Retail news round-up on June 23, 2014: Amazon to use Doddle click-and-collect service, Morrisons slashes prices again, major Sports Direct shareholder to vote no to Mike Ashley bonus scheme.
Amazon reaches deal to start using Doddle in September
Online retail giant Amazon has inked a deal with the click-and-collect joint venture between Network Rail and Travelex millionaire Lloyd Dorfman. The etailer signing up with Doddle will allow customers pick up parcels from the UK Tube station ticket offices.
Dorfman told the Telegraph, “They’re sorting out the systems issues and have agreed to begin using Doddle in September.” Asked whether the service would primarily interest retailers who had not yet developed their own click-and-collect ventures, he said Amazon was the ‘most convincing customer we’ve come to an agreement with’.
MyOptique Group raises funds to boost marketing operations
Europe’s largest online eyewear retailer MyOptique Group has raised £16m to fund more expansion, taking its new round of investment to a total of £35m. Two new investors, Korys and Beringea, joined existing stakeholders Cipio Partners, Silicon Valley Bank, Acton Capital Partners, Highland Capital Partners, and Index Ventures to complete the round.
The latest round of fundraising will allow the company to scale up its marketing activities, chief executive Kevin Cornils said, and help the brand move into new international markets. “We are looking to make further acquisitions in France and Germany as these are both strong European ecommerce markets,” Cornils told The Telegraph. “We’ll also invest in above-the-line advertising for the first time, with campaigns on TV and billboards.” MyOptique also intends to invest heavily in technological innovations to improve the online shopping experience and encourage more shoppers away from the high street.
Morrisons reduces prices on 135 items by up to 41%
Beleaguered supermarket retailer Morrisons has fired the latest salvo in a growing high street price war with competitors by cutting prices on 135 everyday products by up to 41% today, the Telegraph reported. The chain will slash the costs of named and own-brand products, including peeled plum tomatoes and crinkle-cut oven chips. The latest round of discounts will see average price cuts of 14%, with the reductions primarily in the grocery and household product areas. Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips said, “This is another major price reduction programme”.
Group of shareholders in Sports Direct to vote against £200m-plus bonus scheme
A group of major shareholders in Sports Direct International will vote ‘no’ to the retailer’s £200m-plus bonus scheme at a shareholder meeting slated for July 2. The Telegraph understands that investors representing at least 18% of Sports Direct’s 38% free-float are unhappy with the revised scheme and are poised to vote against it.
The free-float is important in this instance as executive deputy chairman Mike Ashley would be a major beneficiary of the scheme and therefore cannot vote. Those who are set to vote against the scheme include Royal London Asset Management, RPMI RailPen - the railways pension scheme - and the National Association of Pension Funds.
Meanwhile, The Association of British Insurers is publicly calling on investors to reject the latest bonus scheme proposed by Sports Direct, putting the sports retailer on a collision course with the City. The ABI dismissed the argument that Ashley needed large amounts of money as an incentive, saying that he should be paid appropriately for his role as a manager, regardless of his personal wealth.
CBI deputy director general describes UK business rates system as ‘outmoded, clunky and regressive’
According to Confederation of Business Industry (CBI), the business rates system in the UK is ‘outmoded, clunky and regressive,’ and without fundamental reform risks is undoing the Government’s good work in lowering corporation tax. Katja Hall, deputy director-general at the UK’s Britain’s biggest business lobby group, described the government’s rejection of a fundamental review of the system last week as ‘disappointing’, according to The Telegraph.