Posts Tagged ‘retail’
Did you eat some chicken for your lunch from a supermarket? Well, bad news for your insides as reports say that contamination of our feathered friends is up. Not only that – it might be getting worse, according to shrieking scientists who are worried about you getting food poisoning.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) say that the proportion of fresh roasting chickens you can get in the supermarket that are carrying campylobacter is up 72.9%. The number of those that are considered to be highly contaminated is also up to 18.9%.
They also discovered that 1 in 14 packs are contaminated on the outside.
So, it goes without saying that there’s going to be some sore stomachs this year and there’s all set to be an estimated 280,000 people getting sick because of campylobacter in 2015. So, that all told, the FSA reckon that, in lost work through being ill and the cost NHS treatment, these dirty chickens are costing the country £900 million. Like all illnesses, there’s a chance it could grow stronger and turn into a superbug, thwarting any antibiotics you might take.
The FSA say that Asda is the worst place to buy chicken from and that they came out worst on pretty much every contamination test. The best places, it seems, are Marks & Spencer, the Co-op and Waitrose.
The FSA Director of Policy, Steve Wearne, said that the shops need to up their game in a bid to fix the problem. While they have no power to do anything about this, they can keep publishing these reports and helping customers to make an informed decision and vote with their feet. While M&S pay their farmers extra to keep their chickens free of bugs, it looks like other supermarkets need to start doing the same.
One of the first things Watts is looking at is Morrison’s £216m deal with Ocado. It looks like the supermarket might be ditching them.
You may or may not know that Morrisons and Ocado struck a deal in 2013, where basically, Ocado delivered groceries for Morrison’s. The deal is 25 years long. However, the whole thing is a bit of a mess. For some reason, orders are taken by Morrison’s, which is then delivered to Ocado warehouses, who then ship it out themselves.
You’d think it’d be easier for the supermarket to just deliver the bloody things themselves. However, that was a deal done by Dalton Philips, the old boss who got ousted last month. Ocado have been saying that this deal is break-free and safe as houses. Recently, Ocado’s finance direction Duncan Tatton-Brown, said that, even if a new regime tried to get out of the deal, they weren’t worried: “It’s not something we would necessarily expect and we’re protected by the contract anyway.”
So things look like they’re about to start changing at the supermarket. They shouldn’t get too cocky though; David Potts and his new chairman – Andrew Higginson – are both formerly of Tesco. And what shape are Tesco in currently? Exactly.
Either way, they’ve got their work cut out for them because Morrison’s revealed that they’d had the worst sales of any of the major supermarkets over Christmas, and total sales have fallen. The company are cutting prices again, but does anyone care?
Starbucks, the company that divides the world into two categories – those that moan about it and those that don’t shop there – is launching a new thing where you can go there in the evening and get yourself some hot food and, while you’re at it, get drunk.
According to the press-release, you can get things like chorizo and prawn skewers with chilli ketchup as well as truffle mac & cheese and braised British beef. You’ll be able to buy wine and beer too. Or, if you prefer, you could eat a packet of crisps on the way to the pub while tutting about people doing something which doesn’t in any way impinge on your life. Both are viable options.
This new service will kick off at the Starbucks in Stansted Airport, where you’re almost certain to see very tired men in suits sitting along, nursing a beer after they’ve burned their tongue on something. It will then roll out to other locations.
‘Starbucks Evenings’ has been a success in The States and over here, you’ll be able to see what the fuss is about at the participating stores from 4pm, where you’ll be able to check out the extended menu.
“We are delighted to launch the first Evenings Programme in the UK. Providing a welcoming coffeehouse environment has always been our focus and now we can offer something new for the evening too,” says Ian Cranna, VP marketing and category for Starbucks EMEA. “I think our customers will love the new range of terrific food and carefully selected wines and beers which will provide even more choice and reasons to visit us later in the day.”
