Can Fred save Premier Foods?

July 23rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

fred Can Fred save Premier Foods?Premier Foods are relaunching Mr Kipling and bringing Homepride’s Fred back in a hope to reverse its fortunes, after revealing a £54.9 million half year pre-tax loss.

Sales fell 6.1% to £364.4 million in the first half of the year as difficult market conditions in the supermarkets sector hit the food group.

Along with Mr Kipling and Homepride, the company also looks after OXO, Bisto, Sharwoods, Batchelors, Ambrosia and, oh, Loyd Grossman.

As well as that lot, the company’s ‘support brands’ include Angel Delight, Birds, Saxa, Paxo, Atora, Cadburys (cakes end), Smash, Marvel, McDougalls and Lyons.

Or what they call in the trade ‘ambient grocery’. Amazing.

Basically, if you don’t own or use at least one of those items, then you’re a social outcast and deserve to have urchins point and laugh at you in the street.

Gavin Darby of Premier has tried to calm the unrest by saying: “We grew profitability and most of our ammunition is yet to fire. The second half of the year will see a number of new product launches.”

The company is rumoured to be ploughing £30 million into a marketing spend, with new Mr Kipling adverts happening in August.

Following that, there’ll be a number of other product launches, including Bisto gravy and casserole pastes, Batchelors deli-box cous cous, Sharwood’s mini poppadoms and Cadbury sponge pudding desserts.

Cous-cous. I ask you.

And jolly floury chum Fred returns Bowie-ly to our screens after seven years, for the first major Homepride adverts in a decade.

For the period Premier Foods said trading profit was up 2.1% to £48.1 million, better than analysts expected, and it said profit expectations for the year remain unchanged.

Gross profit margin rose from 33.2% to 34.6%. The pre-tax loss  was largely because of a write-off of financing costs.

Looks like they’re banking on a revival of ’80s food.

Deathwatch: Crocs (Hurrah!)

July 23rd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

crocs 300x137 Deathwatch: Crocs (Hurrah!)Crocs, the ghastly footwear, are in crisis.

Once upon a time, back in the last decade, Crocs became a thing, as the comfy waterproof clog-styled footwear-eyesores were bloody everywhere.

Today, they are looking at laying off 180 staff and closing 100 stores worldwide.

And no wonder. Look at them. Completely vile.

The company’s profits slumped more than 40% last year, with outlets in America and Asia noticing a big slump, whereas over in Europe there’s been a mild growth.

The company plans to simplify its range to save $10 million, although one would motion that they could simplify it easily enough by destroying every trace of Crocs in the universe.

Six months ago, Blackstone, the private equity firm, invested £117m in a 13.5% stake in the company, which has about 600 stores around the world, including three in the UK. They won’t be happy.

Andrew Rees, the Croc president, said: ”We have a clear, well-defined strategy for addressing these issues and improving performance. Work is under way already to drive significant change throughout our company.”

Originally conceived as a sort-of boat shoe, Crocs came to attention when the likes of Jack Nicholson and George Bush started hoofing about in a pair.

By 2009, profits took a dive, as everyone saw sense and went “URGH GET THEM AWAY FROM ME”.

Aldi is COMING

July 22nd, 2014 3 Comments By Lucy Sweet

aldi logo 252x300 Aldi is COMING First it was Lidl. Now Aldi are looking to expand in the UK and blitzkrieg the supermarket scene like a giant budget zeppelin.

Tesco, who are currently crying into a bag of their ill-fated own brand salt and vinegar doughnuts, will be quaking at the news that the German brand is planning a £600m expansion. It’s planning to open 60 new stores and a massive distribution centre in the Venice of the North – Barnsley – and it’s also making in-roads into city centre convenience stores.

This is Aldi’s biggest investment in the UK to date, and will double its workforce to 24,000.

Unlike Tesco, confidence is running high at Aldi, and they’re expected to announce a profit jump of 25% when it releases its figures in September.

Managing Director Roman Heini said that Aldi’s business model was simple and that gave them a chance to be close to the market. ‘I’m glad we don’t have huge complex beasts with online, banking and huge ranges.’

(He means Tesco).

