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Retail Round up – the Sunday papers

John Lewis set to grab retail throne from M&S, Spending booms as Brits enjoy days out at the seaside, British car manufacturers vrooom ahead, Vodafone eyes African target after £83bn sale, Harrods Bank says even its clients are feeling the pinch, Minimum alcohol prices 'brought in by stealth', Zero-hours JD Wetherspoon staff scoop £22m, Morrisons set to reveal a new profit blow, Fire in China delays Apple smartphones, Profits jump at John Lewis, Royal Mail sale delivers £2,000 to every postie, Disney rival Merlin aims to conjure IPO for small investors


Retail Round up – the Sunday papers

Mail on Sunday 
Powerful sales growth at the John Lewis Partnership has put it on course to steal Marks & Spencer’s crown as Britain’s favourite retailer. John Lewis, the only retail group to operate a partnership model controlled by staff, is expected to say on Thursday that sales in the first half to the end of July rose 8 per cent over the same period last year to £4.2billion. Online sales in the second half have already risen by more than 20 per cent. Continued growth means the group could match or beat M&S’s UK sales of about £9 billion by Christmas.

The hot summer boosted spending as more Britons went on days out to the seaside and stayed in the UK for their weekend breaks. Spending in August increased by 4.4% compared with the same period last year, according to Barclaycard data released exclusively to The Mail on Sunday. That was the fifth month in a row that real spending was positive stripping out the effects of inflation, Barclaycard said.

A surge in new car sales has accelerated Britain’s motor manufacturers ahead of their European rivals. While sales continue to decline on the Continent, at home they have risen for 18 consecutive months, with September set to follow suit. ‘It’s going to be a bumper month,’ said Jonathan Visscher of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Vodafone is eyeing a £6billion swoop on Maroc Telecom after it agreed to sell its 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless for $130billion (£83billion) in one of the biggest deals in corporate history. Maroc Telecom is one of the largest phone companies in North Africa and is listed on Euronext exchange in Paris and the Casablanca Stock Exchange.

It sells gold bullion and has one of the most famous names in retail, and ambitious owners to boot. But a planned turnround of Harrods Bank to profitability will take at least another three years after a boardroom overhaul. It seems even the very wealthy are not immune to problems in the wider economy and the bank blames the recession and low interest rates for its poor performance.

Drinks firms fear that minimum pricing on alcohol is being introduced by stealth despite the controversial policy being scrapped by the Coalition. Newcastle City Council has become one of the first major authorities to tell all new licensed premises to charge 50p or more per unit of alcohol as it attempts to reduce rowdy behaviour fueled by drink. The Welsh Government is investigating if it can bring in its own minimum pricing policy, while other councils including Manchester and Cheshire are understood to be considering it. The London borough of Newham says it already operates such a policy.

Tim Martin will hand over a £22m bonus pot to more than 20,000 kitchen and bar staff on zero hours contracts at his cut-price JD Wetherspoon pubs empire this week. Wetherspoon has boomed during the downturn due to its range of low-cost but well-regarded regional ales, like Ringwood 49er and Highland Scapa Special. The fast-growing chain is expected to hand out nearly 90% of its £25m of share and cash bonuses to employees.

The chief executive of the Morrisons supermarket chain will have to defend another fall in profits this week, although he is expected to boast of a turnaround following its recent dire sales.Dalton Philips will update the market on Morrisons' rapid opening of smaller convenience stores and its plans to launch food online in January following its recent £170m agreement with the internet sales specialist Ocado.

Shipments of millions of computers and smartphones could be delayed for up to six months following a blaze at a Chinese factory which supplies 15 per cent of the world’s memory chips. Prices of memory chips jumped by 19 per cent yesterday after South Korean manufacturer SK Hynix said it had suspended production at its factory in Wuxi, China, after a fire broke out earlier this week.

Sunday Times
Strong sales of iPads, luxury bedlinen and organic vegetables are expected to provide a fillip for Middle England’s favourite retailer this week. John Lewis Partnership, which runs the department store chain and Waitrose supermarkets, is forecast to produce a 6% increase in operating profits to £173m for the first half of the year. Like-for-like sales at John Lewis, which has 39 branches, are tipped to rise 4.5%, while sales at Waitrose are expected to be up 7%.

Britain’s army of postmen could be in line for a windfall of about £2,000 each as ministers aim to give the green light to a £3bn market listing of Royal Mail this week. Final approval for the controversial float could come at the same time as George Osborne pushes the button on an even larger fundraising — the sale of about £5bn of shares in Lloyds Banking Group.

Sunday Telegraph
Merlin Entertainments is planning to offer more than 10pc of its shares to retail investors as the world's second biggest attractions owner behind Disney gears up for a £3bn-plus stock market listing before Christmas. The owner of Madame Tussauds and Legoland wants to offer a significant proportion of its shares at flotation to small investors, given the high profile of its brands among the general public.

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