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Retail Round Up - 02nd March

Boots’ new £50m warehouse will enhance online profits

Boots has invested £50m in a new warehouse in a bid to improve online profitability and delivery services. The Burton-on-Trent warehouse fulfils all online, Christmas and international orders and employs 1,000 people at peak times.The health and beauty giant, which is part of Alliance Boots said the eventual aim is to be able to offer next-day and named-day delivery for online shoppers.

Tesco boss urged to bring back the ‘personal touch’

Former Tesco chairman Lord MacLaurin has called for his former “Saturday boy”, Philip Clarke, to focus on staffing levels and service to turnaround the grocer’s fortunes. The man who led Tesco’s growth in the 1990s backed Clarke but said: “Tesco has to bring back the personal touch. Motivate staff. It is not something you will turn around very quickly.” MacLaurin said Tesco should focus on queue management to improve service. He said there “cannot be a disconnect” between the management and store staff, and that the “personality” has gone out of Tesco.

Morrisons moves four senior bosses to Kiddicare

Morrisons has moved four of its senior directors across to Kiddicare as the maternity website prepares to expand. The grocer’s health, beauty and household director Hilary Lean becomes commercial director at Kiddicare, which Morrisons acquired last year. Joining Lean is business development director Grant Henley, who becomes operations director, customer experience director Simon Eastwood who becomes retail stores director and HR Director (Corporate) Mandy Flatley who becomes HR boss at the maternity website.

Tesco trials Facebook virtual fitting room

Tesco is trialling a virtual 3D fitting room service on its Facebook page in a bid to reduce returns for its F&F clothing brand. The six-to-eight week trial, which launched March 1st, lets customers create a 3D model of their bodies by either uploading two photos of themselves, or by entering their measurements and a photo of their face. It will launch with 50 items, with a further 10 added each week throughout the trial. Customers can add the clothes they like to their Tesco basket.

Starbucks spends millions on latte overhaul

The success of the flat white coffee has prompted the coffee chain to spend millions on relaunching its latte to include extra espresso. Starbucks, which will offer customers more espresso coffee without raising the price, has introduced the new style on the back of the success of its flat white coffee and the trend for UK customers to increase the amount of coffee in their drinks.

Nestlé ditches artificial ingredients for sweets

Nestlé, maker of Kit Kat, Smarties and Quality Street, has removed all artificial flavours and preservatives from its entire sweet range, a move it claims makes it the first confectioner in the UK to do so. The announcement comes as Nestlé Crunch was the last of the company’s 79 products to have its artificial ingredients replaced with natural alternatives such as carrot and lemon.

Natoora gives Ocado a fresh string to its bow

Ocado is boosting its fresh foods offer through a tie-up with high-end restaurant supplier Natoora.

From this week, a selection of Natoora’s premium fruit and vegetables, charcuterie and fresh pasta will be available through a dedicated Natoora shop on Ocado’s website. Products on offer will include seasonal produce, such as Sardinian winter Camone tomatoes, Puglian turnip tops, unwaxed Amalfi lemons and French purple and sandy carrots.

Natoora MD Franco Fubini said the partnership with Ocado marked “an important milestone” for British grocery.

Unilever unveils cool new blend as Flora focuses on sandwiches

Unilever is reformulating and revamping its Flora portfolio ahead of a new focus on sandwiches.

The company said it had invested about £30m in a new plant to enable Flora to be made using a new cool blending process. The process “preserves the natural goodness” of the canola, linseed and sunflower oil used in Flora spread.

The revamp comes as Flora faces increased competition - this month Arla launched Lurpak Lightest Spreadable, a reduced-fat butter spread with a fat content comparable to Flora Light, and in October, Kerry Foods launched a Flora lookalike called Smart Health into Tesco.

Kraft to spend £17m on UK research at Bournville

Kraft Foods is ploughing £17m into research and development in the UK, the company said as it officially opened the doors on its new centre of excellence at the historic Cadbury HQ in Bournville.

The US food giant said the investment, which includes an injection of resources at its Reading Science Centre, was a sign of its commitment to the UK and Irish business.

“These openings are really exciting news for Kraft in the UK and Ireland, placing our world-class R&D operations and employees at the centre of a global network,” said UK boss Nick Bunker.