Today’s news in brief-14/5/24

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is intensifying efforts to sell the Boots chain, engaging advisers for preliminary discussions with potential buyers. No formal sale process has started, but the chain, valued around £7bn, remains of interest. Previously, in 2022, WBA halted sale plans due to market instability, which affected financing. Despite reconsidering an IPO for Boots on the London Stock Exchange, any sale would require ministerial and regulatory approval due to Boots’ significant role in UK public healthcare.

Currys has raised its full-year profit before tax guidance to between £115m and £120m, up from £105m, following a strong year-end performance. The company reported a 2% sales increase in the UK and Ireland, with Nordic revenues also up by 2% despite challenging market conditions. The company’s cost-saving measures have countered inflation effectively. This improved outlook follows the disposal of its Greek business for £175m in April. CEO Alex Baldock highlighted the positive momentum, increased margins, and strong cash position as key factors for the optimistic forecast.

Greggs reported a 7.4% rise in like-for-like sales, reaching £693m in the first 19 weeks of 2024. The bakery chain remains on track to open 140 to 160 new stores by the year’s end, having already launched 64 new sites, including partnerships with Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Despite closing 37 stores, Greggs continues to expand, now operating 2,500 shops. Investment in its Birmingham and Amesbury distribution centres is progressing, expected to boost logistics capacity by year-end. The company maintains a stable outlook amid a challenging market, with cost inflation predicted at 4-5%.

Marks and Spencer (M&S) chairman Archie Norman expressed frustration over the lack of police support in tackling shoplifting. Speaking on LBC’s breakfast show, Norman highlighted a 37% increase in shoplifting offences in 2023, with only 3% of incidents resolved in hotspots. M&S has invested heavily in security measures, including store detectives and advanced camera systems, to mitigate theft, which has significantly reduced due to these efforts.


The British Footwear Association (BFA) has appointed Richard Shetliffe as its new CEO. Shetliffe, who has over 30 years of experience in the footwear industry, previously held leadership roles at notable brands including Dr. Martens, Ben Sherman, and Havaianas. At Havaianas, he significantly expanded the brand’s presence in Northern Europe through innovative strategies. Most recently, Shetliffe consulted for eco-luxury brand LØCI.

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