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Sunday News Roundup

A sale is not a sale any more on the high street, Will Amazon evolve into the biggest retailer in the world? Majestic Wine enjoys vintage Christmas, Mr King of Shaves in expansion drive, 'Clooney’ beards blamed for trimming razor profits, Retailers fight back after supermarkets hit, Big grocers told to cut prices, Naked wines toasts festive sales record, Neiman Marcus confirms customers affected by cyber-security breach, Virgin Active limbers up for £1bn listing.Morrisons in £800m sell-off plan, The Man Who Missed Christmas, Next makes Marks & Spencer look increasingly frumpy, Ten things Christmas taught us about the UK retail revolution. Thanks a million! Sir Stuart Rose gets juicy delivery at Ocado, Army of inspectors poised to put more bounce into your hotel bed


Sunday News Roundup


The big stores behave as if it’s January all year round, so it’s high time someone took the wind out of their sales. In the good old days, before WikiLeaks and Twitter, we mightn’t have known as much about what’s happening in the world around us, but we knew our place, and where we were. Writes Terry Wogan. For instance, if there were “Sales”, it was January. It’s January now, just in case you’ve been hibernating in the hope that nobody would wake you up until things got a bit brighter. Although you’d never know it from the retail world around you. Rather, you’d be pardoned for thinking that, if “Sales” are anything to go by, it’s January all the year round.

Some analysts argue Amazon is effectively trying to “own” the internet, while also taking steps towards the high street. Jeff Bezos’s 2014 did not get off to a good start. Last week, the Amazon founder, who turns 50 today, had his cruise of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands interrupted by a bad case of kidney stones. He had to be whisked home to America to recover. Happily, though, his dramatic exit happened after Bezos saw in the New Year in the archipelago, the place where the scientist Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution. It feels like a fitting location for the founder of Amazon to have marked time.

Aim-listed wine retailer enjoys strong sales over the festive period, says Questor. AIM-LISTED Majestic Wine reported strong Christmas sales as customers treated themselves to more expensive bottles of wine. While the sales performance was good, Questor is focusing on the dividend, which is forecast to grow by about 10pc in each of the next two years. “Customers chose to treat themselves and we saw strong growth in sales of fine wine above £20 per bottle,” said Steve Lewis, chief executive. Revenue growth was also helped by a new, user-friendly website, which increased online sales by 8.3pc.

Entrepreneur Will King may have had a tough five years, but now he is determined his revolutionary new razor will beat the opposition, reports James Quinn. From the outside, Will King would appear to be the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. A regular on the business circuit for the two decades since he launched King of Shaves (KoS) in April 1993, his own man-about-town confidence has been reflected in photo shoots of him shaving the likes of John Terry. He even boasts of being invited to shave Sir Richard Branson in space.

King of Shaves founder says celebrity beard craze has hit sales for the first time. George Clooney and Jeremy Paxman have a lot to answer for. Will King, the British entrepreneur behind the King of Shaves razor business, has admitted that last year’s craze for “celebrity beards” adversely affected the men’s toiletries industry. Mr King, who started his shaving products business 21 years ago, said the “beard phase”, during which the Hollywood actor Clooney and TV presenter Paxman both boasted facial hair, had affected the whole sector.

Positive Christmas trading results expected from Primark and Argos, while online businesses lift gloom after high street stores suffer setbacks. Britain's retail sector will bounce back next week with new figures indicating that leading names have enjoyed positive Christmas sales. Online traders Asos and Ocado — along with Dixons, Primark and Argos — are all expected to report robust sales figures for the vital festive season, just days after some of the biggest names on the high street were hit by the dramatic shift in spending from traditional stores to the internet and discount retailers.

Tesco and Morrisons urged by investors to respond to growing threat from Aldi and Lidl after poor Christmas trading figures. Tesco and Wm Morrison are under pressure from investors to respond to the threat from retail discounters by cutting their prices after suffering a drop in Christmas sales. Hundreds of millions of pounds was wiped off the value of the companies last week after Tesco reported a 2.4pc drop in like-for-like sales in the run-up to Christmas, and Morrisons warned that sales had fallen by 5.6pc, double what the City had expected.

