Sunday News Roundup
25 March 2012 | by The Retail Bulletin
The Mail on Sunday
High Street braced for rates double whammy as some councils could impose extra charge on stores Days after the pleas of thousands of firms to cut business rates were ignored in the Budget, experts warn that councils could add to the growing burden on the High Street. Despite intense lobbying by retail groups, business rates will rise by 5.6 per cent next month, dealing a crushing blow to small shops. Under the Localism Act, which became law last November, councils will be able to retain the business rates they collect. In addition, they may seek to charge supplementary rates on top of the Government-set levy.
Discount chain Wilkinson in the race for Robert Dyas
Discount chain Wilkinson has launched a bid for High Street ironmonger Robert Dyas.The family-owned house hold goods specialist is one of four bidders left in the battle. It is facing competition from two other unknown trade buyers and one private equity firm. At least one buyer is thought to be foreign. Another private equity company, Alchemy, has dropped out
of the auction. Robert Dyas is expected to fetch £25million – about the level of its debts
McDonald's is onboard Trans-Siberian express
McDonald’s is poised to go where Big Mac has not gone before: Siberia.While some locals have boasted that Siberia is one of the few ‘McDonald’s-free’ regions of the world, the fast food chain has been criticised for failing to go beyond the Urals despite opening in Moscow in Soviet times.‘We have made a final decision to enter into Siberia,’ said Viktor Eidemiller, vice-president for development.
BrandAlley’s sales surge 60% after range expansion
Online fashion retailer BrandAlley saw sales shoot up by 60 per cent to £28.9million last year after expanding its range to include spa deals and theatre tickets as well as clothing, accessories, beauty products and homewares. Designer sales: BrandAlley offers discounts through daily emails The group generated £450,000 through its Facebook page alone in the final quarter and was profitable for the first time.
Tesco's foray into high fashion ends in disaster as £120 dresses sell for £20 Tesco stores have large stocks of the F&F Couture range left over and prices have been dropped dramatically online as even store chiefs admitted it has been a flop. It was supposed to mark a ‘new era’ for supermarket clothing. But Tesco’s ‘couture’ range has been axed after shoppers snubbed the retail giant’s foray into high fashion. A Maxi dress from the line has been priced down from £120 to just £20 and the ‘luxurious velvet button dress’ is down from £110 to £20.
Birds Eye owner Iglo goes on sale for €3bn
Iglo Group, the owner of the Captain Birds Eye frozen food brand, is to be put up for sale with a price tag of almost €3bn (£2.5bn). Europe's largest frozen food company, which also owns the Findus brand in Italy, has appointed Credit Suisse to kick-start an auction.It follows a number of approaches made to Iglo's private equity owner, Permira, which bought the business for €1.7bn in 2006 from Unilever.
Why Co-op's bank crusade needs to succeed
Customers will remain at the mercy of the big four unless the Co-op is allowed to buy the branches Lloyds is about to offload. Fears are mounting that the Co-operative Group, whose bank has carved itself a nice niche as an ethical player, could be the next to put itself at risk by trying to become a full-blown "challenger bank" through the acquisition of 632 Lloyds branches.
The world's oldest record shop: on the vinyl frontier since 1894
Spillers Records in Cardiff has served music lovers for nearly 120 years, but competition from the internet makes its future far from certain. The Observer spent a day there meeting staff and customers. It has been a difficult decade for record shops like this. Streaming, downloading, home shopping, pirating – the internet-inspired woes of the music industry have been disruptive from the perk-denied pop star down, but effects at the retail end have been particularly severe. Robust-seeming chains have folded, and of the 900-odd independent record shops that were in business in the UK six years ago, fewer than 300 are trading now.
Cinema chain sees more red
ODEON has seen its pre-tax loss widen to £66.3m last year, according to the latest accounts for Europe’s largest cinema group. The multiplex operator enjoyed a 12% surge in sales to £725m. The increase in the loss from £38.7m in 2010 was blamed on the cost of a £475m bond issue last year that was used to fund a series of acquisitions. Odeon & UCI, which is owned by Terra Firma, the private equity firm founded by Guy Hands, said that most of the losses were non-cash costs associated with its financing structure. Earnings before interest, tax, and accounting charges rose 12% to £103m, boosted in part by the acquisitions, most of which were in Italy and Spain.
RBS in rescue bid for Game
TAXPAYERS could end up with a stake in Game Group under a surprise rescue plan led by Royal Bank of Scotland, writes Ben Marlow. The state-owned lender is heading a consortium of the company’s existing banks that has tabled a bid to buy the troubled computer games retailer out of administration. Game’s British operations, which include 610 stores, are set to be put into administration tomorrow, allowing it to undergo restructuring before being sold. Three bidders are interested in backing a slimmed-down Game Group.
Retail parks in £300m sell-off
CAPITAL & REGIONAL, one of Britain’s biggest owners of shopping centres, is preparing to sell its portfolio of retail parks for more than £300m. Capital & Regional, along with its partners, Aviva Investors and Area Property Partners, is planning to sell The Junction, a fund that holds out-of-town shopping parks in places such as Bristol and Essex. City sources said Cushman & Wakefield, the property adviser, and Morgan Stanley, the investment bank, had been lined up to handle the sale. A final decision is expected later this year.
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