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Retail Round-Up March 4th 2011

Oddbins drafts in advisers to consider future

Wine retailer Oddbins has drafted in advisors as it considers its options amid tough trading conditions. Spectrum Corporate Finance has been hired to assess matters and the retailer’s chief executive, Simon Baile, has acknowledged that he faces hard decisions and a final decision is due on Tuesday.

HMV expected to consider an emergency rights issue

Entertainment group HMV is expected to consider an emergency rights issue after warning on Tuesday of a profits shortfall. The retailer is also likely to rethink its opposition to a sale of the Waterstone’s books chain, which Russian tycoon and HMV shareholder Alexander Mamut is understood to have in his sights. HMV, which earlier this year launched a store closure programme, revealed on Tuesday in its fourth profit warning since last autumn that full-year earnings would be “moderately” below City expectations of £45m.

Karen Millen targets £500m sales as it splits off from Aurora

Karen Millen is aiming to double sales to £500m in the next five years after parent company Aurora Fashions revealed this week it will be spun off from the rest of the group. The growth is likely to come from further expansion into international markets, with China, Canada and Latin America all on the agenda. Further expansion is planned in European markets including Germany and Italy following its roll-out in France and Spain. Aurora finance director Richard Glanville said the move was designed to give Karen Millen the finance to expand globally with standalone stores, and additional debt facilities have been secured to fund its growth.

Budwiser Brewer AB InBev powers on in 2010

Cost savings and drinkers in key markets shifting to higher-priced beers helped AB InBev to a strong performance over the past year. The world’s largest brewer said EBITDA was up more than 10% in 2010 to $13.87bn (£8.53bn). Total sales for the year grew by 4.4% to $36.3bn (£22.3bn). Despite a continuing decline in its US home market, the company’s flagship Budweiser brand posted its first increase in global volumes for two decades. AB InBev said the increase was thanks in part to the brand’s sponsorship of the 2010 World Cup.

Kraft takes Orio Biscuits to India

Kraft Foods is venturing into India’s biscuit market for the first time via its Oreo brand. Boasting global sales of around $1bn (£614m), Oreo will launch through Kraft’s Cadbury India business, which mainly sells chocolate brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, 5-Star, Perk and Bournvita. The move is thought to be is part of Kraft’s long-term strategy to gradually broaden the scope of its Indian operation beyond just confectionery.

Carrefour in Boots beauty tie-up as French giant bids to offload discount arm

Carrefour has agreed a tie-up with Alliance Boots in a move that mirrors the high street chemist’s UK arrangement with Waitrose. As well as putting Boots beauty products on Carrefour’s shelves, the duo will “explore healthcare partnership possibilities” in emerging markets. Carrefour chief executive Lars Olofsson said the tie-up would allow the retailer to “make a quantum leap in the beauty category”. Meanwhile, Carrefour has announced plans to spin off its Madrid-based discount arm,  Dia, The business will be publicly listed on the Madrid stock exchange if the move goes ahead.

Bing launches Deals service to compete with Google

Microsoft’s Bing search engine is launching a new local deals service to compete against Google Offers, Yahoo Local Offers and other social shopping websites. Bing Deals gives US users access to more than 200,000 offers in 14,000 towns and cities across the country. The new service acts as an aggregator and provides offers from sites such as Groupon and Living Social in its search results.

Ocado remains profitable despite added competition

Ocado says orders and sales have both increased in the past three months despite difficult trading conditions and increased competition from Waitrose. Sales increased 24.7% to £146.2m for the 12 weeks to 20 February while orders increased 26.1% year on year to 103,207 a week.

B&Q invests £35m to boost digital platform

B&Q is investing £35m in its digital platforms to build a fully integrated multi-channel platform across online, apps and mobile e-commerce. B&Q plans to launch a mobile transactional site later this year and further develop its mobile apps. It will also double the number of products bought online available for next day delivery by Autumn 2011.

Keri Link is a consultant on the Interim team at FreshMinds