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Today’s news in brief-10/6/24

Labour has pledged to overhaul the business rates system if it wins the upcoming general election. The party aims to create a fairer system that supports small businesses and high streets while ensuring that large multinationals and tech companies pay their fair share. Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves highlighted the need to reduce costs for small businesses and address the imbalances that hinder growth. According to the latest YouGov poll, Labour leads the Conservatives by 22 points ahead of the election on July 4.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has postponed its plans for a Boots IPO due to ongoing discussions about a potential sale. WBA is exploring alternative options for the UK health and beauty retailer and has been in informal talks with private equity firms. The delay follows WBA’s renewed efforts to sell Boots for up to £7bn, a process it previously abandoned in 2022 when bidders failed to meet the asking price.

THG’s tenth largest shareholder, Dutch investment firm Ophorst Van Marwijk Kooy Vermogensbeheer, has joined UK shareholder Kelso in opposing the re-election of chairman Charles Allen. The revolt is driven by dissatisfaction with THG’s share price and strategic direction. Kelso, which owns about 0.5% of THG shares, criticised the company’s lack of progress in selling divisions and shifting its listing to the premium segment of the London market. Since its 2020 IPO, THG’s shares have dropped 90%.

The New West End Company has launched a manifesto ahead of the general election to support growth, safety, and international promotion of London’s West End. Representing 600 retailers, the organisation is pushing for a review of the business rates system and more planning resources to boost investment in the area. The West End is expected to grow by 5% in 2024, surpassing pre-pandemic sales levels.

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Marks and Spencer (M&S) may face further delays in its plans to develop a new Oxford Street store due to the general election. The project, which involves demolishing a 1929 art deco building for a 10-story site, was previously blocked by Michael Gove and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. A High Court ruling in March overturned Gove’s decision, but the election may postpone final approval.

Waitrose has acquired meal kit delivery service Dishpatch. Founded in 2020, Dishpatch partners with renowned chefs like Angela Hartnett and Michel Roux Jr. to offer pre-prepared dishes that require minimal final steps. Waitrose sees significant growth opportunities with Dishpatch, focusing on expanding the meal kit business and exploring new food experiences for customers. Dishpatch CEO Peter Butler will continue in his role, aiming to bring high-quality restaurant food to more people.

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