Joint managing director Matthew Barnes added, rather evilly: ‘We have been happy for our growth to be below the radar. We are even more happy if the other grocers are not worried about us.’

(That means they’re going to ATTACK Tesco with cheapness).

Be afraid, retailers. Be very afraid.

pop up 300x300 Pop up shops arent just annoying    theyre also worth £2.1bn The phrase ‘pop up’ surely has to be one of the most odious in recent memory, along with ‘heads up’ and ‘totes.’

But it turns out that rather than just being a trendy, half-arsed conceit pedalled by drinks brands, vintage stores and other self consciously hip companies, pop up shops are actually making money for the economy: £2.1bn, in fact.

Pop up shops are the children of the recession – temporary stores in empty properties or in town centres where rents are too high to sustain them – so it’s no surprise that they’re flourishing.

But a recent study by EE suggests they’re an economic force to be reckoned with. There are 9400 pop up shops in the UK, which employ 23,400 people – and they’re likely to grow by 8.4% in the coming year.

We’re spending money in them, too. The report predicts that the average customer spend will grow from £110 to £120 next year.

Mike Tomlinson from EE says that pop up shops are a ‘breath of fresh air’ and ‘truly embody the entrepreneurial nature of the UK.’

So think about that next time you’re in that shady branch of American Sweets, looking at a dusty box of Lucky Charms and wondering whether it’s all a front for money laundering.

uk coins Consumers more concerned with corporate tax avoidance than ethical issuesWhen you are selecting a product, what criteria do you use to choose one product over another? Leaving personal preference aside, things like price and quality are front runners. But then what? After sustained campaigns by organisations such as Tax Research UK or Ethical Consumer, the importance of corporate tax avoidance on purchasing decisions may just surprise you.

New research by YouGov for KPMG’s newly launched Consumer Insights Panel suggests that corporate tax avoidance is more important to consumers in their buying decisions than other ethical considerations, like treatment of suppliers and staff.

The survey of 2,000 people found that although price (52%) and quality (39%) were top determining factors, one in four (25%) cited corporate tax avoidance activities as something they would take into consideration when selecting brands and products. This means that a company’s attitude towards paying tax therefore holds greater sway than treating suppliers (18%) and staff (17%) fairly, environmental impact (15%) and charitable giving (2%) in the eyes of consumers.

While this is bad news for tax avoidance offenders- the most high profile of whom, such as Starbucks and Amazon, have suffered boycotting campaigns, others like John Lewis have been using their tax-paying status as a marketing tool. And it seems to be working. However, consumers sometimes feel their right to choose is being impeded by their lack of knowledge. Half of respondents said they wanted greater transparency over which multinational company owned which brand names, to help them choose the most tax-ethical brands.

Liz Claydon, head of consumer markets at KPMG said “In the past, one of the reasons that companies haven’t been transparent about corporate branding is that the link can potentially be seen to be damaging.” However, she added that “most big multinational companies now absolutely want to link their products to their corporate brand.” Presumably, however, she means the ones who aren’t avoiding all their UK corporation tax…

Sainsburys now running on old shit

July 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

sainsburys 300x192 Sainsburys now running on old shitA branch of Sainsburys in the West Midlands has become the first retail outlet in the UK to come away from the National Grid.

The Cannock branch of the supermarket chain is being powered by food waste alone, and is working together with recycling company Biffa on new technology, allowing them to run solely generated from anaerobic digestion.

As of today, the store will run solely from outta date food and stuff that would otherwise end up in landfill.

The supermarket has stressed that they still donate any food to charity and also animal feed and  items that simply cannot be re-sold on to the customer. Fr’instance Waste bananas from its Prescot Road store in Liverpool go to Knowsley safari park to feed the monkeys.

Sainsbury’s is already the UK’s largest retail user of anaerobic digestion, generating enough energy to power 2,500 homes each year. Food waste from the chain’s supermarkets around the UK is delivered by lorry to Biffa’s plant in Cannock, and turned into bio-methane gas which is then used to generate electricity that is directly supplied to the supermarket via a newly constructed 1.5km-long electricity cable.

This is all amazing news, although anyone fancying diving into the skips at closing may be advised to be careful and stay sharp in case they end up becoming electricity.

