Retail news round-up on June 16, 2014: Aldi to double store numbers, ex New Look finance boss in line for Debenhams job and Liberty owner BlueGem in talks to rescue Mamas & Papas.
Aldi vows to double number of stores over next seven years
German discounter Aldi has pledged to double its size to 1,000 stores across the UK in the next seven years, The Daily Mail reported. Joint managing director Matthew Barnes said that Aldi plans to accelerate store openings from 50 to 65 a year from next year. If it achieves that rate of growth every year, it will reach 1,000 shops by 2021. It also plans to upgrade its existing stores.
“For the foreseeable future, 65 new stores a year is not out of the question,” Barnes said. “We think 1,000 stores is an absolute possibility.”
Alastair Miller, the former finance director at New Look, is among a handful of candidates vying for a key role at Debenhams, The Sunday Times reported. Miller is in the running to replace Simon Herrick as Debenhams’ finance director, following his resignation in January. Miller is believed to be one of several candidates talking to Debenhams boss Michael Sharp.
Owner of department store Liberty in talks to rescue Mamas & Papas
The owner of luxury department store chain Liberty is in talks to rescue the upmarket prams and maternity wear company Mamas & Papas, the Telegraph reported. Private equity firm BlueGem is understood to be closing in on a deal that would inject a total of £20m into the retailer. Around £12m has been set aside for the business, with the remainder likely to be used to pay off a shareholder loan to owner David Scacchetti.
BlueGem has been given a period of exclusivity to iron out an agreement with the Scacchettis for a stake in the business.
Sources familiar with the process cautioned that BlueGem could struggle to secure support of the chain’s main lender HSBC, which is seeking partial repayment of its loans. BlueGem has asked the bank to roll over its debt and give the company breathing space. KPMG is advising Mamas & Papas on the discussions.
M&S mulls overhauling shareholder incentive package
Marks & Spencer (M&S) is looking to overhaul the incentive package for its shareholders, the Telegraph reported. The retailer says it is working with its registrar Equiniti to develop a new shareholder initiative that provides investors with ‘wider benefits that reflect their level of investment’.
However, in the M&S annual report, company secretary Amanda Mellor said that M&S has received “feedback requesting additional discounts in return for shopping in store or online” and is now examining “how we can facilitate a new shareholder initiative that provides investors with wider benefits that reflect their level of investment”. It is understood that the review is unlikely to be completed before the end of this year.
High street footfall in Scotland falls 3.1% in May
Scottish high streets saw a steep decline in footfall of 3.1% in May, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium/ Springboard data. Total shopper numbers were up, but by only 0.6% against the storming boom of 5.2% in April. Poor weather drove shoppers to retail parks, which recorded 9.4% growth in footfall. The rain had adversely impacted the high streets while benefiting shopping centres, but the month was severely hurt by the poor trading performance over the two May holiday weekends.
UK men’s clothes market to hit £16.4bn by 2018
According to market research firm Mintel, the menswear market in the UK has increased 5% to £12.9bn in the last year, marking an 18% leap over the past five years. It is likely to keep booming and reach £16.4bn by 2018, the Express reported. Menswear retailers like Burton are benefiting from the trend as are other fashion firms such as New Look and Burberry, which are increasingly expanding their ranges to tempt more men into their stores or to shop online.
Co-op Group members offered representatives on board
Members of the Co-operative Group are being offered representatives on the board of the troubled chain of supermarkets, funeral homes and pharmacies in an attempt to gain support for a radical overhaul of the way the debt-laden mutual is run. The proposal moves away from the ideas published by former City minister Lord Myners, who argued that the board should be made up of independent directors and members of the management.