Christmas Day Retail News round up
Ashley poised for Christmas swoop on Blacks, HMV boss eyes buyout of music venues, Ocado rushes to stop the wheels coming off, Bracelets made from deadly seeds recalled, I cant tech it anymore!, Men take to the streets in their droves in the hunt for last-minute gifts
Sports Direct, the retailer controlled by the billionaire football tycoon Mike Ashley, could seize control of ailing Blacks Leisure this week. The owner of Newcastle United football club is putting together a consortium to buy most of the outdoor chain’s 300 stores in a “pre-pack” administration. The controversial process allows buyers to pick up assets free of liabilities by wiping out shareholders and most creditors.
The boss of HMV’s live music division is working on plans to lead a management buyout of the business, which runs venues including the Hammersmith Apollo. Dean James, who has been at the helm of the company since 2005, has been holding talks with potential backers, including private equity players and trade rivals. Last week, HMV said that it had kicked off a strategic review of Mama Group, its live arm, which could lead to its sale.
With a tumbling share price and capacity constraints, the online grocer Ocado could face make or break next year. Tim Steiner had no choice. He put on his coat, jumped into the waiting car and made the short journey from Ocado’s headquarters in Hatfield, just north of London, to its sprawling warehouse. He went to reassure staff their jobs were safe. Last Monday, Ocado issued a stark profit warning: sales growth for one year had slowed to 16.7% (versus a forecast of 20%) and profits were expected to be 15%-20% lower than forecast.
A recall is underway of thousands of beaded bracelets sold in tourist attractions after it emerged they are made from a highly toxic seed. The Eden Project in Cornwall is one of 36 retailers urging customers to return the red and black bracelets made from the Jequirity bean, the deadly seed of the plant abrus precatorious. It contains the toxin abrin, a controlled substance under the Terrorism Act that if swallowed can kill in doses of just 3 micrograms. It is related to ricin, the chemical warfare agent.
Men who struggle with complicated Christmas gadgets are twice as likely to refuse help than women. Stubborn men are almost twice as likely as women to refuse help with their new Christmas gadgets. They'll fume, swear and sulk rather than admit they can't understand basic operating instructions. Or they'll blame their new smartphone, iPad, games console or sat nav and say it doesn't work. Women, on the other hand, are much happier to accept help, and are much more grateful for it, according to a study of more than 1,000 adults for Geek Squad, which has launched a 24-hour Christmas helpline.
Up and down the country hordes of men piled into stores to do last minute Christmas shopping. Perfume departments heaved and lingerie stores were full of slightly bemused looking men attempting to pick the perfect outfit. In central London, three-quarters of those hitting the shops were men, according to a spokesman for the New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers across Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street. The spokesman said: 'There has been a last-minute surge, although we always knew today would be busy. We're expecting to have had 400,000 people today'.
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