Retail round up - The Sunday papers
George Osborne admits price hikes hit Britain hardest, Ocado chief's trust sells £5m shares,Last chance to get women on UK boards,Waitrose to test foreign markets with far-flung franchise partners,Traffic People plans global expansion, Record rent for Oxford Street,Furniture sales and airline prices mislead shoppers despite OFT rules,House prices 'to fall by 20%'
George Osborne has acknowledged rising food and petrol prices are hitting British consumers harder than those in other countries, but said he hoped that decisions taken at this weekend's G20 summit would help stabilise inflation.The Chancellor agreed that the rise of inflation to four per cent was fuelled in part by the falling value of the pound, which he said had come about because Britain was ''overpriced in the world'' over the past decade when it pursued a growth model based on debt.But he said that the depreciation of sterling had helped British exporters, who could help ''rebalance'' the economy towards a new model driven by the manufacture of products for sale abroad. And he made clear that he does not see it as his role, as Chancellor, to try to fix the value of the pound.
Tim Steiner, chief executive of Ocado, has benefited from the online grocery retailer's move into profitability following the sale of £5.1m shares by an associated trust.The Steiner 2008 Millennium Trust (SM Trust) sold 2m Ocado shares at 254.1p after the retailer last month unveiled the first pre-tax profit in its 11-year history. Despite the fourth-quarter profit, the company still made a full-year loss of £12m.The trust had planned to sell shares at the company's flotation in July last year but reversed its decision after the listing received a poor reception from would-be shareholders.
Lord Davies of Abersoch will warn British companies this week that they are in the "last chance saloon", and if they don't move quickly to appoint more women to top positions, they will face quotas. The former Standard Chartered boss will recommend that companies should aim to have women fill 30 per cent of the seats on their boards by 2015, when he publishes his report this Thursday.
Waitrose is to try its luck with new franchised stores in South Africa, Australia and the Far East.The supermarket chain has begun talks with potential partners about franchising after a successful export business to these regions.Waitrose already has two stores in Dubai in partnership with Spinneys, a Dubai-based retailer. It opened its first franchised store in Bahrain last week, as well as a company-owned shop in the Channel Islands – in St Saviour, Jersey – the first of five stores that it is opening on the islands.
The independent fashion brand Traffic People is celebrating its tenth anniversary with overseas expansion.It will open stores in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in New York, the latter as part of a plan to build up wholesale accounts in the US. It also plans to expand its 950 wholesale accounts in Europe and Britain and its eight UK shops. The company, owned by Louise Reynolds and Mark Readman, expects to have turnover in excess of £7m this year.
The shoe retailer Aldo has paid a record rent for a store on London's Oxford Street, in the latest deal to show the growing divide between the price of retail property in the capital and other parts of the country.Aldo is paying around £725 per square foot for Zone A rent to remain in its existing shop at 309 Oxford Street. CBRE, which declined comment, advised Aldo on the deal.Marie Andrée Boutin, the vice-president of real estate at Aldo, said: "We deliberated a great deal on this situation and decided that it's a tough but necessary pill to swallow."
Traders are employing underhand tactics to make their prices look competitive, in defiance of new Office of Fair Trading guidelines.The OFT study, on price advertising methods at the start of December, showed many high street stores and service providers were making misleading offers to shoppers.Drip pricing, when extras are added to the price during purchase, and reference pricing, when an improbably high pre-sale price is used to contrast with the discount, were among the potentially misleading marketing ploys identified by the OFT.A survey of online promotions by The Observer suggests that both remain rife, particularly among budget airlines and large furniture stores.
Homeowners should brace themselves for a "short, sharp shock", with house prices set to fall by up to 20% over the next two years as rising unemployment and public spending cuts take their toll, experts are warning.The cost of the average home fell by up to one-fifth between mid-2008 and the end of 2009 as the credit crunch gripped the mortgage market, but then regained about half of that ground last year, aided by record low interest rates.
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