Sunday News Roundup
Dalton Philips is under pressure but has high hopes that an expensive online tie-up with Ocado will help the supermarket chain turn the corner. His “fresh formats” packed ice under the fruit and veg, better ethnic ranges, open areas so customers can see bakers and butchers at work are supposed to emphasise the FTSE 100 retailer’s ability to transport food grown on its own farms straight to the shop floor at decent prices. While the burghers of north London may approve, the reaction in Morrisons’ Yorkshire heartland has been less enthusiastic.
The owners of Britain’s pubs have been accused of misleading parliament, trying to bully MPs and calling politicians “morons” in their campaign against plans to regulate the industry. Greg Mulholland, chairman of the Save the Pub group in parliament, claims Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, gave “misleading but also untrue” evidence to a Commons select committee. In an increasingly bitter war of words, Mulholland is to write to the committee saying Simmonds wrongly claimed the association’s code of conduct is legally binding.
The owner of Pret A Manger is in line for a £150m payday after renegotiating the sandwich chain’s debts.Bridgepoint, the private equity firm that bought the snack bars in 2008, will return the money to investors. Pret, headed by Clive Schlee, chief executive, is in talks with banks about replacing its existing loans with £375m of new borrowings. The deal would provide £100m of expansion funding as well as the dividend. Interest payments are expected to fall by about a third.
Retailer warns it may pull its clothing manufacturing operations out of Bangladesh if standards fail to improve. Primark is one of 50 brands, including Next and Zara, that have agreed to contribute up to $500,000 (£324,000) a year towards rigorous independent factory inspections and the installation of fire-safety measures under a five-year plan. The scheme will sit alongside the Bangladeshi government's new programme to improve safety. "By signing up to the accord, we are all committing to at least maintaining the level of business we have in Bangladesh for five years.
The acclaimed designer on the death of the counterculture, working with big business, and how playing in a band prepared him for the design world. Tom Dixon OBE is an award-winning, self-taught designer. After school in London, he played bass guitar for the band Funkapolitan, and appeared on Top of the Pops. He then ran several
nightclubs. Having learned to weld, his first furniture designs were made from found objects like bits of scaffolding and old grates. In 1992, the Victoria and Albert Museum purchased his S-Chair for its permanent collection; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, followed suit. He is the former creative director of Habitat
TM Lewin, the 115-year-old City shirtmaker, could go up for sale for as much £100m, having spoken to potential advisers over strategic options for the business. The retailer has held talks with advisory firms over the past month about taking on the mandate to sell the chain, which has traded from London's upmarket Jermyn Street
since the 19th century. TM Lewin has delivered a mixed profitability in recent years, but has expanded to 95 stores in the UK and 42 overseas, from Czech Republic and Malaysia to Australia.
The managing director of Waitrose, Mark Price, has moved to cool the war of words with Ocado by stating that the grocer wants to continue its contract with the online retailer. Last month Mr Price voiced his concerns about Ocado'sa tie up with Morrisons and warned that Waitrose’s legal team planned to study the contract. Ocado hit
back, saying that Waitrose was uncomfortable with the fact Ocado was now a “grown-up” business. The exchanges sparked speculation that Waitrose could look to end its contract with Ocado, which runs to 2020, but has a break clause in 2017, and allows Ocado to sell Waitrose products.
OKA, the designer furniture retailer run by the Prime Minister’s mother-in-law, Viscountess Astor, has battled tough economic conditions to report a rise in profits. The company’s pre-tax profits jumped from £233,000 in 2011 to £1.46m in the 13 months to the end of January this year. This came in spite of an 8pc drop in showroom
sales following planned closures. Growth in OKA’s online and trade businesses made up for the shortfall. Lady Astor, who owns nearly a fifth of OKA, said she was “greatly encouraged” by the results and was “cautiously optimistic” about the outlook. The company plans to expand by opening OKA concessions in department stores
around the world.
Starbucks has made its first corporation tax payment to HMRC since 2008, paying £5m for the first six months of the year despite the business making a loss of £30m in the UK. The coffee shop chain will reveal the amounts in its annual report, which is set to be published as early as this week, saying that it has started the process of paying the £20m over two years it promised in 2012. The figures will reveal that the business is still making an annual loss of £30.4m – a 7.5pc reduction in losses from the year before when they stood at £32.9m.
Mail on Sunday
Bosses at Tesco and Marks & Spencer are facing fury over excessive payouts as both retail giants suffer falling profits.Tesco chief executive Phil Clarke is set to suffer an investor revolt over pay plans and M&S chief executive Marc Bolland can also expect attacks over bonus payments. Shareholder watchdog Pirc has issued a warning to investors, seen by The Mail on Sunday, that payoffs agreed with two of Tesco’s departing executives are excessive and should not be paid.
Institutional investors say the threat of strikes by Royal Mail workers has made them wary of buying shares in the proposed flotation.The Government has said it wants to float Royal Mail on the stock market within six months. But one leading institutional investor said: ‘Potential industrial action is not going to raise our levels of enthusiasm for investing in Royal Mail should it be floated.
Vodafone is looking at buying a stake in Kabel Deutschland to help it seal the £6.4 billion takeover of the German cable group. City sources said that before submitting an indicative offer for Kabel two weeks ago, the British telecoms giant also considered buying a shareholding in the Munich-based company and may have already secretly accumulated a stake. Vodafone is keen to buy Kabel Deutschland to gain control of Germany’s largest cable operator.
Former JJB Sports executive chairman Sir David Jones and his son Stuart will appear at Leeds Crown Court for the first time on Wednesday to face charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office. In February, Sir David was charged with two counts of making misleading statements in 2009 contrary to the Financial Services and Markets Act and one offence relating to the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act. Stuart Jones is accused of aiding and abetting his father in connection with the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act charge.
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