Retail news round-up on February 11, 2014: Pets at Home strengthens board ahead of expected float, retail sales growth steps up in January and Amazon infringes Lush’s copyright.

Pets at Home to appoint two new non-executive directors

Pets At Home has hired two new female directors in a move to satisfy the rising clamour for more diverse boardrooms as it steps up plans for a flotation worth £1.5bn, Sky News reported. The UK’s biggest pets retailer will name former Carphone Warehouse executive Amy Stirling and trustee of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s charitable foundation Tessa Green as non-executive directors.

The appointments will mean that the chain will have two females on a board of roughly six directors when it goes public this year, ahead of the 2015 target for 25% female representation on listed company boards. Halfords chairman Dennis Millard will also be appointed to the Pets At Home board, Sky reported. The retailer is expected to confirm the flotation in the coming weeks.

BRC January retail sales pick-up much stronger than expected

According to the British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, retail sales in January rose at their fastest rate in nearly four years. Retail sales bounced back strongly, aided by heavy discounting as stores tried to unload their stock. Total sales across all categories grew by 5.4% against a year earlier. The 3.9% increase in like-for-like sales lifted high street spirits after a subdued end to last year.

Even after that improvement, sales inched up by just 1.7% in the three months to the end of January, dragged down in part by declining food sales. New figures showed that food sales tumbled for the fourth straight month and were down 1.2% over the quarter. Non-food sales edged 4% on the corresponding three months a year ago, with furniture companies recording their best sales for eight years.

High Court rules Amazon breached copyright of Lush

The High Court has ruled that online retail giant Amazon has infringed the trademark of cosmetics retailer Lush by attempting to divert customers to similar products through online search results, The Drum reported. The High Court ruled that the average consumer would generally be unable to ascertain that the products listed in Amazon’s online search results were not made by Lush.

Lush does not stock products on Amazon and it filed the claim in response to the online retailer using search adverts to target people searching for the Lush brand online and instead divert them towards similar products stocked by Amazon.