Retail round-up: BHS's remaining 114 shops to shut, shop building applications plunged 9% in 2015 and Hobbs’ earnings soar 18%.
BHS brand to disappear from high streets as final stores to close
BHS is set to vanish from the UK high streets on August 20 as its remaining 114 stores are to stop trading within four weeks, according to Sky News.
Administrator Duff & Phelps will likely announce that the shop closures will directly affect over 5,000 shopworkers, although the precise number remains unclear.
Meanwhile, Arcadia tycoon Sir Philip Green has threatened to sue former BHS owner Dominic Chappell over the alleged misuse of £12m of company funds during the chain’s acquisition.
The group accuses Chappell’s firm Retail Acquisitions of failing to honour contractual obligations to invest money into BHS.
Number of applications to build shops fell 9% in 2015
New shop building applications plunged 9% in 2015, marking its seventh consecutive annual fall, as consumers continued to swap the high street for online shopping.
There were a total of 6,700 applications for new retail developments last year, which was down from 7,360 in 2014, according to commercial law firm EMW.
Aimee Barrable at EMW said: “With online retailers continuing to win market share, high-street firms have less of an appetite to open new shops, instead opting to develop online services or squeeze extra profits from existing space by changing the shopping experience or repurposing stores to act more as showrooms or collection points."
MPs urge stronger rules to protect workplace pensions
MPs have called for stronger rules to protect workplace pension-holders and avoid BHS-style shortfalls, the BBC reported.
They said it was "imperative" that regulations did not enable firms to evade their pension responsibilities.
"There may be a case for stronger and more proactive regulation," said the Work and Pensions, and Business, Innovations and Skills committees.
Hobbs swings to full-year profit following international expansion
Fashion retailer Hobbs recorded an 18% jump in its full-year pre-tax profit to £7.7m, compared with a loss of £15.6m last year, The Times reported.
The womenswear specialist reported total sales of £109.9m in the year to January 31.
Hobbs said it made a ‘significant’ progress in the company’s international expansion with strong like-for-like sales growth, new store openings in the US and an entry into Germany.
Its chief executive Meg Lustman said she was encouraged that the group's margin had increased by 3.3 percentage points to 63.8% as it achieved “significant growth in full-price sales”.
She said: “Our strong performance this year against an uncertain economic backdrop is an indication of the success of our investments and our growing international footprint. We are confident of seeing further positive results as our growth plan progresses.”
Amazon announces growth in home and kitchen sales
Amazon's home and kitchen product sales grew nearly 165% from January to June year on year.
The etailer announced a 200% surge in its home category and 135% surge in its kitchen category.
"With 45,000 sellers on its platform, the company has witnessed a strong growth in the category from the tier-II and tier-III cities with nearly 60% of the orders coming from outside the top eight cities in the country," said Amazon's Sumit Sahay.