Sunday News Roundup
18 November 2012 | by The Retail Bulletin
Tesco backs City man turned brewer Duncan Sambrook, Too many coffee shops? But Caffe Nero plans more, Apple bear comes in from the cold as shares tumble, Notebook maker Moleskine to push ahead with £280m flotation, Caffe Nero CEO fights back on tax claims, Comet administrators work to save 50 stores, Sir Philip Green to expand Arcadia in the Far East, Tesco's woes continue as director leaves, Tobacco firms warn of flood of illegal cigarettes into UK, 41 Comet stores face closure within fortnight, Blackstone backs Barclay twins in Claridges battle, Ocados crunch talks with banks, Soho House hugs bankers, Jackson backers cash in on sale of Comet stores
The Mail on Sunday
A brewery set up four years ago by a former City accountant is to start selling its beers in Tesco. Sambrook’s Brewery, based in Battersea, south-west London, was launched by Duncan Sambrook, who quit his job with a bank to pursue his dream of being a brewer. Its Wandle and Junction ales will initially be sold in 40 Tesco supermarkets in the South East.
It may seem as if there is a coffee shop on every corner, but Caffe Nero, the third biggest chain in Britain, says there is room for many more. The privately owned company has 480 outlets but said in its latest accounts it believed there was potential for ‘at least’ 700 Caffe Nero coffee shops, US rent-to-own giant leaps in
Apple shares have tumbled 26pc since touching a record of $705.07 (444 pounds) on September 21. So are the bears on Wall Street sharpening their claws? Hardly. Of the 62 analysts who cover Apple, 52 recommend investors buy, a handful are neutral and another has an underweight rating on it. Just one unequivocally states it is time to dump Apple shares. Then again, Ed Zabitsky, a technology analyst at ACI Research in Toronto, has believed that for sometime.
Luxury notebook maker Moleskine is going to push ahead with a €350m (£280m) stock-exchange float despite interest from the likes of BC Partners and Lion Capital. Moleskine, which makes upmarket leather bound stationary, will file for its Italian stock market listing this week after hiring Rothschild, Goldman Sachs and UBS to run the process. Marco Ariello, a partner at Syntegra Capital, which owns 70pc of Moleskine, said that the company’s valuation was likely to be higher via an initial public offering than by selling the business to another private equity firm.
The chief executive of Caffe Nero has defended his business’s tax affairs after the company’s annual accounts revealed that the coffee chain paid no corporation tax last year despite making profits of almost £40m. Gerry Ford, Caffe Nero’s chairman and chief executive, denied that the retailer does not pay any tax. “We always pay our taxes,” said Mr Ford, who has increased the size of the retailer from just five stores when he first became involved with Caffe Nero in 1997 to an international brand.
The administrators to Comet are working on deals to save up to 50 of the failed electrical retailer’s stores. Deloitte is understood to be in “detailed discussions” about the potential deals, with sources indicating that one agreement relating to a package of 20 Comet shops could be complete by the end of this week. However, the prospects for Comet surviving as a company are bleak. The identity of the buyers for the 50 stores is unknown
Sir Philip Green will outline plans to expand his retail empire into the Far East and online this week when Arcadia Group celebrates its 10th anniversary with a robust set of annual results. Sir Philip is thought to be exploring taking Topshop into China – potentially through a Chinese website initially – as well as India. Topshop already has franchise shops around the world as well as its own branches in New York, Chicago and Las Vegas.
Tesco's management shake-up is continuing, as the supermarket giant's group strategy director has become the latest to leave his post. In place of Michael Fleming, who has gone on sabbatical after just 18 months in the role, Tesco has appointed Sergei Spiridonov from the consultancy McKinsey.
The number of cigarettes bought in the UK which have avoided duty and taxes is set to soar, one of the country's top three manufacturers has warned. Japan Tobacco International, the owner of UK-based Gallaher, conducted a secret shopping trip around north-west London that revealed a huge range of counterfeit cigarettes and rolling tobacco being sold for around half the retail price.
About 800 Comet staff work at threatened stores, and administrators say redundancies are 'inevitable' unless a buyer can be found. More than 40 stores will be closed with a potential loss of about 800 jobs within a fortnight unless the administrators brought in at the crisis-hit electronics retailer can find a buyer. As a closing-down sale began at 27 stores on Saturday, the administrators from Deloitte said 41 of the 236 outlets would be shut by the end of November, with "inevitable" redundancies.
Blackstone has waded into the battle for control of three of London’s top hotels — the Berkeley, Claridge’s and the Connaught. The American fund management behemoth has thrown its weight behind Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, the billionaire twins who are trying to wrest the Maybourne Hotel Group from Paddy McKillen, the Irish property developer. The intervention means that Maybourne’s fate will be decided in the next few weeks.’s battle
Ocado is racing to negotiate a new deal with its banks to avoid a damaging breach of loan agreements at the end of this month. The online grocer has hired Ondra Partners, the boutique advisory firm, to lead the talks with lenders, which include Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays and HSBC. The banks are expected to agree to relax the deadline, but they may extract a high price in return.
One of the biggest overseas players in the controversial rent-to-own industry has waded into Britain. Aaron’s, a multibillion-dollar US chain with 2,000 stores across America, has taken a stake in Perfect Home, one of Britain’s biggest firms in the sector. Rent-to-own companies offer credit on electronic goods and furniture to customers who cannot secure loans. Consumer watchdogs have attacked the high interest rates they charge.
The chain of members’ clubs,[Soho House]which has caused a stir in London and New York by shunning bankers’ applications and banning ties, is close to signing a lease for the former Midland Bank headquarters on Poultry. The cavernous grade I listed building is less than a minute’s walk from the Bank of England. Its vault was used to shoot the Fort Knox scenes in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger.
The likely payout to investors behind a failed attempt to revive Comet will jump this week when a parcel of its stores are offloaded to other retailers. Deloitte, the administrator handling the wind-down of the electrical chain, is expected to sell about 30 stores to rivals including Dixons and B&M, the discount retailer. Comet joined other high street names such as JJB and Clintons this month, by running out of money and collapsing.
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