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Retail round up – The Sunday Papers

JD Sports hires adviser to seek sites for at least 100 stores across France, Stanfords reinvents itself as 21st-century 'travel expert', The future's bright for China's food companies, Sweet smell of success at Oka, Digest: Knitwear profits unravel, Iceland set to pay back British debt 'in months' following massive sale of retail stakes, Sainsbury's snaps up brewery as supermarkets desperately scramble for sites, Net-a-Porter founders invest in online retailer Cult Beauty, Shops can’t keep up as most smartphone users browse web daily


Retail round up – The Sunday Papers

Independent on Sunday

Sportswear and fashion retailer JD Sports is planning an aggressive expansion into France, which could lead to a chain of at least 100 shops. In 2009, JD bought French sportswear brand Chausport, which has 75 stores throughout France. After dipping its toe in the water with three trial stores for JD Sports, it has now hired a property adviser to look for more sites for the chain.

One of the UK's oldest map and travel shops, Stanfords, is moving into the 21st century with a new website, travel club and loyalty-points scheme. Chris Powell, a private-equity and turnaround specialist who joined the firm two years ago, is behind the latest moves to bring Stanfords up to date. He is also looking at airline tie-ups, and in-store travel agents. Stanfords – which has actor and explorer Michael Palin, left, as one of its 80 shareholders – was founded in 1853 and has a shop in London's Long Acre, where it has been since 1901, and one in Bristol.

Bright Food Group is best known in China for its rice, noodles and childrens' favourite White Rabbit sweets. But, having just agreed to buy the company famous for giving us Ryvita crackers and Bovril spread, the state-owned Chinese conglomerate could soon be coming to a supermarket shelf near you.


Sunday Times

Strong sales of garden furniture and room fragrances helped drive profits higher last year at Oka Direct, the interiors store part-owned by Lady Astor, David Cameron’s mother-in-law. Oka continued to buck the retail gloom this year, with sales up 32% in the first five months. The figures include takings from a new flagship store in Chelsea, opened last September. Oka will add a concession in Selfridges on Oxford Street soon. Accounts to be filed this week will show a 24% rise in underlying profits to £472,000 last year on sales up 9% at £15m.

Higher material costs and the tough retail climate cut pre-tax profits at Lyle & Scott, the golfing knitwear firm that has grown into a favourite of young stars such as the actor Nicholas Hoult. The figure for the year was £7.5m, down from £8.6m previously.


Mail on Sunday

Iceland is to speed up a massive sale of retail assets belonging to the Landsbanki bank in an attempt to pay off the lion’s share of the country’s outstanding debt to Britain within months. Landsbanki has a financial interest in frozen food store chain Iceland, the famous London toy store Hamleys, jewellery group Aurum - which owns Goldsmiths and Mappin & Webb - and department store group House of Fraser.

For more than 200 years, the Thwaites brewery has been a fixture in the centre of Blackburn, Lancashire. But in the place where there were once mash tuns and bottling lines there will soon be food aisles and shopping trolleys. For Thwaites has just sold its brewery site to supermarket giant Sainsbury’s and will use the money to relocate to sparkling new premises out of town that will, unlike the current site, even have room for its much-loved drayhorses.

Online beauty retailer has secured investment from two founding partners of fashion retailer Cult Beauty was set up in 2008 by Jessica Moore and Alexia Inge with £70,000 of their savings. It uses a panel of 48 beauty experts to recommend products that are then sold on the website.

Retailers are failing to keep pace with the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablet computers, leaving shoppers struggling to use stores’ websites on hand-held devices, according to a report due out tomorrow. The survey, titled ‘Mobile economic time: a new business opportunity’  said  55% of Britain’s15 million smartphone owners use them daily to connect to the internet.

The Retail Bulletin’s Mobile Retailing Summit 2011, sponsored by DigiPoS, and supported by IMRG, is on September 27th in London and has an impressive speaker programme. The event is retailer-led which will stimulate lively debate and is a must attend for those retailers who want to embrace mobile as an integral part of their multi-channel offering.
This one day summit will enable you to build a profitable mobile strategy and network with like-minded executives. Do not miss this opportunity – click here for full programme details.

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