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Sunday Papers Roundup

Gail's Bakery breaks off flotation talks, Kerry Foods freezes out frozen foods, Retailers make final plea for rates relief, Hedge funds bet that Asos shares will go out of fashion, Riding the wave, BrightHouse recruits veteran Citi banker, Shopping channel broadcasts sale, Poundland pays out as supermarkets cut back, Devon’s Del-Boy billionaire: I’m still a market trader at heart, Co-operative Group dispenses with bank's ATM contract six months early


Sunday Papers Roundup


Gail’s Artisan Bakery, the London-based chain of upmarket cake and pastry shops, has put off plans for a stock market float until the New Year. The company, which has 17 bakeries in the capital’s leafier neighbourhoods, is part owned by Luke Johnson, the founder of Pizza Express. Earlier this year Mr Johnson’s investment firm, Risk Capital Partners, floated Patisserie Valerie on the junior Aim market, valuing the company at £170m.

Kerry Foods, the maker of ready-meals for supermarkets including Marks and Spencer, is looking to sell its frozen foods business as it gears towards the more profitable ingredients division. The company, which also makes lunchbox snacks including Cheesestrings, Mattesons Fridge Raiders and Wall’s sausages, is understood to be working with financial advisers at IBI, the corporate finance arm of Bank of Ireland.

Retailers and business groups are making a last-gasp push to persuade George Osborne to use next week’s Autumn Statement to reform business rates and offer relief on the controversial tax. The British Retail Consortium has written to industry figures asking them to send letters to their local MPs about the need to reform business rates, while key business groups including the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses have put the controversial tax at the top of their Autumn Statement wishlist.


Hedge funds have amassed a £260m bet against Asos, short-selling shares in the internet fashion darling in the expectation that they will fall. Trading outfits led by AQR Capital Management have borrowed more than 13% of the company’s stock, according to the data firm Markit.Short-selling works by investors borrowing shares and selling them in the hope they can be bought back more cheaply in the future and returned to the lender at a profit. A a string of profit warnings and a fire at its warehouse in Barnsley, South Yorkshire have spooked the market.

A former healthcare entrepreneur will tomorrow start a crowdfunding drive for Europe’s first surfing lake, which he plans to build just north of Bristol. Nick Hounsfield, 42, is chief executive of the Wave, which will create a £6.8m freshwater lagoon. It will feature a newly developed wave-making machine – enough for beginners or professional surfers. Inspired by the Eden Project in Cornwall, and the arrival of new wave-making technology, Hounsfield decided to start up the Wave, due to open in 2016.

Citigroups former UK boss has joined the board of BrightHouse, suggesting the controversial rent-to-own retailer is pushing ahead with plans for a £500m to £750m stock market listing. Maurice Thompson, who left Citi earlier this year, has agreed to become the firm’s senior independent director. The recruitment of Thompson, an Oxford-educated City veteran, represents a beefing-up of the board after it was accused of “legal loan-sharking” by campaigners.

One of Britain’s largest TV shopping channels is in talks to sell a stake to a private equity firm in a deal that is likely to value the business at as much as £75m. High Street TV, based in Harrogate, Yorkshire, has hired bankers from Canaccord Genuity, to advise on “strategic options”, said City sources. One of these could be a sale of a stake in the business. High Street TV is backed by some of the biggest names in British retail, including the Black family, whose company Peter Black Holdings was once a supplier to Marks & Spencer.

Poundlans is set to pay a dividend for the first time, underlining the march of discount retailers as Tesco and Sainsbury’s cut their returns to shareholders. The chain, which has seen its share price rise by 4.8% since its £750m stock market listing in March, is expected to announce a payout alongside its interim results this week. Analysts at Shore Capital, one of its house brokers, predicted a dividend of 1p a share, equating to £2.5m in total.

Having grown his market stall into a discount format called The Range 24 years ago, Chris Dawson now presides over nearly 100 stores with sales of £470m and pre-tax profits of £45.2m. He travels around the country in a helicopter, owns a villa in the south of France and turned a golf course next to his house into a motocross track. Does he miss the showmanship of the old days? “Yeah, for sure, but — I still am a market trader, it’s just got more noughts on it. In the eyes of plcs I misbehave. And, er, I don’t, I make bloody money, but I don’t have the same sort of rules. My wheelings and dealings are very much the same. Maybe I do speak to Goldman Sachs now and Mike Ashley [the founder of Sports Direct], but the ethics are exactly the same, isn’t it?”

Mail on Sunday

The Co-operative Bank is to be turfed out of former parent the Co-operative Group’s stores more than six months early. The Mail on Sunday revealed in May that the group wanted the contract for the 2,000 cash machines in its stores to be on a commercial footing and so was looking for a new provider. Now it will pay off the bank to bring its current contract to an end before it expires at the end of next year. The group used to own the bank but was forced to give up control last year after huge losses forced a restructuring.

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