What's fresh

Retail Round-Up June 13th 2011

Majestic Wines profits surge 27%

Majestic Wines group pretax profits surged 26.6% to £20.3m in the 52 weeks to March 28. Average spend per transaction declined 2.5% to £126, however transaction numbers were up 12.5% to 2 million. Online sales jumped 9.6% on last year and now represent 10.2% of UK retail sales. The retailer operates 165 stores in the UK and said it can expand to at least 330 stores in total. The retailer said that its decision to reduce its minimum purchase requirement to six bottles from twelve in September 2009 proved “extremely popular with existing customers and has also made Majestic more accessible to new customers”.

Mohamed Al-Fayed linked to Cocosa acquisition

Former Harrods owner and entrepreneur Mohamed al-Fayed is reported to be plotting a return to retail by acquiring online luxury business Cocosa. The online private Sales etailer, launched in 2008, has more than 400,000 members and is owned by magazine and radio group Bauer Media. It sells luxury fashion and accessories brands including Vivienne Westwood and Julien Macdonald, at discounted prices. If the acquisition is successful, Al-Fayed could use Cocosa as a springboard to launch a new online retail empire.

UK luxury market to grow 57% by 2015

The continued success of brands such as Burberry and Jimmy Choo will help the UK luxury sector to grow by 57% to £9.4bn by the end of 2015, according to research from luxury trade body Walpole. The UK Luxury Benchmark Survey, published in collaboration with research firm Ledbury Research, found that 91% of the luxury brands surveyed were confident of sales growth over 2011. The market is due to grow by 10% this year and by 57% by 2015.

Asda widens 10% price guarantee to non-food

Asda is stepping up the pressure on Tesco by extending its 10% price guarantee to non-food areas such as electronics and toys. Chief executive Andy Clarke told attendees at the British Retail Consortium’s annual conference the move was a “natural extension” of its guarantee on food, launched earlier this year. Under the strategy, Asda guarantees that a basket of grocery products at its stores is 10% cheaper than at rivals or it will refund the difference.

Record profits for 99p stores

99p stores has announced record profits after it introduced a wider range of products at its stores. The variety discounter more than trebled pre-tax profits from £1.8m to £6.3m for the year ending January 2011. The discounter also announced it will open 30 new branches by the end of the year, creating a further 1,200 jobs. The company put the results down to the introduction of a much “wider range of products” in the last 12 months including the 99p sandwich, milk, dairy, chilled meats, eggs, snacks, fresh bread and “commuter friendly” products.

Comet looks to exit 22 prime stores

Struggling electrical retailer Comet is circulating a list of 22 stores which it is looking to sell. Comet has distributed the list of leasehold stores on prime retail parks, including Trafford Park in Manchester and Forbury Road in Reading, to other retailers this week according to the Financial Times. If successful, the move could wipe £5m off Comet’s annual rent bill.

Iceland profits soar 15% as buyers circle business

Frozen food giant Iceland has scored another record year with pre-tax profits soaring 14.8% to £155.5m. For the year to March 25, Iceland increased EBITDA 2% to £187.9m, and sales jumped 5.9% to £2.39bn.

New Look prepares strategy overhaul to combat slump

New Look is to return its focus to its core UK womenswear business as it strives to recover from a slump in sales and profits. New executive chairman Alistair McGeorge said the company had been sidetracked by the move of its head office from Weymouth to London and a failed IPO attempt. While international and multichannel expansion remains on the agenda, the main focus of the business in the short term is to be in turning around the core offer.

Keri Link is a consultant on the Interim team.