Retail news round-up on February 10, 2014: Asda mulls Early Learning Centre bid, Lidl eyes new UK headquarters, The Kooples losses widen as marketing costs rise and Sports Direct confirms bid for Irish chain Elverys

Asda mulls Early Learning Centre bid

Grocer Asda is understood to be considering a bid for struggling toy retailer EarlyLearning Centre as it looks to fill excess space in its stores.

Asda is one of a number of interested parties looking at the 40 store business, which is owned by Mothercare, according to The Daily Express.

Last year Walmart-owned Asda launched a scheme with Barclays to try out small in-store bran­ches at some of its supermarkets.

Game set for court battle over unpaid rent

A tranche of UK’s largest property firms and the computer game retailer Game will battle in the Court of Appeal in the coming week over tens of millions of pounds of unpaid rent, The Telegraph reported. A consortium of landlords including Land Securities, Hammerson and British Land claim they missed out on rental payments when Game called in the administrators in March 2012.

The case may have an impact the possible listing of Game, which is already controversial because of owner OpCapita and Elliott’s involvement with Comet, which collapsed into administration. If the landlords win the case, which begins on February 12, it could eventually result in Game and its backers paying out approximately 10% of its current annual rent and service charge bill.

Lidl looks for new UK headquarters

Discount grocery retailer Lidl is seeking a new headquarters in the UK that would be more than three times the size of its existing base, underlining the company’s expansion goal, The Telegraph reported. The chain has told property agents that it wants a site for a 150,000 sq ft head office in the south east of England.

In a statement, Lidl said: “We are in very early discussions with Merton Borough Council to find a suitable site for a bigger, better UK head office that fully meets the long-term requirements of a growing business like Lidl.”

The Kooples losses widen as marketing costs rise

French fashion brand The Kooples’ 2013 losses widened 24% to £1.46m highlighting challenging business conditions in the UK, The Independent reported. For the 12 months to September 2013, the retailer’s turnover surged 21% to £18.5m.

The company’s UK business has “shown a strong start in its different locations” but its costs have been higher than anticipated due to high marketing and advertising expenses. The Kooples’ gross margins are anticipated to increase by 10% in future years due to improved terms from suppliers.

Sports Direct confirms plans to bid for Irish retailer Elverys

Sports Direct has confirmed that it will bid for the troubled Irish sports chain Elverys amid a row with Adidas over supply restrictions. Sports Direct chief executive Dave Forsey said: “Elverys would be an excellent strategic fit for Sports Direct in the Republic of Ireland, giving us essential access to the important rugby replica kit market.”

Meanwhile, it is understood that Sports Direct is mulling a bid for menswear retailer Base, which plunged into administration last week, according to the Daily Express.

Maplin to test maiden airport outlet in Glasgow

Electronics retailer Maplin will trial its first airport outlet in Glasgow from March, Herald Scotland reported. The company has spent £100,000 on a 1,000 sq ft store that will open on March 1. Maplin chief executive John Cleland said: “With around 7.4 million passengers each year passing through Glasgow airport, this is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the Maplin brand.

Home Retail Group hires HGA Creative to handle events

Home Retail Group has hired HGA Creative to handle events and an internal branding project, The Drum reported. The agency will help the business through a new stage of growth.