Retail news round-up October 14, 2013: OpCapita set to receive £70m from collapse of Comet, Sainsbury’s to open first dark store in east London, Matalan issues profit warning after warm weather dents sales

OpCapita set to receive £70m from collapse of Comet

Former Comet owner OpCapita is set to receive close to £70m from the collapse of the electricals chain last year. OpCapita’s investment vehicle, Hailey Acquisitions Limited, expects to receive up to £67.9m from the administration and eventual liquidation of Comet, according to accounts seen by the Financial Times. The amount comes on top of the £50m OpCapita received in a cash dowry from Kesa when it acquired Comet in February for just £2. Unsecured creditors to Comet, primarily landlords, were expected to lose more than £200m.

Sainsbury’s to open first dark store in east London

Sainsbury’s is to follow rivals Tesco and Waitrose by opening its first dark store to service online shoppers.  The grocer has until this point served its online customers by picking products from supermarkets. Located in Bromley-by-Bow, east London, the dark store will open within the next few years, will cover 185,000 sq ft and serve 20,000 online customers a week.

Oxford Street annual traffic-free Christmas event scrapped

The annual car-free day for Christmas shoppers on Oxford Street is set to be scrapped this year. The street has been pedestrianised for one day each December for the last seven years to encourage festive shoppers. However, according to ITV, The New West End Company, which represents the area’s retailers, said it is putting all of its energy into the Christmas lights switch-on instead.

Morrisons eyes Birmingham for online grocery trial

Morrisons is eyeing Birmingham for the launch of its online grocery trial. The grocer plans to launch the service in January through a tie up with etailer Ocado. According to the Telegraph, Morrisons is considering launching its new online grocery service in Birmingham, which is the closest big city to Ocado’s warehouse in Dordon, which Morrisons bought for the service’s launch. However, a final decision has not been taken.

Matalan issues profit warning after warm weather dents sales

Value retailer Matalan has issued a profit warning after the warm summer resulted in poor sales of its autumn/winter collection.  The privately owned discount clothing chain revised its operating profit guidance down to between £90m and £95m from £108m to £112m, according to the Daily Mail.

WHSmith forced to shut down website after pornographic ebooks error

WHSmith was forced to shut down its website on Sunday over hardcore pornographic ebooks. The retailer apologised after it was revealed that a search for the term “daddy” brought up hardcore pornographic ebooks featuring bondage and humiliation alongside stories for children, according to the Mail on Sunday.