Anti-deathwatch: HMV

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

hmv 300x168 Anti deathwatch: HMVHMV’s rebirth from the jaws of the dumper has been a success!

The entertainment solutions retailer originally filed for administration in January 2013.

But now, they’ve recorded operating profits of almost £17 million in the 11 months after it was rescued by restructuring firm Hilco in 2013.

According to reports set to be filed at Companies House, HMV posted operating profit of £16.7m on sales of £311.2m between January 29 and December 28 2013.

All of the chain – or those that are left – are back in profit, thanks to some wheeler-dealing as regards their debts and overheads, and negotiations with suppliers.

HMV paid out £10m in intercompany charges and £4m in on-off restructuring costs. It also paid £2.3m in interest on loans and working capital provided by Hilco.

After one-off costs, the retailer posted a pre-tax loss of £4.8m.

So that’s good news then.

Morrisons & Lloyds tackle dodgy finances

September 30th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

morrisons 300x300 Morrisons & Lloyds tackle dodgy finances

Morrisons’ former head of tax and group treasurer has been charged with insider dealing over snide trades in Ocado shares which were made last year. It just so happens that this all went down when the supermarket was getting into a partnership with the online grocer.

Paul Coyle was arrested at the start of the year and now has to appear at Harrogate Magistrates Court with two charges levelled at him, announced by the Financial Conduct Authority, relating to trades made when Ocado shares rocketed by 150% and a 36% spike on the day the deal with Morrisons was confirmed.

Of course, Morrisons are distancing themselves from all this, with their management saying that they are completely satisfied that they followed proper procedures. They said: “Morrisons is satisfied with its governance and procedures concerning the handling of market sensitive data in this case and found that the company’s procedures had been properly followed.”

“These accusations, if proven, would be the result of an individual acting alone.”

Meanwhile, over at the Lloyds Banking Group, they have sacked eight members of staff for their part in manipulating Libor and fraudulently reducing the cost of access to the Government’s Special Liquidity Scheme, say reports. The bank has also held back £3m in bonus payments to the individuals too.

Lloyds chairman Lord Blackwell has described the actions of the employees as “completely unacceptable”, but surely, not at all surprising?

In addition to fiddling Libor, Lloyds have also been hit with a penalty for rigging the ‘repo rate’, which is used to calculate the level of fees it had to pay for access to the Bank of England’s liquidity scheme, which helped to lower the cost of funding during the credit crunch.

Thus far, Lloyds have been fined £218m for their part in all this, and Lloyds Banking Group chief executive Antonio Horta-Osario says: “Having now taken disciplinary action against those individuals responsible for the totally unacceptable behaviour identified by the regulators’ investigations, the board and the group management team are committed to preventing this type of behaviour happening again.”

We’ll see.

Sainsbury’s drop a shop window clanger

September 30th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Window displays can be works of art, but mostly, they’re a load of cobblers. However, Sainsbury’s have taken it next level thanks to whacking a poster that was clearly meant for staff only in the front of one of their stores.

Where a nice offer or charity drive should be, instead, some berk has put a poster up which says ‘Hey! Staff! Lets try and rinse people for a bit more money! Right guys? Right!

Byt7 gMCYAA6qhs 500x375 Sainsburys drop a shop window clanger

The poster, as you can see, regards the Fifty pence challenge (no, not a thing where you place a 50p between your buttocks and try and drop the coin in a glass) where the staff have been challenged.

“Let’s encourage every customer to spend an additional 50p during each shopping trip between now and the year-end,” says the poster THAT THEY HAVE STUCK IN THE FRONT WINDOW.

[via twitter]

Aldi hits record profits

September 29th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

aldi logo 252x300 Aldi hits record profitsAldi have announced record financial results for this year.

The supermarket has seen sales grow from £3.9 billion to £5.3 billion since 2013.

This is a combination of market share increasing, a summer of offers and competition and people generally fed up of Tesco and the like.

The supermarket has also rejigged it’s fresh food areas and brought in upmarket vibes with new ranges.

Aldi UK’s pre-tax profit rose 65% according to the Financial Times, to £260.9 million in the year to December 31 2013.

Tesco meanwhile has announced their third profit warning in as many months after Britain’s biggest retailer overstated its first-half profit by £250 milion.

It’s not looking too good for Sainsbury as they’re about to announce a grim tale of decline and sales later this week.

Roman Heidi, group managing director of Aldi UK, said: “We keep prices constantly low while keeping product quality consistently high, which is exactly what shoppers want.

“They had become used to thinking you have to pay more for better products. We’ve shown them this doesn’t have to be the case.”

