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by James Callander August 31, 2011

The Grocer

M&S empowers shoppers with solar panel deals

M&S is to start selling solar panels. Customers who would like to generate their own hot water and electricity will be able to meet 50% of their energy needs by buying one of two solar packages on offer. Part of the brand’s ongoing drive to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions, this latest initiative shows M&S’ ongoing commitment to providing customers with efficient energy solutions.

Fresh & Easy under fire over workers’ rights

Fresh & Easy, Tesco’s American business, has been slammed after a report showed exploitative working practices in the US. The report by Human Rights Watch claimed that Fresh & Easy management were encouraging an ‘anti-union’ environment, with workers feeling unable to join labour groups. Tesco has however rebuffed the claims saying “Fresh & Easy is committed to creating a great place to work…all Tesco employees have the right to join a trade union …and are able to exercise this right”.

Burger King could be up for sale once more

Burger King, the business bought by Texas Pacific, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs in 2002 and publicly floated in 2006, is rumoured to be in talks with private equity investors over a possible sale. The UK venture capital group 3i has been linked with a possible bid.

Marketing Week

Healthy sales could import McDonald’s smoothies

McDonald’s could roll out its McCafé Real Fruit Smoothies in the UK after the line proved a driving force in a better-than-expected 7% global increase in last month’s company sales. The newly-launched smoothies were a “top contributor” to a sales lift of 5.7% in the US. McDonald’s has been undergoing trials with smoothies for almost three years in the UK with Innocent Smoothies as part of its Happy Meal variants aimed at children. The McCafé Smoothies, however, are aimed at the adult market and have proved so popular on trial that last month’s proposed free sampling promotion was cancelled amid fears that supplies would run out.

Simple creates global marketing role amid restructure

Simple, the skincare brand, has restructured its management team and created a vice president of global marketing role. Current group marketing director, Alex Pike, will take up the newly created role and will look to develop the brand in new and existing markets. Last year, Simple was bought by US cosmetic group, Alberto Culver, for £240m. David Penn, formerly sales director has been appointed to general manager of Simple, UK, Ireland and Nordic regions.

Waitrose debuts Duchy Originals on TV

Waitrose is launching the first ever television advertising campaign for Duchy Originals after acquiring the exclusive rights to sell the Prince of Wales’ organic food range last year. The ad features Waitrose brand ambassador and celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal, describing the 20-year history of the Duchy Originals brand and its principles of organic farming, sustainable methods, charitable donations and supporting local British producers. The organic range, which Waitrose acquired last year is being relaunched in Waitrose stores this month with new packaging and new products.

Retail Week

M&S to raise £1m for Oxfam

Marks & Spencer is partnering with Oxfam to create a one day event where customers can donate unwanted clothing into M&S stores to raise £1m for the charity. The retailer already runs the M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange, where customers drop off unwanted M&S clothing into Oxfam stores to help to reduce the amount of clothing sent to landfill sites. The ‘One Day Wardrobe Clearout’, on September 8, will allow customers to donate unwanted M&S clothing to the retailer’s stores in return for a £5 money-off voucher to spend in-store.

Morrisons considers online move

New Morrisons boss Dalton Philips is expected to signal a move into selling food online when he unveils elements of his strategy for the grocer at next week’s interim results. The chain is the only one of the big four supermarket groups not to sell groceries over the internet at present. A trial is expected at a small number of stores next year. A home delivery service may also be piloted.

Maplin sale?

Maplin Electronics could be put up for sale with a price tag of around £400m. Maplin’s private equity owner Montagu has been interviewing investment banks with a view to appoint one for a strategic review, the Telegraph has reported. Sources said KPMG has bow been appointed to look at “strategic options” for the business which may or may not lead to the sale of the electronics retailer.

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