Tesco chief-exec jumps ship after profit warning

July 21st, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

for b3ta tesco value droid 192x300 Tesco chief exec jumps ship after profit warningTesco are incredibly successful, which is why it is funny when they have a bit of turbulence. Their chief-executive – Philip Clarke – is now the ex-chief-exec as he’s resigned following a profits warning. He’s already been replaced by Unilever exec and non-executive director of BSkyB, Dave Lewis.

It is worth pointing out that Tesco are still making a shedload of money and that Philip Clarke is still considerably wealthier than anyone we know.

Tesco have said that trading conditions were more challenging than anticipated and that sales and trading profit in the first half of the year were below expectations. Of course, they had to say it was trading conditions, rather than holding their hands up and saying ‘we’ve kinda been crap for a while now are we’re sad that everyone has started to notice and shop elsewhere.’

During Clarke’s tenure, Tesco have seen three years of falling sales in Britain

Some of the board have backed Clarke, saying that major restructuring at Tesco has been part of the problem, as well as the advancing influence of Lidl and Aldi and online shopping. Others, meanwhile, think Clarke had an attitude problem.

Sir Richard Broadbent, the Tesco chairman, said: “Having guided Tesco through a substantial re-positioning in challenging markets, Philip Clarke agreed with the board that this is the appropriate moment to hand over to a new leader with fresh perspectives and a new profile.”

Clarke said: “Having taken the business through the huge challenges of the last few years, I think this is the right moment to hand over responsibility and I am delighted that Dave Lewis has agreed to join us.”

Hands up if you think anything’s going to noticeably change at Tesco…

Carphone and Three: Together at last?

July 18th, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

three1 300x292 Carphone and Three: Together at last?Carphone Warehouse – or should we say Dixons Carphone Whorehouse or whatever they’re called now – are in talks with mobile operator Three to launch its own mobile network.

Carphone had been in discussions with several UK networks, but apparently Three are the ones who been the most interested, as the company looks past its usual fare of simply flogging phones.

It also looks more likely since Carphone Warehouse announced it was planning on setting up an MVNO in Ireland using Three’s network. The new network, set to go live in mid-2015, will utilise the newly-combined Three and O2 Ireland networks, which merged last month in a €780m deal.

Carphone Warehouse already has an existing partnership with Vodafone to resell low-cost contracts under the Talkmobile brand, a partnership which currently boasts around 700,000 customers and is set to continue.

It will certainly stir up shit with other UK mobile operators, who’ll be less likely to want to be involved with Carphone, such as EE, who want to focus on direct selling to its customers.

Yeah. Good luck with that EE!

Aldi offer cheapest school uniform yet

July 18th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Aldi uniform 2976900b 300x187 Aldi offer cheapest school uniform yetThe schools have barely shut and already the BACK TO SCHOOL offers are a-happening on the high street.

Previous years have seen the likes of Asda and Tesco get into the cheap school uniform market, offering them at next to nothing.

Now Aldi have waded in for the second year running, offering the cheapest deal yet, in the shape of the £4 school uniform.

The German supermarket is selling a round neck sweater, two plain polo shirts and either a pair of trousers or a skirt for £4.

Asda are offering the same deal, but for £7.50, making it now one of the most expensive options for supermarket school uniforms. Tesco and Sainsbury’s currently charge £6.75 and £7.33 respectively.

Noticeably, Aldi had been selling school kit since last year, but as the chain has had something of a magnificent 12 months, and as shoppers are less brand-conscious and more thrifty, their offering this year poses a real threat to the competition.

Just in case you feared the uniforms were being knocked up by some orphans in a toilet, a spokesman for Aldi said: ”As a responsible business, we are committed to respecting the human rights of workers in our supply chains and we continue to work with our suppliers towards continuous improvement in ethical standards.”

“We promote workplace practices and conditions that are safe, fair and legal for all those involved in making our products.”

It makes sense. Kids seem to go through school uniforms like they were made of paper, and they’re not that bothered about brands and the like until they hit the 9/10 age. Then you’ll be doing six jobs to buy them some trainers that some bully will rob off them at knifepoint.

Ah, childhood!

