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Fortnum & Mason fetes record-breaking Christmas Friday, 11th January 2013
Photo credit: Fortnum & Mason
Fortnum & Mason has reported its highest ever monthly sales in the run up to Christmas, rising 17.3 per cent in the four weeks to the end of December.
A British icon and favourite with everyone from the Queen to Stephen Fry, saw strong trading across its gift lines, with Christmas tea towels and musical biscuit tins flying off the shelves.
With its flagship on London's Piccadilly, Fortnum & Mason said it had served 8 per cent more customers in December, compared with the same time in 2011, while online sales rose 45 per cent.
Ewan Venters, chief executive of the Fortnum & Mason, said: "We had a splendid Christmas – the best in our long history for sales but also in terms of the atmosphere in store which is a huge tribute to the effort of all the team.
"Our online business is growing rapidly but the performance of the iconic store underlines its position as a destination."
The retailer added that a £3 million investment into a new warehouse and delivery system managed to ensure Christmas orders of festive hampers ran smoother than last year.
Tesco CEO Philip Clarke responds to Harris+Hoole critics Wednesday, 9th January 2013
It’s the news story that won’t go away: while the retail press covered the revelations of Tesco’s investment in independent coffee chain Harris+Hoole back in August, it was only in the first days of January that the coffee shop came under fire from customers, after a number of national papers revealed Tesco’s 49 per cent stake in the artisan chain.
Tesco’s chief executive Philip Clarke on Wednesday took to the company’s corporate blog to defend the retail giant’s stake in the start-up business.
“Since their launch in the summer, Harris+Hoole has flourished and I’m pleased to see how popular it’s become. Their success is good news for the high streets they are in, for their suppliers and for the people they employ. Their success so far should be attributed to the Tolley family, who decide the strategy and run the business.”
Clarke went on to respond to reports in the press and from customers of Harris + Hoole’s first stores that implied the chain was at fault for appearing as an independent, small-scale business, when in fact it had the backing of the UK’s largest retailer:
“We’ve always been upfront about our investment in Harris+Hoole, and so have Harris+Hoole. We like backing great brands, helping them to grow and to realise their potential. We’ve done it with suppliers for years. Great ideas can find it hard to get backing these days, so we’re pleased to be in a position to help entrepreneurs achieve their vision.”
Citing Tesco’s work with Dobbies garden centres and the London chain of Euphorium bakeries, Clarke added that Harris+Hoole’s stores will eventually expand into Tesco stores, when founders and siblings Nick, Andrew and Laura Tolley “are ready”.
Warehouse managing director to depart as sales ‘flourish’ Monday, 7th January 2013
Photo credit: Warehouse
Meg Lustman, managing director of Aurora-owned fashion brand Warehouse is expected to leave the retailer next month following a period of strong trading over Christmas.
Having worked at the head of the company since 2009, the Independent reported that Lustman is thought to be leaving her role in February, although she could remain on the group’s board for a while longer.
The move comes as Warehouse defied tough trading on the high street with a 7 per cent rise in like-for-like sales over the five weeks to 29 December.
Derek Lovelock, executive chairman of Aurora, told the Independent: "Under Meg's leadership, Warehouse has flourished and we can report strong trading over the Christmas period."
‘Best ever’ Christmas for House of Fraser as sales rise 6.3% Monday, 7th January 2013
Photo credit: House of Fraser
House of Fraser on Monday revealed a 6.3 per cent rise in like-for-like sales excluding VAT over Christmas, in what it described as its ‘best ever Christmas sales period’.
The department store group, which operates 60 stores across the UK and Ireland, said it had seen a positive sales performance both in-store and online, with record-breaking online sales up 48 per cent in the 6 weeks to 5 January 2013.
Speaking in light of the results, Don McCarthy, chairman of House of Fraser, said: “The positive sales trends experienced in our third quarter have continued throughout the festive period and we are pleased to report another record performance despite a more competitive environment. This performance demonstrates the success of our strategy to continuously improve our online proposition, develop both our House Brands and fashion credentials and invest in our stores to give our customer the best possible shopping experience.”