Sales increase by 67pc after a record Christmas for the boutique retailer. Annual group sales at Naked Wines, the boutique retailer, are up 67pc following a record Christmas in which 3.6m bottles were shipped. Despite gloom among some high street stores, the business posted a sales rise of 48pc during festive trading. “The scales have tipped in favour of online shopping,” said Rowan Gormley, the Naked Wines founder. “This is the first year that many people did all of their Christmas shopping online. We have seen a considerable boost from the trend.”


Neiman Marcus confirmed on Saturday that thieves may have stolen customers' credit and debit card information and made unauthorised charges over the holiday season. The luxury merchant thus became the second retailer in recent weeks to announce it had fallen victim to a cyber-security attack. The hacking, coming weeks after Target revealed its own breach, underscores the increasing challenges that merchants have in thwarting security breaches. On Friday, Target disclosed that its massive data theft was significantly more extensive and affected millions more shoppers than the company announced in December.

Sunday Times

Vigin Active, the gym chain part-owned by Sir Richard Branson, is preparing for a possible £1bn float. The leisure company is in discussions with STJ Advisors, a City firm that has carved out a niche helping businesses to go public. The plans are at an early stage and if Virgin were to press ahead, it would be unlikely to list until the second half of this year. It is unclear whether the company would try to list in London or pursue a float in Asia, where it is expanding, or in South Africa, where it also has a sizeable presence.

Supermarket chain plots raid on property empire to buy time from City after tough Christmas. WM Morrison plans to raise up to £800m from property sales to appease investors angry with the supermarket chain’s woeful Christmas sales. The cash pile, which will be swelled by a halving of the chain’s annual capital spending, is likely to be returned to shareholders through dividends or share buybacks, City sources said. Morrisons had the worst festive season of any of the big grocers, and it brought forward its trading statement by a week to report a 5.6% drop in sales. Tesco suffered a 2.4% fall, while JSainsbury scraped into positive territory but still had its worst quarterly sales growth in nine years.

Morrisons’ Dalton Philips saw his sales slide 5.6% as festive shoppers deserted big supermarkets for their cheaper rivals. At 5.30am last Friday, Dalton Philips arrived at his new warehouse in Dordon, Warwickshire, ready to start work. It was a big day for the chief executive of Wm Morrison. Long after its rivals, Britain’s fourth-biggest supermarket chain has finally started selling groceries over the internet, through a deal with the online retailer Ocado. Philips decided to make the first delivery himself. It is a gamble that must pay off for the Irishman if he wants to win over the City — and save his job.


M&S's Marc Bolland conceded that his rival had outperformed him over the festive period. Now the smaller retailer is likely to win the profit race too. At least he's honest. Marc Bolland, chief executive of Marks & Spencer, last week congratulated bitter rival Next for "doing a better job" than him of selling clothes over Christmas. Lord Wolfson, Next's boss, did more than a bit better. Next's sales in the runup to Christmas increased by 12%, compared with a 2% drop in M&S's clothes sales – the 10th consecutive quarterly fall.


Mail on Sunday

Former Marks and Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose, now chairman of Ocado, has seen his wealth grow by almost £1million in a month as the internet grocer’s shares soared on reports of a bumper online Christmas. Ocado will be one of a fresh clutch of retailers unveiling Christmas trading figures this week and is expected to say sales in the past six weeks are up 15 per cent on the same period last year. Ocado’s shares have risen 31 per cent to 515½p in the past month, adding £915,000 to value of Rose’s 750,000 shares, taking the total to £3.9million.

Lumpy mattresses and broken TV remote controls could soon be a thing of the past as an army of inspectors march into hotels.The boom in online review sites such as TripAdvisor mean that bad experiences quickly become wider known and can hit profits hard. Hotels expert Check Safety First is set to launch a company next week aimed at helping groups to manage their brands.



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