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Retail round up – the Sunday Papers

Tesco hunts for property boss to sell off assets, Coq D'Argent owner D&D London profits up, Demise of Phones 4U boosts Dixons Carphone sales, Posh dog nosh spurs sales at Pooch & Mutt, EastEnders actress with dwarfism sues Post Office over 'out of reach' chip-and-pin, Supermarkets reeling as Tesco scraps supplier fees, Petrol back to £1 a litre?, Moulton provides the dough to help pizza firm expand, Big push as pram maker heads for a record profit, Brompton Bicycle rides high, Yodel boss: So sorry for the delays, , Jurys Inn owners check out, Fresh accounts probe at Tesco


Retail round up – the Sunday Papers

Sunday Telegraph

Tesco has launched a hunt for a senior figure to lead a sell off of non-core property, a process which could raise hundreds of millions of pounds for the beleaguered retailer. The company has approached figures in the property industry – who work for agents and developers – about taking up a role to head the disposal of non-core real estate.

Profits at D&D London, which owns restaurants including Bluebird in Chelsea and Coq d’Argent in the City, rose by a third to £823,000 in the year to the end of March 2014. Turnover increased by 11pc over the year, up from £5.8m to £6.2m, while the company’s net assets increased by £823,000 to £2.4m, according to accounts recently filed at Companies House.

The rapid demise of Phones 4U has boosted sales and profits for Dixons Carphone, the maiden results for the FTSE 100 retail conglomerate will show this week. Dixons Carphone, the owner of Currys, PC World, and Carphone Warehouse, is expected to report an increase in like-for-like sales across its UK business for the most recent three month period. This uptick in sales comes after Phones 4U, the main rival for Carphone Warehouse, collapsed into administration in September with the loss of thousands of jobs.

Pet owners are said to resemble their animals and now they are eating the similar foods too. Health-conscious Brits are now putting their pets on all-natural, nutrient-rich diets to mirror the healthy foods they feed their families. High end dog food and treats retailer Pooch & Mutt has doubled sales to £1m off the back of this 'pet humanisation’ trend, according to founder Guy Blaskey.

An actress with dwarfism has sued the Post Office for discrimination because she could not reach the chip-and-pin machines in its branches. Kiruna Stamell, who has appeared in EastEnders and Life’s Too Short, had her claim for disability discrimination settled by the company, which has now put flexible leads on the machines so their reach can be extended.

Mail on Sunday
Tesco has sent shockwaves through the supermarket sector with its plan to slash prices and dismantle the controversial system of demanding payments from suppliers. The fees, known as ‘commercial income’ and long-established among all supermarkets, were revealed by The Mail on Sunday in October to account for one third of profits and include fees for stocking products and for displaying them prominently. Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis wants the overhaul in business practices to lead to a renewed focus for the supermarket on lower prices. Tesco was hit by a £263million accounting error linked to the payments which is now the subject of a Serious Fraud Office probe.

Petrol prices will stay above £1 a litre according to the boss of the Petrol Retailers’ Association, dashing hopes that slumping oil prices could see a return to cheap fuel. The average price of a litre of unleaded petrol dropped to 119.83p on Friday, its lowest price for four years, while supermarket Asda slashed its price to 112.7p. Economist Kevin Daly of investment bank Goldman Sachs told MPs he estimated the average price of a litre of unleaded could fall to 105p in the coming months as the oil price continues to slide.

A pizza chain backed by financier Jon Moulton is expecting to raise £400,000 through crowdfunding to expand in Scotland and then the rest of the UK. Moulton, the founder of private equity group Better Capital, has committed £50,000 personally to the Edinburgh-based firm, La Favorita Delivered, through crowdfunding website InvestingZone. The chain has four branches and is opening two in Glasgow next year. It aims to have 50 outlets in the UK within five years.

Silver Cross – whose prams are favoured by the Royal Family – is heading for a record profit this year after sales jumped by a third. Chairman Alan Halsall said the Skipton-based company’s sales surged after supermarket chain Morrisons sold its Kiddicare children’s merchandise stores, which had undercut the market. He said Morrisons had ‘disrupted’ the market for baby products by launching a chain of Kiddicare megastores with a flurry of deep price reductions and the discounts increased as the venture floundered.

Brompton Bicycle has reported its profits have nearly doubled. Results for the company, based in Brentford, West London, for the year to March 31, 2014 showed sales up 28 per cent to £27.2million while pre-tax profits increased by 42 per cent to £3.5million. The privately-owned company, one of only two major frame makers still based in Britain, has been in full production since 1988, though the company was founded in 1976.

For Dick Stead, executive chairman of delivery group Yodel, the past 48 hours have been his nightmare before Christmas. The firm, the target of some angry shoppers for late delivery, was forced to stop picking up goods from retailers and warned customers they could face delays of up to 72 hours on orders. He insists that, despite the chaos, shoppers can be confident Yodel will deliver. He says: ‘I am personally happy to give my assurance that you can place orders and they will be delivered in time for Christmas.’ Though he adds the proviso: ‘If that changes, if for any reason volumes are any dramatically different from what we now expect, I will forewarn people.’

Sunday Times
One of the biggest hotel chains in Britain is preparing for a possible sale or merger that could value it at more than £700m. Jurys Inn, which runs 31 hotels, has hired Credit Suisse and Eastdil Secured, a property specialist, to advise on strategic options less than two years after undergoing a financial restructuring. Jurys Inn shed £300m of liabilities under the deal, leaving it with debts of £240m. Its main lender, RBS, became a shareholder after swapping some loans for equity.

Tesco has asked its auditor to step up scrutiny of stock management in stores as it struggles to regain control of its finances after yet another profit warning. Britain’s biggest supermarket is understood to have instructed PwC to attend more stock takes across its 3,300 shops and to pay particular attention to “shrink and waste” — the recording of products that are lost, stolen or spoiled.

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