While you’re thinking about going to the pub or an actual restaurant, this’ll be a godsend for teenagers wanting to go on dates, who are getting sick of Nando’s and want to spend their pocket money on that person they fancy. Nice to know that there’s going to be places that are open a bit later where you can nip in, buy nothing and use their toilets, if there’s no McDonald’s nearby.
Hot on the heels of everyone saying the prefer half a dozen supermarkets to them, Asda have decided that they’re going to invest £600 million pounds in new shops and doing up some old ones as they vie to get back into the public’s hearts.
The Wal-Mart owned supermarket is also responding to a drop in fourth-quarter sales, as everyone is shopping elsewhere.
Chief Executive Andy Clarke noted that the market is still “in one of its most challenging and changeable periods in history”, which means ‘we’re hoping that people will go off the idea of shopping at Aldi and is there still a recession on? We can’t remember anymore.’ Possibly.
While Asda has been relatively stable over the last few years, recent data shows that they were the worst performing of the big chains over the 12 weeks to February 1st.
As such, Asda will be spending their millions on improving existing stores, building 17 new supermarkets and ushering in over 150 remote click and collect sites through 2015.
So it is of little surprise that three of the budget shops have beaten the biggest supermarkets when it comes to customer satisfaction, with Aldi, coming out on top, out of the discounters.
Concerning value for money, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland unsurprisingly beat Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, according to a survey by Which!!! The key factor was that shoppers felt they were paying less without having to worry about a drop in quality.
When it comes to own label products, again, Aldi and Lidl matched the big guns while Iceland was deemed to be the shop that had the best customer service.
The overall winner wasn’t a discount supermarket though, with Waitrose getting the best overall score. However, Waitrose only beat Aldi by a single point when it came down to it. The trouble for the big supermarkets here is that they have no idea whether to try and go upmarket or take on the discounters.
The table looks like this:
1. Waitrose 73
2. Aldi 72
3. Lidl 69
4. Iceland 69
5. M&S 69
6. Morrisons 63
Terrible news for Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, but marginally good news for Morrisons. The retailer who will be most unhappy at the results of the survey will be The Co-op, who was named the worst supermarket in Britain for being overpriced and having lousy customer services. They scored a paltry 49 out of 100.
Which!!! said: “The Co-op is once again the worst major supermarket and the gap between it and its rivals is even wider than in 2014. On value for money it’s shockingly behind everyone else. It has the worst rating for own-label products.” Asda, meanwhile, were voted the worst when it comes to online groceries, with Ocado topping that poll.
Selfridges are under fire for installing some anti-homeless spikes outside one of the entrances of its Manchester city centre branch. As a result of the spikes, a petition has been launched, gathering thousands of signatures.
Cathy Urquhart, a professor at Manchester Metropolitan University, writes on the petition: “These spikes are an affront to humanity. They tell the homeless that they are not welcome, that they are a problem to be moved on. We should be looking after the homeless, not demonising and scapegoating them. Manchester is better than this!”
Some of the comments on the petition are pretty forthright too. One says: “The homeless are people in need; they are not pests to be deterred or shooed away. Anti-homeless spikes are at the peak of heartlessness.”
The spikes themselves, have actually been in place since Christmas, and Selfridges are adamant that they haven’t been installed to deter homeless people, but rather, because there have been complaints about people smoking outside the staff entrance. Basically, Selfridges want you to know that these spikes are to deter absolutely every human there is.
Charity, the Manchester Angels, will be setting up their Street Kitchen beside the spikes this weekend and Help The Homeless of East Lancashire will be joining in too.
Of course, there’s been a number of issues with these spikes, as previous protests have taken place outside a Tesco on Regent St, London as well as a Halifax in Swansea. After protests, the spikes were removed.
Figures showing that people sleeping rough are up by over a third since 2010, but a minority of people will invariably side with businesses as polls regarding this situation always show that there’s a loud support in favour of the actions of the businesses involved.
