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Today’s news in brief-2/1/24

Central Group is reportedly considering increasing its stake in luxury department store Selfridges as co-owner Sigma faces financial issues. Central recently became the largest shareholder, converting a £317m loan into equity. Sigma’s Prime Selection unit filed for insolvency, possibly leading to liquidation of assets worth over €19bn, impacting its stake in Selfridges.

Uniqlo’s UK boss, Alessandro Dudech, is planning price cuts as inflation eases, passing on material cost reductions. Some products, like cashmere sweaters, have seen price drops. Uniqlo’s customer base is growing rapidly in the UK, with new flagship stores planned for Oxford Street and Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

John Lewis Partnership, under CEO Nish Kankiwala, has reportedly shifted focus to retail in a new turnaround plan. Emphasising a “one retail mindset,” Kankiwala aims to be a brilliant retailer, focusing on customer delight. The detailed plan, centred on four pillars, will be presented later to address setbacks due to inflation.

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Shop price inflation in the UK flatlined in December. The annual rise slowed to 4.3%, the lowest since June 2022. Non-food price inflation increased to 3.1% in December. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) CEO, Helen Dickinson, highlighted the impact of Black Friday discounting, emphasising challenges for retailers in 2024.

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Discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl celebrated record-breaking Christmas sales. Aldi’s sales surpassed £1.5bn, marking an 8% YoY increase, with the busiest day on December 22. Lidl saw a 12% YoY increase, attributing it to strong sales of their premium line Deluxe and a successful Advent promotion on their rewards app.

In The Style’s founder, Adam Frisby, has stepped down as CEO after a decade. Despite personal tolls, he remains a shareholder and supports the business. The company, back to profitability, has appointed Ben Armstrong as the new managing director.

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