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Retail round up - the Sunday Papers

Sunday October 28th 2012

Discount chain B&M seen as 'rising star' of retail, Home Retail's valuation is too high to buy, Investor fury at Asos pay clause, Nick Clegg set for 'John Lewis' economy, Hopes that chilly weather has warmed Next, Rain aids outdoor stores, How Totnes won fight to keep Costa out of town, Selfridges breaks £1bn barrier, Fears mount over Ocado, Scottish seafood and steak restaurants pipes up with £10.5m, Bolland hopes for internet boost as Marks & Spencer slides again.

Sunday Telegraph
The British discount retailer B&M has been identified as a “rising star” of the retail industry by a key survey that considers the future challengers to Tesco and other leading players. Kantar Retail said B&M was one of 15 up-and-coming retailers in Europe, alongside Aldi, Amazon, cash-and-carry group Booker, Ocado and Waitrose. The report said the retailers were succeeding thanks to their “differentiation”, strong private labels, efficiency and smaller store formats. B&M was launched in 1976 by Malcolm Billington, a Blackpool-based entrepreneur. Its fortunes have been transformed since Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora bought the company in 2005 when it was still loss-making and had fewer than 20 stores, which were struggling. Today, the company has £1bn of sales, 290 stores and 2m customers a week.

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Home Retail Group has unveiled it new strategy to boost profits at Argos. The plan is sound, but the valution is too high to buy the shares right now. Questor says avoid. Home Retail group, the owner of Argos, has unveiled plans to return to profit growth at the high-street chain. The market took the news very well. Management has committed to spending £175m a year over three years and expects to see restructuring costs of £50m a year. However, Terry Duddy, chief executive, tells Questor he expects to do this with the company’s own funds.

The fashion retailer Asos is facing pressure from angry shareholders over the financial package for its new chairman, Brian McBride. Leading investors in the company are understood to be concerned that Mr McBride’s contract potentially entitles him to a £300,000 payout in the event of a takeover of Asos. Such a reward for the chairman is unusual and investors feel that it risks compromising the independence of Mr McBride in the event of a bid approach.

Independent on Sunday
Nick Clegg
will this week step up his vision to create a "John Lewis" economy by fleshing out a scheme that could let staff buy shares in the company they work for. The Deputy Prime Minister's "right to request" plan is a central plank in creating more employee or trust-owned businesses such as the revered department store group or the engineer Arup, where staff take a share of profits every year.

The fashion and homewares retailer Next will reveal this week if its performance bounced back at the end of its third-quarter after poor sales in August and early September. Last month, the group's chief executive, Lord Wolfson partly blamed the Olympics and the "unusually warm" weather for fewer people visiting his stores and for weaker online growth. But the City will be hoping the 536-store chain has returned to form, boosted by shoppers seeking warm clothes in the recent cold snap.

This year's downpours have helped sales to bounce back strongly at Mountain Warehouse, the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer, after its profits fell by nearly a quarter in 2011. Mark Neale, founder and chief executive of the group, which is backed by Lloyds Development Capital, said: "Since the year end, like-for-like sales are up 'double-digit', with the wet weather helping no end. We sell products to keep you warm and dry."

The Observer
It's been a six-month David and Goliath fight – and now there's quiet celebration on the proudly independent Devon high street as coffee giant Costa decides to bow out. This weekend the citizens of Totnes are celebrating victory in a rare battle which has grabbed the attention of the country. The town defeated the attempts of the high-street chain Costa Coffee to open a branch and dilute the charms of their independent and colourful high street. Pruw Boswell, the mayor, was jubilant but slightly tired after her breakfast show interviews. "You don't mess with Totnes," she said.

Sunday Times
Selfridges
department stores rang up £1billion in sales for the first time last year.The stores, owned by the billionaire Weston family, also enjoyed a 5% increase in operating profits to £133m, figures published this week are expected to show.The results cover the British operations for the year to January 2012.

Fresh concerns have been raised about the finances of Ocado, the online grocer, as it grapples with the costs of building a second warehouse. The outlay of more than £200m on a distribution centre in Dordon, Warwickshire, could force the struggling chain to breach the strict terms of its debt arrangements, retail experts fear.

Mail on Sunday
Boisdale
, the tartan-bedecked chain of Scottish seafood and steak restaurants that recently hosted the world oyster-tasting championships, doubled turnover to £10.5 million in the year to last April and turned a loss of £585,000 into a profit of £235,000.

Marks & Spencer is expected to reveal that profits slumped by as much as eight per cent to £290 million when it updates investors early next month. This will be the second consecutive year the company has suffered a decline in profits in the opening six months of its financial year. Chief executive Marc Bolland and his board will seek to bolster confidence in its business plan ahead of the report when it presents its internet strategy to dozens of City stockbrokers on Thursday.