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Retail round up – The Sunday papers

Ex-Zavvi staff fight for payments, e-mails add to JJB Sports saga, River Island owners reap dividends, Focus in rescue deal with landlords...

SUNDAY PAPERS

Retail round up – The Sunday papers

Ex-Zavvi staff fight for payments, e-mails add to JJB Sports saga, River Island owners reap dividends, Focus in rescue deal with landlords...

Sunday Telegraph

Former Zavvi staff are being forced to go to employment tribunals to claim redundancy payments and benefits they are owed following the entertainment chain's collapse into administration last December. The staff concerned had transferred from Zavvi to Head Entertainment, a chain set up in February in former Zavvi stores by executives including Simon Douglas, the defunct chain's chief executive. Employees were initially told by Ernst & Young, Zavvi's administrator, that their employment rights would transfer to Head under TUPE (Transfers of Undertakings), a Government regulation which preserves emplo

yees' terms and conditions when a business is transferred to a new employer. However, staff were later told by Head that their employment with Zavvi did not transfer when Head bought the stores. Rather, staff were told that they were made redundant from Zavvi and re-employed by Head the next day. The technical difference meant that staff believe that they have lost out on sick pay, holiday pay and notice pay entitlements. Many have since been made redundant by Head. One former employee said: "They reneged on TUPE. From my point of view I was years and years into a job but I am being told that I have been in it for just six months."

Sir David Jones, chairman of JJB Sports, has threatened Chris Ronnie, the retailer's former chief executive, with legal action unless he surrenders email correspondence between the two in a further escalation of the extraordinary public row between the two businessmen. Last week, Sir David instructed JJB's lawyers to issue Mr Ronnie with a demand seeking the return of several documents and emails relating to his time at the helm of JJB. Mr Ronnie is trying to salvage his reputation after being sacked by JJB's board for “gross misconduct” earlier this year. The legal demand follows an embarrassing exchange earlier this month when Mr Ronnie released a number of emails in which Sir David praised his efforts and strategy at JJB, apparently contradicting his subsequent public criticism of the former boss. In the emails to Mr Ronnie, Sir David said that “the board must with one voice support you” and “your strategy was right”.

The Observer

The investment vehicle of the Lewis family, owners of the River Island fashion chain, has paid a dividend of close to 250m despite suffering a near 30% drop in profits last year. Worth close to 1bn, the family - headed by Bernard Lewis - is one of the UK's richest, having turned River Island into an international success story with 250 shops in 13 countries and 700m in sales. The Lewis Trust Group (LTG) paid a dividend of 243m in April, with the sum transferred to holding company LTG UK, in which the group's ultimate parent, the Cayman-Island based LFH International, is a shareholder. At the time of the Companies House filing, no payments had been made to LFH's shareholders, the family members.

The Sunday Times

British holidaymakers are not the only people upset that Met Office predictions of a barbecue summer have proved woefully inaccurate. Tesco is so fed up with the unreliability of forecasters that it has set up its own six-strong “supermarket weather team” to help plan more accurately which types of food it will need to stock. The UK's biggest retailer has pulled together a dedicated team of data experts who collate weather forecasts from a wide range of sources that are then analysed using unique software. The computer program includes detailed regional weather reports for the whole of the UK going back five years and, crucially, what each Tesco store sold as a result of that weather. A rise of 10C, for example, led to a 300% uplift in sales of barbecue meat and a 50% increase in sales of lettuce.

Financial Times Sat / Sun

Focus DIY is poised to secure its future on Monday through a rescue deal with landlords. Its creditors are expected to vote in favour of a proposed Company Voluntary Arrangement - an insolvency process that will save it from administration. Bill Grimsey, chief executive, told the Financial Times: “The indicators that I have received so far from all of the creditors - the landlords, the suppliers, and my colleagues because they're creditors - is that there is overwhelming support for what we are doing.” He said he had spoken to all the main landlords, which make up the largest group of creditors and include British Land, Aviva, Land Securities and Hammerson, and they had indicated their support for the deal.

Competition in the 750m ($1.24bn) a year UK pizza delivery market is set to intensify as Pizza Hut plans an aggressive round of new store openings. The group, part of Yum! Brand, the US-based restaurant conglomerate that also owns KFC, intends to open 30 to 50 new delivery units a year beginning in 2010 as it attempts to take advantage of the recession-related boom in people eating at home. At the moment, Pizza Hut operates 300 delivery outlets as well as about 400 restaurants in the UK.

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