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Today’s news in brief-27/2/24

Shop price inflation reached its lowest level since March 2022, dropping to 2.5% in February, according to new figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). This decline was attributed to easing input costs for energy and fertilisers, resulting in lower food prices. However, non-food inflation remained stable, with clothing prices continuing to fall as retailers maintained promotions to stimulate consumer spending.

Total grocery sales soared by 5.1% to £35.3bn for the four weeks ending February 18, 2024, with grocery price inflation dropping to 5.3%, the lowest rate since March 2022. Notably, Asda and Lidl marked significant growth, while Sainsbury’s and Tesco also increased their market share. Consumers celebrated the end of dry January with a spike in alcohol sales and indulged in Valentine’s Day treats, seeking value amidst the ongoing inflation concerns.

Hilco Capital has reportedly initiated the sale of Homebase for the second time in four years, seeking potential buyers such as B&M and The Range. The move follows Hilco’s acquisition of Homebase for £1 in 2018, after which it implemented cost-saving measures and launched a CVA. Despite challenges, the company aims to capitalise on the home improvement demand, with discussions at an early stage.

Despite an unchanged market environment, Victorian Plumbing anticipates delivering full-year adjusted EBITDA in line with market expectations. The retailer attributes this performance to increased sales of own-brand products, leading to improved gross margins. Market share gains and progress towards opening a new distribution centre further contribute to the company’s positive outlook.

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Morrisons is reportedly exploring the potential sale of its bakery business, Rathbones, in a bid to reduce its debt burden. Discussions are at an early stage, with private equity firm Endless speculated as a potential buyer. This move aligns with Morrisons’ strategy to offload assets following its acquisition by Clayton, Dubilier and Rice in 2021, aiming to strengthen its financial position and drive down debt levels.

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