Morrisons go on a hiring spree!

April 16th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

morrisons 300x300 Morrisons go on a hiring spree!Morrisons are going to create 5,000 new jobs in stores in a bid to boost their customer service. If they get people on the tills and avoid trying to make everyone use self-service machines, they might be on to something.

Anyway, this is all part of new chief executive David Potts plans, after his predecessor Dalton Philips got the chop for having a name that sounds like an early ’80s TV show about a handsome antique dealer. Not to mention the fact he oversaw a hugely weak trade over Christmas.

Its statement said: “Morrisons is reshaping the way that its business is staffed, investing in new store jobs to deliver better customer service, while also proposing a reduction in head office jobs.”

Potts added: “We are focusing on the things that matter to our customers. That means having more of our staff in our stores, improving product availability and helping customers at our checkouts. We believe our customers and our staff will appreciate the improvements.”

So there you have it! More check-outs? Go on then! The next stop is to start filling their supermarkets with things we all actually want to buy. Then we’ll start talking.

sweets 300x225 Morrisons to start selling halal pick n mixWhile most consumers understand the concept of halal meat, and its importance to certain groups of consumers, few people would even consider the possibility that sweets could be non-halal. However, many jelly sweets contain gelatine products derived from animals, so supermarket giant Morrisons is trialling a halal pick and mix counter at 10 stores, offering gelatine-free sweets to Muslim customers.

The new sweets are being tested at stores in Blackburn, Bolton, Preston, Bradford, West Bromwich, Birmingham, Leamington Spa and at three stores in London. There will be 36 halal-friendly sweets, including liquorice sticks, cola bottles, jelly beans, gummy bears and sugared lips which will be guaranteed to be free of non-halal animal products or alcohol-based colourings and flavourings.

The move has been welcomed by Salim Mulla, chairman of the halal sub-committee at the Lancashire Council of Mosques who said “Sweets are very popular with the Muslim community,” he said. “I think the pick and mix will do really well.”

Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said he also welcomed the introduction of more halal foods in supermarkets, adding that “more and more supermarkets are introducing halal products to meet the needs of the customers, but this is the first halal pick and mix I have heard of. A lot of Muslim children buy sweets, but often have to look at the ingredients to see if they are halal. It’s good that they will be able to see they are halal at a glance.”

So is this a genius move by Morrisons, identifying a genuine gap in the market, or will this just isolate consumers who were already happy with their Morrisons pick and mix? Of course, the trials are likely to be in areas where there are greater numbers of Muslim consumers, so if they aren’t a hit there, it is unlikely that the scheme will be rolled out across the country. And what about consumers who would prefer non-halal products- where are they going to pig out on cola bottles now?

Is this the end of cashback credit cards?

April 14th, 2015 1 Comment By Thewlis

credit card 300x188 Is this the end of cashback credit cards?A new cap on the fees that credit card companies charge retailers is about to hit card payments in the UK. But while the jury is out on whether this will end up being a good or a bad thing for consumers, one immediate effect is that cashback credit cards are already being withdrawn in anticipation of the change- a trend that looks set to continue..

European Union regulations, first mooted back in July 2013, which will be introduced later this month, will limit the ‘interchange fees’ that credit card companies can charge retailers for accepting card payments, reducing them to a maximum 0.2% for debit cards and 0.3% at most for credit cards.

According to the European Commission, the changes will create “a more competitive system” that is more transparent and that will encourage technological innovation and investment in new payment options. However Visa Europe do not agree with the EU, claiming that the regulations will lead to less convenience, less innovation owing to reduced cost recovery and will actually cost consumers more as card issuers will start charging higher annual card fees.

Cash back credit cards are currently very popular, as they provide regular payments in the form of a percentage of your overall spending back as credit paid to your card; they are the most searched-for type of credit card according to Which!!! Money. However, in light of the new rules, Capital One has issued a statement saying it will stop offering cash back credit cards to new customers. The company will also scrap or reduce the earnings on its cash back deals for existing customers from 1 June.

