Posts Tagged ‘retail’

Amazon are top of the pops for entertainment

January 27th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

amazoninstant Amazon are top of the pops for entertainmentAmazon took one in every four pounds spent on an entertainment solution, in the run up to Christmas.

The online retailer was the key victor in physical sales of music, games and DVD products, with a 25.6% of the market. Get that! Over a quarter of all sales! Amazon must be thrilled.

They beat Tesco with 14.7% and HMV with a measly 13.9%, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

However, what makes these figures interesting is that shoppers still buy the bulk of their entertainment products on the high street, in the few remaining vendors that cater for them, and Black Friday had an effect too, with heavily discounted promotions tempting the weak inside.

Fiona Keenan, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “While consumers’ average online spend increased by 6% this Christmas, they still spent less than they did when shopping in physical stores as retailers struggled to get them to shop impulsively online.”

“A third of in-store purchases were bought purely on impulse, creating an additional £119m for the industry, but when shopping online this proportion halved. Retailers need to identify ways to encourage impulse purchasing in an online environment, particularly as so much of our spend goes through this channel.”

Asda, however, fared less well in the game and music sales area, falling 3.4%, to 9.5% of the market. But such is the way of these things, as Asda and Tesco both cut back on the CD and DVD offerings in many of their larger stores.

Game Digital also did rather well, 1.4 percentage points, but it has issued a profit warning after selling too many games too cheaply on Black Friday. The buffoons.

Argos in racist doll fracas

January 23rd, 2015 7 Comments By Ian Wade

Argos have found themselves in a row. A RACE row about dolls. So they have.

The original click and collect front, have a white doll priced £10 more than their black and Asian offerings.

The white ‘Maria’ doll, made by French company Corolle Calin, is being sold on the Argos website for £34.99, while Asian and black dolls ‘Yang’ and ‘Naima’ are for sale for £24.99.


All the dolls are, like, the same and beautiful inside and of the same dimensions and on the manufacturer’s website all three are sold at the same price of £23.

A mum of three named Lisa O’Reilly from Lincs reckoned: “It’s unacceptable for children to think white is better or more desirable. It’s wrong for our youngsters to grow up thinking non-white skin colours are worth less.”

“There’s enough prejudice in the world already without battling against racist toys.”

Argos blamed it handily on a genuine pricing error and said it was urgently rectifying the problem. Why, even a spokesman chipped in with “[We] can confirm all three dolls will be priced at £24.99″.

So that’s alright then. Nothing like checking these things BEFORE they’re uploaded, eh.

Which companies aren’t paying minimum wage?

January 15th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

wages 300x199 Which companies arent paying minimum wage?The Government are naming and shaming 37 companies that they feel aren’t paying the national minimum wage, including clothes shop H&M and Welcome Break.

In addition to that, they have said that these companies owe £177,000 to their workers in arrears and face penalties of more than £51,000.

Not all of the companies being called out are high street names, as the Government included a tanning shop in Glasgow, a childcare centre in the Midlands and a building firm in Edinburgh. The Department for Business said each of the companies had been investigated by HM Revenue and Customs after workers tipped them off to the free and confidential Pay and Work Rights Helpline.

Business Minister Jo Swinson said: “Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal, immoral and completely unacceptable. If employers break this law they need to know that we will take tough action by naming, shaming and fining them as well as helping workers recover the hundreds of thousands of pounds in pay owed to them.”

“We are also looking at what more we can do to make sure workers are paid fairly in the first place. As well as being publicly named and shamed, employers that fail to pay their workers the national minimum wage face penalties of up to £20,000.”

“We are legislating through the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill so that this penalty can be applied to each underpaid worker rather than per employer.”

