Retail round up - The Sunday papers.
Argos has lost its way, say investors, Swede swoops on Regent Street, M&B to raise Â£500m by selling hundeds of pubs, Asda accused of a phoney price war...
The Sunday Times
The owner of Argos and Homebase faces a shareholder backlash over plans to buy back £150m of its shares. Leading institutional investors in Home Retail Group told The Sunday Times the buy-back was a “waste of money” and the company must come up with a strategy to counter the big supermarkets.One of Home Retail’s biggest shareholders, who asked not to be named, said: “The company needs to come up with a new plan for Argos. They have done nothing to answer the long-term questions about how they will fend off the competitive threat from the supermarkets.”
Full article here.
The Swedish billionaire owner of H&M, the fashion retailer, has snapped up a prime slice of London's Regent Street in a £225m deal. Stefan Persson is believed to have struck an agreement late last week to buy the office and shopping block, whose tenants include Banana Republic, H&M and Armani Exchange.The sale comes amid bumper demand for commercial property, which has surged in value since the end of the credit crunch.The deal will generate huge profits for Delancey, the private property company run by Jamie Ritblat, which bought and redeveloped the site in 2006. Property sources said the purchase price was so high the deal would generate an initial investment return of only 4.75% for Persson. Delancey is thought to have more than doubled its money. Full article here.
The Sunday Telegraph
M&B has hired Sapient Corporate Finance, a boutique advisory firm specialising in deals featuring pub and restaurant chains, to find a buyer for its drink-led pubs which include the brands Scream, aimed at students, and its Community Pubs and Town Pubs. A sale of at least 300 "wet pubs" will allow the group to focus on its six food-led brands which include Harvester and Toby Carvery. John Lovering, chief executive of M&B, said in January the group would move from running wet pubs but no indication was given of when they might be sold. He suggested many might be converted to the food-led brands as the group increased from 913 to 1,900 the number of sites under these brands within five years. He also said the group would develop smaller-scale versions of the food-led brands for the high street, as well as leisure and out-of-town shopping centres. Full article here.
The Mail on Sunday
A multi-million pound marketing push by Asda has come under the spotlight this weekend after it was revealed that its price comparisons may apply only to a fraction of products stocked by its main rivals. The supermarket launched its Price Guarantee service last week, promising to return money to shoppers on products where competitors are cheaper. It marked the latest battle in the ongoing price war between the major supermarkets. Customers can enter the details from their receipts into a price checker on Asda's website run by price comparison site mysupermarket.com and receive money back, plus 1p, in the form of a voucher. Full article here.
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