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Today’s news in brief-16/10/23

Next has finalised the acquisition of FatFace for £115.2m, with a portion of the payment made in cash and the remainder in Next’s shares. Following the transaction, Next will hold 97% of the equity, while FatFace’s management will retain 3%. FatFace will continue to operate autonomously with its own board of directors, based in Havant, Hampshire. The brand’s CEO, Will Crumbie, will continue to lead the business. Plans are in place to migrate FatFace’s online operations onto Next’s ‘Total Platform’ within the next year.

Former JD Sports chief, Peter Cowgill, is reportedly mulling over a return to the retail sector. Private equity firms have approached Cowgill to potentially lead luxury menswear brand Mainline, which is currently under JD Sports ownership. There are considerations within JD Sports to potentially divest its designer clothing division, focusing more on sportswear. Stuart Hicks, founder of Mainline Menswear, is also being considered to manage the business. However, discussions are still at an early stage, and JD Sports has recently begun exploring potential buyers for Mainline. Cowgill stepped down from his role at JD last year and remains a consultant for the company. His exit package terms prevent him from advising rival retailers.

Ted Baker owner Authentic Brands has intervened after the firm overseeing its UK operations, AARC, faced challenges in securing financing. Reports from the Times suggest Authentic Brands, which paid £211m for Ted Baker’s brand and intellectual property last year, has extended a short-term loan to AARC to stabilise the brand. AARC had been working with advisors from FTI Consulting for months in attempts to secure longer-term financing. In June, Ted Baker let go of over 200 staff from its head office as part of a shift towards an outsourcing model.

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has increased its stake in Boohoo to 15.1% as part of its broader investment strategy in UK fashion retailers. This move follows a prior increase from 10.4% to 13.4% last week. Frasers Group now holds 191,808,425 voting rights in Boohoo. Boohoo reported a 17% drop in revenues to £729.1m in the first half of the year, primarily attributed to a slower-than-anticipated sales recovery. The retailer also saw a pre-tax loss of £9.1m compared to a profit of £6.2m the previous year. Boohoo anticipates a further decline in revenues for FY24.

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A petition initiated by Tesco worker Jenny Whyte, urging the government to establish violence or abuse against retail workers as a standalone criminal offence, has garnered over 12,000 signatures. Should it reach 100,000 signatures, the petition could be debated in Parliament. Tesco reported a 33% increase in violent incidents against its store workers compared to the previous year. Tesco’s UK CEO, Jason Tarry, voiced his support for the petition, emphasising the importance of employee safety. In response to the rising abuse of shop workers, Tesco has implemented measures including the option for staff to wear body cameras and the installation of toughened glass safety screens in over 300 Tesco Express stores.

M&S has announced plans to recruit 10,000 new customer assistants to bolster its workforce for the holiday season. This marks a more than 40% increase from the previous year, reflecting M&S’s heightened investment in employee hours to enhance customer service on the shop floor. These customer assistants will play a crucial role in ensuring M&S’ Christmas Food to Order service runs smoothly. New hires will join the company starting November 19, with various roles and flexible working patterns available. Employees will also enjoy benefits including a 20% discount from their first day.

 

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