What's fresh

This week’s top retail stories - October 8th 2010

 

Retail Week

 

Alliance Boots hires Home Retail Director

 

Alliance Boots has hired a former director of Home Retail, Sarah Carpenter, to work on commercial development. Sarah was formerly a director of strategic development at Home Retail, which owns Argos and Homebase.

 

Whistles turnaround on course after losses cut

 

Jane Shepherdson’s turnaround of Whistles is proving a success, with losses slashed and a return to profitability on the horizon. In the year to January 31, EBITDA losses at the chain narrowed to £400,000 from £1.1m the year before, thanks to reduced markdowns and like-for-like sales growth. Shepherdson - who led a management buy-in of the chain in January 2008 - said the sales bounceback had continued in the current year with like-for-likes and total sales “strongly positive” for the 12 months to October 1.

 

Treats are back, say Tesco and Sainsbury’s

 

As Tesco and Sainsbury’s report favourable results, there is evidence consumers are trading up again. Consumers are starting to treat themselves more and sentiment is showing signs of improvement, leading grocers Tesco and Sainsbury’s said this week. Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said shopper confidence is returning, while Sainsbury’s boss Justin King said the shopper mindset changed two years ago but that consumers had now got used to the economic environment, and while they “were dialed into the fact there will be further cuts” they “still want to treat themselves”.

 

The Grocer

 

Castel deal could boost SAB Miller in Africa

SAB Miller is eyeing a £6bn swoop for the African beer business of Groupe Castel, the French brewer that owns the Nicolas off-licence chain. The Grolsch and Peroni brewer has entered talks with Castel over a possible deal, according to The Times. The two companies already have close links, with SAB Miller already holding a 20% stake in the French company’s African business.

 

The Co-op combines with Thomas Cook to forge new travel giant

The Co-operative Group has merged its travel business with Thomas Cook, a move which will create the UK’s largest high street travel network with more than 1,200 shops. Thomas Cook will hold 70% of the shares in the combined company, with The Co-op retaining a 30% stake.

 

‘Return to quality’ buoys M&S food in Q2

Marc Bolland hailed a continuing “return to quality” as Marks & Spencer unveiled a healthy rise in second-quarter food sales. The high street giant said food sales for the past three months were up by 3.7% on a like-for-like basis and up 5.2% overall. It cited the introduction of 370 new products and the continuing popularity of its dine-in promotions as factors in the strong performance, which saw its share of the food market grow to 3.7%. “Customers are returning to quality,” Bolland said.

 

Marketing Week

 

Sainsbury’s growth boosted by non-food

 

Sainsbury’s has reported strong profit growth and sales in its first half year figures, boosted by an increase in online and non-food sales. Online sales increased by more than 25% and non-food sales grew at three times the rate of food. The supermarket also relaunched their ‘Taste the Difference’ range last month which has proved highly successful. Justin King believes that the brand’s accelerated growth strategy will help further growth through the continued challenging times.

 

John Lewis launches mobile site for Christmas

 

John Lewis has increased its focus on multi-channel operations with the launch of a mobile commerce site. The new site to be launched on Monday will be fully transactional and accessible from any internet enabled mobile handset. Jonathan Brown, John Lewis Marketing Director, expects 5-10% of all John Lewis online traffic to come through mobile. The department store is planning to launch mobile apps early next year.

 

Boots Advantage Card opens its doors to third parties

 

Boots has extended its Advantage Card loyalty programme to allow other retailers including Asos.com and Thomas Cook. The retailer is launching the Boots Treat Street scheme to entice customers to spend with and collect rewards from other retailers. Cardholders will be able to collect points with more than 50 brands through the Treat Street web portal. By inviting other partners onto the programme, the Advantage Card is becoming increasingly similar to the Nectar programme, further cementing the ever growing value of the customer loyalty space.