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Retail round up - The Sunday papers.

Marks & Spencer opens Food to Go in Hong Kong,Clarks looks to fill chief executive Peter Bolliger's shoes, Asco Supermarket chain to challenge Tesco and Asda, Retailer Nisa rejects second offer from Bibby, Punch Taverns to put fizz back into Spirit pub division, Sir Michael Bibby takes Nisa store group bid to members, OFT to investigate tactics of price comparison websites, Supermarkets play tough over school...


Retail round up - The Sunday papers.

The Sunday Telegraph
Marks & Spencer, the retailer, has opened Food to Go outlets in Hong Kong – the first time that the chain has sold chilled foods outside the UK and Ireland in its 125-year history.The three-store trial sells 42 lines including sandwiches, salads and smoothies. All the products are sourced locally. A roll-out could follow if the trial is successful. Its range includes M&S stalwarts such as prawn sandwiches and BLTs.Simeon Piasecki, managing director of Marks & Spencer Greater China, said: "We're excited to be offering our first range of chilled foods outside of the UK and Ireland, here in Hong Kong. Our customer feedback shows that there is a demand for our great quality, good value chilled food products." Full article here.

C&J Clarks, the world's biggest shoe company, is to start the search for a new chief executive following a decision by Peter Bolliger to step down after 15 years.Mr Bolliger, who joined Clarks in 1994 and has been chief executive since 2002, has told the board he wants to retire next year when he is 65. Headhunters at Egon Zehnder have been appointed to find a successor.The 174-year-old company, based in Street, Somerset, is one of Britain's biggest privately-owned companies with 400 high street shops in the UK and 11,300 employees. Full article here.

A new supermarket chain, Asco Supermarket, is hoping to challenge retail giants Tesco and Asda when it opens its first store by offering customers something different.The first Asco store begins trading in October in Warrington on the site of a former Woolworths.It will have a blue fascia with white lettering and the strapline ''a real alternative'', following research which found shoppers were looking for supermarkets beyond the big four.Dave Laney, operations manager, would not comment on whether Asco's name was a deliberate combination of Asda and Tesco. "We want to leave it as a bit of a mystery," he told The Grocer magazine."People can make up their own minds. We're not taking on the other supermarkets, we're going to be an alternative. For example, we'll be offering products from suppliers you may not see in other supermarkets." Full article here.

Nisa-Today's, the convenience store buying group, has turned down a second takeover approach by Bibby Line Group, a distribution company.The group's board met on Thursday to discuss Bibby's latest offer. However, it once again rejected the bid.Nisa said that the approach represented "a significant undervaluation of Nisa-Today's, especially as the majority of any payment would be deferred and conditional on future performance".The board did not put the bid to a member vote. The new offer was worth around £1,200 per share, a 20pc increase on the first offer, and valued Nisa-Today's at £133m.Bibby owns 51pc of Costcutter, which is Nisa's largest member."The headline offer of £133m substantially overstated the real price for the company as over 40pc of that claimed value was from potential payments in the future that would be generated by members' own trading," Nisa said. Full article here.

The Sunday Times
Punch Taverns is planning an overhaul of Spirit, its managed pubs arm, home to brands including Chef & Brewer, in its quest to raise funds and reduce its £3.5 billion debt pile.A raft of new brands are to be introduced, including a carvery chain called Roast Inn and Fayre & Square, a value food offering. Chef & Brewer will also get a makeover.The revamp is expected to cost about £45m this year. Managing director Mike Tye said the division had to be self-funding “in the next two to three years”. Full article here.

Sir Michael Bibby will this week step up his campaign to buy Nisa-Today’s, the convenience store buying group, by writing directly to its 674 members with details of his £133m takeover bid.It is understood that on Friday Bibby’s private company, Bibby Line Group, asked Nisa-Today’s to hand over its shareholder register so that letters could be sent to its investors over the next few days explaining the merits of his deal.Bibby’s move comes after Nisa unceremoniously dismissed a revised takeover approach from the Liverpool-based business, insisting that it represented a “significant undervaluation” of the company. The board refused to put the bid to a member vote. Full article here.

The Observer
The Office of Fair Trading is set to investigate allegations of dubious advertising and confusing prices at comparison websites.The OFT is seeking comments from the industry and consumer groups before the deadline of 18 September, when it plans to embark on a detailed examination of practices that can trick people into believing that such sites offer the cheapest prices.If found guilty, the sites could be forced to change the way they operate and switch to a less profitable, more consumer-friendly system.Sites that compare a range of items, from toys to electronics, will come under scrutiny, but advertising campaigns for financial products will also feature prominently, the consumer watchdog said. Full article here.

The Mail on Sunday
Supermarkets have been flexing their muscles to gain ground from clothing retailers in the fiercely contested battle for the back-to-school uniform market.Sainsbury's, Tesco and Asda have been fighting for bigger shares of the uniform market left wide open by the demise of Woolworths, which operated the Ladybird brand, and troubles at Adams, which was bought out of administration in February.Tesco said its sales in the school uniform market had soared 20 per cent this summer compared with last year as customers sought ways to cut back on spending. Full article here.

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