The alternative for Capital One, and other card issuers contemplating the interchange fees issue, is to start charging a higher annual fee for the use of a cashback card. However, this could leave consumers looking at a card which will cost more in annual fees than it earns in cashback, particularly if cashback rates fall. Good job EU.

Of course, credit card companies are at their liberty to remove cashback incentives at any time, although most companies, including American Express, Barclays, NatWest and RBS, would need to provide 30 days’ in notice in writing before doing so.

The European Commission reckon that interchange fees currently bring in an estimated £6.5 billion a year for credit card companies, who are going to be understandably peeved at having their lucrative revenue streams cut. As a result, is it any wonder some cards are being withdrawn?

Poundland top £1bn

April 14th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

poundland Poundland top £1bnPoundland have cashed in over one billion pound coins at the bank after their revenues exceeded £1bn for the first time in their last financial year. Someone’s doing alright aren’t they?

In terms of profit, pre-tax, that’s £44m to play with if the forecasts are correct. Who would have ever guessed there was so much cash to be made from cheap tights, weird plant pots and foreign sweets?

On top of the hundreds of shops they’ve had for a while, Poundland said they’d opened 60 new stores in the UK and Ireland in its last year and, of course, they’re looking at taking over the 99p Stores if regulators allow it.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the deal, which is going to add another 251 shops to their portfolio could see a cut to competition. Poundland said they’ll be making an announcement about all this in due course.

Along with Aldi and Lidl, these bargainous businesses are really hammering the bigger supermarkets like Tesco and Morrisons.

Commenting on the results, chief executive Jim McCarthy, said: “After a solid quarter of sales growth, Poundland’s revenue for the 2015 financial year was over £1bn for the first time. Despite tough trading conditions, Poundland continues to perform well and we served an average of 5.3 million shoppers a week during the quarter.”

“We have managed our costs and cash well, and we expect underlying pre-tax profits to be in line with market expectations for the year as a whole. We achieved our target of 60 net new stores in the UK and Ireland and have a very strong pipeline of store openings for the current financial year.”

“We expect to continue to deliver our growth strategy in the new financial year, notwithstanding some headwinds from a weaker Euro and a tough comparable in the first half.”

Don’t call it a comeback: vinyl is on the up

April 14th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

headphones 300x243 Dont call it a comeback: vinyl is on the upThere’s been a lot of talk about the comeback of vinyl, as people start spending money on things in record shops, all over again.

This comeback has got some people so excited, that a special vinyl chart has been launched. Last year, vinyl sales hit a 20-year high in the UK, which is exciting enough. This new chart launches ahead of Record Store Day on Saturday.

Martin Talbot, the chief executive of the Official Charts Company, said: “With vinyl album sales up by almost 70% already this year,vinyl junkies could well have snapped up 2 million units by the end of this year – an extraordinary number, if you consider sales were one-tenth of that just six years ago.”

Gennaro Castaldo, from industry body The BPI, said: “With sales of vinyl albums at their highest level since the heady days of Britpop and growing, the introduction of an Official Vinyl Chart at this time makes perfect sense.”

“The chart will not only help us to better understand which artists and type of music are driving this resurgence, but will also help guide a new generation of younger, but emotionally-engaged, fans as they contemplate the vinyl delights that await them.”

However, what no-one is saying is that the comeback isn’t nearly as large as people are making out. Vinyl was virtually extinct at one point, which means sales don’t have to be that high to break record sales for two decades.

We’ll let this graph show you the truth of the matter.

vinyl chart 500x395 Dont call it a comeback: vinyl is on the up

 

As you can see, the late ’80s and early ’90s is when vinyl sales took a huge hit, thanks to the advent of CDs and cheap cassettes. While it is encouraging to see people buying vinyl again, sales are nowhere near the mid ’70s peak. You can add into this that no-one buys CDs or cassettes either, which means physical sales are in a sorry state indeed.

Still, seeing as record companies ripped everyone off for years, you could argue that this is all payback.

