Retail round up - The Friday papers
Pets at Home groomed for 2010 flotation, Asda puts webcams in food factories, UK broadband limps in as 25th best in the world, Boss of struggling DIY chain Focus pocketed £900,000 last year, Asda's Bond rules himself out of M&S succession, Wine Cellar forced into administration
The Daily Telegraph
Pets at Home, the 230-store pet accessory retailer, has appointed JP Morgan Cazenove to advise it on a 2010 flotation that could value the chain at £700m.The retailer announced its plans just days after it emerged that fashion retailer New Look is gearing up for a flotation next year. The flurry of activity is the strongest sign yet that confidence is returning to equity markets.A successful float would generate a massive return for Bridgepoint, the private equity company that bought Pets at Home in July 2004 for £230m. The chain's debt has been refinanced four times since the acquisition, generating more than £120m in cash for its investors. Full article here.
Asda, the supermarket group, has started to put webcams in its food factories as part of a series of moves to make the company more transparent.It is also building a supermarket next year which will have glass walls, allowing shoppers to see into the stockroom and staff rest areas.Andy Bond, the chief executive, said: "We've got nothing to hide. We know it involves risk, but in a modern democratic world, loyalty can't be bought by plastic points and money-off vouchers. It has to be earned. We want our customers to trust us. And they will only do that if we are transparent." Full article here.
The need to overhaul Britain's ailing broadband network was laid bare yesterday as research showed it is "not ready for tomorrow" and lags behind 20 countries including Taiwan and Latvia.South Korea was named the most advanced in Cisco's global study into broadband by country. The UK was 25th with a service that just meets its citizens' current broadband needs. It fell from 15th last year, but while the service has improved, other countries' investment has leapfrogged it.A spokeswoman for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills welcomed the report, saying it showed "considerable improvement in the UK". Full article here.
Bill Grimsey, the chief executive of Focus, received total pay of nearly £900,000 last year as the DIY retailer was fighting for survival, although his remuneration was boosted by hefty back payments.Despite not receiving a bonus, his remuneration was £877,627, which included a company pension contribution of £51,187, for the year to 22 February 2009. In August, Focus completed a company voluntary arrangement, an insolvency procedure agreed with creditors, that saved the retailer from administration. The CVA enabled Focus to save 5,000 jobs and shed 38 of its least profitable stores, leaving it with a healthier estate of 180 stores. Mr Grimsey actually pocketed more than the chief executive of Home Retail Group, which owns DIY rival Homebase and the catalogue giant Argos, for the year to February 2009. Terry Duddy made £858,000 over the year after also missing out on a bonus. Full article here.
Andy Bond, the chief executive of Asda, yesterday ruled himself out of the running for the same role at Marks & Spencer, as the grocer unveiled a "significant" initiative, including webcams in its food factories, to make its business more transparent. Mr Bond said: "I'm not interested. I'm not going to M&S – end of story." Full article here.
The Financial Times
Wine Cellar, the operator of off-licence and convenience store brands such as Booze Buster, has gone into administration, with a majority of its outlets being sold to a drinks distributor through a "pre-pack".Bill Dawson and Daniel Butters of Deloitte were appointed joint administrators of Wine Cellar and yesterday announced the sale of the company's stock and the majority of its outlets to EFB Retail. More than 300 people will lose their jobs.In spite of an extensive search to find an investor or buyer, the company was struggling to compete with supermarkets, and with a quarterly rent payment due this week it could no longer continue trading. Full article here.
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