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Sunday News Roundup

Amazon buys audio books, Search for the soul of Tesco, The rise, fall and rise again of Rough Trade, SABMiller emerging market growth solid, Foreign buyers get a taste for British food brands, Poundland plans £800m float to fund major expansion, Out-of-season garden furniture hands Ikea a boost as sales soar to £1.2bn, Takeover of Pontins hits Britannia Hotels profits, Property giants have a £1bn vision for the regeneration of Croydon


Sunday News Roundup

Sunday Times

Amazon has bolstered its position in the booming audio book market with a licensing deal to use one of Britain’s largest back catalogues of recorded titles. The American retail giant swooped after AudioGo, a BBC spin-out, slumped into administration. The company, formerly known as BBC Audiobooks, owned about 10,000 audiobooks published by the broadcaster, including works by Graham Greene, Arthur Conan Doyle and JK Rowling.

Sir Richard Broadbent gives his first interview as Tesco chairman. The company built its reputation on low prices, convenience, and a sharp — if not downright aggressive — style. That approach ran out of road spectacularly two years ago. There was a shock profit warning, followed by a period of soul-searching that has seen investment in the British stores (at a cost of £1bn), the American division jettisoned (another £1.2bn), and the Chinese arm sold. The remaking of Tesco is one of the most closely watched stories in business.


Vinyl sales are up and many music fans want an experience that click and buy can't match. As London's pioneering shop opens in New York, Dorian Lynskey reports on a renaissance. It's a brave man who opens a bricks-and-mortar record shop in 2013, especially one that occupies around 5,000 sq ft of real estate in Brooklyn's affluent Williamsburg district. According to Nielsen SoundScan, sales at US independent record shops have fallen 36.1% in the last five years, while rents have soared, causing New York to lose such cherished institutions as Bleecker Bob's, Dope Jams and Fat Beats. Rough Trade's co-president, Stephen Godfroy, is, however, bullishly optimistic about his new New York flagship store, having previously defied a plunging market with the 2007 launch of Rough Trade East on Brick Lane in east London.


With growth rates in emerging markets slowing, brewer SAB Miller is a hold for now, says Questor. The beer giant, said last week that beer sales in emerging markets remained strong despite fears the region was suffering slow economic growth. The FTSE 100-listed brewer reported profits up 7pc, to $2.4bn (£1.5bn). Africa showed thestrongest growth with revenues up 11pc to $1.66bn, and Latin America, where the group sells the most beer, rose 5pc, to $2.8bn. This strong growth helped offset a fall in sales in Europe and North America.

UK food companies from Ella's Kitchen to Rachel's Organic Dairy at the top of the menu for foreign buyers. The attractiveness of British food brands to foreign businesses is revealed this weekend, with new research showing that takeovers have reached record levels. Catalyst Corporate Finance says takeover volumes of British “heritage” and independent food brands are the highest since 2006, with a dozen deals already sealed. The research does not include the sale of Jammie Dodgers- maker Burton’s Biscuits to a Canadian investment fund.

Poundland owner Warburg Pincus looks to raise between £200m and £300m from IPO. Poundland has begun the process to float on the stock market in the early part of 2014 with a valuation of up to £800m. The discount retailer is this week expected to send out letters of engagement to the advisers leading the float: Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Rothschild, and Shore Capital. It is understood that Warburg Pincus, the private equity owner of Poundland, is looking to raise between £200m and £300m from the float, which would value the retailer at between £700m and £800m. The finance raised would be used to fund significant expansion in the number of stores.

Mail on Sunday

Outdoor furniture sales during the height of winter was the star performer for Ikea, which has started selling traditional summer items the whole year round. The retailer famous for its cut price flat-packed products changed the way it sells garden furniture and revamped its stores, driving UK sales up 3.1 per cent to £1.2bn for the year to August 31. The stand-out performance comes at a time when consumers are reining in spending on all but essential items and the housing market is still depressed.

Profits have tumbled at Britannia Hotels, one of Britain’s largest privately owned hotel groups, as it counts the cost of absorbing holiday park group Pontins. Britannia bought Pontins in 2011 for £20million, saving 850 jobs, after it went into administration. Alex Langsam, Britannia’s owner, pledged to plough £25million into Pontins to reinvent the parks as Disney-style seaside destinations.


The town's dismal reputation was made worse by the 2011 riots, but two companies say a retail revolution can transform it. On a bright but bitterly cold Tuesday morning, Croydon town centre in south London is busy but the backdrop is tired. Shop facades are damaged and dated, as if they can no longer be bothered. It would be hard to blame them. It has suffered through more than a decade of underinvestment and there is a widely held perception that the area is not safe. The image of a raging fire at House of Reeves, Croydon's 140-year-old family-run furniture store, during the London riots in the summer of 2011 became one of the lasting images of the violent unrest which ripped through communities.

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