Morrisons are again cutting their prices in a bid to fend off the challenge from Lidl and Aldi. They’ve dropped the price of eggs, butter, milk, bread, coffee, pasta, sugar and juice by as much as 56%.
The thing is – will anyone actually care about this? The fact is, for many, Morrisons is neither here nor there. It’s a little dowdy and dull; not functional and straight-forward like cheaper supermarkets and not fancy enough like more upmarket shops.
So, cutting the price on 130 own-brand and branded basics might not change consumer opinion. Morrisons seem adrift on the high street, with no-one looking at them for quality or savings.
That said, these price cuts are here for the long term, as Morrisons are keen to point out that this is not a short promotion to get people back through their doors. Marketing director Nick Collard adds: “The price cuts we have now made across products that customers buy week in, week out, are making a real difference to the cost of the weekly family shop.”
Across their products, the savings amount to 22% off, with the biggest saving coming with their own brand egg and spinach taglietelle. Is that enough to entice you into their aisles?
We’ll have to see, but Morrisons look like they need to do something pretty drastic if they want to be relevant – and no, we’re not talking about stadium rock veg stands.
One thing they’re doing is getting rid of their dry-ice machines. Yes, you heard – Morrisons have fruit and veg stands that have dry-ice flowing over them to add a bit of ‘theatre’ to proceedings. These dry-ice stands are being ditched because they’re seen as the biggest sign of pointless decadence of former chief exec Dalton Philips.
At the stores that had them, a number of people enjoyed the spectacle and took photos of the misty produce – but did it translate into a load of new customers? Not one bit. In fact, former chairman Sir Ken Morrison reckoned that it did quite the opposite and ended up alienating hardcore fans of Morrisons, who all buggered off to Lidl and Aldi.
Roger Owen, a former long-serving main board director, said: “You don’t need misting – the stores are not air-conditioned. It is a waste of money, a waste of time and it does carry a risk unless you spend a significant amount on maintenance. I said one of the first things Andy Higginson (the company’s new chairman) should do is take it out, which he obviously has done and good on him.”
“If this is an indicator of his intention that he has already spoken about of getting the business back to its core values and core strengths, then this is a step in the right direction and a very, very visible one.”
These dry ice machines could be found in 300 of Morrisons’ 500 shops.
A spokesman said: “This move is about going back to basics, using simpler refrigeration techniques and Morrisons’ traditional strengths in fresh food management to ensure our vegetables stay fresh.”
Rumours of Morrisons installing strobe lighting in the bog-roll section and an in-store DJ next to bottles of Toilet Duck are as yet, unconfirmed.
First, the shops started selling double yolker eggs, now you can buy an onion that doesn’t make you cry.
Of course, there’s going to be people acting hard, saying that onions don’t make them cry because nuffin makes me bawl mayte, but for the rest of us and our leaking sockets, this is truly the living end.
This weekend, just in-time for St Valentine’s Day for all you onion-based romantics, Asda will be selling onions that you can cut without looking like someone’s just pulled your pants down and dumped you at the school prom.
This witchcraft has been developed in Bedfordshire by someone called Alastair Findlay, who has given himself to the betterment of humankind, spent 20 years scarfing down around 500 onions in a bid to breed the tearless veg. He’s decided to call the variety, ‘Asda Sweet Red’.
Apparently, they’re quite sweet and Asda reckon that they’re delicious raw, which implies that they might be lousy if you stick them in a pan and start frying them. Either way, like Ribena Toothkind, we’ve now got Eyekind Onions.
What a world we live in. What appalling breath Alastair Findlay must have.
Egg fans! What is it you like about double-yolk eggs? Do you like the randomness of it, getting a bonus yolk at sporadic points in your life like an eggy lottery? Or you do like the increased yolk-to-white ratio and to hell with the randomness?
