Retail news round-up on December 24, 2014: More retailers in financial distress, Retail sales forecast to reach £342bn in 2014, Alliance Boots merger with Walgreens to complete by year-end

Retail Week's Breakfast Briefing

More retailers in financial distress

A total of 24,251 retail chains in Britain are in ‘significant’ financial distress, representing a 54% surge since last Christmas.  Food and clothing retailers are two of the worst-hit groups, according to Begbies Traynor research. The number of clothing retail firms struggling soared 123% to 1,482. A supermarkets price war has pushed 70% more food chains - a total of 3,819 – into financial difficulties. However, the number of retailers classed as being in “critical” distress declined 10% to 135 in the quarter, as a last-minute shopping rush before Christmas boosted sales.

Retail sales forecast to reach £342bn in 2014

The British high street has enjoyed a record year with retail sales expected to hit around £342bn. According to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the huge popularity of new events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have contributed to the £48bn rise since 2010.  Smaller companies have also attributed with their own record turnover of £72bn.

Alliance Boots merger with Walgreens to complete by year-end

Alliance Boots is to complete its proposed merger with US drug retailing company Walgreens by the end of the year. The announcement comes ahead of the original timescale and the group is in line to make $650m of cost savings. Shareholders in Walgreens have to approve the buyout of the remaining 55% of Alliance Boots. The deal, announced in the summer, values the stake at £9bn.