Retail news round-up on February 25, 2014: Sir Terry Leahy calls for business rates system to be scrapped, Tesco to accelerate turnaround strategy, Argento to open new stores and LK Bennett boss leaves

Sir Terry Leahy calls for business rates system to be scrapped

Sir Terry Leahy, former Tesco boss has called for business rates to be reformed and “probably scrapped” as he says the systems “has not worked for years”. Leahy said that in a “modern digital economy” where consumers shop online the system needed to be “probably scrapped”. He told BBC Breakfast that it should be replaced with a tax that was “low, broad-based, spread across the economy as a whole and not just for the owners of the buildings”.

Tesco to accelerate UK turnaround strategy

Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke has admitted the Teso brand is carrying some “baggage” and cannot ignore growing discount chains Aldi and Lidl.

Clarke was speaking ahead of the unveiling of Tesco’s refreshed UK strategy, as Clarke is expected to sacrifice Tesco’s 5.2% profit margin.

Clarke told the Telegraph it was an “acceleration” of Tesco’s strategy over the past two years which has included revamping stores and improving its food range. Clarke added that Tesco has “really strengthened our foundations” and the company has the “right strategy” but as shoppers move online Tesco must react and step-up his plans, Clarke said.

Argento to open new stores

As part of £1m expansion drive, jewellery retailer Argento plans to open three new stores in Scotland by end of the year, Herald Scotland reported. The company is also planning four new stores in its native Northern Ireland.

The company currently has eight stores in Scotland across Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Stirling and Dundee trading as Argento and Pandora.

LK Bennett chief executive departs

LK Bennett chief executive Didier Drouet has left the womenswear retailer after a year-and-a-half at the helm. He will be replaced by chairman Robert Bensoussan, who is also co-founder of Sirius Equity, one of LK Bennett’s investors alongside Phoenix Equity Partners.Drouet had joined LK Bennett in September 2012.

It comes after LK Bennett’s private owners have pumped millions of pounds into the business as part of a refinancing after a spat with its banks.