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Retail Round-Up April 1st

Marks and Spencer unveils bricks and click launch in France

Marks & Spencer is to return to France a decade after shutting its operations in the country. The retailer will deploy a bricks and clicks strategy with a food and womenswear store on the Champs-Elysees in Paris and a website, trading in euros, to serve consumers across France. Marks & Spencer intends to launch both businesses towards the end of the year in time for peak Christmas trading.

Tesco launches Easter Clubcard Voucher Exchange

Tesco is launching an Easter Clubcard Voucher Exchange in a bid to ramp up sales over the bank holidays. The scheme launches on April 4 and will run until May 5, with customers able to exchange vouchers until May 15. Products such as bikes, clothing, barbecues, garden furniture and sun cream are included in the scheme.

House of Fraser scouting for small click-and-collect stores

Department store group House of Fraser is scouting for smaller stores of just 1,500 sq ft that could be used to fulfil orders for click-and-collect customers. The store has been talking to landlords about ways of infilling in locations where it cannot open a large-scale department store, while capturing online spend. It would be the first time a retailer has opened stores specifically for their click-and-collect operations and reflects the growing demand from consumers to buy online and pick up in store.

Double strength squash helps The Co-op slash packaging

The Co-operative Group says its move to double-concentrated squash will cut the packaging used for its own-brand cordial by 40%. Eighty-three tonnes of packaging a year will be saved by the move, the mutual said. The move comes after the Co-op last month unveiled what it claimed was “the most radical sustainability programme in UK corporate history”. One target of its Ethical Operating Plan is to reduce the environmental impact of its packaging by 10% over the next year.

Booker unveils 5% boost in yearly sales

The cash and carry giant, Booker, has notched up a 5.1% increase in full-year like-for-like sales. Total sales have increased 6.2% to £3.6bn in the year to 25 March, with non-tobacco sales up 5.3% and tobacco sales up 4.9%. It also served 28,000 extra customers during the year, with sales to caterers up 6.3% and sales to retailers up 4.9%.

Wiseman and Dairy Crest cut debt amid tough trading

Dairy Crest and Robert Wiseman Dairies have both acted to cut their outstanding debt, according to pre-close trading statements issued today. Borrowings were down on the £337.2m owed by Dairy Crest at the start of the financial year, the company said.

Coca-Cola and Unilever unite over sustainability

Cola-Cola and Unilever are calling for more collaboration between businesses and environmental groups to prove that sustainable business practices can be commercially viable, and not just a CSR activity. They are also calling for brands to encourage people to consume less, reduce their energy use and cut carbon emissions. Many brands are wary of following in the footsteps of sustainability programmes such as those recently implemented at Coca-Cola and Unilever due to a lack of knowledge about customer reaction to sustainable campaigns.

Tesco named most valuable retail brand

Having last year invested more than its rivals in brand marketing, Tesco has been announced the UK’s most valuable retail brand by Interbrand. Tesco’s “out-branding” of its competitors was achieved by offering good value through price and a positive shopping experience. This evidences that focussing on price without compromising on experience or quality will stand retailers in good stead for the year to come.
New mobile marketing initiatives embraced by FMCGs
Brands such as Dominos, Burger King and Marks & Spencer have accelerated their marketing initiatives, as advertisements via SMS or MMS become an increasingly important way to connect with consumers. The Internet Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers recently published their mobile ad spend report for 2010, which revealed total UK spend on mobile was £83m, which is beginning to expand beyond the youth audience to engage consumers aged 24 years and over.

Keri Link is a consultant on the Interim team at FreshMinds