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Retail round up – the Sunday papers

Mighty blow for Punch Taverns shareholders, Stop the fakers tarnishing a glittering UK success, Cream teas all round, Center Parcs profits soar as customers flock in, Americans buy seat in The Hut for £100m, Debenhams taps up Mothercare chief, T.G.I. Friday's mulls sale of British outlets, Argos to start same-day delivery, United Biscuits and Birds Eye chew over flotation, Computer stores over-charging and failing to deliver on repairs, Storm over £1m payoff for Co-operative group boss who quit job


Retail round up – the Sunday papers

Mail on Sunday

Hundreds of small shareholders including employees and former staff as well as directors at Punch Taverns will see the value of their stock crash by 85 per cent within weeks as the beleaguered company undergoes a massive financial restructuring. They have been forced to accept a deal in which their shareholding will shrink from 100 per cent of the company to just 15 per cent.

Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods, has already overseen a string of dramatic changes, from multi- million-pound designer escalators to a coruscating chandelier for the store’s rear foyer by renowned glass designer Dale Chihuly. A seven figure sum is reputed to have been spent on the elaborate light fitting. Ward is keen to defend Harrods not just against the legitimate competition, but also against the conmen of the internet. Like all luxury-brand businesses, Harrods is concerned by the booming online trade in forged prestige items, from handbags to watches.

Staff at family-owned Yorkshire firm Bettys & Taylors enjoyed a bumper bonus last year as sales and profits rose.The firm, which runs the famous Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms in Harrogate as well as selling tea and coffee globally, saw sales rise 12 per cent to £149million and pre-tax profit edge up to £10.1million. The 1,403 staff were given annual bonuses of five and half weeks’ pay while the shareholders enjoyed a £1.6 million dividend and will share £1.8million this year.


Sunday Times
Center Parcs enjoyed a rise in sales and profits ahead of the opening of its fifth holiday resort. Profits at the leisure group, owned by the buyout firm Blackstone, jumped 10% to £20.6m in the year to April, while sales rose nearly 4% to £314.6m.

Online retailer The Hut, which counts Sir Terry Leahy and Sir Stuart Rose among its backers, is poised to sell a stake in the business in a deal that will value it at £500m. A consortium led by KKR, the US buyout firm best known here for backing the chemist chain Alliance Boots, is paying £100m for a 20% holding in the business, which runs sites selling everything from clothes to DVDs and sports supplements.

Mothercare’s finance director has emerged as a contender for a key role at Debenhams, the department store trying to steady itself after a profit warning early this year.Matthew Smith is among several candidates being interviewed to succeed Simon Herrick, the finance chief who resigned in January after hitting suppliers with a “Santa tax” — a one-off fee worth 2.5% of outstanding payments — and shocking the market by saying profits would be almost a quarter lower than the previous year due to weak Christmas trading.

The new owners of T.G.I. Friday’s, the American-themed restaurant chain famed for its charcoal-grilled steaks, burgers and ribs, are in the early stages of considering a sale of its British arm. The company, which has more than 900 sites around the world, was bought by a pair of US private equity firms for $800m (£468m) in May. Now Sentinel Capital and TriArtisan Partners are looking to offload T.G.I.’s – short for Thank Goodness It’s Friday – in Britain where it has more than 60 restaurants.

Argos is to start a same-day delivery service in its latest attempt to fight back against Amazon. The high street chain will initiate a trial later this year that will allow shoppers to order a product online and have it delivered to their home or local store on the same day. Same-day delivery is a growing battleground for retailers as they look to build up their online services.

Some of the best-known brands on kitchen shelves are heading for the stock market under plans being considered by two of the country’s largest and oldest food producers. The private equity backers of Birds Eye, the frozen food group, and United Biscuits, the biscuit and snack manufacturer, are eyeing the flotation of both companies before the end of the year. Such a move would see a raft of household food names fall under public ownership.

People placing their trust in high street shops to fix their computers are being ripped off - in some cases charged up to three times what they should be, according to an investigation by Which? The findings, being released today show that not a single retailer successfully fixed all of the laptops taken into their branches. Overall, less than half [40 per cent] were repaired properly. The investigation looked at the in-house repair departments of six different branches of The Carphone Warehouse, Currys, PC World, Apple stores, and independent retailers.

Euan Sutherland, who quit as chief executive of the Co-operative Group after only 10 months in the job amid a high-profile row over his remuneration package, is to receive a £1m payoff. The size of the sum, the equivalent of 12 months' basic salary, has angered some Co-op members at a time when the organisation is looking to make up to 6,000 employees redundant.


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