Retail news round-up on December 30, 2013: Burberry and Sainsbury’s top takeover targets in 2014, says UBS, Footfall edges up in December as price cuts woo shoppers and Waitrose boss Mark Price questions future of supermarket loyalty cards.

Burberry and Sainsbury’s top takeover targets in 2014, says UBS

Firms including Burberry and Sainsbury’s have been tipped as takeover targets next year by investment bank UBS.

Burberry has been subject to takeover speculation since the departure of chief executive Angela Ahrendts was revealed in October. Luxury goods conglomerate LVMH has been tipped previously as a potential suitor.

The Qatari Investment Fund has been tipped to make an offer for Sainsbury’s, in which it already holds a 26% stake, after abandoning its £10.6bn bid for the grocer in 2007.

Meanwhile Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is understood to be eyeing Marks & Spencer in a £8bn deal, according to The Sun.

Footfall edges up in December as price cuts woo shoppers

Ipsos Retail Performance revealed that footfall to store edged up 0.6% against last December as price slashes wooed shoppers.

However Ipsos director of retail intelligence Tim Denison said “aggressive pricing” by retailers would hit profits. Retailers across the high street launched Sales ahead of Christmas to entice shoppers to store.

Figures released by the data specialist show that Boxing Day was 1.1% busier than last year and there was 17.3% jump in shopper numbers on December 27.

Waitrose boss questions future of supermarket loyalty cards

Waitrose managing director Mark Price has questioned the future of supermarket loyalty cards which offer ‘meaningless’ points when consumers prefer immediate rewards, The Telegraph reported. He said the success of the myWaitrose card, which offers customers a free cup of coffee or tea, had been revealed by the fact that the retailer was now Britain’s second largest coffee provider.

Price also said that Waitrose plans to modernise its stores as part of a new three-year business plan that will begin early in 2014. Between 10 and 15 major store srefurbishments are planned for 2014, while many other shops will undergo smaller changes.

UK internet users make 129 million visits to retail sites on Boxing Day 2013

UK internet users made 129 million visits to retail websites on Boxing Day, up 15% year-on-year, The Drum reported. For the sixth consecutive year Boxing Day was the most popular online shopping day across the Christmas break.

There were 114 million online retail visits on Christmas Day, while Christmas Eve 2013 was slightly less popular for online shoppers, pulling in only 90 million visits. In total, the UK spent 17 million hours browsing and shopping online on Boxing Day, with a combined total time for online browsing across Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day reaching 44.3 million hours.

Phase Eight owners cash in through refinancing

Phase Eight owner private equity firm Towerbrook has laden the womenswear retailer with more debt so it can pocket a multimillion-pound payout.

Towerbrook has piled a further £90m of loans onto the loss-making retailer through a controversial refinancing that enables a special dividend to be paid, according to The Sunday Times.

Sources close to the retailer said that the refinancing would help to ramp up Phase Eight’s expansion.

The retailer posted a £4.6m pre-tax loss on £121m of sales after paying £16.4m in debt-related interest.