Well, Marks & Spencer are now selling cartons that guarantee you double-yolk eggs. Has the fun been taken out of the process or are you thinking “I DON’T CARE! HURRY UP AND MAKE 100% YOLK EGGS ALREADY!”?
Even though, statistically, the probability of finding a double yolker is 1-in-a-1,000, M&S have hit on something to ensure you get two (or more) yolks per egg. Imagine. A triple yolker. That’d be great.
The suppliers for M&S are utilising a method called ‘candling’, which basically means that someone picks an egg up and looks at it with a light behind it and weighs up the shadow, to see if there’s more than one yolk.
M&S product developer Ali Rodham said: “We’re really excited to be selling double yolkers. We think they’re cracking, and we’re sure our customers will too.”
“Perfect for people who think the yolk is the best bit of the egg, double yolkers are not only delicious, but they are healthy too.”
So there you have it. More yolk in your gob. If you want in on this, get yourself to a Marks and Spencer shop and look for the British Free Range Double Yolkers which will be on the shelves for £2.75 for a box of six.
We’re hoping someone starts selling eggs that have more eggs inside them next, like this monster.
Before Poundland become a pound universe, both businesses have to clear everything with the Competition and Markets Authority where the regulator might ask for some stores to close down, so there’s room for the competition to exist.
To make it clear, this takeover will see Poundland having more shops on the High Street than WH Smith and bigger than Lidl and Aldi.
Poundland’s Jim McCarthy said: “This is a good deal for both businesses and will benefit customers and shareholders. Through working together, Poundland will improve choice, value and service for 99p Stores’ customers, bringing Poundland’s proven know-how and range to 99p Stores.”
“We also believe that we can improve the performance of the 99p Stores estate and generate further value for Poundland’s shareholders. We look forward to working with the CMA as it undertakes its review.”
Since the economic downturn, pound shops have been doing a roaring trade and Poundland are the ones who have really made hay while the sun shone (or, if you prefer a gloomy analogy, had the best umbrella while the rain fell) and shares have gone up at this announcement.
Over Christmas, Poundland saw sales shoot-up by 9.8% to £328.4 million, and now, they’re only going to be more present in the nation’s weekly shops.
After months and months of serious trouble, an official investigation is going to be launched which will look into Tesco’s practices and relationship with suppliers. Looks like they’ve been late paying the people who provide them with stock, among the myriad of other things they’ve been up to.
The Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA), Christine Tacon, said she’s got a “reasonable suspicion” that Tesco have breached supply guidelines, adding that she took the decision to launch an investigation after looking at information that was submitted to her.
Now, Tacon will talk with direct suppliers to see what further action needs to be taken. The investigation will take 9 months, which means Tesco’s woes are going to pile up throughout 2015. Evidence from suppliers will need to be submitted by April 3rd.
A statement said: “The investigation will consider the existence and extent of practices which have resulted in delay in payments to suppliers. This will include in particular, but not be limited to, delay in payments associated with:
- Short deliveries, including imposition of penalties
- Consumer complaints where the amounts were not agreed
- Invoicing discrepancies such as duplicate invoicing where two invoices were issued for the same product
- Deductions for unknown or un-agreed items
- Deductions for promotional fixed costs (gate fees) that were incorrect
- Deductions in relation to historic promotions which had not been agreed.”
In addition to this, there’s going to be scrutiny over Tesco whether or not Tesco asked suppliers for money to ensure better positioning for goods on their shelves.
All-in-all, Tesco are having a woeful time of it, and as well as dealing with all this, they’re closing down a lot of stores in a bid to get back on track.
Tacon added: “I have taken this decision after careful consideration of all the information submitted to me so far. I have applied the GCA published prioritisation principles to each of the practices under consideration and have evidence that they were not isolated incidents, each involving a number of suppliers and significant sums of money.”
A Tesco spokesman said: “We have taken action to strengthen compliance and… we are changing the way we work with suppliers. We will continue to co-operate fully with the GCA as she carries out her investigation and welcome the opportunity for our suppliers to provide direct feedback.”
