Retail round up the Sunday papers
Branded goods’ manufacturers have increased the level of discounts they are offering shoppers, according to fresh data which highlights the pressure on Tesco and other supermarkets to persuade customers to buy their own-label goods. Last week Tesco announced what it claimed was its biggest price cutting programme in 25 years, with £500m invested in lowering prices. Most of the cuts will affect Tesco own-branded products, Richard Brasher, the head of the UK business said. The move came as Tesco insiders admitted that an increasing number of shoppers were switching from Tesco-branded food and household products to lower-margin big-name branded goods, a switch which in theory hits its profits.
Sales of cider have overtaken those of Chilean or Spanish wine, according to Waitrose. Its growth comes at the expense of lager, which is in decline as more consumers drink at home and try products they would not normally choose in a pub. The trend has also boosted output from England's orchards, with the cider industry expecting to set a new record in the current apple harvest.
As Britain's high streets struggle to cope with a flatlining economy and collapsing demand from shoppers, major retailers have decided that Christmas needs to come earlier than ever. A decade ago, retailers would not start their festive promotions until late October, but this year – with dozens of retail chains on the brink of bankruptcy – selection boxes, mince pies and even advent calendars and Christmas puddings are already on the shelves of supermarkets across the country. Marks & Spencer on Oxford Street has a dedicated aisle for Christmas products.
Tesco UK boss Richard Brasher musters his staff ahead of tomorrow's launch of the "big price drop" – a £500m price cuts campaign that he insists is not just another supermarket PR stunt but a complete rethinking of the Tesco price strategy that will swap one-off promotions for lower prices across the store. Both Asda and Sainsbury's claim to be unperturbed by Tesco's plans. Sainsbury's says it is "classic smoke and mirrors". Walmart-owned Asda is also unmoved. "We ended all price wars with our 10% guarantee," says a spokeswoman.
Marks & Spencer is planning two more giant out-of-town 100,000 sq ft shops but is still committed to the UK's high streets. It will open new stores in Bradford, Gloucester, Brentwood and Nottingham town centres over the coming years. New high-street stores are planned for the long term in Dorchester, Wandsworth and Bracknell. Large edge-of-town stores are planned in York and Stoke on Trent.
The Independent on Sunday
Electrical retailer Comet's parent company, Kesa, is thought to be planning to retain the Comet pension fund to ease a sale of the struggling business. It has been in discussion with turnaround firm Hilco and private equity OpCapita to sell the 240 store chain. The pension deficit of around £49m has been a sticking point of the sale as bidders were requesting a dowry of more than £150m to take on the firm.
The Sunday Times
Groupon, the discount voucher website, has been forced to slash its reported sales figures in a move that throws its hotly-anticipated stock market flotation into turmoil. The decision to exclude the fees it pays to merchants from its revenue line was announced late on Friday, alongside news that Margo Georgiadis, the company’s chief operating officer, was returning to Google just five months after she was lured to join.
Ian Dyson is preparing to step down as boss of Spirit, one of Britain’s biggest pub companies, after just over a year at the group. Dyson, 49, was drafted in to run Punch Taverns in September last year and decided to split the company into two. Its Spirit arm — which runs 1,350 pubs under brands such as Chef & Brewer — became a separate company last month, leaving Punch with about 5,000 premises.
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