Here’s the list of the 37 employers:

1. Kings Group LLP, Hertfordshire
2. Kings Group Lettings LLP, Hertfordshire
3. Chi Yip Group Ltd, Middleton
4. Kingsclere Nurseries Ltd trading as Abacus Day Nursery, Newbury
5. Ms Thap Thi Ly trading as Sweet N Sour, Fleetwood
6. Michael Kearney trading as Electrical Estimates, Ceredigion
7. ABC Early Learning and Childcare Centre UK Ltd, Wolverhampton
8. C J Hartley Ltd trading as Headwork, Sheffield
9. Mrs Kelly Jayne Lockley trading as Diva Hair Design, Walsall
10. Browncow Tanning Ltd trading as Fake Bake Hair & Beauty Boutique, Glasgow
11. J Wood Joiners & Builders Ltd, Edinburgh
12. Louise Ross Trading as Luxe Salon, Leeds
13. H&M Hennes & Mauritz UK Ltd, London
14. Building Projects Ltd, Dundee
15. David A Farrer Ltd, Morecambe
16. Julian’s Hair Salon Ltd, Newbury
17. Motorists Discount Store Ltd trading as TMS Autoparts, Manchester
18. Ms Dawn Platts trading as Level 2 Hair Studio, Barnsley
19. Myers and Family Ltd, Wakefield
20. Welcome Break Holdings Ltd, Newport Pagnell
21. Callum Austin Ltd trading as Jason Austin Hairdressers, Kettering
22. Mrs Karen Riley Trading as Crave, Preston
23. RPM Performance Rally World Ltd, Maldon
24. Ego Hair & Beauty (Anglia) Ltd, Colchester
25. Mr Jinit Shah trading as Crystal Financial Solutions, Middlesex
26. Counted4 Community Interest Company, Sunderland
27. HAE Automotive Services Ltd, Harrogate (ceased trading)
28. Vision on Digital Ltd, Ossett
29. Ultimate Care UK Ltd, Ipswich
30. Century Motors (Sheffield) Ltd, Sheffield
31. Mr D Eastwell & Mr G Brinkler trading as The Salon, Letchworth Garden City
32. Rumble (Bedworth) Ltd, Nuneaton
33. Shannons Ltd, Worthing
34. Holmes Cleaning Company, Worksop
35. Learnplay Foundation Ltd, West Bromwich
36. Adrien Mackenzie trading as Maverick Models, Manchester
37. QW Security Ltd, Hartlepool

Tesco launch app for Google Glass

January 15th, 2015 3 Comments By Ian Wade

Google Glass 4 Tesco launch app for Google GlassYou’d think they’d have other issues more pressing to deal with, but Tesco have launched a shopping app for Google Glass.

It is hoped that it make it a faster method for shoppers to add items to their online baskets.

Tesco Groceries is a free download for the £1,000 smartglasses, which went on sale in the UK in June 2014. That’s either demented thinking from the mad, or some proper well-thought out futurism.

You can operate the app by speaking commands, like “Glass, find me a Snickers” or via the scanning of barcodes that are in the sight of the shopper. Or, you could stand in a shop and find it yourself, put it in a basket and be stood outside eating it before Google Glass does anything useful.

Shoppers will also be able to look at how much fat or salt something has. Dullards.

The chain had prototyped it back in June 2014, probably imagining that Google Glass would become quite the thing. “We thought about how our colleagues might be able to use Glass to check stock hands-free, or how our customers might be able to add a product to their grocery delivery basket while making a cup of tea,” blogged Tesco’s Pablo Coberly at the time.

“Getting to that stage has been a journey into entirely new areas of user interaction: new gestures, user interface elements, and input mechanisms.”

google glass tesco 500x222 Tesco launch app for Google Glass

Coberly has bugled about Google’s genius again in an updated post too: “The Glass Development Kit (GDK) documentation is good and getting better. The community is helpful and proactive about sharing knowledge, especially on stackoverflow. The Glass team at Google does all they can to try to make sure the glassware delivers the best experience possible.”