Spending still a bit squeezy

September 29th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

clothes shop 300x225 Spending still a bit squeezyThe British consumer looks like they have another three years of spending squeezes.

The annual wage growth is likely to remain well below the 4.5%-to-5% rises seen before the financial crisis struck in 2008, according to a EY Item Club survey.

Median pay in real-terms is forecast to fall from £18,852 in 2008 to £17,827 by 2017, the survey suggests.

The Item club, a non-governmental forecaster that uses HM Treasury’s model of the UK economy, believes that record numbers of people in work – currently 30.6 million – will act as a brake on wage rises.

Their report expects the gradual pace of consumer spending to be around 2% in the next two years, as opposed to the 3.7% it was last decade, pre-all the hassle.

Martin Beck, the EY Item Club’s senior economic adviser said “Total household incomes have strengthened because more people are in work, but individuals do not have extra money in their pockets,”

“Real wages are being held back by strong growth in the supply of workers and the fact that firms are facing increased non-wage costs, such as new pension schemes,” he added.

Mr Beck also believes the so-called “squeezed middle” – the charming name awarded to households containing neither highly-skilled nor low paid workers – will continue to see limited growth in disposable income as pay rises remain below the rate of inflation – currently 1.5% – and competition for jobs remains strong.

Smirnoff want to go dancing with you and Spotify

September 26th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Smirnoff are having a bit of a revamp.

The vodka brand that was famously boycotted by some gays for a bit, have unveiled a new £15 million advertising campaign, and are now close to finalising a deal with Spotify in Europe.

The deal with the online streamer is to ‘deepen the brand’s connection to dance music’. Which is one way of saying ‘loads of clubbers like to cane vodka’.

The company originally piloted the tie-up with Spotify in the US, when it introduced its ‘Exclusively for Everybody’ brand messaging.

The new advert follows the theme of filtering, with the dismissal of ‘pretentious nights out’ with the line “Filter the unnecessary. Keep the good stuff”.

The Spotify/ Smirnoff tie-up will see the vodka curating an ad-free playlist of bangers, based on the artists they listen to, and it is hoped that it will be a rewarding engagement all round.

The vodka also worked with DJ duo Psychemagik on the track which features in the new advert and is now planning to release it as a single via Spotify, SoundCloud and their own platforms.

H&M eyes online expansion

September 26th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

handm 300x211 H&M eyes online expansionH&M are looking to branch out online shopping-wise before the end of the year.

The slightly-shabbier-than-Topshop-but-dearer-than-Primark chain are opening 10 online portals before this year is out

H&M (Hennes & Mauritz AB) have said that sales in the new markets have “got off to a very good start” and reported a 7% increase in sales to £3.8m across the company in the third quarter.

The shares fell the most in six months as the clothing retailer also reported a decline in third-quarter gross margin to 58.3% from 58.8%. H&M posted net income rose 20% to 5.3bn kronor ($740 million) in the three months through August.

There are also worldwide domination-type expansion plans afoot for the Group’s other brands COS, Monki, Weekday, Cheap Monday and & Other Stories.

There’s even H&M Home, which has been growing at an alarming rate, and there’s 15 more of those planned for 2014.

Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of the H&M cloak of shopping solutions, said the retailers online stores are “a very important complement” to its physical stores as they allow H&M to expand its offering to consumers.

Urban Outfitters sell most vinyl

September 26th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

FKA twigs   LP1 Urban Outfitters sell most vinylUrban Outfitters – for many years now, it’s been the shop that one wanders about feeling elderly and square, and now, they reckon they’re the world’s biggest seller of vinyl records.

Yep, the shop that reimagines bumbags and anything else that was wretched from the past, and even more wretched now, has become the leader in flogging records.

Vinyl sales have continued with a total of 6.1 million albums sold in the United States in 2013 – the highest number since 1991 – and the figures for this year are set to be even higher.

“Music is very, very important to the Urban customer… in fact, we are the world’s number one vinyl seller” said Calvin Hollinger, the company’s chief administrative officer.

Now, let’s approach this sensibly and explain why this is so.

Urban Outfitters have over 400 branches worldwide, and even if the range is very hipster-based – like most fashion stores, their new vinyl selection is more curated than that of an HMV – they know their market. The average shopper isn’t going in there to source a Moody Blues long player, they’re all up for more now sounds from the likes of voguish hitmaker FKA Twigs (who we have used as an illustration).

Also, they have an innovative inventory model wherein they essentially rent out their record shelves to over 100 different vendors. The retailer provides stores with an online list of inventory which they can then stock on consignment.

