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Today’s news in brief-8/7/24

James Timpson OBE, CEO of the Timpson shoe repair chain, has been appointed as the new Minister for Prisons, Parole, and Probation following Labour’s landslide victory in the general election. Timpson, who has been involved in the family business since his school days, has grown the company from 320 to over 2,000 shops, significantly increasing its profits. His appointment aligns with his long-standing commitment to rehabilitating ex-offenders, having employed nearly 600 former convicts in Timpson branches across the UK and chaired various prison reform initiatives.

Asda has scrapped its trial of a four-day work week after employees found it exhausting. The trial, which was conducted in 20 stores, required employees to work 44 hours over four days instead of five. Complaints about the physical demands and difficult working hours led Asda to shift to a trial of a 39-hour work week over five days without reducing pay. This decision follows other retailers like Dunelm and Morrisons, which have successfully implemented similar trials, while Sainsbury’s offers flexible working hours.

Superdrug reported a significant increase in pre-tax profits for the fiscal year 2023, reaching £111.6 million, a 43% rise. This growth was driven by strong retail performance, increased sales volumes, and the expansion of their own brand products. Superdrug opened 14 new stores and upgraded 45 existing ones, enhancing their appeal with modernised interiors and energy-efficient features.

John Lewis plans to increase shop floor staff to boost sales, particularly in concessions. Executive Director Peter Ruis believes that current staffing levels are insufficient and that more employees could enhance customer service and sales performance. The retailer is renegotiating contracts with fashion brands to lower commission rates in exchange for hiring more staff. While fashion brands have shown support for the initiative, some suppliers are cautious and require lower commission rates to fully endorse the plan.

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Huddled Group has acquired a 75% stake in Boop Beauty Limited, an e-commerce business dealing in surplus beauty products. Founded by former L’Oreal lawyer Yasmine Amr, Boop helps beauty brands sell excess and discontinued products. The acquisition will provide Boop with additional capital to expand its stock range and marketing efforts. Amr will continue as a shareholder and non-executive director.

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