“This is a challenge given how Glass is still being developed, so it can be somewhat of a moving target. The Glass software platform went through 6 updates in the time we worked with it, which shows how much Google is still investing in the platform. Given the steady flow of software updates, and the various articles that have been published alluding to updated Glass hardware, I can’t help but feel this is still the beginning of the journey for Glass and for Tesco.”

Admittedly Coberly is not expecting it to happen overnight, allowing five to 10 years for our new eyewear overlords to enslave us all.

tesco Gay Tesco customers told they should die aloneTesco are investigating comments made by a member of their staff, where a cashier told a gay couple that they should “die alone” and that they “shouldn’t have babies.”

Interesting approach to customer service, it has to be said.

Helen Embleton and her girlfriend Natalie Rivans were reportedly shopping at a Tesco Extra in London when the worker decided to veer off the usual “would you like a carrier bag?” and asking if they’d like a receipt, in favour of chiding them about their lavenderism.

Of course, the couple challenged the lady on the till, but she returned with a remark, saying that homosexuality was “wrong”, adding: “It’s a free country so I can say what I like”.

The cashier is right – she can say what she likes. One of the most marvellous things about living in Britain is that you can say anything you like. However, she’s now finding out that ‘freedom of speech’ doesn’t actually mean ‘I can say whatever I like without repercussions’. If you walk into a pub full of Burnley fans with a Blackburn Rovers shirt on, someone might give you some salty language or a boot up the rear. Likewise, if you work in a shop, your duty is to be polite, rather than espouse your views on gay parenting.

If you’re ultra-Christian, then surely you’d manage to firstly, turn the other cheek or, at the least, get someone else to serve someone who you fear is going to hell? Either way, telling a customer that they should ‘die alone’ isn’t exactly the best PR for Tesco.

A spokesperson for Tesco said they’ve given a full apology for the “inappropriate comments” and launched an internal investigation: “We work hard to make sure that everyone is welcome at Tesco and put great emphasis on celebrating diversity and ensuring that we are an inclusive place to work and shop.”

“Any remarks or actions from our colleagues which are not in line with these beliefs are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Deathwatch: Morrisons chief executive quits

January 13th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

morrisons 300x300 Deathwatch: Morrisons chief executive quitsDalton Philips, the chief executive of Morrisons, is quitting his job after the supermarket had a drop in sales over Christmas. With a name like ‘Dalton Philips’, we hope he’s off to become a diamond thief or a man who will seduce ex-pats in the Mediterranean.

Anyway, onto the serious business, Morrisons boss of 5 years has gone after he failed to get anyone interested in shopping at the chain. Of course, they’re not the only ones who have suffered a drop in sales – Tesco were down on like-for-likes sales, but they’ve already cleared out a load of dead wood. Sainsbury’s have also reported a fall too.

Morrisons have revealed that total sales (excluding fuel in the six weeks to January 4th) were down by 1.3% and like-for-like sales (excluding fuel) had fallen by 3.1%.

In a statement, Andrew Higginson, who will take over as chairman at Morrisons (you may remember him as being the finance director at Tesco, which bodes well, doesn’t it?), said: “In the next chapter of Morrisons development, we need to return the business to growth. The board believes this is best done under new leadership.”

“I would like to thank Dalton for his contribution as chief executive. He has brought great personal qualities and values to his leadership of the business, having had to manage against a background of considerable industry turmoil and change. He deserves particular credit for facing into and dealing with the pricing issues that have now become evident, for taking the business into the convenience and online channels, and for the steps he has taken to modernise the company’s operating systems.”

Philips himself said: “Morrisons is a great company with exceptionally talented people and I have been very proud to have worked with them. Over the last five years, we have made many improvements to the business and given Morrisons strong foundations for the future. I wish every success to the company and all of my colleagues, who have, and continue to work so hard.”

Ikea have come up with quite a clever advert as part of their ‘Wonderful Everyday’ campaign.

The ad sees flocks of t-shirts migrate back to homes with stylish Ikea storage solutions. It’s quite good. Have a butchers below. The 60-second ‘Joy of Storage’ commercial hits screens on 10th January across the UK and Ireland before print, digital and outdoor in the following weeks.

