Today’s news in brief-5/3/24

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), total retail sales rose by 1.1% in February year-on-year, attributed partly to February being the wettest on record. While food sales increased by 6%, non-food sales decreased by 2.5%, both below previous averages. In-store and online non-food sales also experienced declines. Despite positive sales figures, there’s concern over the likely drop in volumes as inflation remains high, dampening consumer confidence.

The Issa brothers, owners of Asda and EG Group, scaled back investment in EG Group to reduce debts, indicating a strategic shift towards debt reduction amid high-interest rates. Despite paying down significant debt, concerns linger regarding debt management across their businesses.

Greggs reported significant growth in profits and sales for the fiscal year ending December 2023, driven by store expansions and partnerships with retailers. Like-for-like sales remained strong in early 2024, with plans for further store openings and continued progress towards its ambitious growth targets.

Supermarket sales experienced a slight slowdown, attributed to falling food inflation and increased promotional activity during key events. Branded promotions played a significant role in boosting sales, particularly online, indicating evolving consumer shopping behaviours and preferences. Retailers like Ocado and M&S outperformed, with discounters experiencing slower growth.


Currys announced a £13m investment to boost staff pay, raising minimum hourly rates and introducing a bonus program. Over three years, Currys increased its minimum hourly pay by 29%, emphasising its commitment to employee welfare and development through a comprehensive remuneration package and learning programs.

Ocado Retail introduced a “Best of British” aisle, exclusively featuring locally grown and produced UK products, addressing consumer demands for transparency and supporting British farmers. With over 800 items sourced locally year-round, Ocado aims to strengthen food security, sustainability, and local agriculture while responding to rising public interest in British produce.

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