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Retail round up - The Wednesday papers

'Horrible' high street sales figures hurt UK recovery hopes, Games Workshop swaps tin for plastic to beat market,Tesco 'appalled' by forged letter of support for new store development,Currys aims to break dark curse of Thurrock Lakeside 'Death-store', Bargain-hungry retailers snap up empty shop units,Shoe lovers give high street a ray of hope,Sainsbury's victory over Tesco in fight to build first Kelso superstore,Pubs and sunshine slow pace of beer sales slump,Coffee Republic bounces back...


Retail round up - The Wednesday papers

The Daily Telegraph.
The state of
Britain's high streets is still "horrible", a former Bank of England policymaker declared after it emerged that sales dropped in July for the third month in a row.Professor David Blanchflower, who recently stood down from the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee, said that the CBI retail sales figures were a signal that recovery had not yet taken root in the consumer sector.The business lobby group's monthly distributive trades survey showed that 47pc of retailers reported a fall in sales volumes over the past year, compared with 32pc who saw an increase. Full article here.

Games Workshop, the manufacturer and retailer of toy soldiers and miniature fantasy characters, is increasing the volume of soldiers that it makes out of plastic as a means of dodging fluctuations in metal prices.The company, which on Tuesday reported a sixfold increase in full-year pre-tax profit to £7.5m, said that it is "continuing to invest" in transferring from tin to plastic to make it "less sensitive" to market fluctuations.Tom Kirby, Games Workshop's chairman, said that the company has slowly been changing the material it uses over the last decade. Full article here.

Planners at Leeds City Council have launched an investigation after a letter of support for a controversial new Tesco store was discovered to be a fake.The letter purported to be written by a Leeds man, has thrown the planning process for the store in Oakwood into chaos. On Tuesday Tesco said that is was "appalled" that someone would forge a letter of support for one of its developments. Hundreds of other documents relating to the application are now being checked to ensure their authenticity.Full article here.

Electricals chain Currys will be hoping to shake off the so-called "curse of the Death-store" when it takes over the lease of the retail sector's most doomed property.Currys has signed up to take over the former Marks & Spencer Lifestore building at the Thurrock Lakeside retail park. In doing so, it hopes to reverse a jinx that has confounded rivals for the last five years.The purpose-built shop was due to be the site of the third branch of M&S's ill-fated Lifestore homewares chain in 2004. However the planned store never opened after the concept was shelved following a bid approach from Sir Philip Green, the Arcadia owner.Full article here.

The number of empty stores in Britain's leading shopping centres has fallen dramatically as prospering retailers look to snap up bargains from under-pressure landlords.Vacancy rates at the UK's top 20 shopping centres has reduced by an average of 25pc since January, according to DTZ, the property agent, adding to optimism that the UK economy is bottoming out.The revelation that empty space is falling follows high street data from the Office for National Statistics last week that retail sales rose 1.2pc in June, four times faster than analysts expected, as consumers were attracted by early summer sales and warm weather.Full article here.

The Times
High street sales fell in July with only shoe shops and grocers reporting a pick up in business.Nearly half of retailers said that sales volumes were lower than a year ago, against 32 per cent which said they were higher.The latest figures, published yesterday by the CBI, show the balance of those calling higher sales increased to -15 from June’s -17. This was worse than analysts’ forecasts of -12. Full article here.

Tesco suffered an unexpected defeat at the hands of Sainsbury’s last night in its battle to build a store in one of Scotland’s only towns without a supermarket.The pair have been competing for the right to build a store in Kelso, in the Borders, since last year. Sainsbury’s seemed to be in pole position after it won legal options to buy buildings at an industrial site at Pinnaclehill and support at a public inquiry. All that remained was for it to buy an old factory, Keltek, from the Scottish Borders Council. But the authority then announced that Tesco, which had already tried to secure permission for another site at the town, was the preferred bidder.Locals, who backed Sainsbury’s, feared their hopes of a new supermarket might be fading until it emerged last night that the council had withdrawn from its contract to sell the former factory site to Tesco. It had failed to assemble the extra land required for a supermarket, which Sainsbury’s had bought up. The move clears the way for Sainsbury’s to bid for the site, which will now be remarketed. Full article here.

The Independent
The slide in
UK beer sales has started to slow, helped by the recent heatwave and hefty discounting by pub operators, the British Beer & Pub Association revealed yesterday.Total sales fell by 4.8 per cent in the second quarter, year-on-year, but this was a marked improvement on the 7.8 per cent fall in the first quarter of this year and lower than the rate of decline in the second half of 2008. Full article here.

The Financial Times
Arab Investments
, a private property company best known for plans to build a London skyscraper, has completed the acquisition of Coffee Republic, the coffee shop chain, from administration.The company, which is planning to build one of the tallest buildings in London at the Pinnacle in the City of London, will today confirm the acquisition for an undisclosed amount. Administrator KPMG has been in talks to sell the business to Arab Investments for two weeks.Full artcicle here.

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