Retail news round-up on May 15, 2015: New Look acquired by Brait, Co-op offers board overhaul compromise, and Uniteseeks discussions with supermarkets over job cuts

New Look changes hands in nearly £2bn deal

South African billionaire Christo Wiese’s private equity vehicle Brait has agreed to acquire fashion retailer New Look for £1.9bn, becoming one of the biggest players on the UK high street, according to Sky News. The deal will mark the womenswear chain’s first change of ownership in more than a decade. It will come as Apax and Permira, which bought the company in 2004, withdraw exploratory plans for a flotation of the business.

Co-op Group offers eleventh-hour compromise over board overhaul

The Co-operative Group is offering a last-ditch compromise over the overhaul of its board in an attempt to avoid an injunction from one of its largest owner-members. The Midcounties, the largest of the independent societies which together own more than 22% of the Co-op Group, has been considering whether to take legal action before the firm’s annual general meeting to block the appointment of three member-nominated directors to the board.

According to The Guardian, the Midcounties took legal advice over the process and concluded that the results of the board elections would be void if they took place, and said it would consider taking out an injunction. The Co-op is now believed to be offering arbitration to avoid such an eventuality.

Unite seeks discussions with supermarket bosses over job cuts

UK’s largest union Unite has written to Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, the Co-op, Spar and Musgrave, asking for one-to-one meetings to ‘explore constructive avenues to secure jobs’. The Guardian reports that this comes as major supermarket groups reduce jobs and workers’ terms and conditions.