The Retail Round up - The Sunday Papers
1 July 2012 | by The Retail Bulletin
The Times on Sunday
Russian billionaire eyes Dr Martens
An investment fund backed by Mikhail Fridman, the Russian billionaire, is in the running to pay up to £200m for Dr Martens, the boot maker once favoured by punks and skinheads. Pamplona Capital, which counts Fridman’s Alfa Group as a key investor, is one of a small number of private equity firms vying for the family-owned company. Pamplona faces competition in the auction from Warburg Pincus, the transatlantic buyout firm, and Electra Partners, a British investment house. The Griggs family that owns Dr Martens appointed Rothschild, the investment bank, to find a buyer for the company at the start of this year — and is in line for a substantial windfall from a sale. It had been thought the firm might fetch £120m but the asking price has soared owing to strong interest.
Conran’s designs on America
Sir Terrance Conran has secured a lucrative deal to design a homewares collection for JC Penney, the American retail giant. The tie-up, which will see the famous designer produce furniture, lighting and ceramics, marks the first time Conran, 80, has forged a partnership with an American retailer. The new collection will initially appear in 300 of JC Penney’s 1,100 stores in March 2013. It follows a similar collaboration with Marks & Spencer, for whom Conran designs furniture.
Island Holidays rescued
A Specialist turnaround firm has bought Island View Holidays, which operates a string of resorts on the Isle of Wight, in a £7.5m deal. The sale of the business to Bluebird Capital Partners is expected to safeguard 130 jobs. The company had been unable to meet its debt obligations. Bluebird specialises in buying property-backed companies, particularly in the leisure industry. Island View Holidays’ parks include a site at Colwell Bay, affording a view of this weekend’s round the island race.
Shades of Grey success brings sex toy shoppers out in force
Explicit novel that outstripped Harry Potter to be fastest-selling paperback ever has led to a boom in erotic and exotic aids. The runaway success of Fifty Shades of Grey, the graphically sexual novel that has sold more than a million copies, has led to a boom in sex toys and erotic literature. Ann Summers is just one of the stores reporting that sales of blindfolds, whips and handcuffs have soared, reflecting the strong sadism and masochism theme running through the book.
Co-op poised for a breakthrough as anger with the banks grows
The Co-operative's bid for 632 Lloyd's branches is progressing very slowly, but it is progressing – just at a time when Britain may be ready to turn to an alternative lender in large numbers. With almost 1,000 branches in prime high street sites up and down the country, the Co-operative Bank is poised to become a major competitor to the big four high street banks.
JD Sports sheds Blacks and Millets shops
JD Sports Fashion has shut about 100 Blacks and Millets outdoor leisure shops less than six months after buying Blacks Leisure out of administration for £20m. The bigger chain, Millets, has borne the brunt of these closures and JD is thought to want to keep just the Blacks fascia on the high street in the long term. JD is also understood to be considering a sale of a slimmed down version of Millets further down the line, once the performance of the chain, whose tents are popular among music festival revellers, has improved.
Waitrose's star rises in Japan
Waitrose has seen exports to Japan soar by a third so far this year, boosted by a rise in interest in British foods around the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics. The UK grocer, led by Mark Price, has been exporting its products to Japan for 15 years, where its main customers are the Peacock Stores and Seicomart supermarket chains. Sales have been particularly buoyant since February, driven by demand for traditional British food such as tea, biscuits, baked beans and gherkins.
Australians David Jones seek UK-based 'hoaxers'
Fears are mounting that a surprise bid from a UK-based private equity firm for the 174-year-old Australian department store chain, David Jones, could turn out to be a hoax. David Jones, which has 37 stores, received a £1.1bn (AUS$1.7bn) takeover approach via email. On Friday, David Jones confirmed the identity as EB Private Equity. Shares leapt 15 per cent, but supposed advisers Chalkhill Partners and Jones Lang LaSalle have since said they are not involved.
The Kooples uncouples from UK store deals
French fashion chain The Kooples has pulled out of a controversial deal to open on London's Savile Row and has slowed its expansion in the UK. The Kooples, which derives its name from the word "couples", has pulled out of four property deals in the UK after reaching 23 stores. It is thought to be reviewing the portfolio due to the difficult market conditions.
Mail on Sunday
Tesco could pull out of America if it sees 'no chance of success', says boss Philip Clarke Tesco's chief executive Philip Clarke said it could pull the plug on its loss-making American venture Fresh & Easy if it can not turn its fortunes around. Despite improving sales after a revamp, the grocery chain on America's west coast racked up losses of £153million last year and has yet to make a profit. 'If we see there is no chance of success, we’ll do as we’ve just done in Japan,' Mr Clarke said, referring to Tesco’s deal this month to exit that market.
A business that sells fruit-infused Taiwanese drink dubbed 'bubble tea' planning to expand abroad. Bubbleology, which launched a year ago with £175,000 start-up capital, opens a new store in Notting Hill, West London, today, selling 23 flavours of the drink, which has tapioca ‘pearls’ at the bottom of the cup and is drunk through a large straw.
Brewer and pub chain Greene King has lost up to £9 million in a legal battle over a tax avoidance scheme that allowed its profits to ‘vanish into thin air’. Dozens of other companies used the scheme and will have to pay hundreds of millions of pounds in tax, experts predicted. Revenue & Customs said the tribunal ruling meant Greene King might end up having to pay tax twice on the same profits – doubling its tax bill to up to £18 million.
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