Urban Outfitters is the most 00ze shopping experience imaginable, navigating through the Napster, MySpace, Facebook and Spotify eras and managing to keep its head above the water throughout.

There’s also the fact that 90% of its customers probably never experienced vinyl growing up, and are now probably thinking it’s quite the thing. Mind you, you could probably flog them 8-track cartridges if you go down that route of thinking, the goons.

Grocery market growth not really happening

September 25th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

trollies 300x200 Grocery market growth not really happeningThe grocery market is at a record low.

According to the latest Kantar Worldpanel figures, the market growth slowed to a low of just 0.3% in the three months leading up to 14 September.

Aldi and Lidl were alright though, Aldi increased sales by 29.1%, compared with last year and Lidl increased sales by 17.7%. At the other end of the grocery chain, Waitrose grew its sales by 4.5% bringing its market share back up to 5.1%.

Asda was the only ‘big four’ supermarket to increase its market share by 0.8% to 17.4%

Meanwhile, nobody wants to kick a supermarket while it’s down, but Tesco’s market share slid 4.5% to 28.8%, and Sainsbury’s dipped by 1.8%, down to 16.2%.

Grocery inflation has seen its twelfth successive fall and now stands at 0.0% for the period.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel is on hand with a quote about this, and has said: “For the first time ever we’ve seen the average basket of everyday goods bought today costing exactly the same as it did a year ago.”

Thanks for that Fraser.

No-one has been running Tesco’s finance for months

September 25th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

tesco NEW No one has been running Tescos finance for monthsLaugh At Tesco Week continues apace with the news that their board is having a nervous breakdown when they found out that no director had been in charge of Tesco’s finances for the past five months.

Even though chairman Sir Richard Broadbent said that the former finance director Laurie McIlwee had been working on a part-time basis (with the fabulous job title of ’CFO Emeritus’) since quitting, turns out that was a load of cobblers and that Tesco are running their multinational company like a provincial chip shop.

Amazing.

It looks like Sir Richard’s position is somewhat untenable, what with this and the small matter of Tesco’s £250m profit shortfall.

Tesco announced that McIlwee’s replacement, Alan Stewart, was being brought in two months ahead of when he was supposed to start, presumably ringing him up and saying; ‘Can you start early mate? We need to get things running professionally again and we’re running out of a bollocks to drop.’

Sir Broadbent was asked about McIlwee’s absence and he said that he “was available to us to oversee that transition but he has not been in the office this weekend.” adding that: “He’s not in the office because, as I said, he was not directly involved and has not been directly involved in the recent days and weeks.”

Basically, since McIlwee quit, Tesco have been issuing profit warnings all over the place. It has been quite extraordinary.

In the statement last night, Tesco said: “Tesco stated on the 4th of April that until he officially left the company in October, Laurie McIlwee would be available to carry out transitional activities and support handover with colleagues as required.”

“During the transition period Laurie has in fact not been called upon by Tesco and has not been involved or had any input to any financial matters or held any position of responsibility in the company.”

The result of all this is City investors, who are dumping tens of millions of Tesco shares. The whole company, it seems, is about as slick as peanut brittle drying in your hair.

There’s inevitably going to be more laughs to be had at Tesco’s expense. They really are a farce.

Tesco launches Hudl2 next month

September 25th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

HUDL 300x168 Tesco launches Hudl2 next monthTesco have done a “Look! Over here! Shiny!” diversionary tactic after a grim week, and announced details of the launch of Hudl 2.

Now it turns out the secret reveal is going to be October 3rd.

The company has sent out invites to a launch with such crypticness as #letshudl on them… but who would want to huddle with people who just make stuff up in their accounts?

The company’s Hudl page has also updated with a new section for customers to register for updates about the second generation tablet.

It looks like they’re launching it in several colours. WHOOP!

The company assure us that the Hudl 2 will improve “on just about every area of its predecessor, from screen size to speed, design and accessories.”

Will it save Tesco? We have no idea. However it was one of the few successes the terminally mental company have had in recent times. Plans were afoot to release a Hudl phone too, but they can’t be arsed now.

tesco bag 300x187 Serious Fraud Office keeps tabs on Tesco and other grocersWe continue to laugh at Tesco’s woes (yes, we’re very petty) today as it has been announced that the Serious Fraud Office is keeping an eye on what’s going on at Tesco after they invented £250m in their accounts.

Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have also been warned by auditors that they’re being watched too, as they could be liable to an accounting balls-up.

The Financial Conduct Authority have also been told about the goings-on at Tesco and now, it looks like the mega-grocer could be forced to open up old accounts, from 2011. Why? Over in That America, law firm Glancy Binkow & Goldberg said they’re looking at allegations on behalf of Tesco’s US shareholders over possible violations of federal securities laws.

