Retail news round-up: SFO steps up BHS inquiry and Wolf & Badger freezes UK expansion

Serious Fraud Office steps up BHS investigation

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has ramped up its probe into the demise of department store chain BHS and the conduct of its former owner Dominic Chappell.

The agency is understood to have contacted BHS' administrators as well as individuals involved in running the retailer before it collapsed into administration, according to The Guardian.

The SFO is thought to be particularly interested in dealings of Chappell and his consortium Retail Acquisitions during the 13 months it owned BHS.

A SFO spokesperson said: “The SFO confirms it is reviewing material in its possession. If the director considers there are reasonable grounds to suspect serious or complex fraud which meets his criteria, he will open a criminal investigation.”

Apple plans to set up London headquarters at Battersea Power Station

Apple is to base its London headquarters at Battersea Power Station, known to be one of the capital city's most recognisable landmarks, Sky News reported.

The US technology company will occupy about 40% of the Grade II listed development, with 1,400 employees to be relocated to the complex in 2021.

In a statement, Apple said it was a "great opportunity to have its entire team working and collaborating in one location while supporting the renovation of a neighbourhood rich with history".

Wolf & Badger halts UK expansion plans due to Brexit

Upmarket fashion retailer Wolf & Badger has halted its UK expansion plans after the Brexit vote, the Evening Standard reported.

The opening of an east London store as well as up to three other outlets in regional cities have been put on hold, the retailer revealed.

The firm will instead break into the US market in February 2017 by opening a 2,500 sq ft space at 95 Grand Street in Soho, New York.

George Graham, co-founder of the business, said: “With Brexit looming and the UK entering a period of uncertainty, we are extremely pleased to be entering the US market and facilitating continued opportunities for independent labels even if the European market starts to close up.”

Irish retail sales drop 4.7% following volatile motor trade

Irish retail sales fell by 4.7% in August due to volatile car sales having jumped 13.8% the previous month, The Irish Times reported.

Monthly retail sales data is becoming volatile due to the new pattern of car sales which is linked to the twice-yearly registration system.

The latest figures from Central Statistics Office (CSO) highlights that year-on-year retail sales rose by 5.2%, reflecting a moderate recovery in the sector.

Motor trades had largest sales fall of 11.1% whereas department stores was down by 1.1%. Excluding car sales, there was a monthly rise in retail sales for August of 0.9% and a 4.1% increase year-on-year.

Sales for furniture and lighting increased by 8.8%; other retail 5.1% and hardware, paint and glass 4.6%.