Retail news round-up on September 1, 2015: Oliver Bonas first retailer to pay living wage, bank holiday footfall down and Aldi expansion.

Retail Week Breakfast Briefing

Oliver Bonas first UK retailer to pay living wage

Independent retailer Oliver Bonas has become the first UK high street employer to bring the living wage into force.

From today, the business will pay its staff a minimum of £9.15 an hour in London, and £7.85 outside. It employs 500 staff across 43 stores, 35 of which are in London, as well as its warehouse and head office.

Oliver Bonas is the first British retailer to implement the living wage called for by the Living Wage Foundation.

High street footfall down over wet bank holiday weekend

Consumers deserted the UK high streets as heavy rain drove them to shopping centres and retail parks over the bank holiday weekend.

The number of people on the high street fell 0.1%, while shopping centre footfall jumped 6.2% compared with a year earlier, according to Springboard.

Retail parks were the most popular destination, with visitors up 8.5%.

Springboard Insights director Diane Wehrle credited strong consumer confidence for the overall rise in footfall of 3.4%.

“Favourable inflation rates, low unemployment and UK-wide pay rises are enabling shoppers to spend in comfort,” she added.

Former Sainsbury’s chief criticises National Living Wage

Ex-Sainsbury’s boss Justin King has slammed the government’s National Living Wage, claiming it as “ludicrous”.

King told BBC series The New Workplace that the living wage, which will come into force in April next year, will “destroy jobs”.

By 2020, King argued, the living wage could be “10% or 15% higher” than the minimum wage equivalent. But the living wage “is not economically justified”, he added.

“You can’t talk about productivity without recognising that one of the consequences of productivity is less people producing the same output”, he said.

“Companies will invest in more productivity and as a consequence there will be less jobs.”

Aldi poised to rival Woolworths in Australia

Aldi is poised to open 80 new stores across Australia by the end of 2016, landing a major blow to rival Woolworths.

The German discounter will be open in 40 locations in South Australia and Western Australia.

The news was revealed in a letter to suppliers, which also disclosed plans for the same number of stores to be opened on the east coast, The Australian reported.

Mothercare replaces yoga studios with play areas in Manchester store

Mothercare has unveiled its latest refurbished 10,000 sq ft Manchester concept store, incorporating a revamped Early Learning Centre toy shop, an in-store cafe and a soft play area.

The babywear and accessories specialist has closed all of its yoga studios in favour of play areas for toddlers.

The maternity retailer has so far launched play areas in six of its larger stores and around two in five of its shops will have cafes.