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Sunday Retail News Roundup

Tesco’s top investor slashes share stake, Britvic adds juice to bonuses, Jamie’s man takes Playtech punt, Ann Summers perfect stocking filler goes back into black, Former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy embraces crowdfunding way forward after huge success, Supermarkets are being bullied too Iceland calls on biggest grocery suppliers to sign code of practice, Booming online payment firms 'pose a significant threat to banks' EY warns, Boxing Day sales Selfridges celebrates most profitable hour in 100 year history, Foreign shoppers boost Boxing Day sales figures, Millions of shoppers hit Britain's high streets as retailers slash prices.


Sunday Retail News Roundup

Sunday Times.

Tesco's biggest investor has quietly off-loaded a large chunk of its stake in the embattled supermarket in the run-up to Christmas. Norway’s £570bn Government Pension Fund Global, run by Norges Bank Investment Management, sold 27m shares last week, taking its holding in Tesco below 6%, filings show. Since August, Norges has sold 83.5m shares, worth more than £125m at current prices. The sell-off by its biggest backer will heap further pressure on Tesco as it prepares to unveil Christmas trading figures early in the new year. Britain’s biggest retailer has been fighting to maintain its share of the grocery market as shoppers turn to discounters, or trade up to chains such as Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. 

The Boss of Star Wars studio Disney, Bob Iger, took home $45m (£30m) last year, including a cash bonus of more than $20m. He was paid a salary of $2.5m, plus stock and options worth $17.1m in a year in which Disney released big hits such as Cinderella and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Iger, who has been chief executive since 2005, was given the cash bonus for hitting many of the financial targets set by Disney. However, Iger’s total compensation for the year to September was 3% lower than the previous 12 months, which included the release of Frozen, the most successful animated film of all time in terms of box office sales.

Simon Litherland, chief executive of soft drinks group Britvic, has seen the value of his pay package soar by 50%, the company’s annual report shows. Litherland, who joined the company from Diageo and became Britvic’s chief executive in 2013, received salary, bonus, pension and incentive payments worth almost £3m in the year to September. In the previous 12 months, his package totalled just under £2m. Britvic, whose products include J2O, Fruit Shoot, Tango, Lipton tea, R Whites lemonade and and Robinsons cordials, reported earnings per share up by 11% in 2015. The dividend was increased by 10%.

John Jackson, former chief executive of Jamie Oliver’s restaurant business, has been appointed to the board of Playtech. He takes up his role at the FTSE 250 online gambling company on January 1. Jackson is also chairman of Rick Stein’s restaurant company and a former managing director of Body Shop. Playtech, founded by Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi, recently had to give up a £460m pursuit of trading platform Plus500 after regulators raised concerns.

Mail on Sunday.

Lingerie retailer Ann Summers bounced back into the black this year helped by The Only Way Is Essex stars Sam Faiers and Jessica Wright. Turnover increased from £101 million to £105 million during the year to June 27, 2015, while the previous year’s losses of £3.9 million turned into a profit of £1 million. Chief executive Jacqueline Gold described the period as ‘a year of turnaround for Ann Summers’. She said shop sales had risen by 7.6 per cent on a same-store basis and the company’s refurbishment programme had been rolled out over 18 more of the 135-outlet estate. Sales online had been boosted by partnerships with eBay, Amazon and ASOS, while retail sales had been helped by the ‘Everyday Sexy’ range of lingerie – as modelled by the stars of the popular ‘scripted reality’ ITV soap. Sales for this financial year have already been helped by the new range of adult toys launched in August, she said. Gold was the company’s highest-paid director and she took home £414,000 last year. She added: ‘This year was about building strong foundations for future success.

Former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy is ploughing into the crowdfunding market following the successful launch of his first money raising this month. Home decor department store is already halfway to raising £1 million after just three weeks. Leahy and his fellow investors intend to follow that with fundraisings for upmarket lingerie brand Gilda & Pearl and fashion website Gilda & Pearl, whose bras sell for £130, is expected to seek £1 million as soon as next month. Options are being weighed for Atterley. Sir Terry said Crowdfunding is beginning to get a track record of success. There is a sea change happening in the market. ‘Crowdfunding is growing in popularity particularly for certain types of businesses. Houseology is the kind of company that is particularly suited because it’s a consumer business with a broad and discerning customer base and many of whom would also be investors.’ Leahy said fast-growing firms in which investors can take stakes of as little as £10 have the potential to do phenomenally well. 

Frozen food retailer Iceland has called on the biggest grocery suppliers to sign up to a code of practice identical to that signed by supermarkets, to stop stores being bullied by multinational conglomerates. The 850-store chain said international giants would then be subject to the same rules as supermarkets like itself and larger rivals Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s. The largest ten grocers are bound by the principles of the Groceries Code, which is designed to protect farmers and small suppliers from being bullied by supermarkets. But Iceland argues that the biggest suppliers to supermarkets are just as capable of bullying and should sign up to the same standards. Iceland’s legal director, Duncan Vaughan, told Grocery Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon, who was appointed by Parliament in 2013, that he wanted larger suppliers mainly selling branded goods to ‘sign up to similar principles of fair play’. 

Banks are facing a serious threat from internet payment systems such as Paypal, Nutmeg and even Bitcoin, warns top accountant EY. Almost a third of Britons (31.8 per cent) – including many of the youngest and wealthiest customers of banks – have made use of some kind of online payments service. The figure is almost double the average rate of use across the world’s developed economies – suggesting that British banks have most to fear from internet upstarts. 


Millions of shoppers swamped the high street in search of bargains as Selfridges recorded the most profitable hour in its 100 year history. Crowds lined streets across Britain from 1am before excitement spilled into violence as stores opened, with fights reportedly breaking out amid stampedes in some stores. By 10am, department store Selfridges had taken just over £2million at its tills across the UK - a two per cent increase on its previous highest takings. Analysts said foreign shoppers and the mild weather were partly to thank for the retail boom - which is expected to reach £3.5billion. Diane Wehrle, insights director at retail analysts Springboard, said sales were "surprisingly positive" amid the overall downturn of high street performance against online. She said: "It is encouraging to see High Streets performing significantly better than Boxing Day last year.d.


Shoppers from overseas with a penchant for luxury goods helped to fuel a Boxing Day sales bonanza as millions hit the stores, leading experts to suggest that reports about the death of the high street have been premature. Retail analysts said wealthy tourists from China and the Middle East were spending four or five times as much as their British counterparts on items such as jewellery, watches and designer handbags. There were claims that shoppers were on course to spend a record £3.74bn in the Boxing Day sales. Selfridges said it had enjoyed its most successful ever first hour of trading, taking more than £2m from 9am-10am. There were nearly 4,000 people snaking around the outside of the department store even before it opened its doors. Harrods saw one of its biggest queues, which stretched around the corner of the Knightsbridge shop. The department store expects more than a million customers to come through its doors during its four-week winter sale. “The West End is a huge draw, so we see a lot of international shoppers here,” said Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of the New West End Company, which represents retailers in and around Oxford Street. “About 50% of our shoppers are tourists, particularly from China, the Middle East and the US, and they probably spend about four or five times the amount of a UK shopper.” 


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