Lidl goes FANCY

July 15th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

Châteauneuf du Pape AC Aldi Lidl goes FANCY In a direct attempt to wooooo middle class shoppers who would rather flagellate themselves with uncooked quinoa than set foot in a Lidl, the German budget supermarket is now offering fancy French wines alongside the off-brand dodgy cider and cans of beer with ‘BEER’ written on them.

Yes, Lidl is seriously stepping on the other supermarket’s toes here, offering wine from the Chateauneuf-de-Pape vineyards for much cheaper than anywhere else. Prices start from £4.99 for a cheeky white Cote de Gascogne (nothing to do with Gazza mercifully) to £21.99 for a 2006 Chateau La Tour.

Lidl are spending £12 million – the most they’ve ever spent – on this product launch, and are hoping to change the way the budget supermarket is seen by the middle classes – and lure them away from Waitrose.

Ben Hulme, senior buying manager for wines at Lidl, said: ‘Our choice offers extraordinary value for money for some of the best wines in the world. Our pricing is transparent and open, unlike a lot of the permanent ‘offers’ on the High Street.’

Of course, everyone knows that the middle classes secretly shop at Lidl anyway, buying up parmesan and Parma ham undercover of darkness while wearing joggy bottoms to hide their shameful privilege…

British high street 300x180 Retail growth slows right down thanks to interest rate panic According to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium, we’re not spending again – this time because we’re worried about interest rates.

Retail growth rose by just 0.6% last month, which is the slowest growth since May 2011. Demand for big exciting things like appliances was weaker, and we didn’t spend as much money on food, either, preferring to shop cheaper and rely on offers.

And despite the healthy housing market, it seems we’re holding off on getting that new kitchen or buying accessories for our houses. David McCorquodale from KPMG, who helped to compile the figures for the BRC, said:

‘June saw the brakes applied to spending as shoppers put purchases of big ticket items on hold whilst they waited to see if the Bank of England would take action on interest rates. Even sales of home accessories and furniture flatlined, which is surprising given the UK is reportedly in the midst of a housing boom.’

So it seems like we’re putting everything in the mortgage pot for a rainy day. But Helen Dickinson from the BRC said it was OK, the UK is still on track for economic recovery. She puts it down to competitive food pricing which has changed shopper’s attitudes.

However, once interest rates do rise, we’ll be spending NOTHING. We’ll see what happens to the economic recovery then, Helen.

Bildschirmfoto 2014 02 18 um 17.24.09 300x262 Morrisons trolleys to appear in a canal near youThe end of the £1 shopping trolley coin slot is nigh – Morrisons are ditching the trolley security measure, so it can make life easier for shoppers (and for people who want to recreate the iconic Bitterwallet logo and chuck them in the river).

The trolley security device has been in existence for 20 years, and has effectively put an end to drunk people stealing them and roaming around the town centre yelling ‘I’m a happy shopper!’ while vomiting rainbows of Mad Dog 20/20.

Morrisons say that CCTV combined with bollards will be enough to halt a return to the bad old days of trolley stealing, and plan to free 150,000 trolleys from their shackles. However, the locks will remain in place in high crime areas, city centres, and in hilly areas where they might roll away.

‘Our nation is getting busier.’ Says the new CEO of Morrisons, Dalton Phillips. ‘We have less free time than previous generations and customers have told us that they want a quicker shop. The removal of trolley locks is just one of the many improvements we are making to our store – to make for a faster and easier shopping trip.’

*all trolleys are instantly nicked and melted down for £££s*

[P.S. We know the Feral Trolley Of The Week needs updating more frequently, but we're having technical issues, so stop reminding us. It's irritating us more than it is irrita... who are we kidding, no-one's as irritated as you. Ed]

UK fashion all the rage

July 10th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

British fashion has been really happening, after reports of a sharp rise in sales from home and abroad.

Burberry’s sales have risen by 9% to £370 million in the previous three months, compared with like-for-like sales up 12%

SuperGroup, the owner of Superdry that makes clothing for SuperPeople, reported a 3.2% rise in like-for-like sales for the last year, while Primark said that sales rose by 22% on a constant currencies basis in the 16 weeks to June 21.

Burberry said that exchange rates will be a material (HAHAHA SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE) impact on profits, warning that retail and wholesale profits would be reduced by £55m. Probably helped by having that Harry Potter lady in their ads too. Tourists love that.

