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Retail Round Up

John Lewis sales up as shoppers feel festive

John Lewis sales rose 9.9% to £62.6m last week as it clocked up the best performance of the half. John Lewis buying director, home, Paula Nickolds said: “It seems many customers are starting to feel festive as sales of Christmas Shop and gifting ranges across our offer are already selling well.”


High street bargains hurt UK sales at Asos

Hard-hit younger shoppers are being driven from the web back to the high street by promotions, Asos boss Nick Robertson said as the online giant posted a sharp slowdown in first-quarter UK sales growth. The view contrasts with the common perception that younger shoppers are favouring online shopping over the high street in order to hunt discounts. Robertson said that he sees no respite in the highly-promotional trading environment. He said promotions would characterise Christmas for retailers, and predicts the festive period will be “underwhelming” for Asos.

The Hut FD quits after float scrapped

The Hut’s finance director, Paul Meehan, has exited the online retailer after it scrapped plans for a flotation this year. It is thought Meehan wanted to be the financial head of a public company and has quit now The Hut has ditched plans to float on the stock market.
Asda and Morrisons square off with bids for Iceland
Big four rivals Asda and Morrisons are thought to have joined a number of private equity bidders for frozen food retailer Iceland. The long-awaited auction sparked into life on Wednesday, which was deadline day for the first round of bids. The Financial Times has reported that initial offers valued the company at between £1.3bn and £1.5bn.


Premier calls in PwC in bid to refinance debt

Premier Foods has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to assist it in talks with lenders about a potential refinancing plan. Net debt for Premier will stand at £972m once proceeds from the sale of its Princes canned food business filters through. Alongside that stands a pension deficit of £273m.
Efficient Smiths offsets decline in newstrade
Smiths News has suffered a drop in full-year revenues of more than 5%, as newspaper and magazine sales continue to fall. However, while group sales dropped from £1.8bn to £1.7bn in the year to 31 August, pre-tax profits rose 10% to £38.6m. “Operational efficiency underpins this result, having exceeded our three-year cost savings target of £20m in one year,” said chief executive Mark Cashmore

Creative Content will fuel Coca Cola’s Growth

Coke believes that collaborative creative content will help double the size of the businesses over the next decade. Coca Cola wants consumer feedback to shape the creativity of the business and no longer relies on traditional agencies for ideas. Instead, it is adopting a more collaborative approach through crowd sourcing, fans on Facebook and Twitter, and working directly with artists and the music and film industry to create content through storytelling.

Homebase looks to women to drive growth strategy

Homebase is hoping its female focused strategy will boost performance as parent company Home Retail Group reports a slide in sales and profit. The DIY retailer has pegged the growth of the business on targeting women and “home improvers” rather than men and DIY. Sales at Homebase fell 1.8% to £839.6m for the six months to 27 August, while operating profit fell 35% to £29.9m.

Tis the season for christmas sales strategy

Consumers malign the early Christmas marketing from retailers. But do brands get any tangible benefit from starting their Christmas campaigns early? Evidence suggests that those retail brands quick off the mark with their festive marketing are most likely to report robust figures in January. Penny Tunnell, product director at gift and home decoration retailer Past Times, explains: “Customers are stocking the store cupboard early, dealing with the children’s gifts and spreading the cost over a few months. We are expecting some keen prices. You can expect to see a lot of multibuy deals.”