What's fresh

This week’s retail news

Comet close to administration, 6,000 jobs under threat

The retailer has told its workforce that it is likely to enter administration next week and is "urgently" working to try to secure its future. Comet has been under increasing pressure from suppliers to pay upfront for stock before the critical Christmas trading period. The company is trading without credit insurance, which protects suppliers against the failure of a retailer. Those demands are understood to have intensified in the past fortnight after it emerged that OpCapita, the private equity company that owns Comet, had received approaches for the chain. Deloitte has been lined up as an administrator in what will be the 29th high street retailer to go into administration since the turn of the year.

Mary Portas backs demands to freeze business rates.

High street campaigner and media personality Mary Portas has weighed in on the Fair Rates for Retail campaign calling for a freeze of business rates for 2013. She called the Government delay in business rates revaluation a "tragedy for the high street". The Fair Rates for Retail campaign calls on the Government to freeze rate rises in 2013 and switch the measurement from September’s Retail Price Index (RPI) to an average of the more stable Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Boots tests out iPads

Boots is trialling iPads and wi-fi in 30 stores to enable customers to order in store more easily. Boots is arguably one of the largest high street retailers to jump onto the mobile testing bandwagon, with mobile point of sale touted as a ‘holistic’ way to reach consumers in store.

Marks & Spencer plans European online roll-out

Marks & Spencer is launching local transactional websites in four new European territories next month: Germany, Spain, Austria and Belgium. Each localised website will offer the regions’ preferred language, currency and delivery options.

Tesco Voucher Exchange marks first Christmas activity

Tesco has launched the first phase of its Christmas marketing activity with a TV ad to support its Clubcard Voucher Exchange. The Voucher Exchange allows Clubcard members to redeem their loyalty vouchers for double their value. Matt Atkinson, Tesco group marketing and digital officer says the focus of Tesco’s Christmas advertising is “delivering what matters to families and making it better”.

Asda unveils 'biggest ever' Christmas campaign

Asda has put “real family” situations at the heart of its Christmas campaign and not the “the perfect, idealistic and unattainable Christmas” scenarios portrayed by other brands. Asda is using insight from mums to promote a “real family” Christmas for its biggest ever festive push. The supermarket used insight from its rolling ‘Mumdex’ survey of 4,000 mums to produce the advert as part of a wider strategy to reshape its business around what it identifies as its key customers; mums.

HMV bans staff tattoos to boost customer experience

HMV has banned staff from sporting ‘prominent’ tattoos and body piercings in a bid to boost the in-store experience for shoppers. The updated policy expects a “high level of personal grooming” according to the retailer, and instructs staff to cover up or remove tattoos and ‘extreme body art’. However, a spokesman for the business says that ‘discrete tattoos or piercings’ are still allowed under the new policy.

The Co-op drops 'Good With Food' for new strapline

The Co-opererative Group has ditched its ‘Good With Food’ strapline after six years. As revealed by The Grocer in August, the strapline has been replaced by ‘Here For You For Life’. It gets its first outing during the society’s Christmas TV ad campaign, which breaks tonight.

Tesco reveals first instalment of W+K Christmas ad campaign

Tesco today sprung a surprise by revealing its long-awaited new advertising campaign under new agency Wieden + Kennedy will steer clear of an overriding new marketing message and instead be rolled out in instalments. The retailer also revealed it was not - as had been incorrectly reported elsewhere - be ditching its famous ‘Every Little Helps’ strapline, which it said was “more relevant than ever before.”

Poundland reports biggest-ever Halloween sales

Poundland has reported an 11% uplift in Halloween sales as Brits increasingly get into the spirit of the spooky season. The discounter said it sold 360,000 Halloween masks and 590,000 face painting kits to partygoers and guisers, with 1.6 million balloons, 2.3 million disposable paper cups and 1.5 million paper plates and napkins also shifted.