Retail round up - The Sunday papers
Founder to bag £50m from sale of Net-a-Porter, Hit Entertainment 'at risk of breaching bank covenants', Sainsbury beats 50% tax rate,Ailing Blockbuster sells European arm, Jigsaw sales leap as spring range delights, Shame on supermarkets over abuse of supply staff, Waitrose launches UK brand expansion and plans more foreign outlets...
The Sunday Telegraph
Online fashion retailer Net-a-Porter is being acquired for up to £350m by Richemont, the Swiss luxury goods group.The deal, expected to be completed this week, will see founder Natalie Massenet, a former fashion journalist, become at least £50m richer as Richemont acquires the remaining 70pc of the company it doesn't already own. Richemont will acquire her stake, worth around 18pc of the company, as well as the 30pc holding of the Tortola-based Baywinds entity, owned by the Venuezuelan Busquets family, as well numerous smaller investors. Full article here.
Thomas the Tank Engine owner HIT Entertainment will breach banking covenants within days, say sources close to the company. HIT, which also owns Bob the Builder, Angelina Ballerina and Barney the Dinosaur, originally agreed a step-down agreement with the banks in which it agreed over time to raise its profitability relative to the size of its debts.The step-down agreement was put in place as a condition of raising debt, which stood at $470m in July 2008. But although HIT remains a profitable company, it has not managed to reduce its net debt/earnings ratio in line with the targets set by the banks in the agreement. According to the sources, the company will seek an "amend and extend" arrangement with the lending syndicate. HIT will agree to pay a higher level of interest on its loan payments to the banks in the syndicate. Full article here.
The Sunday Times
J Sainsbury will accelerate bonus payments for all staff in a move that means staff taking home more than £150,000 will avoid paying the 50% tax rate that comes in on April 6. This will dramatically improve the pay packets of the supermarket’s 1,200 top earners, including Justin King, the chief executive, who was paid more than £2m in pay, pension and bonuses last year. Now staff will pay the current rate of 40%. Changing the timing of payments breaks no rules but is likely to infuriate those in the banking sector who were warned against trying to avoid paying the windfall tax levied on their bonuses for last year. Full article here
The European arm of Blockbuster, the film rental chain, has been put up for sale amid growing concern over the financial health of its American owner. Blockbuster Inc is struggling with spiralling losses and more than $1 billion (£660m) of debts. It wants to offload the European division — including 650 stores in the UK and more than 5,000 staff — as part of a drive to raise cash.The company has appointed Winchester Capital, an American corporate finance house, to find a buyer for the European operation, which it values at about £50m. The company also has stores in Denmark, Ireland and Italy. Full article here
Jigsaw is full of the joys of spring after its latest collection boosted sales.The privately owned company said that its spring range was well received by fashionistas and opinion-formers, prompting a 5.5 per cent improvement in like-for-like sales in February.The company has also benefited from securing extra business through John Lewis, whose fashion sales are soaring.Jigsaw is developing a homewares range and this week added bedding and cushions to the products it is putting on the market. Sales at Kew, its smaller brand, rose by 14.1 per cent in February on a like-for-like basis, or 31 per cent in total. Full article here
Evidence of widespread physical and verbal abuse of migrant workers in the meat and poultry industry that supplies Britain’s supermarkets has been uncovered by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.A two-year investigation revealed frequent breaches of licensing and safety standards in meat processing factories, as well as at the employment agencies providing the labour.Migrant workers make up most of the agency workforce, according to a report by the commission, because few British workers want to do the physically demanding, low-paid work. It also found that agency employees were routinely more poorly paid than directly employed staff. Full article here.
Waitrose boss Mark Price is drawing up plans to transform the upmarket food chain into a consumer brand available in thousands of non-Waitrose shops in the UK and overseas. He believes the Waitrose label has the potential to be a big "fmcg" – fast moving consumer goods – name like Heinz or Kellogg's, which he can sell to other retail businesses, rather than just direct to shoppers.He has similar ambitions for the Duchy Originals brand, founded in 1990 by the Prince of Wales. Waitrose signed a licensing deal with the struggling royal label last autumn, which gives the John Lewis-owned grocer the right to manufacture, distribute and sell all Duchy goods in the UK. Price said there would be more than 300 Duchy products by the end of the year and there was potential for many more. Full article here.
Major retailers to attend Retail HR Summit 2010
Join your HR peers at the Retail HR Summit 2010.
Delegates are already confirmed from: Aurum Holdings Ltd, Clinton Cards, BP Oil UK, Domino's Pizza, Cath Kidston Limited, BHS, BestBuy Europe/The Carphone Warehouse Group, Blue Inc, Dell, The Co-operative Group, Cotswold Outdoor Ltd, Mills Group Ltd., DSG International PLC, DeMontfort Fine Art Ltd, Lakeland, Maplin Electronics, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, Net a Porter, New Look, Pets at Home, Peacocks, Punch Taverns, Republic, Sally Salon Services Ltd, Signet Trading Limited, The Entertainer, The White Company, Thorntons, WM. Morrison Supermarkets PLC...
For more information and to book your place at this top level event click here
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