Retail Round up The Sunday Papers
Potential buyers of Pets At Home have been given a final bid deadline of January 25 by the pet retailer's private equity owner Bridgepoint Capital. Sources close to the situation said the firm would consider offers from interested parties for the UK's largest pet retail chain. So far, buy-out firms Bain Capital, KKR, Apax Partners and TPG are thought to have made bids for Pets At Home in the region of £800m, exceeding original expectations of around £700m. According to sources Bridgepoint, which bought Pets At Home for £230m in 2004, may still consider a stock market flotation of the business should a sale not be successful.
Tesco is expected to beat City forecasts on Tuesday when it reveals that under-lying sales in its British supermarkets grew more than 3% over Christmas. Even so, despite the solid results, the group is still expected to emerge as the weakest performer among its rivals, trailing JSainsbury, which reported a 4.2% rise in Christmas sales, as well as Wm Morrison and Asda, which have yet to report. Tesco will say that it cashed in on shoppers trading up to its premium Finest range to buy luxury items such as king prawns and champagne.
Even the blockbuster launch of military shoot ’em up Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2 could not prevent high-street spending on computer games, consoles and accessories slipping by £700m to £3.3 billion last year. Despite the recession, it was still the second-best year on record for the industry, but there was no new launch to lift console sales, which fell from 9m to 6.7m units, according to official figures from GFK Chart-Track. The Nintendo Wii remained the top-selling games console, but Microsoft’s XBox 360 earned most from its games sales, which rose 4% to £459m. More money is spent every year on computer games — £1.6 billion — than music, where income was £1.1 billion in 2009. The industry is also going online. Overall games sales fell almost £300m, but experts said most of that money has gone digital, as consumers download games upgrades and subscribe to titles played over the internet, such as World of Warcraft.
Marc Bolland will begin crunch talks with Wm Morrison this week about when he can start as chief executive of Marks & Spencer. The former Morrison chief executive, who handed in his shock resignation last November, is expected to fly back from holidaying abroad to attend the first Morrison board meeting of the year. Afterwards he is expected to discuss his departure date from the Bradford-based supermarket chain with Sir Ian Gibson, the chairman. The Dutchman is contractually tied to Morrison until November, but M&S wants him to start as soon as possible.
Talk Talk, the UK broadband and phone company, is to beef up its board with the appointment of the former chief of Orange UK ahead of the company’s split from Carphone Warehouse. John Allwood will join the board of Talk Talk as a non-executive in preparation for its demerger, anticipated at the end of March. Allwood will work alongside new chief executive Dido Harding, the former head of J Sainsbury’s convenience stores who was poached in December. Charles Dunstone, Carphone’s founder, will serve as executive chairman and John Gildersleeve, the Carphone chairman, will also become a non-executive.
House of Fraser and the Co-op will set the tone for this week's retail reporting bonanza by announcing bumper figures tomorrow. The majority of the quoted retail sector, including Tesco, Currys owner DSG, Debenhams and HMV will update the City in the coming days and their figures are expected to complete the emerging picture of better than expected Christmas trading. Like rival John Lewis, which demolished previous records with four £100m weeks during the holidays, House of Fraser will reveal "record" trading with like-for-like sales growth in the "high single digits". Last week's strong run from the supermarkets will also continue with the Co-op seen unveiling like-for-like sales growth of around 5%, pipping Sainsbury's, which beat City expectations with 4.2%. It will also outclass Tesco, which analysts think grew at 3%.
Financial Times Sat / Sun
Tesco is coming under pressure from the City to give a clear explanation of how an extra £100m of loyalty vouchers given to customers have affected its Christmas trading. Some analysts are concerned that a beefing up of Tesco’s Clubcard loyalty scheme could “artificially” inflate its keenly watched UK sales figure, based on stores open at least a year, which Britain’s biggest retailer reports on Tuesday. David McCarthy, analyst at Evolution Securities, said: “I hope Tesco does the right thing and gives clarity in its trading statement showing the impact of the extra £100m plus of Clubcard vouchers in circulation. Tesco owes it to investors to be transparent.” He estimates the extra Clubcard vouchers could add about 1.5 percentage points to Tesco’s UK like-for-like sales.
Mail on Sunday
Royal Mail's highly profitable parcels business faces ferocious new competition from companies planning to do deals with corner shops and garages as collection points for customers. The explosion in business created by internet shopping has been responsible for a surge in parcel sales at Royal Mail. The extra demand has more than compensated for the steady losses from the letters business as more people switch to sending emails. But this profitable business is under threat as businesses have become exasperated by recent Royal Mail strikes. Homeowners are also fed up with receiving cards through their letterboxes telling them to pick up their parcel from a depot often some distance away. Now two rivals are stepping in. PayPoint, the bills payment company-based in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, and private mail company DX Group in Iver, Buckinghamshire, are both establishing their own parcels businesses.
