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Retail Round-Up

New owner sets out stall to revamp Jane Norman
Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group plans to double the number of Jane Norman stores as part of its strategy to revive the brand after acquiring it out of administration in June. EWM Group chairman and chief executive Philip Day said he wants to add between 50 and 75 stores over the next 15 months to the 63 that it has retained. He also wants to expand the brand internationally and is examining potential new markets in Asia.

Tesco looks East for funds with ‘dim sum’ bond issue
Grocery giant Tesco has become the first international retailer to raise money in China with the issue of a ‘dim sum’ bond. The retailer launched an offshore Chinese Renminbi-denominated bond issue in Hong Kong, generating the equivalent of £70m. The cash raised will be used to develop Tesco’s retail business in China, where it has 105 shops and reflects “confidence in the Chinese market and strong commitment to growing a prosperous local business”.

Fat Face returns to premium roots as it eyes international expansion
Fat Face wants to show off its quality credentials with the launch of a premium collection as it eyes international expansion. Chief executive Anthony Thompson hopes the refocus on quality will woo back customers. Former George at Asda managing director Thompson was parachuted into the business last year when the retailer’s EBITDA fell from £25m to £19.4m after a policy of heavy discounting.

Birds Eye creates polar bear toys
Birds Eye is to give away cuddly toy versions of its brand character Clarence the polar bear, following in the footsteps of Comparethemarket.com, which is currently running a campaign to give away its meerkat characters.

Unilever launches Facebook rewards programme
Unilever is launching a consumer engagement programme that uses Facebook to encourage consumers to interact with 11 of its biggest brands, including PG Tips, Persil and Magnum. The Unilever VIP application invites consumers to give the company feedback on brand initiatives such as advertising campaigns and promotions, branding and packaging.

Ragu and Chicken Tonight face overhaul following Unilever disposal
Unilever is selling its Ragu and Chicken Tonight brands to Symington’s for an undisclosed sum, following a 12 month review of the brands. Both brands will be redeveloped by Symington’s which plans to overhaul the packaging and products to create “real alternatives … that perform as challenger brands” to the market leaders in the cooking sauce category.

UK ‘resilient’ as emerging markets fuel Diageo growth
Rapid growth in emerging markets was the key driver as Diageo posted a 5% rise in operating profits for the past year to £2.88bn. Volumes in Europe were down 2% for the year to 30 June, the Guinness brewer reported today. But strong performances in Asia and South America, in particular for spirit brands Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff, helped the drinks giant boost sales by 5% on an organic basis to £9.94bn. European president,  Andrew Morgan said the company performance in the UK had been “resilient, with single-digit growth”, while Captain Morgan rum had debuted in a number of new markets.

Food sales slide at The Co-Op as Marks laments ‘toughest market in 40 years’
The Co-operative Group has blamed intense competition, faltering consumer confidence and government spending cuts for a sharp fall in sales at its food business. Like-for-like food sales were down 3.6% in the first half of the year, the society announced today. Operating profits for its food business tumbled from £171.6m to £135.4m in the 26 weeks to 2 July, while sales fell 4.6% to £3.7bn. Chief executive, Peter Marks, said it is the worst trading conditions he had seen in 40 years of retailing.

Ocado pioneers ‘shopping wall’ technology in London shopping centre
Ocado will this week unveil a ‘shopping wall’ in London that lets passers-by do their grocery shopping by scanning barcodes with their mobile phones. The wall – situated on an empty shop front in the busy One New Change shopping centre near St Paul’s – is a first in the UK. It comes after a similar trial by Tesco carried out in a South Korean subway. The Ocado wall, which will operate on a trial basis until 1 September, will display images of everything from loo roll to treats from the Reflets de France range.

Keri Link is a consultant on the Interim team