Retail round up The Sunday Papers
Top Mothercare investors back rejection of US takeover, Phase Eight explores sale after profits rise, SuperGroup considers buying back US licence, Nikes tax trail, Stitching up a deal, Middle East billionaire eyes London hotels, Sports Directs secret pay disgrace, Vibrant stores revamp give Body Shop sales a facelift, Retailer has big ambitions for the larger shopper, Lidl's boss hopes to go a long way in the British market
Major shareholders in Mothercare have this weekend backed the chain’s rejection of a £270m takeover bid from an American rival, dealing a bitter blow to its chances of success. The investors — Fidelity and Allianz — who between them own more than a fifth of the British chain’s shares, have dismissed approaches from Destination Maternity as “opportunistic” and “inadequate”, indicating that the offer would have to be raised significantly for it to go any further.
The owner of upmarket women’s fashion retailer Phase Eight is considering a sale of the business after reporting a rise in profits. The chain, which sells a range of evening wear, bridalwear and accessories as well as its trademark casual collection, could raise between £200m and £250m.
SuperGroup, the retailer behind the Superdry fashion brand, is considering buying back its American licence. The company last month revealed that it had bought its Scandinavian distribution business for an undisclosed sum. SuperGroup also acquired its German franchise partner in November, bought out its Spanish distribution agreement a year ago and snapped up its French and Benelux partner in 2011.
Nike has been funnelling millions of pounds generated from sales of Manchester United kit through its Dutch division, helping the sportswear giant sidestep the British taxman.The American company, which sponsors the England football team and tennis stars such as Maria Sharapova, last year siphoned £8.3m from Britain to a sister company in Hilversum, Holland.
American Apparel was last night locked in emergency talks with one of its main creditors over a deal to secure its financial future, writes Simon Duke.The Los Angeles-based fashion chain has spent the July 4 bank holiday weekend in discussions with British buyout firm Lion Capital to repay a $10m (£5.8m) debt. Lion, which used to own high-end shoe maker Jimmy Choo, has called in the loan in a move that could force American Apparel deeper into the mire.
A consortium of Middle Eastern tycoons is poised to spend more than £1bn on prestigious London hotels, as part of a plan to build a new pan-European leisure empire. It is understood that a number of prime London hotels are in the sights of the group. Speculation has been mounting about the future of the Grosvenor House on Park Lane, after the arrest earlier this year of its owner, Indian tycoon Subrata Roy.
Mail on Sunday
How many millions of pounds will executive deputy chairman Mike Ashley earn from the bonus pool at Sports Direct? The scandalous answer is that we do not know. The sum is likely to be millions, possibly tens of millions. But the precise or even approximate number is unknown. This lack of transparency is a disgrace and will fuel fears that in some boardrooms, the lessons of the recent past have not been learned.
L’Oreal-owned beauty chain The Body Shop has boosted profits by rolling out it new ‘Pulse’ store format across its 292-strong high street network in the UK. It says it will continue to search out new products worldwide to sell in its stores. Sales for the year to December 20 ,2013, increased from £431.7 million to £435.7 million, while pre-tax profits increased to £57 million.
Ordering goods from the comfort of home and having them delivered to the door is widely perceived as the cutting edge of retail. But one company, NBrown, has been offering that very service for more than 100 years. Originally a catalogue shopping business, it now operates online too and is making real headway on the internet. Chief executive Angela Spindler, who joined last July, is ambitious for the group and the shares, now 430.75p, should rise as her strategy bears fruit. Many retailers have come to realise that, even if customers buy clothes online, they like to see them in stores first. NBrown has nine shops, but seven more will open by Christmas and Spindler plans to open another ten in the next few years, so virtually all the group's target customers will be within a 45 minute drive of a store.
The rise of the discount grocers is starting to make a serious impact on the way we shop and the price we pay to put food on the table. Last week market analysts Kantar Worldpanel – regarded as the gold standard in measuring changes in the grocery business – revealed new data showing recent sales at Aldi and Lidl up 35% and 22% respectively compared with the same time last year, while Tesco was down 1.9%. The discounters' growing impact, said the analysts, had also pushed down food price inflation to its lowest level in eight years. "We won't be beaten on price," says Lidl's boss Ronny Gottschlich. "We will consistently adjust prices based on negotiations with our suppliers."
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