With the Serious Fraud Office sniffing around too, Tesco’s troubles aren’t over by a long shot.
Basically, it started off as a concept for mobiles which would scan the world around it in three glorious dimensions, which could then be modelled and used for augmented reality and all that futuristic good stuff (or, worrying Dystopian future hell, depending on your view of technological developments).
One of the practical uses would be that Project Tango users could utilise the technology to map their home, so you could use the dimensions before buying a sofa online, or whatever. Google also pointed out that it could help blind people get around too.
They’re looking at making money out of it too, which means it will definitely be hawked around the video game industry to see if it can be integrated into games.
So, from Google’s experimental Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) wing, it has gone to a “new home within Google”, which the company announced in a G+ post. They said: “We’re excited about the continued commitment to developing the technology for our users — we wish our fellow pirates fair winds and following seas.”
Rumour has it that Google have already been talking to LG so we can get the technology at some point this year. However, Google should take caution because the world wasn’t exactly set alight by Google Glass.
Anyway, the Project Tango Development Kit will let tinkerers and engineers to muck around with the technology and start developing apps for it, which means retailers will be jumping on it to see how they can make their products come alive in some virtual space or what have you.
New data shows that there’s twice as many empty shops up North than there is in the South. According to the Local Data Company, a whopping 1-in-5 shops in the North stands empty. In the South, 1-in10 shops are deserted.
“The worst-performing towns all had vacancy rates above 25%, which is still one in four shops lying empty and no sign or improvement,” said Matthew Hopkinson, director of The Local Data Company. ”Local Data Company research also found that 20% of the shops it tracked had been empty for more than three years, amounting to almost 10,000 outlets.”
“This is the equivalent of five Manchesters lying empty.”
It isn’t all bleak news though (although, it makes for mostly bleak reading) as there’s been an improvement in overall occupancy, as figures show that average vacancy rates have fallen since 2012. Even so, that’s no use to the North where there’s a disproportionately high number of vacant premises compared to the South.
While London has a vacancy rate of 8.7%, the North East’s is 18.8% for the latter 6 months of 2014 while the North West in the same period, has a shop vacancy rate of 18.6%.
Top 10 towns with the highest vacancy rates
Burslem (West Midlands) 29.4%
Stoke-on-Trent (West Midlands) 27.7%
Hartlepool (North East) 27.3%
West Bromwich (West Midlands) 27.1%
Droylsden (North West) 26.8%
Morecambe (North West) 26.8%
Stoke-upon-Trent (West Midlands) 26.6%
Bootle (North West) 26.4%
Walsall (West Midlands) 26.2%
Stockport (North West) 25.9%
When you think of a revolution, you probably think of people with a bandana across their face, chucking tear gas canisters back at the police, or a lot of people with a lot of flags made out of bedsheets.
Not Ocado boss Tim Steiner. He thinks of people driving lorries carrying a load of potatoes and fish fingers in the back.
He reckons that Ocado is at the forefront of the “online grocery revolution” which is apparently taking place right now, although it feels like getting your shopping delivered is rather old-hat these days. Either way, Steiner is pleased because his company is doing rather well and after posting their first full year profit, this revolution will only help Ocado to stay ahead of the curve.
They posted an adjusted pre-tax profit of £10.1m in the year to 30 November compared with £3.8m loss last year, with gross retail sales up 15.3% to £972.4m. Who would have thought it? A revolution that makes money!
Steiner dramatically says that the “seismic” changes taking place in the market is only going to help them further: “Technology is going to get better, the relative merits of shopping online versus going in store are going to grow and stores are going to come under more competitive pressure.”
“Stores are going to have to work out how to cut costs – mainly by reducing service and range. But while they reduce their range we are increasing ours. These changes are going to lead to a very big channel shift.”
And Ocado customers just thought that they were being a bit lazy. UP THE PEOPLE!