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Sunday News Roundup

Sunday December 2nd 2012

Madejski puts Galapagos hideaway on the market, Boost for Peyton's place, Amazon takes on Net-A-Porter, The dealmakers behind Comet crash, Amazon to fight high-end Asos, Starbucks opens negotiations with HMRC to start paying more UK tax, La Tasca has broken down its problems into bite-sized pieces, Marine firm investors attack David Ross, Mulberry fights back with expansion strategy, Tesco's Philip Clarke will be disappointed if he's wishing for better figures at Christmas, Austerity Britain turns to craft stores for a homemade Christmas, How Selfridges gets the tills jingling at Christmas, Stead & Simpson owner conducts property review, Revenue under attack for letting multinationals get away with paying too little in corporation tax, Amazon launches luxury goods on 'Cyber Monday'


The Sunday Times

Sir John Madejski , the entrepreneur behind Reading football club, has put his boutique hotel in the Galapagos Islands up for sale.The 21-villa Royal Palm Hotel complex was built 10 years ago on a 395-acre plot in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Madejski, 71, is looking to offload a 50% share in the hotel for £3m, or is willing to sell it outright.

One of the country’s best known restaurateurs has raised £6.3m from a fund set up by high street banks after the credit crisis. The Business Growth Fund will take a minority stake in Peyton and Byrne, founded by Oliver Peyton, one of the stars of the Great British Menu television show, and his sister Siobhan Peyton. 

Amazon is to challenge Net-A-Porter with a move into upmarket fashion. The online retail giant will this week launch a section on its website called the Premium Store, selling labels such as 7 For All Mankind and Black Orchid. Initially only womenswear will be available, but the retailer plans an eventual move into men’s fashion, too. 

Two secretive Knightsbridge financiers are pouring millions into struggling high street chains such as Game and Rileys. Greybull backed the abortive buyouts of Comet, the electrical goods chain; Game Group, the computer games retailer; and Rileys, the snooker hall business. Until now, almost nothing was known about the two brothers behind it, Marc and Nathaniel Meyohas, but their recent involvement in Comet just months before it collapsed has forced them into the spotlight.

The Telegraph

Amazon is to launch an online premium fashion store in an attempt to challenge Net-A-Porter and Asos. The US online retailer will launch the new division tomorrow on "Mega Monday", the busiest online shopping day of the year. Amazon is trying to find ways to replicate its success in books and technology with fashion. In October, The Sunday Telegraph reported that the company had considered a bid for Asos.

Starbucks has opened negotiations with Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs to change its financial structures so that it starts paying tax in Britain. Following weeks of controversy after it was revealed that the American coffee chain had only paid £8.5m in corporation tax since it launched in Britain in 1998 despite sales of £3bn, sources revealed that the changes would mean it paying tax "pretty quickly".

Things are never as bad as you think they are. Unfortunately, when it comes to taking over at a struggling business, they are frequently much worse. Ask Simon Wilkinson. The chief executive of La Tasca, the Spanish-themed restaurant chain, knew he faced an uphill struggle when he joined the business in March 2011. The company, which is owned by Kaupthing and Commerzbank, was laden with debt, underperforming and had a number of ailing outlets which Wilkinson suspected would struggle to survive.

The Independent

Founder of Carphone Warehouse accused of abusing his position at 141-year-old business. David Ross, the colourful multimillionaire founder of Carphone Warehouse, is at the centre of a row over his 141-year-old family business, the marine supply company Cosalt.Minority shareholders, acting together through various online investor chatrooms, have accused him of attempting to take over the London listed business on the cheap.

After warning of lower profits the Mulberry aims to boost margins. The luxury handbag brand Mulberry has scrapped plans for new outlet shops to focus on opening full-price only stores as it moves even further upmarket. The Somerset-based group will also develop its clothing line, worn by the Duchess of Cambridge this week, and produce new fashion products to expand its market reach. 

The Observer

Tesco boss Philip Clarke will probably have reason to be grateful to George Osborne come Wednesday. The retailer which could once do no wrong will unveil its last trading statement before Christmas on the same day as the chancellor's autumn statement and will likely benefit from something of a "Jo Moore moment" – it will be a good day to bury bad news.

As retailers struggle, profits are rising at homecraft outlets such as Hobbycraft – and, managers insist, not just because customers need to save money. Whether because of fears about household finances or an urge to be creative inspired by TV shows like Kirstie's Homemade Home and The Great British Bake Off, craft stores are enjoying a renaissance as Britons reconnect with childhood hobbies and at the same time look to add some pizzazz to Christmas gifts.

Selfridges has just been voted the world's best department store (again). Its creative director Alannah Weston – the latest in a long line of retail impresarios – spills some trade secrets. The trouble with Christmas," Alannah Weston, creative director of Selfridges, tells me in her office above the famous Oxford Street store, "is that it happens every year." getting ready for Christmas has never really stopped – she already has 2013 in her head – and there is only one certainty: it never gets any easier.

The Mail on Sunday

Shoe Zone, owner of the Stead & Simpson chain, is conducting a massive property review that could see it dump part of its business before Christmas, threatening hundreds of jobs. The outlets facing closure are owned by a subsidiary of Shoe Zone called Tyler and the review is expected to affect up to quarter of the chain’s 550 stores.

The Revenue is expected to be severely criticised by MPs tomorrow for letting multinational companies get away with paying far too little in corporation tax. The Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Labour’s Margaret Hodge, is poised to report that multinationals exploit the rules so they do not pay their fair share of tax.

Amazon will tomorrow mark the busiest day of the year for internet retailers with the launch of a new business aimed at the luxury goods market. The strategy will see it go head to head with rivals such as Selfridges and Net-a-Porter with its Premium Store. It will begin selling womenswear brands, including 7 For All Mankind, Pringle, Hudson and Black Orchid.