Retail news round-up: Qatari firm’s Sainsbury’s stake falls due to Home Retail detail, retail sales fall 1.5% in August and  Zalando plots own-label push

Qatar Investment Authority’s stake in Sainsbury’s drops 3%

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has had its stake in Sainsbury’s diluted after new shares were issued as part of the grocer’s £1.4bn Home Retail Group acquisition, according to The Times.

The QIA’s shareholding in the retailer declined from 25% to 22%, a public filing revealed.

QIA, which is the largest shareholder in the supermarket chain, had refused to invest more capital into new shares to back Sainsbury’s takeover of the Argos owner.

Fashion sector drags down August retail sales

Like-for-like high-street retail sales dipped 1.5% year-on-year in August in spite of increasing consumer confidence and spending power, The Times reported.

This is the seventh straight month of decline, mainly due to the fashion sector, where sales tumbled 3.3% despite heavy discounting and a weak trading performance, according to data from BDO.

Lifestyle goods sales rose 0.7%, thanks to tourists taking advantage of the weak pound. Sports retailers benefited from the Rio Olympics.

Homeware retailers reported an 11.3% increase in sales, while online sales jumped 21.1% last month.

BDO’s head of retail and wholesale Sophie Michael said it was clear that retailers had failed to put last summer’s troubles behind them.

Zalando plans own-label standalone business

German etailer Zalando is planning to set up its own-label unit as a standalone business in a bid to access untapped markets and sell on rival websites.

"We see great potential. We want to strengthen the brands outside of Zalando," zLabels chief executive Jan Wilmking told Reuters.

The move comes after investors expressed concern that the online fashion retailer is more exposed than rival Asos to Amazon's expansion into fashion.

However, Wilmking predicts the unit will grow at the same pace as Zalando as a whole, or some 20%-25% a year.