Retail news round-up on March 2, 2016: February shop prices see sharp decline and Steinhoff’s unit Conforama eyes cash offer for Darty.

Steinhoff’s French unit poised to gate-crash Fnac’s takeover of Darty

Steinhoff International’s French-based unit is looking to disrupt Fnac’s already agreed acquisition deal of white goods retailer Darty, The Financial Times reported.

One of Europe’s biggest home-furnishings dealers, Conforama, is considering a potential cash bid for the UK-listed chain, which has large operation in France, according to sources.

Talks have begun recently and Conforama has still not made a firm offer for Darty.

Usdaw warns job losses could have huge impact on female workers

A shop workers’ union has warned that women employees could be disproportionately hit if a prediction of almost one million job losses from the UK’s retail sector becomes a reality.

The industry’s trade union, Usdaw, has written to the British Retail Consortium demanding urgent discussions over a report from the trade group that suggested retailers could shed up to 900,000 jobs and close thousands of shops by 2025, as they adjust to rising labour costs and changing technology.

Usdaw’s general secretary John Hannett said, “We are convinced that if the job losses come through in those numbers, there will be a bigger impact on women than men. We are looking for urgent talks with the BRC to understand where they are coming from on this. What’s the rationale behind their predictions and how will they work with unions like ours to deliver high quality, better paid jobs?”

Shop prices down 2% in February

High street shop prices recorded the 34th straight month of deflation, slumping 2% over the 12 months to February.

The sharp fall last month was due to retailers resorting to deeper discounts to lure wary shoppers, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Food prices dropped 0.4% in February while non-food prices plunged 3% year-on-year for the third consecutive month.

"With consumer confidence falling back and wage growth remaining subdued, retailers continue to support their customers with prices and promotions to maintain market share in the tough trading environment," BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.