Sunday Retail News Roundup
Amazon has been criticised for selling books promoting Holocaust denial and fascist propaganda. Dozens of books appear on the online retailer’s UK site promoting the false assertions that the Holocaust was exaggerated or completely fabricated. Until this weekend some of the titles were still available to buy via Amazon in countries where Holocaust denial is illegal. In the UK, where the sale of the books is legal, the titles are still available. Many of the review sections for these books on Amazon UK are filled with comments from angry customers calling for the company to remove them. Amazon declined to comment.
Samantha Cameron was creative director for the luxury goods firm Smythson. Britain’s newest fashion designer is quite clear about the sort of woman she hopes will wear her clothes: “A woman who’s busy, juggling lots of things, who loves fashion.” She is determined that her clothes will be for “real women”, with prices starting at £150 up to £450 for a coat. The collection is easy-to-wear dresses, shirts, skirts and trousers, most of which can go in the washing machine.
Bank staff suspecting a customer has been targeted by crooks will be able to call 999 and say a password to summon swift police help. The initiative, known as the banking protocol, is being rolled out across the country after the success of a pilot project in London, which has saved pensioners from losing more than £1m in just four months. Police in the capital have investigated 84 crimes, arrested 14 people and secured one conviction.banks are slashing their nationwide networks. But the five leading high street banks — Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland — have all been shutting branches, where staff are able to keep a watchful eye on the most vulnerable customers. Last year, the big five closed 485 branches, leaving a total of 6,255, 20% lower than five years earlier. Last month, HSBC said it would close 62 more branches this year.
Mail on Sunday.
Sir Philip Green is facing a fresh attack from MPs this weekend who have named his Arcadia fashion group as a key target in a major crackdown on secretive private businesses. The Work and Pensions Committee of MPs, chaired by Green’s fiercest critic, Frank Field MP, has called for more openness and accountability from large private companies citing Green’s ownership of BHS as a ‘lamentable’ example of how such firms are sometimes run. The MPs are demanding that directors should be made more legally responsible and are calling for tough rules to curb the power of heads of big firms. The revelations are detailed in a report published today after a probe triggered by BHS’s collapse. As well as targeting Green’s empire, the report lists the 30 largest private employers which it believes should be made more accountable including Virgin Atlantic, Specsavers, Matalan, New Look, Iceland and River Island.
Tesco is planning a major offensive in the online market following its acquisition of Booker, boss Dave Lewis has told the City. The deal will more than double the number of click-and-collect locations for internet orders to almost 8,000. And it formed a key part of the strategy that led to the proposed takeover, announced last month. Booker has annual sales of £5billion, meaning a merger approval results in the combined group’s turnover of almost £60billion. The online strategy, which emerged in Lewis’s discussions with City analysts after the announcement of the merger, provides Tesco with a new weapon in its war against Amazon, as well as rival supermarkets.
Stationery chain Clinton Cards is considering shutting swathes of high street stores, raising fears for hundreds of jobs. The US owner could bring down the shutter on around 120 shops, equivalent to around a quarter of its UK estate. American Greetings has admitted that 120 out of 393 shops are yet to be modernised and as a result, these shops were “subject to an ongoing strategic review”. It has also halted its store refurbishment programme, pumping in just £1m last year compared to £14m in 2015. Tthe amount Clintons owes its parent swelled to £45m last year. The retailer has been squeezed on both sides from value retailer Card Factory and upmarket rival Paperchase.
Federico Marchetti is a man who has made his millions from being light years ahead of the rest of the fashion crowd and is Founder and boss of the world’s largest online luxury fashion retailer. Since an audacious merger in 2015 between Italian online fashion site Yoox and Britain’s Net-a-Porter, the company owns Net-a-Porter, Mr Porter, The Outnet, Porter magazine, Yoox, The Corner, and runs lucrative online fashion stores for 40 luxury brands including Valentino, Alexander McQueen and Gucci. It is almost a year since the deal closed and last week Marchetti and 40 of his team were holed up in Pennyhill Park, Surrey, checking on the strategy. The enlarged company announced that sales jumped by 17.7pc last year to €1.8bn. In the fourth-quarter, sales had been particularly boosted by a recovery in Britain’s big spenders, who shrugged off Brexit worries and splashed out again.
Inflation has jumped to a three year high amid warnings that recent vegetable shortages would push up the cost of living further in the coming months. Higher petrol and food prices lifted inflation to 2pc in January compared with a year earlier, up from 1.6pc in December, official figures are expected to show this week. This would be the first time consumer prices inflation has hit the Bank of England’s target of 2pc since December 2013, with Office for National Statistics data predicted to show the rate of price growth has doubled in four months.
Until recently Jane Austen has been Bath’s most bankable literary connection, with fans flocking to the elegant Georgian town to channel Pride and Prejudice. But these days a romance written by another bankable female author is boosting the town’s coffers. EL James’s bestselling Fifty Shades trilogy is being credited with a sexual awakening that has put sales at Bath-based online sex toy retailer Lovehoney onto another plane. Last year the website’s sales jumped almost 30%, boosted by a range tied to the first Fifty Shades film that encouraged increasingly adventurous Britons to create their own mise en scène with props ranging from silky wrist restraints to adjustable nipple clamps, inspired by the steamy antics of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. Analysts are predicting another sales bonanza for Lovehoney and rivals such as Ann Summers this year thanks to the sequel’s arrival in cinemas in time for Valentine’s Day. The annual dash to the shops on the eve of Valentine’s Day has become big business, it is predicted Britons will spend the best part of £500m on their loved ones in the coming days. Average spending per person on Valentine’s Day is expected to increase 12% to just shy of £30 this year, according to advisory firm PwC, as shoppers splurge on chocolates, flowers and gifts. It is predicting a total spend of £458.7m, as 14 February increasingly rivals Easter for retail revenue. But while fans of the romantic day are spending more, PwC’s survey of 2,000 adults found almost half were not even planning to buy a card.
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