Retail round up The Sunday Papers
Michael Howie, a third generation dairy farmer, believes he could be the end of the line, following milk price cuts which mean he will receive only 25p a litre for something that costs him 30p to produce. Like his father and grandfather before him, he rises at 4.45am every day to milk his herd. The Northumbrian farmer is, like many across the country, considering giving up his herd following the latest cuts in the price he receives for his milk. From next month, he will get just 25p a litre, despite it costing him 30p a litre to produce. Last week, 2,500 dairy descended on Westminster to protest against the price cuts and urge farming minister Jim Paice, who admitted he did not know the cost of a pint of milk, to intervene.
Charities are facing a radical overhaul, including a clampdown on street fundraisers 'suffocating’ the high street, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal. An official report commissioned by the Government will recommend major changes to the way charities are run and call for more powers to control 'chuggers’. The review will also recommend charities introduce a 'traffic lights’ system - showing how they spend their money - while codes of conduct should be beefed up and properly enforced. A 'traffic lights’ system should be introduced to ensure potential donors have all the information they need before giving money to charity.
RBS’s plan for a £3 billion float of the insurer could be dashed as private equity consortiums plot rival bids. Two powerful private equity consortiums are secretly planning to bid for Direct Line, the giant insurer owned by Royal Bank of Scotland — a move that would scupper a planned float. RBS is expected to push the button on a London listing of Direct Line in September.
Jessops chief executive Trevor Moore is to leave at the end of this month after three years in charge of the camera chain. Martyn Everett, the executive chairman, will take over the day-to-day running of the business. There are no plans to find a replacement for Moore. The move comes as discussions between Jessops and Canon, one of its biggest suppliers, about a tie-up are understood to have stalled.
Thousands of staff at Sports Direct are to set to cash in shares worth £15,000 next month — the first slice of a £100m multi-year bonus plan. More than 2,000 employees are each sitting on shares worth more than £50,000, which is two-and-half times the average annual wage of a shop worker.
The owner of Pret A Manger sandwich bars is on course to buy a luxury cruise company. Bridgepoint, the private equity firm, is in exclusive talks to acquire Compagnie du Ponant, best known for its trips to the Arctic and Antarctic.
Obama’s favourite gym chain is coming to Britain. Will Equinox win upmarket fans on this side of the Atlantic? The company has made millions from giving American stars a chic place to work out. Customers have included Natalie Portman, Paris Hilton and Barack Obama, who used the Equinox chain to keep in shape while he was campaigning.
The recent easing of the inflation squeeze on British households will suffer a setback this week as June's record downpours drench seasonal crops and push up prices.Analysts expect the Bank of England's official Consumer Prices Index benchmark to remain steady at 2.8 per cent in June after two months of steep falls. The cost of living is currently rising at its slowest rate for two and a half years, but price hikes for seasonal fruit and vegetables due to the poor weather will partly offset the impact of a big 3.3 per cent fall in petrol costs over the month.
FTSE 100 property giant Hammerson is to reignite plans for a stalled £600m development in Leeds that could reinvigorate a neglected area to the north-east of the city. The Eastgate retail scheme has been in the pipeline for eight years but Hammerson now has cash to invest in its retail portfolio having sold £518m of London offices to rival Brookfield last month.
The government is set to announce a series of rail infrastructure investments this week, as it looks to reduce pressure on an overburdened network and stimulate the economy. A new electrification programme is expected to be announced that will include the Midland Main Line from London to the East Midlands and Sheffield and could also see an extension of the previously announced electrification between Manchester and Leeds.
Mail on Sunday
High Street banks will face their biggest competition challenge for a generation this week when Co-operative Group seals a £1billion deal to buy 630 branches and their business from Lloyds. The move will create a new force in retail banking with ten per cent of all bank branches and seven per cent of the current account market. It will also fulfil one of the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking. The branch sell-off had been ordered by the European Commission as the price for Lloyds’ State bailout in the credit crisis. But the ICB called for this to be used to create a ‘challenger bank’ to improve competition.
The summer deluge has washed out High Street sales as stores struggle to cope with the internet and a tough economy, retailers will report this week. Trading figures and official data to be released on Thursday are expected to blame the weather for a series of soggy performances. Veteran retail analyst Nick Bubb said the summer had so far proved ‘wretched’ for retailers.
Vodafone has become the first major British company to raise fears that its policy of reverse discrimination to boost the number of women in senior management roles will lead to a backlash from men who have been overlooked. The mobile phone giant is in the forefront of boosting women’s representation at senior levels in a policy aligned with Government-backed targets. Women now account for about 25 per cent of its top 200 executives. The FTSE 100 company wants to boost that total to nearer 35 per cent, but it is understood to be finding it increasingly difficult to close the gap.
The company behind the fast-growing Go Ape chain of adventure parks is considering moving into Brazil, Russia and China after the success of its expansion into the US. Adventure Forest Group now has three of its treetop high-wire courses in the US as part of a joint venture. It is planning at least 20 more to add to its 28 centres in Britain.
Marks & Spencer is losing the fight for a new generation to Asos, the 12-year-old internet upstart. It may boast a presence in the knicker drawer of almost every woman in the country, but it would seem the great British public think that Marks & Spencer is, well … pants. Despite high-profile advertising campaigns featuring sophisticated supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and a frolicking Twiggy, Myleene Klass and Dannii Minogue, we still can't be persuaded to buy its clothes.
Precisely what's going on with Mary Portas and Margate? It began with £100,000 from Grant Shapps, part of a regeneration pot worth £1.2m, to be shared with 11 other ''Portas pilots'' high streets. It doesn't sound like very much. "I'd call that a lick of paint, more than a regeneration," said Mathew Holter, who works in the Turner gallery.
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