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Sunday News Roundup

Waitrose Christmas advert highlights charity work, Wahaca founders seek slice of fast food market with Burrito Mama, M&S head under fire over results, LA Fitness steps up gym wars with upmarket health club, Marc Bolland needs to give M&S some festive cheer. William Hill chief Ralph Topping bets on the company becoming even bigger, Morrisons lines up sale of stores to unlock cash, Billionaire Bill Adderley backs Marks & Spencer's plan, US giant J Crew to open in UK, Co-op Group seals £1.5bn deal to aid bank as majority ownership is to pass to private shareholders, Discount stores tycoon Christo Wiese admits BHS acquisition is in sights, Organic baby food maker Ella's Kitchen eats into US thanks to a deal with Walmart, Rising grocery sales are only hope as M&S is set to post another fall in profits, Sports Direct 'faces 20,000 legal challenges' over use of zero-hours contracts, Pub giant eyes rival, £100m facelift for Selfridges, Discount chain set for £700m float, Asos founder bankrolls beauty salons, TV Christmas adverts battle moves online as shops target social media


Sunday News Roundup


Waitrose has unveiled its Christmas television advert in a campaign which again shuns lavish displays to focus on the supermarket's support for charities. For the second year running the company has decided to take on its rivals in the all-important festive season by highlighting the work it does for good causes. Last year's campaign saw Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal standing next to one of the shop's charity appeal box in an austere, empty studio.

Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers to launch their own take on the burrito concept. The duo behind fast-growing Mexican food chain Wahaca are hoping to bite off a sizeable chunk of the fast-food market with Burrito Mama. Wahaca founders Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers will launch their own take on the burrito concept, which has been growing in popularity in the UK in part due to influence from the US, and in part the result of the expansion of several rival chains.

Private-equity backed group targets City workers who are prepared to spend more every month for more structured training classes and modern facilities. Health club chain LA Fitness is rolling out an upmarket brand in London, as competition intensifies in Britain's gym sector. The group is also looking at the idea of "micro gyms" –smaller studios in large cities that offer classes and group training, which have taken off in the US and Australia.

Marks & Spencer is about to reveal lacklustre results, but an unlikely pairing of talent could come to its rescue in time for Christmas. One is a supermodel who starred in the movie Transformers Dark of the Moon, the other is a Leicestershire entrepreneur who founded Britain's biggest homewares retailer by selling curtains from a market stall. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Bill Adderley make an unlikely double-act, but they have combined over the past few days to take some of the heat off M&S chief Marc Bolland.

William Hill's chief executive Ralph Topping reveals his thoughts on the challenges of turning round takeovers, successions and future expansion. It’s lucky Ralph Topping doesn’t hold grudges for long. The chief executive of William Hill has just celebrated 40 years with the company he first joined as a part-time Saturday boy at one of its betting shops near Hampden Park in Glasgow – but it could all have been so different. “I don’t know if you have heard of the term 'thrawn Scot’, who absolutely takes umbrage at anyone insulting them…

Morrisons stores could be sold off through sale-and-leaseback deals as part of a widespread review of the company. Morrisons is working on a plan to raise hundreds of Millions of pounds by selling off some of its stores. The retailer, Britain's fourth-biggest supermarket chain, has a £9bn property portfolio and pledged in September to review its portfolio to consider whether it could "unlock value" for shareholders. It is understood that the centrepiece of that review is that Morrisons supermarkets will be sold off through sale-and-leaseback deals.

Dunelm founder says Marc Bolland gives "120pc" as chief executive, though retailer expected to report falling clothes sales.The biggest private investor in Marks & Spencer has given his backing to chief executive Marc Bolland despite the company's clothing business continuing to struggle. In a boost to the under-pressure Mr Bolland, Bill Adderley, the founder of Dunelm who was last week revealed to hold a 3pc stake in M&S, said the high street retailer deserves "top marks" for the performance of its food business. He added that "too big a deal" has been made of the underperforming general merchandise division.

J Crew's arrival in the UK threatens to spark a further shake-up in the youth fashion market, One of the biggest names in US fashion, J Crew, will open in the UK this week. The clothing retailer will open its first UK store on Regent Street on Friday in a significant vote of confidence in the London economy. J Crew’s fans include the First Lady Michelle Obama, Hollywood actor Bradley Cooper and Mad Men star John Hamm. Its arrival in the UK threatens to spark a further shake-up in the youth fashion market, which is already one of the most competitive on the high street as retailers such as Topshop, H&M and Zara battle for sales.


