Retail news round-up on August 12, 2014: British retail spending contracts 0.3% in July; Sports Direct accused of using zero hours contracts; Destination Maternity boss departs

British retail spending down 0.3% in July

According to the BRC/KPMG report, food sales in Britain plunged the most in at least five and half years in the three months to July due to prolonged aggressive discounting by supermarket chains, Bloomberg reported. Like-for-likes across the industry fell 0.3%, while total sales rose 1.3% on a year earlier in July, driven mainly by home and furniture spending. Like-for-like food sales tumbled 3.5% year-on-year, the biggest since the series began in December 2008.

Sports Direct could use ‘zero hour’ contracts to stop staff taking other work

The Independent reported that Sports Direct is the biggest employer to use the soon-to-be illegal ‘zero hour’ contracts that potentially stop the 20,000 part-time staff at the retail company taking other work. A copy of a 2012 contract seen by The Independent says: “If you wish to undertake any work outside the company, whether paid or unpaid, you should raise the matter with your manager … it may be decided that the additional work would conflict with your duties at Sports Retail Limited. You would then be prevented from taking it up.”

It is understood this clause remains in current contracts and does not give minimum guaranteed working hours. Campaigners have described the wording as an ‘exclusivity’ clause although it is not known whether Sports Direct enforces the rule.

Destination Maternity’s boss Ed Krell departs

Ed Krell has stepped down as Destination Maternity’s chief executive, the Telegraph reported. Anthony Romano will succeed Krell, who left the US baby clothing retailer to ‘pursue other opportunities’. Krell had reported a profit warning and led a failed bid for UK baby chain Mothercare.