Aldi overtake Waitrose in supermarket sweep

April 8th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

aldi logo 252x300 Aldi overtake Waitrose in supermarket sweepThe big supermarkets have all been soiling themselves with fear over the German invasion of budget vendors… and with good cause, as Aldi have overtaken Waitrose to become the UK’s sixth biggest supermarket.

This is according to Kantar Worldpanel, who noted that Aldi have seen double-digit sales growth for the past four years. It now has 5.3% of the UK’s money that is spent on groceries. That said, it isn’t all gloom for Waitrose, as they’re still growing themselves and were one of just three supermarkets to see sales going up ahead of the market.

The other supermarket doing well, of course, was Lidl, who shot up by 12.1%.

With Co-Operative’s sales dipping consistently, the Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose will all be eyeing up their spot in the rankings.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Growth has been fuelled by over half a million new shoppers choosing to visit Aldi this year and average basket sizes increasing by 7%. The German discounter’s sales have increased by 16.8% in the latest period, still high compared to other retailers but slower relative to its recent performance.”

“The changing structure of Britain’s supermarket landscape is illustrated by two facts. Firstly, the so called discounters Aldi and Lidl now command a combined nine per cent share of the market. In 2012 the same two retailers only accounted for 5.4% of grocery sales.”

“Secondly, the 72.8 per cent share taken by the biggest four retailers is now at the lowest level in a decade.”

ASOS profits down as they still pay for fire

April 2nd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

bw asos 300x168 ASOS profits down as they still pay for fireFashion-flingers, ASOS, are in a spot of financial bother with the company reporting a 10% drop in pre-tax profit in the six months to the end of February. This is down from the same period last year, but you have to remember that they were hammered by the huge warehouse fire they suffered last year.

They said that their balance sheet included “business interruption reimbursements of £6.3m in respect of a warehouse fire in the prior financial year”.

You may recall that the fire at their Barnsley warehouse damaged 20% of the stock it held.

Remarkably at the time, ASOS managed to start taking and shipping orders a mere 48 hours after the fire had happened and then kicked off a sale which 50% discounts and the like.

Despite the drop in profits, the fashion retailer has seen a 14% rise in overall retail sales for the six-month period compared to the previous year.

Chief executive Nick Robertson says: “Our customer engagement remains high, with growth in visits, average order frequency, average basket size and conversion all improving. Our active customers grew by 13%, exceeding the nine million mark for the first time.”

“With our continued investment in our international rice competitiveness gaining traction, momentum in the business is building. This gives us confidence in the outlook for the second half and that full year profit and margin will be in line with expectations.”

Lidl get in the spirit of April Fools Day

April 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Lidl’s marketing team are on fire lately.

Last week, they offered money off One Direction Easter eggs when Zayn left, and you’ll remember that they also expertly mocked Morrisons and completely took the Michael out of the Sainsbury’s ’50p challenge’.

Well, our Lidl friends are at it again for April Fools Day, offering vouchers for ‘money on’ a host of products.

CBchkTpUwAA3PsS 500x326 Lidl get in the spirit of April Fools Day

Lidl have taken whole pages out in newspapers, filled with these April Fool vouchers. While being reasonably funny, they’re also throwing shade at the competitors. They might as well be saying “We could actually put these vouchers out and still be cheaper than most of our rivals, know worramean?”

11081051 10100793285378472 519632930110112203 n Lidl get in the spirit of April Fools Day

In the advert, you’ll see that Lidl say that they’ll make their products more expensive “if you really do believe that higher prices mean higher quality.”

Double whammy.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz12345671 300x300 Sports Direct responsible for 20% of every zero hour contract in retailWe all know that Sports Direct is run like a ‘backstreet operation’, thanks to a dressing down offered to the company. Well, in news that will surprise precisely no-one, there’s more.

Sports Direct is responsible for a fifth of all zero hour contracts in retail.

After a number of revelations about the company, chairman Keith Hellawell said that they used zero hour contracts no more than any other retailer, however, the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest something rather different.

