Retail round up - the Sunday papers
The billionaire founder of Sports Direct is threatening to build a hostile stake in Adidas as a row escalates over the supply of Premier League football kits. Mike Ashley has indicated that Sports Direct could start buying shares to exert pressure on the German sportswear manufacturer after it refused his shops access to next season’s replica Chelsea strip. The row between Ashley and Adidas started after the German company reviewed the distribution of its products, “based on criteria such as in-store environment and customer service levels”.
Bosses at the White Company, the bed linen and nightwear specialist, are in line to share almost £3m in bonuses after a surge in profits.Operating profits at the retailer, founded by Chrissie Rucker in 1994, soared 83% to £7.6m in the year to March, while sales jumped 10% to £125.6m. Close to £3m of the profits are being set aside to pay out on a long-term incentive scheme for several of the top managers.
Profits at Brompton Bicycle have raced ahead by 51% thanks to booming exports. The company, which still makes its distinctive folding bicycles in a factory next to the Chiswick flyover in west London, now earns more than three-quarters of its sales from exports. Its pre-tax profits hit £2.4m in the year to the end of March, while turnover advanced 27% to £21.3m.
BT will begin selling mobile phones again next year, more than a decade after disposing of O2.The telecoms giant will start selling to companies before next Christmas as a prelude to launching a full-blown consumer product.“Customers expect us to offer mobile as an extension to our existing services,” said Gavin Patterson, BT’s chief executive. “We’ll come to the market in the next year.”
Britain’s biggest specialist seller of pasties could change hands for about £30m. West Cornwall Pasty Company, which runs more than 70 outlets, has hired the adviser BDO to do a strategic review, which could lead to its sale. The chain, which employs 400 staff, has been owned since 2007 by Gresham Private Equity and is likely to draw interest from other retailers and restaurant operators.
Britain's leading supermarkets have warned that they could build fewer stores in Scotland because of Alex Salmond’s controversial “supermarket tax”. The comments from the supermarket sector are a further blow to Mr Salmond after warnings from the retail industry that it may have to increase food prices in Scotland if the country votes in favour of independence next year. Sainsbury’s confirmed it had slowed expansion plans north of the border because of the “combination of the downturn in the economy and the levy on supermarkets”, while Andy Clarke, chief executive of Asda, said it was “highly probable” that earmarked developments had been made unviable by the tax.
Christmas shoppers are expected to spend £12 billion next weekend as they leave it later than ever. Retail analysts are predicting that the most intensive trading of the festive season will come in the four days from Friday, when many people will leave work for the last time before Christmas Day. Verdict, the retail consultancy, expects millions of workers to take the following Monday off. With many workers being granted Christmas Eve as holiday, there will be an extended period for shoppers to buy gifts and supplies.
Mail on Sunday
Dame Mary Perkins and husband Doug enjoyed a £32million dividend this year thanks to the continuing strong performance of the Specsavers opticians chain they founded almost 30 years ago. Accounts just filed for the Specsavers UK stores for the year to February 28, 2013 show the dividend was paid to the Guernsey-based parent company, jointly owned by Doug and Dame Mary. The couple’s three children also work at the firm. Accounts for the British retail business show profits dipped from £21.3million to £15.3million.
Electrical giant Dixons Retail, which owns Currys and PC World, is expected to report this week that UK profits quadrupled to £22million in the six months to the end of October. The results have been driven by the explosion of tablet computers and augur well for a strong performance in the sector at Christmas. The City also expects the group to confirm UK like-for-like sales rose by more than 10 per cent in the three months to the end of October.
A graphic anti-alcohol television advert showing a man drinking a glass of lager with a tumour in it has sparked a complaint by the beer and pub industry. The British Beer and Pub Association, the Campaign for Real Ale and the Society of Independent Brewers have written jointly to the Advertising Standards Authority about the advert, which was made by alcohol awareness charity Balance North East and shown on prime-time ITV television. The group, representing more than 700 brewers, has told the regulator that the advert is ‘extremely misleading’ in implying that drinking a glass of beer would give you cancer, backed by a voiceover which equates the risk of moderate drinking with the harm associated with tobacco and asbestos.
Shoppers are still holding back and a strong season for Britain’s biggest supermarkets will depend on a late rush. It is doubly critical for market leader Tesco, whose sales in the past three months fell 1.5 per cent, according to figures released two weeks ago. Chris Bush, charged with turning round the group’s core 3,146 stores, is under the spotlight. Despite the pressure, Bush, who has spent his entire career at Tesco but took his present post only a year ago, looks relaxed and claims to be enjoying the job.
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