Retail round up Â– The Sunday Papers
Arab Investments eyes up Coffee Republic, Fake lower-ticket items on sale, B&Q books ticket to Moscow, Recovery optimism unrealistic according to E&Y, DSG to retrain sales staffFinancial Times Sat / Sun
The property company behind plans for one of London's tallest skyscrapers has emerged as the surprise potential buyer of Coffee Republic, the coffee shop chain. Arab Investments, a private property investment company best known for its proposed Pinnacle tower in the City of London, on Friday entered into an exclusivity agreement with KPMG, which is acting as administrator to the coffee shop chain. If successful, Arab Investments intends to put money into developing the Coffee Republic brand in the UK and overseas, and will start expanding the branch network immediately after completing the deal. It is thought to be in talks to acquire about 80 outlets, of which 20 are outside the UK, in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Bulgaria.
Once it was luxury brands such as L'Oréal, Gucci and Jimmy Choo that had most to fear from counterfeiting. However, the speed and scale with which counterfeiters - often based in China - can replicate fake versions of top-selling goods is moving the battle to lower-ticket items. JML, the consumer goods distributor, is the latest brand owner to employ private investigators after it discovered evidence that cheap imitation versions of its hit gadget, the PedEgg, were being sold online and at car boot sales. In Britain the product, licensed to JML, which sells it direct and through retailers such as Boots, has shipped 2m units since launch.
B&Q is to trial a small store format in Moscow next year to help it push further into the £16bn-a-year Russian DIY retail market. Peter Hogsted, chief executive of Kingfisher's international operations outside France, said the smaller format store, to be opened in Moscow in about a year, would help Kingfisher forge a meaningful presence in the city where property was expensive and sites harder to come by. “This is our ticket into Moscow,” he said, adding that Kingfisher had just one store there on the outskirts of the city.
The spat between sports retail bosses Sir David Jones and Mike Ashley over an explosive £1.5m personal loan agreement intensified this weekend after Ashley accused Jones of releasing inaccurate information to the stock exchange. Ashley, owner of Sports Direct, plans to hand over copies of a loan agreement, signed by Jones, to the City watchdog the FSA. The Sunday Times has seen a copy of the loan agreement - which was signed by Jones and Ashley on February 24. It says the loan was initiated in October 2007 - after Jones had already been made a director of JJB Sports on October 1.
Optimistic expectations that the British economy is on the cusp of recovery are unrealistic, a forthcoming report by the Ernst & Young Item Club is expected to say. Revising down predictions for growth in 2009, it will say there has been no real evidence that banks are lending more to businesses and consumers and any recovery will be "anaemic" at best. "We are less optimistic than we were," said Professor Peter Spencer, chief economic advisor to Item. "A lot of favourable signs from the financial markets haven't followed through. I think hopes of recovery have completely overtaken reality."
Mail on Sunday
DSG International is spending up to £10 million on retraining its entire 20,000-strong sales force. Chief executive John Browett said, 'The ultimate aim is to have customers come into the stores and think the service is great. We want to be famous for offering a fantastic in-store experience'.
Hundreds of online shoppers who signed up for a money-off voucher are finding their bank accounts and credit cards are being debited in mysterious monthly payments. And many claim they have no memory of ever having agreed to the payments. Although Shopper Discounts & Rewards, which attracts members by offering a money-off voucher when they have completed a purchase on websites acts totally legally, its recruitment method has caught out some consumers.
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