Retail news round-up on February 4, 2014: Ocado co-founder Gissing retires and pre-tax losses widen, Activist investor Elliott revealed as Game backer, Amazon UK sales growth suffers slowdown and more.

Ocado co-founder Gissing retires as pre-tax losses widen

Ocado co-founder Jason Gissing is to leave the online grocer as its pre-tax losses widen.

Gissing is to retire from the board and company to spend more time with his family and to concentrate on environmental and social issues.

Meanwhile Ocado gross sales jumped 17.2% to £843m in its year to December 1 as pre-tax losses widened to £12.5m. Before exceptionals, losses stood at £5.1m, compared with a £1.8m pre-tax profit in 2012. However, EBITDA advanced 35.1% to £45.8m

Elliott on course for huge windfall from £300m Game Retail IPO

Elliott Advisors has amassed a 99% stake in the UK video game chain Game Retail, putting the activist hedge fund in line for a huge windfall if plans for a £300m float are successful, The Financial Times reported. The involvement of the aggressive US hedge fund has come to light just weeks after Game hired advisers to explore whether the retailer should join the swelling raft of retailers looking to launch an initial public offering this year. Elliott was the unpublicised backer of investment firm OpCapita’s acquisition of Game out of administration.

Amazon UK sales growth suffers slowdown in 2013

Amazon’s UK sales growth slowed last year, with revenues increasing only 12.6% to £4.46bn, according to the London Evening Standard. Taking into account changes to the dollar-sterling exchange rate, UK growth is forecast at 14% last year on a like-for-like basis, down from 22% in 2012. Analysts said Britain’s biggest online retailer was feeling the squeeze as traditional players such as John Lewis and Dixons raised their game, particularly with click-and-collect services.

Sports Direct’s Irish partner in talks to acquire struggling Elverys

The Irish partner of Sports Direct is in talks to acquire troubled chain Elverys.

Elverys, which has 55 stores, was to be offloaded to its management team, in a deal backed by Irish financial firm Capnua, until Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley flew to Dublin at the weekend to personally intervene, The Guardian reported

It is understood that Ashley has offered to pay €2.5m more than the €10m offered by Elverys’ management and talks are ongoing. Rival chain Lifestyle Sports is also rumoured to be interested in buying Elverys.

Morrisons brings online delivery service in Yorkshire

UK supermarket chain Morrisons has launched online delivery service in its Yorkshire homeland. The expansion into the region will enable the grocer to reach a fifth of households in Britain. It is set to launch in London in the summer.

British retailers see huge rise in overseas internet consumers in fourth quarter of 2013

During October to December 2013 quarter, UK retailers enjoyed a huge surge in overseas internet shoppers, according to industry data from British Retail Consortium and Google.  Overseas shopper searches on smartphones soared 64% in the fourth quarter of 2013, with 41% growth in the volume of searches by tablet computers, Reuters reported.

Samsung signs deal with Phones 4u to open 15 stores in UK

Samsung has reached a deal with UK high street retailer Phones 4u to open 15 stores in the UK. Phones 4u chief marketing officer Scott Hooton said: “The first fifteen stores will present a full range of Samsung phones, computing accessories and wearable technology.” As part of the expanded collaboration, Phones 4u will manage and staff the new Samsung stores.

Meanwhile, network operator O2 has terminated its trading partnership with Phones 4u, effective from 31 January. The decision to part ways comes after poor sales last year. Phones 4u will stop selling O2-locked mobile phones and upgrades, the companies jointly confirmed last week.