Demand for House of Fraser’s Branded and Concession lines saw the retailer’s House Brands sales grow 10 per cent, with fashion and beauty categories delivering particularly strong performances for the period.
McCarthy added: “There is no doubt that 2012 was a challenging year in retail and it remains difficult to predict when economic conditions and consumer sentiment will improve. However, with the strong sales performance in the period and a close focus on margins and operational efficiencies, we expect to report growth in full year earnings in line with previous indications. Given the sales performance, we also expect to finish the year with a cleaner stock position and are well placed to deliver further growth in 2013.”
In a statement on Monday House of Fraser noted that it had seen more encouraging activity for the first 10 weeks of its fourth quarter, with like-for-like sales excluding VAT up 5.2 per cent.
Another record-breaking week for John Lewis as sales rise 15% Friday, 14th December 2012
Photo credit: John Lewis
There might be a few days to go before the Christmas festivities kick-off, but John Lewis will already have plenty to celebrate after revealing its best ever sales total of £142 million year-on-year in the week to 8 December.
The result was up 15 per cent from the same week a year before, as the department store’s online operations achieved a record day with sales up 46 per cent on ‘Mega Monday’. To add to the bevy of good news, the soundtrack for the retailer’s Christmas advert also made it to the top of the singles chart.
“Excellent availability across much of our assortment is the hallmark of a tremendous performance from the Buying and Merchandising teams,” Barry Matheson, director of retail services at John Lewis said of the performance, adding that electrical, home and technology led the way both in shops and online across the first full week of December.
With cold weather sweeping the nation, sales of winter coats, scarves and gloves “excelled”, whilst John Lewis’ home department saw a new record in weekly sales a week ahead of the best performing seven days in 2011.
“There was a slight heart flutter early in the week when snow fell across parts of Scotland and Northeast England but as the snow thawed customers returned to shopping with a vengeance, culminating in an extremely successful weekend,” Matheson said of the retailers’ performance across the UK.
“All credit to Swindon for topping the table with the best score but from both a one-and two-year perspective the stand-out performance came from Glasgow. There was definitely a northern theme to the results with Liverpool, Edinburgh and Trafford all in the top six.
“To have achieved these new sales records, particularly in a market which is still economically challenging, shows the extent to which customers trust John Lewis to deliver the perfect Christmas,” Matheson added.
The positive momentum continued at the partnership’s food operations, with Waitrose reporting a 6.8 per cent rise in sales excluding petrol for the week to 8 December.
“Our branches are certainly getting busier as the number of transactions accelerates - up 1.6 per cent on the previous week,” said Helen Hyde, personnel director at Waitrose, adding: “these customers were also buying more items with volume up 2.2 per cent on the previous week and up 8 per cent on last year.”
Total online grocery sales were up by 45.3 per cent, with orders made using mobile phones rising 30 per cent week-on-week and 16 per cent of orders made using a tablet device.
‘Business Angel’ to save Comet? Tuesday, 27th November 2012
Photo credit: Comet
New reports that entrepreneur Clive Coombes is in talks with Comet administrator Deloitte have raised hopes that there may be a future for the electrical retailer yet.
According to The Sun, self-styled “business angel” Coombes is said to be in discussions with Deloitte to purchase up to 180 stores from the collapsed Comet chain.
Speaking to The Sun, Coombes suggested doubt over how much former owner Op-Capita had “really tried” to save the retailer, adding that he would look to “cut down the distribution depots and trim the top levels of management”.
The entrepreneur went on to state: “My message to staff? I’d tell them there’s a little bit of hope.”
Coombes, who works as a consultant for CC Business Angels, a company which is said to specialise in reviving troubled firms, will use a company called Meridian Wholesale to front the bid.
The news comes as rival high street retailers cast their eye over the remaining Comet stores. Dixons, Maplin, Blockbuster and TK Maxx are all reportedly considering a number of Comet stores as yet another wave of redundancies looms at the failed electricals chain.
Britons expected to spend £86bn this Christmas Tuesday, 13th November 2012
John Lewis premiered its Christmas campaign over the weekend. Photo credit: John Lewis plc
Retail spending over Christmas is expected come in above last year, with Britons spending a total of £86 billion over the festive period.
