This week’s top stories in Retail - December 17th 2010
Tesco One Stop acquires 77 Mills stores
Tesco’s convenience brand One Stop has acquired 77 stores from Mills Group as part of its long term expansion plans. The acquisition will increase the number of One Stop stores to 598 across England and Wales. One Stop CEO David Turner commented, “This is exciting news for One Stop. Acquiring 77 Mills stores means we can introduce One Stop’s quality, range and value to the communities they serve. We’ll be investing in refurbishing the stores, creating an even better shopping experience, as well as bringing down prices. I am also delighted to welcome the staff in these stores to the One Stop team.”
Charles Wilson to replace Justin King as CEO at IGD
Booker Group’s CEO Charles Wilson has been appointed to replace Justin King as president of international food and grocery analysts IGD. Mars president Fiona Dawson is to become IGD vice-president. Wilson has been vice-president at IGD for two years, and will hold the position as president for the next two years.
December High Street sales continue to rise as shoppers beat the VAT increase
According to the CBI Distributive Trades Survey, High street sales continue to grow in December as shoppers aim to get ahead of January’s VAT increase. The latest survey showed strong growth in the first half of December, with 67% of polled retailers saying that Y-on-Y sales were up and only 11% reporting lower sales. This is the highest growth figure since April 2002 (+57%). CBI’s survey has recorded six consecutive months of strong sales figures with Hardware and DIY, clothing, department stores and grocers being the top performers.
Hovis readies 2011 push
Hovis is preparing its first social media push with a Facebook campaign to push its wholemeal bread ranges.
The bread brand, which is owned by Premier Foods, will also push its wholemeal range with a television campaign starring brand ambassador Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton. Hovis will also launch a TV ad campaign to drive trial and awareness of its recently launched Hearty Oats loaf in February. Premier Foods (which includes brands such as Hovis, Mr Kipling, Bisto and Ambrosia) is spending its marketing budget on fewer brands, to improve the return on investment.
John Lewis pushes Never Knowingly Undersold via Twitter
John Lewis is boosting its use of social media channels to drive awareness of its Never Knowingly Undersold message in the run up to Christmas. The department store chain is using its recently launched Twitter and Facebook platforms to communicate its price match offers with shoppers. As part of its Never Knowingly Undersold proposition, John Lewis pledges to price match its competitors, even with discount prices. In the past year John Lewis has revived the 80-year-old Never Knowingly Undersold strapline and made efforts to better communicate the proposition through its advertising.
Twitter valued at $3.7bn after fresh investment
Twitter has raised an additional $200m (£128m) in finance as the micro-blogging site continues to look for ways to grow its commercial operations. Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers led the investment with money also provided by existing investors. The deal values Twitter at $3.7bn (£2.4bn). Twitter is now said to have raised about $360m (£230.8m) since starting in 2007. The money has allowed it to invest in developing services and features without immediate pressure to make money. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ previous investments have proven successful with early backing given to Goggle and Amazon, both now multi-billion dollar businesses.
Banana war continues
Tesco and Waitrose have once again increased the price of loose bananas. Both are now retailing the fruit at 87p per kilo, whereas bananas previously retailed for 77p a kilo at Tesco and for 79p a kilo at Waitrose. The move is the latest in a string of recent price rises at the major multiples following the end of the banana price ‘war’ in November. Asda began the banana price war in September, cutting the price to 55p a kilo, and the move was quickly matched by the big-four rivals.
Waitrose wins with luxury
Waitrose has announced record-breaking sales of £113m for the week ending 11 December, up 9% year-on-year, as a result of shoppers opting for luxury items in their Christmas shopping. Its truffle-basted turkey breast joint has sold out, and premium alternatives to turkey are also doing well. Duck orders have surged 156% year-on-year, while sales of venison racks were up 117%. “This Christmas looks certain to be a luxurious occasion as customers opt for premium quality,” said Waitrose managing director Mark Price. “Over the last couple of weeks, customers focused on staying warm through the cold spell but now festivities have arrived in earnest. The innovative and theatrical seem to have struck a chord as customers seek out culinary talking points for their Christmas entertaining.”
M&S continues Far East expansion
Marks & Spencer has opened its third store in the Chinese city of Shanghai. Located in the city’s giant Skymall shopping centre, the store’s comes after M&S identified Shanghai as one of its critical markets for overseas expansion. “With a population of almost 20 million, Shanghai offers an exciting opportunity to focus our business and we are delighted to have secured a prime shopping location for our third store in the city,” said chief executive Marc Bolland.