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Today’s news in brief-28/5/24

Shop price inflation has returned to normal levels, with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reporting a decrease in annual shop price inflation from 0.8% in April to 0.6% in May. This marks the lowest rate since November 2021 and is below the three-month average rate of 0.9%. Non-food items remained in deflation, dropping to -0.8% from -0.6% in the previous month, the lowest since October 2021. Food inflation also eased to 3.2% from 3.4%, continuing its 13-month downward trend, the lowest since February 2022. Fresh food inflation further slowed to 2% from 2.4%, and ambient food inflation decreased slightly to 4.8%.

Ted Baker’s largest lender, Secure Trust Bank, has clashed with the brand’s administrators, Teneo, over a potential conflict of interest due to Teneo’s ownership links with Authentic Brands, Ted Baker’s owner. Despite Secure Trust’s efforts to replace Teneo, a judge ruled that Teneo would remain as administrator. Documents reveal that Ted Baker owes nearly £60m to unsecured creditors, which are unlikely to be repaid, although the £15.6m owed to Secure Trust is expected to be paid.

Boohoo is facing a potential shareholder revolt at its upcoming annual general meeting over a new long-term incentive scheme for executives, despite the company reporting widened losses. Shareholders are unhappy with the proposed bonuses of £1m each for co-founders Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane, and CEO John Lyttle, especially since Boohoo’s financial targets were missed, resulting in a loss of £160m for the year ending February 2024. Revenues fell 17% to £1.46bn, attributed to challenging market conditions, inflation, and a strategic shift towards profitability. Boohoo’s remuneration committee justified the bonuses, citing the executives’ “excellent work.”

M&S and Next are reportedly considering rescue bids for The Body Shop as administrators FRP Advisory prepare to launch an auction process. The Body Shop, which collapsed three months after being acquired by Aurelius for £207m, has received around 70 expressions of interest, including from HMV owner Doug Putman. Administrators plan to close nearly half of The Body Shop’s 198 stores to secure the retailer’s future. The collapse followed years of unprofitability and disappointing trading over the crucial Christmas period.

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Dame Sharon White, the outgoing chair of John Lewis, criticised the government for not addressing the decline in apprenticeships, which have fallen by over 40% since the introduction of the training levy in 2017. White emphasised the need for a focus on skills and education to support young people’s careers, contrasting this with the Prime Minister’s proposed national service plan for 18-year-olds.

Victorian Plumbing reported a slight revenue dip of 1% to £144.6m in the first half of the fiscal year, but saw an 8% increase in gross profit to £72.3m and a 33% rise in EBITDA to £13.2 million. The company attributed its highest gross margin since listing in 2021 to strong own-brand sales. Total orders increased by 2% to 494,000, reflecting market share gains. Victorian Plumbing’s acquisition of rival Victoria Plum for £22.5m is expected to drive future revenue growth.

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