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Retail round up – The Sunday papers

TGI Friday's plans £70m UK investment, LK Bennett looks for new CEO, Greencore mulls bid for Uniq, Marks & Spencer gets set to go Dutch, Kate and Wills effect produces cucumber spike, Travelodge expands in Spain as holidaymakers cut their budgets, Monsoon founder bags £16m after fashion chain defies downturn, Tesco protesters charged after second night of violence in Bristol, Billions at stake in a giant VAT takeaway, Melabelle fashion label has designs on global expansion.


Retail round up – The Sunday papers

Sunday Telegraph

The US owner of TGI Friday's, the American-themed restaurant group, is to invest £70m in the UK over the next four years in a move that could create as many as 5,000 jobs. Carlson, the leisure and travel conglomerate which owns the chain, is to plough the money into its British operations to expand the number of sites and further revive the brand. News of the investment comes as the restaurant celebrates its 25th birthday in the UK, and a year after Carlson moved to take full control of the UK business. Karen Forrester, UK managing director, told The Sunday Telegraph that the company's "plans are for growth".

LK Bennett, the upmarket women's retailer, is looking for a new chief executive a year after parting company with Margaret McDonald, the previous holder of the role. The company, owned by private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners and Robert Bensoussan, has hired Odgers Berndston to find the right candidate. Ms McDonald stepped down from the post in April 2010, after 18 months at the helm, remaining as an adviser until she took up her new post at the helm of Coast, the rival women's retail chain owned by Aurora Fashions. Since then, Mr Bensoussan, the former boss of Jimmy Choo and founder of Sirius Private Equity, has run the company as executive chairman.

Greencore, the Irish food group that earlier this year failed in its efforts to merge with Northern Foods, is studying a potential bid for embattled rival Uniq. The Dublin-based company is working with advisers at Barclays Capital to examine a possible acquisition of all or part of Uniq in a deal that would probably value the food group at close to £100m. The bank is working with the Irish company on a range of consolidation options.


The Independent on Sunday

Marks & Spencer is looking to the Netherlands for the next step in its European expansion plan. The FTSE 100 retailer's property team has been looking at cities including Rotterdam and The Hague. Marc Bolland (above), the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, is from the Netherlands, and moved to the UK in 2006 when he joined Morrisons, the supermarket chain. If a store is secured in the Netherlands the expansion will run alongside the high street retailer's plans in France.

Cucumbers, cake tins and Union flag napkins were flying off the shelves in the final days of the lead-up to the royal wedding last Friday. The last-minute purchases were a welcome boost to retailers who have been suffering from shoppers holding back since Christmas.  Home cooking appeared to be the order of the day as companies reported customers planning sandwich-making and cake-baking as part of the festivities. Waitrose saw cucumber sales rocket 50 per cent on the same time last year – the key ingredient in cucumber sandwiches.

Budget hotel chain Travelodge and its property partner Citygrove have secured funding to kick off its expansion plans across Spain. London-based developer Citygrove has finance for hotels in Barcelona and Valencia and is in talks for a third in Seville. Travelodge, which already has three hotels in Spain, plans 50 more over the next 10 years to take advantage of hotel guests trading downwards since the credit crunch. Paul Harvey, Travelodge's managing director, international and development, said: "Our existing three hotels have been trading well. When a country has economic concerns it is the time consumers choose a low-cost model."


The Observer

The founder of boho-chic fashion chain Monsoon, Peter Simon, has paid himself a bumper £16.4m dividend after the retailer defied the high street downturn to report a sharp rise in profits. The fashion group, which also owns the Accessorize chain, is one of the UK's biggest privately owned retailers with sales of close to £650m last year. The dividend was higher than the £14.7m Simon collected last year and comes after profits before one-off financial charges more than doubled to £84.3m in the year to 28 August 2010.

Two people have been charged following a second round of violent protests against the opening of a Tesco shop in Bristol. Stephen Carroll, 32, was charged with assaulting a police officer and criminal damage. A 17-year-old, who cannot be named, is accused of violent disorder and theft. The two were among 30 people detained after violence in the Stokes Croft area of the city saw officers and protesters injured early on Friday. A further 13 men and two women remain in custody, while 12 men have been released on bail pending further inquiries, police said.


Mail on Sunday

Britain's biggest fast food retailers and sandwich chains are poised to launch claims for tax refunds that could run into billions of pounds. Starbucks, Pret A Manger and McDonald’s are just some of the companies that could be affected by a recent European Court of Justice ruling, which states VAT should not be paid on food sold for immediate consumption, whether or not it is eaten inside or outside the outlet. Until now, customers buying a sandwich, for example, have always been asked whether they are eating it in the shop or taking it away.

Independent fashion label Melabelle has launched its own website and is preparing to canvass possible investors for funds to facilitate overseas expansion. The brand, which aims to compete for customers with premium labels such as Jigsaw and Toast, was established last year by designer Bella Cager. 

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