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Today’s news in brief-3/10/23

Next announced the retirement of its CFO, Amanda James, after 28 years of service. This transition is aligned with James’ long-standing plans and is set for September 26 2024, following the release of interim results. Jonathan Blanchard of Reiss is slated to succeed her, bringing over three decades of financial expertise to the role.

Dame Sharon White, chairman of John Lewis, has reportedly proposed restructuring her successor’s role to part-time, aiming to attract top-tier talent. She has also announced her decision not to seek a second term, intending to step down by early 2025. This recommendation comes in light of her recognition of the demanding nature of the role and the recent appointment of John Lewis’ first CEO. This follows John Lewis reporting narrowed losses of £59m for the first half of 2023, showcasing positive financial progress.

Boohoo has experienced a significant setback with a 17% drop in revenues, totalling £729.1m in the first half of the year. This was attributed to a slower-than-expected recovery in sales volume, impacting both the UK and international markets. Boohoo also reported a pre-tax loss of £9.1m, a stark contrast to the prior year’s profit of £6.2m. The company now expects FY24 revenues to fall by 12% to 17%. This shift is attributed to a strategic focus on more profitable sales within their brand labels, alongside a disciplined cost-saving initiative of over £125m.

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Dr. Martens is poised to mark a significant milestone by opening their 100th EMEA store on London’s Oxford Street on November 10 2023. This strategic location aims to enhance the brand’s visibility due to its proximity to the flagship Carnaby Street store. The new store, boasting the second-largest trading space in EMEA, will incorporate sustainability and music elements, integral to Dr. Martens’ identity.

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Retail experts predict a decline in foot traffic from September through November, followed by a modest upswing in December. This projection is attributed to rising bills impacting households early, driven by factors like inflation and interest rates. Notably, almost half a million households face impending fixed-rate mortgage increases in early 2024. This is expected to curtail consumer spending, although retail parks and shopping centres are anticipated to see heightened foot traffic during Black Friday and the holiday shopping season.

The British Retail Consortium reported a drop to 6.2% in shop price inflation in September, the lowest since September 2022, due to heightened competition. Non-food inflation reduced to 4.4%, below the three-month average rate. Fresh food inflation also moderated to 9.6%, and ambient food inflation decelerated to 10.4% in September, signalling a notable easing of cost pressures.

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