Marc Bolland has tried investors' patience, with another drop in clothes sales expected Tuesday. Marks & Spencer is expected to reveal a ninth consecutive quarter of falling sales in its clothes and homeware division this week in a move likely to heap further pressure on its struggling boss Marc Bolland. The 54-year-old Dutchman is hoping to convince investors that the retailer's autumn/winter collection will mark a turning point in its fortunes following three years of under-performance since he took over in May 2010.

Mail on Sunday

The Co-operative Group has reached a deal that could cut tens of millions of pounds from its bill to shore up its ailing banking arm. The bank is set to announce the terms of a deal with bondholders tomorrow which will provide £1.5billion of extra capital. The Co-operative Bank developed a black hole in its finances as a result of losses from its takeover of the Britannia Building Society and its failed bid for 632 branches of Lloyds Banking Group.

South African billionaire Christo Wiese has publicly confirmed his interest in making UK retail acquisitions, including a possible bid for Sir Philip Green’s BHS store chain. The admission comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that he has drawn up a shopping list of British firms, including BHS and discount household goods chains. Wiese is a leading shareholder and chairman at South African clothing and footwear giant Pepkor and grocery group Shoprite.

British success story Ella’s Kitchen, which makes organic baby food, has made its biggest expansion yet into the American market with a deal to sell through the country’s biggest retail chain, Walmart. Founder Paul Lindley sold Ella’s Kitchen to snack food giant Hain Celestial in May and is now head of all baby and toddler foods at Hain. He said the move was a major step forward for the brand.

Marks & Spencer is expected to reveal its third consecutive first-half profit fall when it updates the City on Tuesday. Rising sales of food will provide a silver lining to the figures, with grocery sales expected to be up by 3 per cent in the three months to the end of September. But overall profits will be down by as much as 10 per cent to £262million, according to analysts’ forecasts.

Up to 20,000 workers at Sports Direct may have a legal claim over the retailer’s controversial use of zero-hours contracts, according to lawyers. A team at law firm Leigh Day launched a test case against Sports Direct in August on behalf of Zahera Gabriel-Abraham, a former part-time sales assistant on a zero-hours contract, saying her employment rights had been breached. Since then, says the law firm, dozens more employees have contacted them.

Sunday Times

The owner of the Chef & Brewer carvery chain and Wacky Warehouse pubs is considering a bid for its smaller rival, Orchid. Spirit Group is believed to be consulting advisers on how it could structure an offer. The deadline for initial bids is this week. There is expected to be strong interest in Orchid from other pub operators and private equity investors. The asking price is thought to be north of £250m, although some observers doubt it will fetch that much.

Selfridges is to spend more than £100m on improving its stores after another set of record sales. The diamond jubilee helped to push up sales by 6.1% to £1.1bn last year, according to figures due to be published this week. Operating profits at the stores, owned by the billionaire Weston family, held steady at £134m.

Poundland lines up Rothschild amid frenzy of firms trying to go public. Poundland has begun to prepare the ground for a stock market float that is expected to value Britain’s largest pound shop chain at more than £700m. The discount retailer has lined up Rothschild to lead its ambitious plans, which include doubling the size of its empire to 1,000 shops. In the coming weeks, the investment bank is expected to bring in other advisers to help handle the share sale amid a stampede for companies to go public.

The founder of Asos and the boss of Net-A-Porter are backing a start-up that aims to build the first chain of “fast” beauty salons. Nick Robertson and Mark Sebba are among high-profile investors who have put money behind Blow. The company, set up by the ex-Balderton Capital dealmaker Dharmash Mistry and the Grazia launch editor Fiona McIntosh, plans to open 100 salons nationwide, offering women 30-minute New York-style wash and blow dries and 15-minute manicures.


By the end of this week, all the main retailers will have launched their festive campaigns – but this year they're spending a lot more cash on the internet to mirror shopping habits. Retailers will spend about £390m on advertising over the last three months of 2013, according to market analyst Nielsen. That is about the same as in 2012, but this year much more will be lavished on TV campaigns and online, where more and more shoppers search for and buy their presents. Some of the most memorable adverts of the past 30 years have been store chains' Christmas commercials.

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