Retail news round-up on May 22, 2014: Fat Face scraps IPO, Halfords accused of demanding fees from retal suppliers, Lush voted best retailer, Asos forced to apologise after Jodie Marsh tweet and more

Fat Face scraps planned UK stock market flotation

High street fashion retailer Fat Face is aborting its planned listing on the UK stock market. Bridgepoint-owned chain decided to abandon its initial public offering (IPO), which was due to raise £110m, after seeing other rival retailers struggle when they went public, according to the Telegraph. An announcement could be made as soon as this morning after advisors told the Fat Face board that the company would not be able to sell new and existing shares at the level it wanted.

Halfords charged of demanding fees from key retail suppliers

Car parts and cycling retailer Halfords has been allegedly squeezing small businesses after it sent a letter to suppliers demanding contributions towards its turnaround plan. Letters seen by the Telegraph show Halfords asking suppliers to pay up to 10% of their annual sales with the retailer in what effectively amounts to a rebate on already agreed contractual payments. The Forum of Private Business (FPB) said it was ‘extremely concerned’ by the letter and urged the Competition and Markets Authority to launch an investigation into the practice as a matter of urgency. Sources close to the company insisted the contribution was ‘voluntary’ and that Halfords had not ask for support from suppliers for at least five years.

A spokesman for Halfords said: “We’ve asked our key retail suppliers to contribute a small proportion of that, as is customary in the industry, in recognition of the benefits they will secure from our long-term growth.”

Advent International eyes takeover bid for troubled Mothercare

UK-based private equity group Advent International has been considering an acquisition bid approach to struggling high street chain Mothercare for several months, Sky News understands. Sources close to the retailer said that it had no discussions with Advent, and there were suggestions on Wednesday (May 21) that Advent might no longer be actively looking at making an offer for the business.

Lush voted best retailer on UK high street in Which? survey

In a survey by consumer group Which?, cosmetics company Lush has regained its top spot as the best high street retailer it held in 2012, knocking off Apple, Sky News reported. It was given an 83% approval rating from shoppers who were asked to rank 100 retailers on price, products and service. More than 12,500 members of the public voted in the survey. While calling Lush ‘outstanding’ and praising its product range and ‘personal’ side, Which? chose not to award the company its coveted Recommended Provider status because of a poor score for pricing.

High street giant John Lewis secured fourth place in the list, and was actually better rated in the cosmetics and toiletries category. Apple slipped from first place to 13th, as customers complained of difficulties booking appointments with technical support staff. Newsagent and stationery chain WHSmith was named the worst retailer on the UK high street, with criticism including ‘crowded stores’ and ‘limited stock’.

EU asks British retailers if Dixons/Carphone merger will fuel tablet prices

European Union antitrust regulators are asking UK retailers whether the £3.8bn merger of mobile phone retailers Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail will propel mobile phone and tablet prices, Reuters reported. Carphone hope the merger will help them to take advantage of the increasing popularity of smartphones connected to consumer electronics such as ovens and fridges.

The European Commission is now examining the deal and is scheduled to decide by June 25 whether to clear it, demand concessions or open a lengthy investigation. The review focuses on the British mobile phones and tablets market, according to a questionnaire sent to retailers earlier this week and seen by Reuters. Retailers have until Friday to respond to the questionnaire.

Tesco to remove confectionery from checkouts of all shops by end of year

Tesco will remove chocolate and sweets from its checkouts across all stores in the UK and Ireland by the end of this year, in a move it claims is a UK first. The move follows research which found nearly two-thirds (65%) of customers said removing confectionery from checkouts would help them make healthier choices when shopping.

Asos apologises after Jodie Marsh tweet

Asos, the online fashion giant, was forced to apologise after it tweeted a picture of bodybuilder and model Jodie Marsh, comparing her to a man. Marsh tweeted in response calling Asos bullies. She added: “I am utterly horrified at this comment. Totally unacceptable from such a large company”. Asos then posted an apology on Twitter which said: “The picture of Jodie Marsh posted today was a genuine mistake and we’re deeply sorry. We’ve apologised personally to Jodie and made a plan with her to make this right.” Asos also apologised to each Twitter user who commented on the incident.