Posts Tagged ‘retail’

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.

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…

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]

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’.


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!

Revealed: the voice of the self-service tills

July 7th, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

helena breck Revealed: the voice of the self service tills As you pass your tins of beans and vacuum packed sandwiches over the beepy things, you’ve probably dimly wondered: ‘Who is the woman who does the voice on the supermarket self service tills?’

Is she a robot voice, developed in a lab by Tesco to hit the right soothing notes when she asks you whether you have a Clubcard for the 458,079th time? Or is it a real woman who once spent an afternoon in a sound booth trying to say ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ in a variety of emotionally resonant ways?

Well, wonder no more. The voice of the tills (not to be confused with Alan ‘Voice of the Balls’ Dedicoat) is actress Helena Breck. Early devotees of 80s Eastenders might know her as the long-suffering wife of panto yuppie villain Wilmott-Brown. She was also in Crown Court and Triangle.

And now she’s the voice of 10,000 tills. What a CV!

Ms Breck was chosen after till manufacturer NCR were looking for a ‘calming voice and approachable manner.’ But like any actress, she doesn’t want to be typecast. There’s more to her range than ‘Please scan your items’, ‘Do you have a Clubcard?’ and ‘Please indicate payment type.’ She can do bloody SHAKESPEARE, darling.

‘Out damn spot! Out of the bagging area, I say.’

Poundland sales close in on £1bn

July 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

poundland Poundland sales close in on £1bnPoundland is having a really lovely time of it at the moment, with their sales nearing  £1bn, which means:

a) It is very likely they’ll expand across the country.

b) They’ve got £1bn in pound coins, so we might see the owner up The Asda putting truckloads of quids into those Coinstar machines.

Last year, Poundland made £880.5m in total sales, but this year, that has risen to £997m, which is a terrific amount of money for a shop selling Super Noodles, black socks, plant pots and one pound dildos (no, seriously).

The company already opened 70 new stores in the UK in the year, which means there are now 528 places to buy cheapo stuff. If the success continues, we should really consider dropping the ‘Eng’ from England and handing ourselves over to our new quid-obsessed overlords.

Poundland chief exec – Jim McCarthy- told the BBC that their research suggests that they could open 1,400 new stores across the country but “internally we use 1,000. It’s a nice round number.” He added that he wasn’t too fussed about the firm’s successes in light of the country’s recovering economy, saying that, even though it seems counter intuitive, “Poundland and other discount retailers do better as consumer confidence improves”.

Andrew Higginson, chairman of Poundland, added: ”I expect that Poundland will continue to benefit from its strong trading platform, its universal appeal and the structural change in consumers’ shopping behaviour.”

In other news, in what seems like a tremendously perfect fit, Poundland opened its first store in Torremolinos on Wednesday and plans a Spanish invasion over the coming months, presumably keeping an eye on the resorts. We can only hope that a Greggs opens up next door, for those Brits who miss home too much.

Ocado actually makes a profit

July 1st, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

ocado logo 300x204 Ocado actually makes a profit Here’s a retail industry shocker – Ocado is no longer in debt since it made a lucrative multi million pound deal with Morrisons. Famously, the delivery company has never made a profit in almost FIFTEEN YEARS of existence, but thanks to the deal, it’s now reported pre-tax profits of £7.5m.

In an attempt to waste use the money, CEO Tim Steiner has announced plans to open a high tech, super whizzy warehouse to fulfil orders, based in Andover, now forever known as the birthplace of the Barclays poo.

The deal with Morrisons is helping Ocado out of its tightest spot yet – last year it posted a loss of £3.8m, and it has warned that there’ll be slow growth for online sales as the grocery market is ‘subdued’.

(Unless you’re actually successful, like Aldi and Lidl.)

Shares in Ocado have also fallen by 4.7%. But with Morrisons on their side – which isn’t struggling AT ALL – they’ll be fine. Won’t they?

selfService 1700875c 300x187 9 out of 10 customers hate self service tills We use them because they’re there (and they’re marginally preferable to monosyllabic/overtly effusive checkout assistants). But a staggering 93% of us can’t abide self-service supermarket tills and say that they cause more problems than they solve.

A survey by cash management company Glory Global Solutions revealed the huge amount of customers who are frustrated, bamboozled, and otherwise kicked in the bagging area daily by self-service machines.

But we would rather use them than stand in a queue behind a glacially slow old lady buying 6 tins of marrowfat peas.

However, there’s a weird gender divide when it comes to using them. 80% of women used them regularly compared to 77% of men. But women were more likely to start yelling at the machines, with 96% admitting that they’d lost it in front of one, compared to 89% of men.

Interestingly, more than a third of customers avoided self service at both supermarkets and banks, preferring human interaction. And a quarter said they didn’t use the technology because it was ‘too slow.’

Young people, though, use self-service machines willy nilly and have few complaints, probably because they grew up with the sound of their mothers swearing at a computerised voice.

But the results showed that despite the rise of the machines, many of us see (human) customer service as a vital part of doing our shopping and banking. Mike Bielamowicz from Glory Global Solutions said:

‘While the majority of UK consumers are open to using self-service machines at least some of the time, it’s significant that interaction with a staff member is still a key part of the retail experience for many people.’

*Seeks assistance*

Town centre parking rules are too confusing

June 27th, 2014 3 Comments By Lucy Sweet

Bitterwallet appeal parking tickets1 Town centre parking rules are too confusing A third of drivers don’t bother bringing their cars into town centres because parking restrictions are impossible to understand, a study by Churchill car insurance has revealed.

