Retail round up - the Sunday papers
Profits at retailer Evans Cycles swelled sevenfold as Britain’s cycling craze accelerate. The private equity owned chain’s profits leapt to £2.2m in the year to the start of last November from £323,000 a year earlier. Evans Holdings’ sales increased 9% to £114m, driven by expansion online and on the high street, recently filed accounts show.
Shopkeepers in east England, the Midlands and the northwest have been hit hardest by the government’s controversial decision to postpone an updating of business rates, research reveals. The numbers confirm the long-held suspicion that high streets in poorer areas paid the price when the Treasury pushed back a revaluation of the tax from 2015 to 2017. The beneficiaries were in areas that least needed help — London and southeast England.
Perween Warsi, the entrepreneur nicknamed “the Curry Queen”, is looking for new backers for her food empire. Advisers from PwC have been hired to lead the search for fresh funds to help expand S&A Foods, the company she set up nearly 30 years ago from her kitchen. The Derby-based caterer, which has 600 staff, makes curries for supermarkets including Asda, its biggest customer. Sales last year were £51m with pre-tax profits of almost £700,000.
One of Britain’s leading retail chief executives has demanded quotas for women on FTSE 100 company boards and backed calls by Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, to investigate all-women shortlists. Jane Shepherdson, the chief executive of Whistles, the womenswear chain, also revealed plans to open up to 30 more overseas stores over the next five years, financed by a possible stock market flotation or private stock sale.
Wm Morrison is to sell off £500m of its £9bn property estate in an attempt to appease investors as the chief executive, Dalton Philips, prepares to come out fighting in the face of declining sales. The supermarket group will tell shareholders on Thursday that it plans to offload peripheral investment property assets including goods yards, warehouses and shopping centres originally built to obtain planning permission for supermarkets.
Poundland is to float with a £750m valuation as investors back the move to discount shopping. It is understood that bankers will price the float of the cut-price retailer at the top end of the 250p to 300p price range discussed with investors in recent weeks. One banking source indicated that the shares will be priced at 300p exactly, with a second source suggesting that such was the high level of demand the top of the range could be breached.
Business leaders and politicians have joined together in a bid to transform Birmingham into a global enterprise hub which will compete with London to win overseas investment into Britain. Driven by Andy Street, the managing director of John Lewis, and the chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, the string of 94 initiatives was formulated by 39 local enterprise partnerships at a two-day session held in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Mail On Sunday
Shopping channel operator Sit Up TV will ask its creditors next week to agree to a deal to write off its debts and allow it to continue broadcasting. The operator of channels Bid TV and Price Drop TV, once promoted by former Bargain Hunt star David Dickinson, was acquired in December after losses racked up amid growing competition from the internet. Paul and Val Wright, who launched rival channel Ideal Shopping, have pledged to invest £6million into the business if the restructuring can be completed to settle debts of around £68million.
Leading Scottish firms are acting ahead of the referendum later this year to move operations out of the country into the rest of the UK, according to an exclusive survey. The poll of 100 businesses with combined sales of more than £15billion and which employ thousands of staff showed that more than a third would consider quitting Scotland, possibly by moving operations elsewhere in the UK or by moving their legal headquarters south of the border.
Supermarket giant Morrisons will this week report its worst annual profit drop in eight years as consumers shun superstores and instead buy from convenience shops and websites. The grocer is expected to say on Thursday that profits fell by more than £100million to about £785million. That would be the worst performance since 2006 following its disastrous merger with Safeway.
Chancellor George Osborne is being urged to shake up the system for setting the minimum wage and to announce its level for five years instead of just 12 months. The Federation of Small Businesses says longer-term planning in this month’s Budget would help to eliminate uncertainty and allow companies to make informed decisions on investment and recruitment.
Nervous shoppers are still counting their pennies despite recent positive news on the economy. Householders are preferring to invest in DIY projects, or buy goods if they are discounted, as data complied exclusively for The Mail on Sunday on British habits shows ongoing scepticism over the country’s boom. Consumer spending weakened last month, raising fears that a consistent recovery has yet to take root and supporting the decision by the Bank of England to keep interest rates on hold for another year.
Ten years after the confident takeover of its rival, Morrisons looks vulnerable. It's 10 years this weekend since Sir Ken Morrison's peerless effort at rallying Safeway's troops, following his eponymous supermarket chain's takeover of its rival. His talk went along the lines of: "Yorkshiremen are superior to everybody else, so you southern layabouts will now be doing things my way".
The embattled Co-operative Group, still reeling from a banking scandal and preparing to lay off up to 5,000 employees, faces a new storm over plans to pay its chief executive more than £3.5m in his first year in the job, while massively boosting the salaries and bonuses of other senior staff.
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