland and Aquascutum has set up her own online womenswear label. Kim Winser, 53, is preparing to launch Winser London on February 15, but the website will open tomorrow for customers to register.

One of the fastest-growing fitness chains in Britain is hoping to raise funds to fuel a £35m growth drive. The Gym Group, backed by Bridges Ventures, an investment firm chaired by Sir Ronald Cohen, wants to open more than 50 clubs over the next three years.

Once the billionaire owner of famous high street brands such as Hamleys, Jon Asgeir Johannesson now faces trial for fraud. Within the next few weeks, the 45-year-old will face a criminal trial over allegations that he abused his relationship with one of the Icelandic banks in order to line his pockets. He faces up to six years in jail. Johannesson has pleaded not guilty. As he revealed in The Sunday Times last week, he believes he is the victim of a “witch-hunt”.

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Gordon Ramsay has put the business turmoil of recent years behind him with a return to profitability at his restaurant empire. Kavalake, the company that owns the chef’s restaurants, which include The Savoy Grill, delivered pre-tax profits of £2m in the year to August 2012 compared with a £4.4m loss in 2011.

A leading British cosmetics firm has ordered the removal of “microplastics” from its face and body scrubs after the tiny beads were found in the guts of fish and shellfish. Unilever has acted after pressure from the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management as well as from conservationists and scientists over the use of the beads in gels designed for exfoliating the face and body. The firm plans to phase out the use of the beads in brands including Radox and Dove by 2015.


Mail on Sunday
Morrisons has begun a new round of price negotiations with suppliers just six months after it called them in to ask for discounts. The move came days after the supermarket giant reported a 2.5 per cent drop in sales that left it trailing the growth of rivals. Suppliers that agreed to last summer’s discounts of up to £500,000 are understood to have been stunned by the latest conversations.
 
The former bosses of defunct Croydon department store Allders are facing questions about money owed to outlets which operated from the shop. Several concessions claim managers promised that money owed to them would be held in trust accounts. But administrators from turnround firm Duff & Phelps said last week that they had ‘found no evidence’ of trust accounts and the concessions have been told to take legal advice.

When Christine Tacon was appointed as the first supermarkets watchdog last week she said she was hoping for a quiet start to the job. But just a day after she was appointed as the Groceries Code Adjudicator she was sent an email alleging possible malpractice.She says: ‘I received about 300 emails congratulating me on the job, but one said, ‘‘By the way did you know this was happening?’’ ’ Tacon refuses to elaborate. But it is a sign that her initial hopes that the industry can stick to the rules may have been a bit too optimistic. One of her first jobs will be to formalise last month’s announcement that the watchdog will be able to fine transgressors.

HMV rescue firm Hilco is set to begin negotiations with global entertainment suppliers and the chain’s landlords as soon as this week as it implements a blueprint to salvage the business. The restructuring firm wants to rescue about half of the 220 stores in Britain. It is aiming to mimic its business strategy in Canada that has seen it cut prices in the HMV stores it acquired in 2011 in order to compete with the internet and supermarkets.
 
Vince Cable has ordered a fresh review of business rates after receiving evidence that shop owners did not expect to benefit from a planned delay in revaluation. The Business Secretary’s decision is the first sign that the Government is responding to high street concerns that rates continue to rise while rents in many areas outside Central London are in decline.


Sunday Telegraph
Starbucks
has threatened to suspend millions of pounds of investment in Britain after what it described as constant and unfair attacks over its tax affairs by David Cameron and the Government. Kris Engskov, the multinational’s UK managing director, demanded talks at Downing Street after the Prime Minister said tax-avoiding companies had to “wake up and smell the coffee”.

Hilco gave HMV’s lenders – taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group,  informal assurances it planned to keep the high-street chain alive when it sealed its cut-price takeover deal last weekend. The Sunday Telegraph has learned that RBS and Lloyds, the leaders of HMV’s eight-bank syndicate, had already received offers from vulture funds worth more than Hilco’s bid, but turned them down. Fearing their reputations would be damaged if they sold out to asset strippers, the banks instead plumped to give HMV a chance under the Hilco turnaround plan.