Ikea UK and Ireland marketing manager, Peter Wright, explained that the brand wants to move people’s thoughts away from seeing storage as simply a functional part of the home.

And he’s spouted a load of guff to back this up.

“Whether you have a detached house in the country or a one-bed flat in town, we know that there is joy and satisfaction in giving the things you love a home, whatever your storage needs are. The Joy of Storage is about the time saved and the stress reduced when you have things easily to hand, stored out of sight, or the freedom you get when things are in order.”

Freedom, everyone. FREEDOM.

boarded up shops 300x199 New Retail Ombudsman service launches  to a load of complaintsAt Bitterwallet, we’re big fans of ombudsman services, which normally offer consumers a further avenue of redress should a complaint about a product or service not be resolved satisfactorily. Now, a new ombudsman service for the retail sector has been launched- and deluged with complaints in its first three days.

We already have a number of ombudsmen that deal with things from financial services to energy- there’s even a furniture ombudsman- but the new Retail Ombudsman (TRO) service was launched on 2 January 2015. On that day alone, 107 complaints were lodged, this total rising to 312 by the end of that first weekend of the year. Most of the complaints were about delivery and returns as a result of the huge increase in online shopping before Christmas, followed by mislabelling and damaged packaging. The TRO is on course to meet its prediction of handling 100,000 cases this year as consumer awareness increases and more retailers sign up.

An estimated 2 million complaints remained unresolved in 2013, out of a total of around 6.4 million. An additional 6.8 million people are thought to have had a grievance but didn’t take steps to complain.

The service represents the first alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme in the retail sector, and will provide “a free, fair and independent” facility for dealing with unresolved disputes between firms and consumers, with 3,000 retailers already signed up as members. The ombudsman is funded by member subscriptions – retailers pay between £100 and £2,600 annually depending on the size and type of business. Although 3,000 might sound impressive, according to the British Retail Consortium there are at least 187,000 retailers in the UK, and membership of the ombudsman scheme is entirely voluntary.

In order to access the TRO service, you must have purchased goods or services for use or consumption from a UK retailer (including supermarkets, High street shops, independent shops, websites, garden centres, petrol stations but not furniture or professional services) and have

i) firstly made a complaint to the retailer direct and given them at least 8 weeks to respond; and

ii) made your complaint to TRO within 6 months of the retailer’s decision.

After reviewing the case, TRO can make a determination that would be binding on any member retailer. However, if the retailer is not a member, the TRO, will still review a complaint and advise consumers of their rights. If the ombudsman find in the customer’s favour, they will write to the retailer and “encourage them to reverse their decision”, but TRO currently has “no power to impose sanctions” upon non-member retailers.

However, the UK is set to implement new EU legislation on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and as part of this the government is considering making ADR mandatory across all consumer goods and services in the UK – including retailers. Members of the TRO would automatically meet this requirement.

Also, if TRO rules in favour of a retailer and the complainant does not accept the decision, the consumer does  still have the right to take the case to court.

Chief ombudsman Dean Dunham, a barrister and consumer rights specialist, said: “In this day and age, with shopping online as well as the high street, there are millions of complaints. A large proportion get resolved, but a large proportion don’t. Those people are frustrated and they don’t know where to turn and can’t afford a lawyer. Now they can turn to the ombudsman.”

Marks & Spencer and their blue Christmas

January 8th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

marks and spencer Marks & Spencer and their blue ChristmasMarks & Spencer have had a dreadful Christmas, especially concerning the clothing wing of the company. Chief exec Marc Bolland hasn’t got a clue what to do.

Sales across the whole group were down. Bolland thinks that a warm October and November is to blame for all this, but seeing as M&S have been performing poorly for three and a half years, that sounds like a man scratching his head with one hand and clutching at straws with the other.