Hellawell said: “I suspect that, in percentage terms, we are probably not much different from other people in the retail business. It is just that we are so big, so the numbers are quite substantial.” ONS stats show that from October to December 2014, just 1.8% of people working in retail and wholesale were on zero-hour contracts. If this is right, then around 72,000 have jobs on these controversial contracts, with one in five of them working for Sports Direct.

With Sports Direct only giving staff at USC (who they own) 15 minutes notice of the business going into administration, it turns out that everyone sacked might be able to take Sports Direct to a tribunal.

Mike Ashley, if he’s got any sense, will be smelling the warm pants of trouble. He’d be wise to act, sharply.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz12345671 300x300 Sports Direct is like a backstreet operationMPs aren’t impressed with Sports Direct, saying that they’re being run like a “backstreet outfit”, complete with deals being made behind the board’s back, withholding payments from suppliers, nonsense with the USC fashion chain, and a whole load more.

Keith Hellawell, chairman of Sports Direct, is looking at a barrage of accusations from the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, who say that the way his company dealt with the collapse of USC was so poor, that his past is in danger of being tarnished. Retroactive tarnishing! Nice.

You might know that USC went under in January and was bought back by Sports Direct, debt-free. This left staff redundant and £15.3m in money owed to landlords and suppliers, unpaid and wiped off the record. Also erased from history was the £700,000 owed to HMRC, who are now picking up the tab for the redundancy payments too.

Not only that, the company is being hammered over their reliance on zero-hours contracts – they currently have 75% of their staff on these controversial deals.

Hellawell is pleading innocence, saying that he had no idea that USC was about to go under and that, in fact, chief executive Dave Forsey, and deputy executive chairman, Mike Ashley, had met administrators without his knowledge a whole two months before USC went kaput. The committee also found that USC went under after bosses held back payment to Diesel, because they thought the fashion brand might stop supplying USC, which would have made other suppliers stop.

Thanks to being completely backed into a corner, Hellawell admitted that this withheld money was tantamount to holding Diesel “to ransom”. He added, dimly, that he had no idea how widespread the practice was in the company, adding: “We are in negotiations with a large number of landlords to reduce the cost of property at the moment… clearly I am going to ask some searching questions of the board.”

Simon Reevell MP wasn’t having any of it, saying: “You actively breached a contract with Diesel in order to try to bring them to the negotiating table. You are the chairman of a FTSE 100 company and you are in that role to bring credibility as a [former] senior police officer. At least on one occasion the company tried to renegotiate a deal by withholding …payments it is contractually obliged to pay. That sounds like some sort of backstreet outfit … can you understand that we struggle to understand why reputational matters such as this are completely unknown to you as a chairman?”

Chairman of the committee, Ian Davidson, chipped in: “Some members of the board knew that these discussions were going on, like Mike Ashley and the chief executive. Other members of the board, including you, did not know that. There are two categories of board members – those that are in the know and those that are not. Essentially you were there for decoration, to make a final decision that had already been made to be rubber-stamped.”

Is the culture at Sports Direct going to change? Don’t hold your breath.

Lidl offer One Direction discount

March 26th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Lidl’s marketing team have been on fire lately. You may recall them mocking Morrisons not too long ago, as well as poking fun at Sainsbury’s ’50p challenge’.

Well, they’re not razzing any of their rivals at the moment (give them time), but rather, offering money off One Direction Easter eggs, after Zayn Malik left the group.

2015 03 25 21.57.09 421x500 Lidl offer One Direction discount

 

As you can see, they knocked one-fifth off on the news of Zayn’s departure, which is a neat bit of marketing indeed. If only all products were discounted every time someone left a band – Bee Gees albums would be well cheap!

Tesco too literal with their marketing slogans

March 25th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Tesco can’t get a thing right at the moment, with legal action being taken against them for that accounting balls-up, and now, they’re being far too literal with their marketing slogans.

Have a look at this lovely scene and see if you can spot it (we didn’t, immediately).