New research from SAS UK and Verdict find retail spending will rise 1 per cent on 2011’s figures, despite Britons having less disposable income for presents.
Food sales are expected to drive the growth, up 2.9 per cent in the last quarter of 2012 compared with 2011, although this increase will be largely down to rising prices and inflation. In fact it’s set to be a tough Christmas for high street traders by all accounts, with discounting likely to become a major part of retailers’ Christmas strategy to fend off a 0.2 per cent fall in volumes for total retail spending.
Online sales are set to account for 10.6 per cent of the total retail spend for 2012, although the results from Verdict and SAS found in-store will remain a primary buying channel for many shoppers, meaning retailers will have to ensure both their bricks and mortar and online stores are up to scratch.
Overall, department stores, supermarkets, online retailers and discount stores are expected to be the major winners of 2012, with convenience and competitive pricing listed as the top consumer priorities.
Speaking in light of the results, Cindy Etsell, head of retail, SAS UK & Ireland said:
“Click and collect and M-commerce will be particularly attractive for the time-pressed over Christmas. And, while spend is up, volume is down and so discounting is expected to be a big part of retailers’ strategies.
“The combination of multi-channel shopping and heavy discounting will increase competitive pressure. And so it’s absolutely crucial retailers have analytics technology in place to understand increasingly complex customer behaviours to make the right decisions in real-time on product, price, promotion and placement. Having a single customer view across different touch points will mean retailers can forecast and monitor demand more accurately to at least maintain margins.”
John Lewis sales growth stalls Friday, 26th October 2012
John Lewis prepares for the onset of colder weather. Photo credit: John Lewis
Sales growth for Britain’s biggest department store group fell for the third week in a row last week, as tough comparables from the year before proved hard to beat.
John Lewis on Friday said department store sales rose 7.0 per cent to £69.4 million in the week to 20 October. This follows a continued trend for a decline seen in the last three weeks, with sales up 8.6 per cent for the week before.
However, the firm was optimistic for sales to the week end of 27 October, thanks to the launch of Windows 8 and the Kindle Fire, which saw many shoppers holding off from making electrical purchases in recent weeks in the run up to the releases.
John Lewis’ supermarket chain Waitrose reported a 4.1 per cent rise in sales to £109.4 million for the week to 20 October.
John Lewis fetes new format launch with sales up 8.6% Friday, 19th October 2012
John Lewis store opening at Exeter. Photo credit: John Lewis
Despite missing out on the double digit rise seen consistently across the last few weeks, John Lewis had plenty to celebrate with the opening of its new format store and strong online sales.
Sales outstripped expectations at the retailer’s new format full-line department store in Exeter, while another 29 branches across the UK reported a growth in sales for the week.
Poole and Norwich delivered the stand-out performances for the seven days, with sales up19.7 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
Online sales accounted for a quarter of trade at John Lewis, rising 23.2 per cent year-on-year, as orders via the retailer’s Click & Collect service rose 77 per cent for the year.
Fashion recorded a 12.7 per cent growth year-on-year, as soft comparables from a heat wave in October 2011 helped strong autumnal sales this year. Electrical and home technology rose 11.8 per cent from last year, although at a slightly slower pace seen across the year as customers delayed purchases in the run up to the Windows 8 launch.
With the peak Christmas trading period little more than a month away, Susan Young, head of merchandising, central operations said: “The Christmas assortment is starting to gather momentum and with the Winterland Pop-up Shop launching in stores this week we are in a great place to begin the climb to Christmas peak sales."
Charles Vögele targeted for takeover bid Monday, 8th October 2012
Photo credit: Charles Vögele
Troubled Swiss clothing chain Charles Vögele is thought to have caught the eye of investors now preparing a takeover bid.
According to a report by Der Sonntag, a Southern European retailer is thought to be interested in the chain as it looks to expand internationally.
Although a spokeswoman for Vögele told Der Sonntag that they were yet to receive an offer, the rumours suggest a sale could be well-timed for Vögele, who last month saw its chief executive Frank Beeck quit with immediate effect.