The M&S chief noted that he thought there was an “unsatisfactory performance” by the M& warehouse in the run up to the festive period. If you muck up your online sales, that’s going to hamper your takings severely, as people have far less patience for the aisles these days.

You may recall that M&S had delays with their home deliveries and even suspended their click-and-collect orders for a period while they tried to cope with Black Friday. Cocking it up in November meant that customers went elsewhere for Christmas.

However, Bolland is coming round to the modern world and said: ”I think we should embrace this world and not start fighting it.”

It looks bleak for M&S’s international business too. Growth in this area was something of a strategic priority under Bolland. However, there was a reported 5.8% fall in sales. Shops in Russia were losing money, but Bolland has said that the company are not considering pulling out.

Only cost-cutting saved M&S from a profit warning, so they need to pull their fingers out and sharpish.

Waterstones reckon the Kindle is dead

January 8th, 2015 3 Comments By Ian Wade

kindle 286x300 Waterstones reckon the Kindle is deadIt sounds like book shops have seen off the Kindle, if Waterstones’ claim that sales of the eBook gadget have disappeared now that there is a vogue for real proper actual books again.

Waterstones teamed up with Amazon to sell the Kindle in its stores, have seen sales of physical books go up by 5% in December, with the Kindle barely making a mark.

Kindle sales had “disappeared to all intents and purposes”, Waterstones said.

Waterstones’ chief executive James Daunt spoke words to the Financial Times, claiming that the resurgence of proper books was due to the chain refurbishing some of its 290 stores.

Yes, that is clearly it. Nicer shops.

WE reckon it could also suggest that as with every gadget since time began, that anybody who wanted to buy a Kindle, probably now has a Kindle, and maybe isn’t in a hurry for another.

Head office also handed more control over what stores sold to the managers running them, so they could cater their stock to local tastes. “We used to try and run exactly the same bookshop in Blackpool as in Hampstead. That, my youngest daughter would tell you, is probably not sensible,” Mr Daunt said.

Of course, Waterstones have only accounted for their own sales and most people buy Kindles directly from Amazon, rather than going to a book shop to buy them where they’re marked-up. And Waterstones shouldn’t get too blasé about the comeback of ‘real’ books, because their forecast for the year involves them hoping to break even.

Fortnum’s have best Christmas ever

January 7th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

fortnum 300x300 Fortnums have best Christmas everSwanksome and occasionally up-itself retailer Fortnum & Mason had a tremendous Christmas, as their results – posted today – show.

The ponce brand logged a 22.8% increase in sales from the same five week period back in 2013. Like-for-like sales were up 18.3%, and the online arm of the luxury brand performed even better, recording a 31% jump.

A lot of this was down to the company’s St. Pancras International store, which enjoyed an almost 50% increase in sales as the brand continues to expand, with a new standalone store recently opening in Heathrow’s flagship Terminal 5. Why, on December 22nd 2014 the retailer enjoyed the best trading day in its 308-year history.

They also took over Somerset House’s shopping arcade and festooned the ice rink’s massive Christmas tree with F&M finery.

“We are certainly engaging more with Londoners, who, like everyone else, respect our foodie credentials and know that at Fortnum’s they can expect a fabulous customer experience,” said chief executive Ewan Venters.

“We have shown that Fortnum’s is not just for Christmas, and we are looking forward to making further progress throughout 2015.”

Well, it is predominantly just for Christmas for some people, pal. It’s not a weekly habit, spending seven quid on a pot of classy jam for your mum, is it?

aldi logo 252x300 Aldis Swap & Save campaign still hopes to cheer up JanuaryDespite the thwarters, Aldi are still hoping to give you some cheer this January with the latest in its Swap & Save campaign.

They’ve even paid some marketeering knobhounds to come up with the term ‘swap your old January to an Aldi January’.

The campaign is hosted on a dedicated website where users can sign in with their email address to find out how much they save with each shop. Here they can track those savings and share them on online using the hashtag #aldichallenge.