CA2oMnYVAAAIout 500x288 Tesco too literal with their marketing slogans

While the Tesco lorry proudly crows: “You shop, we drop”, you can see that the fella in the hi-vis jacket has taken the slogan on as gospel, and dropped his load everywhere.

If advertising slogans are all correct, maybe Gillette is the best a man can get and the men of the world have already peaked, and we should just give up?

 

tesco New legal action for Tesco which could cost them billionsTesco can’t catch a break these days, with their £236m profit mis-statement coming back to bit them on their buttocks all over again. The retailer is looking at more legal action, which is potentially worth billions of pounds.

So what’s happening? Well, there’s a group called Tesco Shareholder Claims Ltd (TSC) who are backed by the American legal firm, Scott & Scott, and they’re wanting compensation under a co-ordinated action after the drastic drop in Tesco’s share price at the end of last year.

A statement from the group said: “A permanent destruction of value has occurred and had the accounting irregularities not taken place the share price, and value of the company, would today be materially higher. TSC expects the claim to be in the region of 50p-70p per share.”

“Tesco Plc has in excess of eight billion shares listed.”

To add to Tesco’s woes, another firm – Stewart’s Law – are also preparing a similar case. If they all manage to claim compensation for the various shareholders, this is going to be catastrophically expensive for the supermarket giant. Chairman of the claims group, John Bradley, said: “Tesco is one of the widest held stocks in the UK and this loss has hit pension funds and investors across the UK and beyond. We look forward to bringing this claim to court.”

And while the supermarket is showing some signs of recovery, the fact is, they’re not likely to salvage their reputation any time soon. It’ll be years before traders trust the company again. In addition to this, Tesco are in the middle of a massive redundancy programme, as they lose staff in a bid to save millions of pounds per year.

With the Serious Fraud Office still sniffing around them, launching a formal criminal investigation, Tesco’s woes aren’t over by a long chalk.

Amazon are officially testing the drones

March 20th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

amazoninstant Amazon are officially testing the dronesAmazon stepped ever closer to having parcels delivered by flying drone robots, edging us nearer to a life that resembles The Jetsons. They have been given a special certificate which allows them to test drones in America, and if that goes well, they’ll be rolling that out worldwide.

The Federal Aviation Administration have given Amazon an “experimental airworthiness certificate”, which means that those who have a pilot’s licence can test the unmanned craft. Criminals meanwhile, will be practising their aim with catapults, so they can nick all those lovely presents in the sky.

The PrimeAir delivery service has been talked about for a while, but has been held up by a number of laws and red tape.

Amazon pushed on, and with good reason – drones won’t cost as much money, like a delivery man and a van’s fuel and all that. The idea is that it will speed up the delivery process too, and other companies are looking into employing drones as well. How they’ll get around the fact that some people live on main roads and could see drones landing in traffic, is another matter entirely.

Still, it is reasonably exciting, in a novel way, to think of getting your online orders delivered by a flying robot and just think of some of the hilarious accidents they’re going to cause.

Aldi to go online?

March 20th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

aldi logo 252x300 Aldi to go online?Aldi is considering giving all the other supermarkets more grief by not only spoiling things for them on the high street, but also, on the information superhighway. That’s right – Aldi have dusted down their router and are eyeing up the internet!

Internet orders have been helping the big supermarkets while Lidl and Aldi chip away at their in-store sales, but now, they’re all going to have to worry about the discounters having their way with them online too.

A spokesman for Aldi UK said: “It is not an immediate focus for Aldi, which currently has the best performing business model in the grocery sector. However, it is an area we monitor as part of our customer-focused approach.”

They’re right to weigh it up as 5% of all grocery sales in the UK are through the internet, which is ahead of most neighbouring countries. If Aldi are kicking it off anywhere, they’d be wise to do it here.

Aldi and Lidl are seeing a big growth (not the kind you need to see a doctor for) with Aldi’s sales rising by 19.3% over the three months to the end of February, while their pals Lidl saw theirs going up by 13.6%.

If they get online and start delivering weekly shops, they could clean up.