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Retail round up – the Sunday papers

Costa bids to awaken Asia's appetite for branded British coffee, Easter egg woe for chocolate makers as costs rise and prices are slashed, Yodel likely to deliver mass job cuts as it closes 60 sites, Deadline set for buy-out deal to rescue All Saints, Aquascutum seeks buyer for 110-year home, Walmart plots online grocery growth, ‘Half-price’ bid for Waterstones.

SUNDAY PAPERS

Retail round up – the Sunday papers

The Observer

The new chief executive of Whitbread, Andy Harrison, is expected to ramp up ambitious overseas expansion plans for Costa Coffee this week as he sets out his vision for an international espresso bar chain to challenge global market leader Starbucks in some of the world's fastest-growing markets. Harrison, a former boss of easyJet who will deliver his first full-year results at Whitbread on Thursday, will announce Costa has comfortably exceeded its target of 250 new openings – a goal set by his predecessor Alan Parker a year ago – taking the store count to 1,850. Parker had set a long-term target for Costa of 3,000 stores by February 2015, including 1,400 outside the UK.

Bitter Easter news for artisan chocolatiers as supermarkets slash prices and cost of cocoa soars. It ought to be a sweet time of year for chocolatiers. But steep discounts in supermarkets on chocolate eggs, together with rocketing prices for cocoa and sugar, mean confectioners are struggling to make money out of Easter's sugar-fuelled frenzy. Britain's retailers sold £264m of Easter eggs last year, according to the market research firm Mintel, and Euromonitor expects a 3.5% rise this year. But the taste for seasonal treats is unlikely to translate into profit – particularly for smaller, artisan chocolate makers, which are becoming an endangered species.

Yodel, the parcel delivery group owned by the Barclay brothers, is axing half of its depots in a move that is likely to lead to hundreds of job losses. The company will close 60 of 120 sites as it looks to remove locations where it operates more than one warehouse – a legacy of the takeover of DHL Express last year by Home Delivery Network in the deal that created Yodel. As part of the takeover, around 4,700 people and 71 service centres were added to the business. The parcel group, which employs around 10,000 staff, would not say how many jobs it expected to shed as part of the reorganisation, though it has been suggested it could be as many as 1,500. Decisions on job losses are expected to be made over the next 12 months.

 

Sunday Telegraph

The future of retailer All Saints hung in the balance on Saturday after it emerged its management team has been given a deadline of Tuesday evening to finalise a rescue buy-out deal. The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that Lloyds Banking Group, the retailer's lender, provided Stephen Craig, chief executive, with the ultimatum over the weekend. Lloyds, which has lent £28.5m to the retailer, is believed to have asked KPMG, the accountancy firm, to be on standby to initiate administration proceedings as early as Wednesday morning. The bank hired KPMG a number of weeks ago on what was originally a contingency basis, but its role has become increasingly key in the past week. Talks between bankers and advisers are set to continue today, and it is possible that the deadline may be extended.

 

The Independent on Sunday

Aquascutum is selling 100 Regent Street – its flagship for the past 110 years. The retailer, famous for its luxury rainwear, is owned by Jaeger's Harold Tillman, who has hired property agent Cushman & Wakefield to sell its lease.  Mr Tillman hopes to sell for a seven-figure sum and relocate to a smaller store on Bond, Jermyn or Sloane streets. He rescued debt-laden Aquascutum in September 2009 from its Japanese owner, Renown.

 

Financial Times

Walmart is exploring ways to take on online rivals by launching a test service in one Californian city that lets shoppers order fresh food on the internet for home delivery. The world’s biggest retailer began the “limited test” on Saturday as it looks to online commerce to offset the mediocre growth performance of its bricks-and-mortar stores in the US.

 

Mail on Sunday

Russian oligarch Alexander Mamut, is this week  expected to table a £35 mllion bid for Waterstones – roughly half of what the bookstore business owned by music chain HMV was originally thought to be worth. Mamut, who has a 6.1% stake in HMV, is believed to be working with his friend Tim Waterstone, who founded  the book chain. They have previously collaborated on book ventures in Russia.

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