Already since the site began on New Years Day, several hundred have compared and contrasted their grocery bills up against Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda.

However they’re being a bit more cautious this time around after their previous ‘Swap & Save’ campaigns were narked at by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), when in May 2014, Asda complained that it was misleading, and the TV and print ad run out was banned after Tesco chipped in and had a moan.

Tesco said the weekly shops highlighted in the advert were not compared on a like-for-like basis, and added that the explanatory information in the adverts was not prominent enough. It was also claimed Aldi exaggerated how many people had taken part in the challenge.

This time around, the #AldiChallenge campaign, states that the savings are “based on a comparison of Aldi products against premium brands. Other supermarkets may sell ‘own brand’ products at different prices.”

Anyway, pop along here to see what savings you could make.

Deathwatch: Johnsons to be taken to the cleaners

January 6th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

johnsons cleaners 300x200 Deathwatch: Johnsons to be taken to the cleanersJohnson’s Cleaners are looking shaky on their feet. The UK’s biggest dry-cleaning chain are going to be closing over a third of their stores, which puts 400 jobs in jeopardy.

The group is looking to move away from the High Street in a traditional sense, looking instead at having collection and delivery points inside supermarkets.

A Johnson Service spokesman said: “We are commencing a consultation exercise with affected employees and anticipate that branches will close during the first half of the year. The remaining 198 better-performing premium branches are in more convenient locations with an infrastructure capable of receiving dry cleaning from various collection and delivery points.”

So what’s behind all these job losses?

Well, there’s that phrase again, which has been used greatly over the past couple of years - Johnson’s Service blamed the closures on a ‘difficult high street environment’. This is all part of a £6.5million restructuring for the company, who already closed 100 branches in 2012.

With Bank going into administration yesterday, the High Street doesn’t look like it is going to stop shrinking. Once upon a time, you could rely on Tesco buying old shops up, but even they’re having a nightmare.


Asda reduces their four-pint milks to 89p

January 6th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

ASDA logo Asda reduces their four pint milks to 89pThere’s a supermarket price war and Asda have launched the first attack. Yes, they’ve dropped the price of four-pinter bottles of their own-label milk to 89p.

As of this week, the four pint versions of Asda’s skimmed, semi-skimmed and whole milk will be rolled back to 89p, which, no doubt, will be making dairy farmers cry all over their shrivelled-up cows.

Asda are the first of the ‘big four’ supermarkets to deploy such a cut, however Iceland and Aldi have both had it at that price in recent promotions.

A spokesman for the Asda said: “Customers expect great value from Asda especially after Christmas when they are feeling the pinch. This is why we have invested around £300m in lowering prices for our biggest ever Rollback, which includes milk.”

The spokesman, who could quite easily have been a paper plate with a face drawn on it, sellotaped to a broom handle, continued that it was ”proud to support British Dairy farmers” and said it had ”a positive record in UK dairy sourcing for both milk and cheese”.

”All our fresh milk is Red Tractor stamped as 100% British and our own-label butter and British cheese range uses British milk,” confirmed the mouthpiece.

This news follows First Milk, the milk processor, and their announcement that they’d be reducing the price it pays its farmers. Think about that when you’re having your Coco Pops tomorrow morning.

Timpson do a really nice thing

January 5th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Just when you think all the shops are run by arseholes and do lousy stuff to cadge coins out of you, along come Timpson being all lovely and pleasant.

As you can see, they’ve got a thing in Liverpool (and possibly other places) where, if you’re on the dole, they’ll clean your interview outfit for you, for free. Naturally, some people’s first thought will be ‘Liverpool… jobless… hur hur‘ like they’re the first person to ever make that joke. Either way, Timpson are making some of the other shops look like hard-hearted swines.

B6SsY9YCcAEuZN6 375x500 Timpson do a really nice thing


Well done Timpson – we doff our caps to you. You couldn’t clean our caps while we’re here, no?

[via twitter]