Burberry And Emma Watson1 500x256 UK fashion all the rage

Primark, SuperGroup and Burberry are leading a charge of British fashion brands expanding overseas, as the citizens of the world get lured in by Cara in a mac or try and channel middle-aged gays in SuperDry. Meanwhile, Primark is preparing to open its first US store in Boston in 2015.

Christopher Bailey of Burberry, said: “This first quarter performance reflects our focus on striving to give customers the best possible experience of the Burberry brand through ongoing investment in retail, digital and service, both on and offline.

“The 12% increase in comparable sales demonstrates our teams’ success in unlocking the benefits of these investments, as we continue to concentrate on the things we can control in an uncertain external environment.”

Meanwhile, although it looks like SuperGroup are all happening and  reporting an increase in sales, pre-tax profits for the year to from £51.8m to £45.2m. Shares in the retailer slumped in May after SuperGroup warned that like-for-like sales had fallen in the final quarter of its financial year.

Fortunately chief exec  Julian Dunkerton insisted the results represented a “solid performance”

“With a strong pipeline of new stores, particularly in mainland Europe, we are well positioned for further profitable growth in the year ahead. The strength of the Superdry brand and the investment we have made in our business leaves me confident in our ability to implement and deliver the growth strategy.”

So hurrah for British clothing brands being a thing around the globe!

marks and spencer M&S: The S should stand for slippers, not sexyWhy do you shop at Marks and Spencer?

Chances are, you go there to buy food or other things like socks and undercrackers. Nothing too fancy. No-one shops at M&S for fancy stuff.

Not that the company themselves have noticed, what with their protestantly sexy adverts featuring Annie Lennox, Rita Ora and someone called Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. They want their shoppers to feel like they’re coming to a vibrant place, where ‘it’ is all ‘happening’.

Daddio.

However, M&S has always been most successful when aiming themselves at middle-aged people. Lacy bras and fashionable clothes is not what they’ll ever be known for and, to underline all that, it has been revealed at the M&S annual meeting, that they are the country’s biggest slipper retailer for men.

Get that!

It has been reported that one in five British men have been watching the World Cup in a pair of M&S slippers, and the retailer shifted a whopping 1.3m pairs of house shoes last year – not surprising when Marks & Sparks sell 40 different styles.

So while they try and modernise, maybe they should focus on the grey pound, rather than trying to muscle in on high street fashion chains. What do M&S customers want?! Comfy things! When do they want them?! Whenever you’re ready, we’ll be mooching around the house all day anyway!

Amazon opens wearable tech store

July 9th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

amazon wearable technology 300x150 Amazon opens wearable tech storeTax-dodging internet shopping vessel Amazon has launched a dedicated store for ‘wearable’ technology in the UK.

The store will be offering more than 100 different wearable devices including activity trackers, smart watches, smart glasses and wearable cameras.

As well as items from top brands including Sony, Samsung, Garmin, Jawbone and GoPro, emerging brands like Basis and Misfit, as well as more unusual items like British fashion designer Adrien Sauvage’s wireless charging trousers.

WIRELESS CHARGING TROUSERS.

Customers will also be able to keep an eye on future developments in wearable tech, and can eventually submit themselves fully to the hive for final processing when they’ve scooped up all the necessary gadgets.

The new store also features a ‘Learning Centre’ featuring product details, compatibility information, images and videos, reviews and in-depth buying guides, as well as expert recommendations.

Let’s hear what suitably futuristically named Xavier Garambois, who is the vice president of EU retail at Amazon, has to say:

“The advances in wearable technology mean that customers can now charge their phone through their clothing, monitor their sleep patterns and even track their pets,”

“This new store allows customers to find whatever they are looking for in one place – whether that is tracking fitness, staying connected through smart watches or capturing every adventure with wearable cameras.”

Wearable technology has already caused a fair bit of fuss as one of the things of the year, and looks likely to become some of the must-have gadgets for the Christmas market.

The global market for wearable technology was reportedly worth $2.7 billion (£1.6bn) in revenue in 2012 and is expected to reach $8.3 billion (£4.9bn) in 2018.

And you thought that your mate with Google Glass was already insufferable, it is going to get worse.