Retail round-up on May 23, 2016: Co-op launches branding overhaul, MPs to scrutinise Sir Philip Green's Goldman ties and Austin Reed's suitors.
MPs look to probe ties between ex-BHS owner and Goldman Sachs
MPs on the Work and Pensions Select Committee are poised to examine the long-standing relationship between BHS former owner Sir Philip Green and Goldman Sachs, according to Sky News.
Goldman had provided informal advice to Green’s holding company, Taveta Investments, about the proposal to acquire BHS but was not incentivised to recommend that the deal went ahead – unlike the advisers to Retail Acquisitions, the vehicle which bought the chain.
Frank Field, the Labour MP who chairs the Work and Pensions committee, said he wanted to understand why Goldman had agreed not to be remunerated for the advice it gave Sir Philip on BHS.
"I want to know why this was the case. Banks do not make big profits by acting as charities," he told Sky News.
Austin Reed ‘draws’ interest from several big-name bidders
A raft of high-profile suitors are circling collapsed upmarket tailor Austin Reed.
It is believed that the menswear specialist’s 100 outlets and brands are expected to be carved up between Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, Edinburgh Woollen Mill boss Philip Day and Hawes & Curtis owner Touker Suleyman.
It is also thought that retail veteran Harold Tillman is the latest to enter the contest.
Sister brands Viyella and CC are expected to be sold, and it is expected that a significant proportion of the retailer’s 1,200 employees will retain their jobs.
Co-op to undergo major branding overhaul
The Co-operative Group is set to rebrand thousands of stores and plan new ways to reward millions of members, Sky News has reported.
The mutual is to reveal that its 2,900 food and funeral-care stores across the UK will begin being converted to the shortened Co-op name from next week.
The Co-op is also to relaunch its product lines in new packaging.
Rebranded uniforms and shopping bags will also begin appearing in the Co-op's approximately 2,000 food stores.
M&S investor calls on retailer to shed underused shops
One of Marks & Spencer’s largest investors has demanded that the retailer trim some of its underused store estate, The Telegraph has reported.
A senior source said the chain’s vast shop estate is proving one of the biggest “headaches” for senior management.
“The store portfolio is an area where we would expect [chief executive] Steve Rowe and [finance chief] Helen Weir have been spending a significant amount of their time,” said M&S’s sixth-largest shareholder Columbia Threadneedle.