Sunday Papers Roundup
Dave Lewis: a new star for planet Tesco, Middle East takeaway giant Americana tempts buyers, the fallout after Comet crashed to earth, Debenhams poaches finance chief from Mothercare. Orchid pubs chief to step down, Retail veterans on shortlist to become new Morrisons chairman, Monarch airline seeks new backers, stores giant Home Retail Group considering plan to spin off Homebase, 'A Â£20m pay-off? No, we won't give Clarke a penny more than we have to': Tesco chairman vows not to reward ousted boss for failure.
Lewis is an imaginative and ruthless operator who could shake up the supermarket industry. Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, has given his blessing to Lewis to take on the challenge at Tesco. “Dave is well-prepared, but it’s not an easy job,” he said. Shares in Tesco’s listed rivals Sainsbury’s and Morrisons dropped 3.5pc in the two days following the announcement. Although Tesco issued a profit warning , which cautioned that trading conditions were tough, alongside news of Lewis’s arrival, investors in the other supermarkets are concerned about the prospect of a wounded Tesco mounting a powerful counter attack.
The largest fast food operator in the Middle East is at the centre of a fierce multi-billion-pound bidding war between some of the wealthiest names in private equity. Americana, a company that holds the restaurant franchise rights to KFC, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday’s and other fast food chains across the Gulf and North Africa, has attracted interest from deep-pocketed Wall Street firms after putting itself on the block.
Last month, a Leeds employment tribunal, chaired by Judge Humphrey Forrest, ruled in favour of several thousand staff who brought a claim against Comet for failure to consult with them properly before they were made redundant. In the coming weeks, the tribunal chairman could decide to extend the same finding to all of the retailer’s former employees, pushing the eventual payout to £26m, a bill to be footed by the taxpayer.
Debenhams, the under-pressure department store chain, has secured a much-needed boost after finally appointing a new chief financial officer. The retailer has poached Matt Smith from the same role at Mothercare to become its finance director, replacing Simon Herrick, who left in January after a major profits warning and sending a controversial letter to suppliers.
Leisure chief Rufus Hall, who built up the Orchid pubs group from scratch, has taken an early exit after the business was bought by All Bar One-owner Mitchells & Butlers last month. Mr Hall, plus Orchid’s finance director, Andy Trigwell and chief operating officer, Simon Dodd, all left the company within a few weeks of the £266m deal, which was announced on June 16, The Telegraph understands.
Retail grandees Archie Norman and Allan Leighton are in the frame to become the new chairman of struggling supermarket chain Wm Morrison. Mr Norman and Mr Leighton led a turnaround of Morrisons’ Yorkshire rival Asda in the Nineties and either could appease the grocer’s investors, who are calling for an experienced retailer to be appointed.
The billionaire family behind Monarch Airlines is preparing to sell a stake as part of plans to reinvigorate the budget carrier to take on rivals easyJet and Ryanair. Switzerland’s Mantegazza family has asked Dean Street Advisers, a corporate finance firm, to try to find a private equity investor. The search comes as the owner finalises its third cash call in five years.
Mail on Sunday
Stores giant Home Retail Group is considering a plan to spin off its £1.5 billion DIY chain Homebase so it can concentrate on developing its more prosperous Argos chain. Homebase has long been regarded as the weakest player in the sector facing stiff competition from giants like B&Q and Ikea. Sales have improved over the last year, but profits have remained very modest at just £10 million. The review of Homebase follows the promotion of John Walden to group chief executive in March following his successful turnaround of Argos over the previous two years.
Tesco's ousted chief executive Philip Clarke will not receive a bumper payout, the supermarket’s chairman Sir Richard Broadbent declares, insisting that Clarke will get his contractual terms and ‘not a penny more’. News of Clarke’s unceremonious exit stunned the City last week, even more so when reports emerged of a £20 million pay-off for a man widely regarded as having failed, as Tesco continues to report falling sales and issued yet another warning of lower-than-expected profits.
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