There’s a lot of rumours knocking about that Tesco have been railroading suppliers into getting rebates and, according to The Times, these rebates could be sought with little notice under the guise of growing commercial income for marketing or promotions.

Cantor Fitzgerald retail analyst Mike Dennis said: “This was a well-known practice within Tesco and we believe it has been going on for at least a year or more, and became more desperate as sales full further.”

Not only that, the South Koreans are coming after Tesco too. Prosecutors in South Korea are investigating Homeplus (owned by Tesco) over allegations that the company’s managers sold customers’ private information to insurance firms.

The FRC said: “The FRC has disciplinary powers in relation to misconduct by accountants and, through the Financial Reporting Review Panel, can also require a company to restate its financial statements. The FRC does not have powers to monitor or require restatement of unaudited trading statements. It will consider the outcome of the investigation announced by the company and determine whether it should take regulatory action.”

Asos in bother with brands

September 24th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bw asos 300x168 Asos in bother with brandsAsos seem to be annoying their third party brands.

The online retailer’s’ heavy discounting and regular price promotions have made some companies question their future with them.

One unnamed retailer, who blabbed to the The Telegraph, reckon that Asos’ stategy is damaging to their brand, and this particular retailer is considering leaving the site for good.

Alongside Asos’ own brand, there’s a number of high street and designer partners including New Look, Birkenstock, French Connection, and River Island.

The online user base has increased by 25% over the past year, and now has 8.8 million active users.

Sales over the year increased 27%, leading CEO Nick Robertson to state that that the company was focussed on reaching £2.5bn in sales as its next target.

However, Asos themselves have refused to comment on its relationship with third-party brands.

It isn’t a good time for the company, seeing as they’re currently on Deathwatch after posting two profit warnings this year and a warehouse fire that dented the company for £30 million in lost sales alone. Shares have been falling and Asos said: “In the new financial year we’ll make significant investments in our international pricing and proposition, as well as in our logistical infrastructure and technology platform. As a result, we expected profit before tax for the year to August 31 to be at a similar level to 2013-14.”

If the third party brands decide they’ve had enough of Asos, they could ‘do a Phones 4u’.

Sainsbury’s new trolley for disabled kids

September 23rd, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

sainsburys 300x192 Sainsburys new trolley for disabled kidsSainsbury’s have launched a new shopping trolley designed especially for parents with kids who have disabilities.

600 of the trolleys will be sent to stores across the country this week.

The new trolleys are designed for children with the likes of cerebral palsy and autism, and fitted with a special padded seat and harness designed for maximum comfort and security.

All Sainsbury’s supermarkets will have at least one of the new trolleys by the end of October.

Sainsbury’s had invited parents Maria Box and Stacie Lewis to trial-run the new trolleys, after learning of their frustration with the current trolleys being unsatisfactory.

Hannah Bernard, Sainsbury’s director of customer experience, said: “We were reviewing our range of trolleys when we read about Maria’s experience and Stacie’s call for supermarkets to introduce a new trolley for disabled children. We immediately contacted them and invited them to trial our new trolley with their children.”

“We always had trolleys for parents with disabled children but they weren’t appropriate for children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy or autism. We hope these new trolleys will make shopping much easier for thousands of parents like Stacie and Maria and are very grateful to them for helping us with the design.”

Mark Harper MP, Minister of State for Disabled People said: “It’s excellent news that Sainsbury’s are taking steps to improve the shopping experience for disabled people. This new trolley should serve as a benchmark for others in the retail sector.”

Hurrah all concerned!

Mothercare – not at all well

September 23rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Mothercare Mothercare   not at all wellIt’s all gone mildly pear-shaped for Mothercare.

The infant-solutions-themed chain have asked their shareholders to help them out of a £40 million hole, by getting them to stump up £100 million.

They’ll clear their debts and use the remaining cash to close a quarter of their stores.

You need £60 million to close a store? It’s a wonder anyone bothers in the first place.

Shares fell at a quite shit 11% to 221.2p, in reaction to the news, yet management reckon this is the best way ahead to try and salvage the business.

Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said: “There was an alternative to take six or seven years to fix the business, which I’m fearful is too long.”

Mothercare plan to shut 75 stores and open 20 new ones, which goes with the management’s vision of shifting the shops into outta town locations

Oh and a refurbishment wouldn’t go amiss either, as Newton-Jones remarked: “Many of our stores haven’t been touched for a decade, not even so much as a lick of paint.”

There you have it.