Retail news round-up on February 4, 2016: Home Retail's biggest investor publicly backs Sainsbury's offer, Waterstones sales up under new owner and Scottish retail sales value down.

Home Retail’s largest investor issues support for Sainsbury's £1.3bn bid

Argos owner Home Retail Group’s third biggest investor, Old Mutual, has publicly backed Sainsbury's £1.3bn takeover bid, despite previously calling for an offer above 200p.

It said that it now regarded the potential offer "to be fair, taking into account the acceleration of the Argos transformation plan within Sainsbury's".

Scottish retail sales value down 0.3% in fourth quarter

The value of Scottish retail sales dropped 0.3% in the final three months of last year as shop-price deflation more than offset a rise in volumes.

However, retail sales volumes north of the Border rose by 0.6% during the fourth quarter.

On an annual basis, sales fell 0.9%, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).

David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, called for Scottish politicians to commit to greater support.

“Retail sales figures in Scotland have consistently been at a low ebb over the past few years, with retailers having to work ever harder to maintain, let alone grow, sales at a time of profound structural, economic and regulatory change for the industry,” Lonsdale said.

Waterstones annual sales up under new ownership

Sales at Waterstones grew 1% to £392.4m in the year ended April 27, 2015, thanks to an improved collection of books and a £8.3m investment from its Russian owner, Alexander Mamut.

The bookshop chain dramatically narrowed its pre-tax losses to £4.5m during the period, compared with £18.8m a year earlier.

Six stores were closed and four new outlets were opened during the year, taking the retailer’s estate to 274 stores.