Retail round up the Sunday papers
27 November 2011 | by The Retail Bulletin
Ayup, lad, it’s reet good sushi!While its rivals are resorting to selling every item under the sun, Morrisons is focusing almost exclusively on a wide range of top quality food. Dalton Philips has something to tell Sir Ken Morrison — but finding the right words isn’t easy.The chief executive of Wm Morrison needs to confess to the 80-year-old patriarch of the Bradford-based supermarket chain that he’s opened a sushi bar in one of his stores. Once Sir Ken — who is more partial to fish and chips — has worked out the difference between nigiri and a California roll, Philips has more revelations.
Thomas Cook to slash jobs after £200m rescue. At least 1,000 roles will be cut and several hundred million pounds of assets sold as the ailing travel group bids to reduce its £1billion debt. Thomas Cook is set for a boardroom clearout and radical restructuring that will cost at least 1,000 jobs after being saved from collapse by a £200m injection from its bank s. Insiders say the ailing travel group will slash costs and sell several hundred million pounds of assets to reduce its debt of more than £1billion. Frank Meysman, the 59-year-old Belgian who takes over as chairman on Thursday, will review the firm’s line-up of non-executive directors, and is expected to bring in continental business leaders.
Rose on grid for F1 job. Former Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose could take over from Bernie Ecclestone as head of Formula One next year ahead of its Asia flotation. Sir Stuart Rose, the former Marks & Spencer boss, is being lined up to replace Bernie Ecclestone as head of Formula One. Rose has been shortlisted for the job by CVC, the private equity giant that owns the motor racing company. He would be expected to take over from Ecclestone next year.
Wall Street style: Goldman to sell cheap frocks.The American investment bank is expected to become the majority shareholder in debt-laden discount fashion chain Peacocks. Goldman Sachs is in talks to take control of Peacocks, the discount fashion chain. The American investment bank is expected to become the majority shareholder as part of discussions to reduce Peacocks’ £240m debt pile. Goldman is one of the company’s biggest junior lenders but it is considering writing off some of the debt in return for an enlarged stake
Christmas gloom hits the high street.The number of shoppers visiting the UK’s high street has fallen in the crucial pre-Christmas period, according to new research.Customer numbers fell 3.3pc last week compared with the same time a year ago, according to research undertaken by Experian Footfall and released to The Sunday Telegraph. The numbers come after two months of almost uniformly poor data from the high street. Last week ended with a profit warning from Blacks Leisure and threats from Sir Philip Green that he may have to close 260 loss-making shops. Separate figures from Springboard, which analyses footfall for the British Retail Consortium, calculates that sales in Greater London fell 7.5pc in the third week of November, compared with last year.
Groupon spurns London's Tech City. Groupon, the online discount business, has decided to pull out of a move to London’s Tech City because it is too expensive.Instead, the company, which floated in New York at the start of this month, is close to signing a lease on a building near Monument in the City to house its rapidly expanding London operation. It has increased its staff from 50 to around 750 in the capital over the past year but still occupies temporary Regus offices. It is now expected to take a building previously used by a bank as its permanent premises, ahead of further rapid expansion.
Retail pair to back Iceland founder in £1.1bn takeover. Malcolm Walker, the founder and chief executive of Iceland Foods, has held talks with Matalan and DFS founders about providing backing for his £1.1bn bid for the retailer.Mr Walker, who with fellow management controls a 23pc stake, is known to have held conversations with John Hargreaves, the founder of Matalan, and Lord Kirkham, of DFS, about supporting his potential bid for the majority 77pc stake which is up for sale.The pair, along with a small number of other family backers, are believed to have offered equity backing if Mr Walker does bid. He has already amassed debt financing from a syndicate of banks plus financial support from Alberta Investment Management Corporation.
Mail on Sunday
Premier Foods may have to sell some of its best-known brands, including Hartley’s Jam and Haywards Pickle, at rock-bottom prices to avoid breaching covenant tests set by its bankers. As one of the biggest suppliers to the High Street heads into the crucial Christmas period, it has only about four months to meet tests that measure the size of its debt against profitability and interest cover. It could be prevented from refinancing its £1.3billion of debt.
M&S clothing boss Kate Bostock tipped for move as sales crunch looms. She was overlooked for the chief executive’s position at Marks & Spencer. She has spent much of her time in the shadow of charismatic male bosses. But Kate Bostock, executive director for clothing and general merchandise and arguably the most powerful woman on the High Street, now looks ready to head out for a top job on her own. And as staff and executives at M&S ponder the prospect of life without one of the company’s longest-serving directors, they will be acutely aware that her departure could not come at a worst time.
Budget hotel chain Travelodge to build hotels next to supermarkets.Doing the weekly grocery shop can be an exhausting business and shoppers might be forgiven for wanting to put their feet up afterwards. But Travelodge plans to go one better and is building next to – or, in some cases, on top of – supermarkets. The budget hotel chain is already building hotels next to Waitrose outlets in Sidcup, Kent; Vauxhall, south London; and Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Christmas lights go dim amid Britain's economic gloom. Cash-strapped local authorities are cutting back on festive decorations - even though they attract shoppers. To light or not to light is proving a major seasonal dilemma for local authorities across the UK, with many deciding to pull the plug on the traditional displays of Christmas street decorations.But the cost-cutting is seen as a further blow to businesses relying on Christmas shoppers to come out in force and bring some balance to the books after a tough year for retailers.Hard times on the high street mean an unhappy Christmas at the Treasury Austerity at home is the natural reaction to a year in which living standards declined, but it puts the retail sector's much-needed £18bn tax contribution to the exchequer in jeopardy. Roll up, roll up: it's the "big price drop" – and not just at Tesco. Worried retailers across the high street are decking the aisles with discounts and it's not even December yet. This year's Christmas trading period is shaping up to be as tough as anything seen during the recession, as a year in which living costs have raced ahead of pay rises draws to a close.
Global food giant Nestle has announced plans to expand production facilities at one of its UK plants, creating around 300 jobs.The announcement of the investment at Nestle's coffee production site in Tutbury, near Burton-upon-Trent, was welcomed by Prime Minister David Cameron as "excellent news" for Britain's manufacturing sector.
Weather is a scapegoat for poor sales, says report. Retailers too often blame extreme weather for poor sales, according to a white paper by KPMG and market researcher Synovate that will be released later this week.The paper says that these factors were sometimes "overplayed too heavily", and recommended that stores improve their risk analysis and buying strategies to overcome weather problems. Helen Dickinson, KPMG's head of retail, said: "The best retailers are prepared for the unexpected."
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