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Retail Round-Up April 21st 2011

Sports Direct to extend share bonus scheme after profits rise

Sports giant Sports Direct is to extend its bonus share scheme after partially attributing a sales and earnings rise to its success. In a pre-close update, Sports Direct posted a 7.3% increase in gross profits to £88m in the nine weeks to March 27, when group sales rose 10.3% to £236m. Sports Direct’s retail division generated gross profit up 8.8% to £74m on turnover ahead 12.4% to £200m.

Marks & Spencer bids for kidswear market share in tie-up with ITV

Marks & Spencer is to launch its first dedicated kidswear TV ad as part of a multimedia campaign including a tie-up with ITV and Britain’s Got Talent. The ad will break on ITV1 this Saturday, April 23, and there will be an online competition to find four children to front the next Marks & Spencer kidswear campaign. It will be judged by photographer Rankin, who also shot images for press and in-store advertising.

Flying Brands partners with Debenhams

Multichannel retailer Flying Brands has struck a deal with department store chain Debenhams to offer a specialist wedding flower service across its stores. The service will launch this summer. The etailer said the partnership fits with the group’s medium to long term strategy of driving performance in the Flowers & Gift Division through the development of retail and corporate partnerships.

Tesco tunes in to on-demand movies with Blinkbox buy

Tesco has snapped up online movie provider Blinkbox, which operates a library of 9,000 movies that users can stream online to watch on home computers, games consoles and internet-enabled TVs. Tesco has bought an 80% stake in the business, which claims to serve two million users a months.

London dark store marks next phase of Waitrose online push

Waitrose has unveiled the next phase of its online assault in the capital, with plans for a 100,000 sq ft dark store in Acton. The new site is more than a third larger than the chain’s biggest physical store, which covers just 70,000 sq ft. “This is a significant step in the development of our multi-channel offer, and will play an important role in the continued growth of our e-commerce sales over the next decade,” said Waitrose managing director Mark Price.

Nestle steps up China ambitions with Yinlu buy

Nestlé has extended its reach in China after snapping up a 60% stake in Yinlu Foods Group, which makes ready-to-drink peanut milk and canned rice porridge. The company already produces ready-to-drink Nescafé in China for the Swiss giant. Nestlé chief executive Paul Bulcke said the deal “demonstrates our long-term investment in China and our commitment to further developing local brands”.

Apple “firing on all cylinders” after record iPhone sales

Apple’s earnings almost doubled in the second quarter, boosted by record iPhone sales. Profits jumped 95% to $5.99bn (£3.6bn) year on year for the three months to March. Apple sold 18.7 million iPhones in the period, up from the 8.75 million it sold the previous year. However, sales of its iPad tablet were lower than expected, despite the launch of the iPad 2 device mid-March and a day before its books closed on the quarter elsewhere.

Retailers report unexpected high in March

Retailers recorded an unexpected rise in sales in March, driven by non-food sales, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The figures are at odds with the fall in total sales reported by the British Retail Consortium, which it claimed were the worst in 16 years. The ONS figures show a 1.3% increase in the volume of sales in March and a 4.5% increase in value sales, compared with March last year.

Brands close to Kate gain royal endorsement

Brands chosen by Kate Middleton need to use PR to maximise that royal association as excitement over her wedding to Prince William mounts! Burberry trench coat? Check. Whistles blouse? Check. These are just some of the brands Kate Middleton has been snapped wearing and have made it onto the wishlists of many followers around the country. Sales of products connected to Middleton are indeed staggering, such as the £650 Burberry trench coat she wore last month, which sold out within a day.

Keri Link is a consultant on the Interim team at FreshMinds