Online fashion retailer my-wardrobe.com is on course for profits after sales surged by a record 121 per cent last month. Sales reached £1.1 million as shoppers ordered its fastest-selling designer ranges such as Vivienne Westwood’s Anglomania.
B&Q plans to test a new small-store format in what is likely to be a blow to smaller competitors such as Robert Dyas, Wilkinsons and Focus. It will sell a mixture of basic products for DIY jobs such as small repairs and redecorating. Details of the plans are unlikely to be finalized until the second half of the year, but the stores would be on the edge of towns rather than on the High Street.
Preparing for the Upturn - Hear from leading retailers at the Retail HR Summit 2010
Senior HR personnel from ASDA, Morrisons, Best Buy, Co-op, Carphone Warehouse, Clinton Cards, Pets at Home, Punch Taverns and Dell will share valuable insights at the 3rd Retail HR & Work Force Management Summit 2010
Despite the inevitable redundancies and cost cutting measures imposed by the recession, recent research has shown that demand for goods and services in the UK is now increasing causing retail HR executives to re-evaluate their strategies.Many retailers who were streamlining their operations in the last 18 months are now implementing new initiatives to with fresh approaches to recruitment, motivation, adding customer value, succession planning, retention and flexible working practices.
With and increased amount of talent now looking for new job opportunities, eager to prove themsleves in an insecure job market; the smarter retailers are viewing the economic climate as an opportunity to maintain competitive advantage and market share through creating a leaner, motivated, highly skilled and adaptable workforce that is well placed to capitalise on the upturn.Following on from success of our last 2 Retail HR Summits, The Retail Bulletin is delighted to announce that this popular event returns at our new ‘retreat’ venue, The Reigate Hill Golf Club & Conference Centre on 9th February 2010
This summit, sponsored by Torex and RetailChoice.com will enable Retail HR executives to benchmark their HR strategies and share ideas in a relaxed environment. The programme will enable delegates to build improved recruitment, retention, development and engagement strategies that focus on delivery of bottom line results so they will be well placed to capitalise on the economic upturn. This interactive summit has been designed to allow a focused peer group of UK retail executives the opportunity to network and discuss best practices of Retail HR.
With regular networking opportunities throughout the day you’ll learn how to:
• Attract real talent and strengthen your workforce to cater for an improving economy
• Build a training, learning and development strategy that enables your business to capitalise on the upturn
• Establish best practices of maximising engagement and retention during a period of substantial change
• Boost employee motivation and commitment in challenging times through targeted, cost effective employee engagement strategies
• Maximise market share through cost effective, flexible retention strategies
• Identify and develop leaders that create competitive advantage for your company and engage your workforce
• Prepare for the upswing through cost effective, tailored retail HR strategies
“With demand for goods and services increasing together with a large pool of quality talent eager to prove themselves and an insecure job market; retail HR executives are now refocusing their strategies towards creating a leaner, more motivated, highly skilled and adaptable workforce that is well placed to capitalise on the upturn” said the event’s producer Carl Goodman.
Mark Higgins, Editor of The Retail Bulletin said “After a challenging 18 months, UK retailers are now recruiting staff again as they prepare for the upturn with a higher quality of personnel. With that in mind, we are delighted to have Best Buy’s Head of Retail HR, Anne McCafferty presenting our recruitment keynote”
After taking over 50% of Carphone Warehouse, BestBuy; the largest consumer electronics retailer in the world with over 1300 locations and 155,000 employees world-wide; have recently strated a recruitment drive for the first of 8,000 jobs it hopes to create in the UK over the next five years.
Speakers already confirmed for the event include:
Anne McCafferty, Head of Retail HR, Best Buy Europe/The Carphone Warehouse Group PLC
Annette Middlebrook, Group Human Resources Director, Clinton Cards
Karen Caddick, Group Director of HR, Punch Taverns
Owen Hickey, Head of Colleague Engagement, ASDA (Personnel Today Award Winner 2009 for Innovation in Recruitment & Retention)
Ryan Cheyne, Head of HR, Pets at Home Ltd (winner of the 2008 Employer of the Year Award at the People in Retail Awards and nominated for The Reward & Recognition Award at The 2009 Personnel Today Awards)
Liz Bramley, Head of Employee Engagement & Diversity, The Co-operative Group (one of The Great Place to Work Institute’s 50 Great Places to Work 2009)
Rachel Howard, EMEA Consumer HR Business Partner, Dell
Nick Rowe, Group Head of Learning and Development, Punch Taverns
Naomi Hewitt, HR Director, The Net-a-Porter Group (one of Times Online’s Top 100 companies to work for 2009)
Rowena Cooper, Retail Recruitment Manager, WM. Morrison Supermarkets PLC
Anita Douglas, HR Director, Peter Vardy (one of Times Online’s Top 100 companies to work for 2009)
Delegates can expect to network with like-minded UK retail HR executives as well as a select group of product and service providers and exhibitors.
If you or one of your colleagues would like to attend this crucial event, please visit
To exhibit at the event please contact Ian Sprange on 01737 647100 or email email@example.com
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