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Retail round up – the Sunday papers

50 more councils join bid for levy on supermarkets, Ocado set to open Liverpool site, Young entrepreneur who started selling clothes to pay off mortgage, Will the wizard from Oz take over at Morrisons?, Good day at the Office, Ex-M&S boss poised for peerage, Piste payday, Wilkinson family split after 84 years in retail, Homebase pursued by DIY investment giants, Go shopping in Spain


Retail round up – the Sunday papers

Mail On Sunday
Dozens of local authorities are set to join a campaign to levy a new tax on supermarkets in a bid to rescue battered high streets. The plan to use new legislation to allow councils to bring in an extra tax – dubbed a Tesco tax – was launched last week by 20 local authorities, but campaigners say almost 50 more councils have expressed an interest in joining the campaign, meaning almost a quarter of England’s 326 councils could back the proposal. At the same time Simon Danczuk, who recently became head of the All-Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, gave his qualified support to the plan.

Grocery delivery service Ocado is understood to be preparing to open a warehouse on the outskirts of Liverpool to cater for upmarket shoppers in the North West. The distribution centre will be supplied from its giant warehouse in Dordon, Warwickshire, and will be the second in the region alongside one in Manchester. It will employ 300 staff and is already recruiting. Retail sources said this indicated that it would be operating and supplying customers before Christmas.

A young entrepreneur who started selling clothes online to help pay off her mortgage is now selling 2,000 dresses a day. Alice Blackie, 25, who operates from a 30,000 sq ft site in Newcastle upon Tyne, says: ‘I had three jobs to pay for the mortgage on the house I got when I was 21. I started to sell dresses through eBay to top up my income. Her company, Pink Boutique, now has a staff of 40, including a social media team of five, and is starting to have clothes custom made for it as well as buying them in.

Pressure is mounting on Morrisons boss Dalton Philips as speculation grows that the incoming chairman is drawing up an emergency list of possible replacements. Sources close to the firm said Ian McLeod was preparing to return from Australia, where he has spent five years turning round supermarket giant Coles.

Fashion footwear chain Office is considering a £300million listing on the stock exchange. Office’s private equity owner Silverfleet Capital is understood to be close to appointing bankers from JP Morgan to look at options that could also include a sale of the business. Office made an underlying profit of £18.5million in 2009, the year before it was bought by Silverfleet for a rumoured £170million. Profits since then are understood to have doubled.

Sunday Times
Arise, Lord Rose. The former boss of Marks & Spencer is being lined up for a peerage.Sir Stuart Rose, who chairs the online supermarket Ocado and the clothing brand Fat Face, is expected to be ennobled by the Conservative party within days.

The owners of Scott Dunn are weighing up plans for a £60m sale of the luxury travel company. Andrew Dunn, founder and chairman of the tour operator, is working with corporate finance company Cavendish. Options being discussed include an outright sale, bringing in new investors or making acquisitions.

The family behind Wilkinson, one of Britain’s biggest privately owned retailers, has split after 84 years of running the business. One side of the Wilkinson family have sold their 50pc holding in the retailer to the other, with Karin Swann, joint chairman and a non-executive family director, leaving the board. The value retailer, which has rebranded as Wilko, has 372 stores, 23,000 employees and annual revenues in excess of £1.5bn.

A clutch of rival turnaround investors have begun circling Homebase, the DIY giant, amid heightened speculation it is to be put up for sale. Funds including Apollo, the giant Wall Street investment house, and OpCapita, the firm that led the controversial takeover of Comet, have begun drawing up takeover plans for the struggling home improvement and garden equipment chain.

El Corte Inglés is going to be busy this summer – with the ingleses. The strength of sterling makes paying easyJet to check in an extra suitcase full of designer outfits easily worth it, now the pound has clawed back some of the losses it suffered when it fell off a cliff at the start of the financial crisis.

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