41% said that town centre parking signs were confusing, and the survey also found that 22% of drivers had been clamped or towed when parking in town, because they didn’t understand the parking rules.

Meanwhile, more than a quarter think that parking is badly signposted and some people are even wary about parking outside their own houses because they’re not clear about whether they’re allowed to park there.

Steve Barratt of Churchill said: ‘It’s the driver’s responsibility to check which parking restrictions are in operation in a particular area. However, when there are multiple restrictions in operation on a single street, it can result in motorists being confused and unintentionally parking illegally, incurring fines that could have been avoided.’

Could this be one of the reasons why the high street is dying on its arse? (Footfall fell by 0.9% last year). Well, it can’t be helping. After all, it’s easier to buy something online rather than paying an extra £60 to get your car out of the pound.

Lidl is COMING

June 27th, 2014 6 Comments By Lucy Sweet

lidllogo1 300x298 Lidl is COMING Prepare for the invasion of the budget giant – Lidl has announced a £220m expansion drive that could see a branch opening in your BRAIN.

Well, it might not go that far, but we’ll certainly see blue, yellow and red budget supermarket saturation on the high street, with 20 new stores opening in the next nine months – bringing the UK total to 620 stores.

It’ll be good for the economy, and for employment (that’s if you want to work as a ‘freshness co-ordinator’ – ie: tomato fondler). There’s going to be more fresh produce, and bakeries in every store, and there’ll also be jobs at their HQ in Wimbledon, as it concentrates on buying new and ever cheaper stock.

Lidl generated £3.3bn in sales last year, and there are no signs that the budget behemoth is slowing down. In fact, soon, the world will be awash with stacks of off-brand nuts and suspiciously cheap dolmades and cartons of orange juice as big as your head.

Lidl boss man Ronny Gottschlisch said:

‘We’re focused on a single goal – giving our customers the freshest, highest-quality products possible at the best value. We operate on a highly efficient business model and source as much as we can locally because it supports UK producers and also limits the financial and environmental impact of transport.’

German efficiency has won the day. Beat that, Tesco.

Is Primark labelgate a guerilla campaign stunt?

June 26th, 2014 8 Comments By Mof Gimmers

primark logo Is Primark labelgate a guerilla campaign stunt?Primark has been in the news after someone found a label which had a cry for help sewn into it. Lots of people suddenly started having a ‘good think’ about whether or not they were going to shop at Primark anymore, without really considering that Primark probably has the same practices as premium brands, but no-one goes on about that.

And now, a second message has appeared in some Primark clothes at their Swansea store, reading ‘Degrading sweatshop conditions’.

The first item of clothing was found in the same store in Wales too, saying: ‘Forced to work exhausting hours’.

The two girls who bought the clothes with these ‘cries for help’ in them have said that they don’t know each other, but have both said to the press that they won’t be wearing anything from Primark again. They’re concerned about the conditions in the factories that make the clothes (but presumably less bothered about the conditions workers endure who make their phones, which they almost certainly have).

From the off, this whole thing looked like a campaign by someone. Initial reports saw the press boo-hooing, imagining that some poor worker had sewn in a plea to have their conditions looked at, but anyone who knows anything about these factories will tell you that no-one there has the time to doing political gestures and the like.

A Primark spokesperson has described these labels as ‘strange’ and the customers have been asked to give them back the items so they can investigate further.

They added: “We are investigating the origins of an additional label which has been found in one of our dresses and whether there are issues which need to be looked into.”

primark 500x332 Is Primark labelgate a guerilla campaign stunt?

This whole thing stinks of a guerilla campaign to highlight the plight of factory workers and it is working. Everyone’s talking about it, in fairness.

However, if it is, whoever did has dropped a clanger – similar messages appearing in the same store? That’s not likely. They should’ve caught a train somewhere and spread it out for authenticity. Alas, here we are, with the whole thing looking fishy and, worse still for the campaigners – if people get suspicious or think those behind it are hippies, they’ll soon ignore all this and think “sod those idiots” and shop at Primark even more.

What do we really want from our high street?

June 24th, 2014 3 Comments By Lucy Sweet

Empty Shops  What do we really want from our high street? A lot has been made of the death of the high street, but what do people actually want on their doorsteps? Betting shops and closed branches of Semi-Chem? Starbucks and H&M? Mulberry and Ralph Lauren?

Well, the answer is surprisingly quaint – we want a POST OFFICE, alongside independent convenience stores and specialist food shops. Basically, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, a coffee shop and somewhere to post a letter. Oh, and a couple of banks. [No pubs? -Ed.] Not much to ask, is it?

That’s according to a new report by The Association of Convenience Stores, who asked consumer, retailers and councillors what they wanted to see on their high street.

The shops we definitely don’t want more of are betting shops, charity shops, takeaways and pawnbrokers.

ACS Chief Exec James Lowman said: ‘The tendency of consumers to want more independent stores and specialist food shops shows that they want to shop in places which have a unique local atmosphere and aren’t just part of a clone town full of national chains.’

But aren’t we being a little bit nostalgic? Our shopping habits aren’t exactly like an episode of Camberwick Green – when did you last go a butcher?

Still, it seems like the old-fashioned idea of the high street still endures even in the modern world. And it really would be great to not have to walk 3 miles to find a post office.